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It’s not about who we sign, but about how they play as a team. Of course.

By Tony Attwood

One of the most frustrating things about the commentaries that came out last season and indeed through the summer (at least until a few days ago) was the lunatic focus on individuals.   “Arsenal need a new centre forward” screamed tabloid journalists as they battled and fought their way to by another drink on account.

And dutifully lots of blogettas (I just made that word up – I always feel a day is not complete without adding a new word to the language) picked up the story.  “Get rid of Giroud,” they chanted, and “death to imperialism” (although that last shout was a left over from the Hyde Park circa 1975 and has nothing to do with contemporary football).

The problems with this single player analysis are multifarious.  First, players take time to settle in, and if you change the team each year that settling in never happens.  And second, football, as you may have noticed is a team game.

I don’t know how many times I’ve tried in my laborious way to make the point with the example of Henry.   He was good when we got him, although couldn’t score goals at first.   He got better as an individual as he adapted to Arsenal.  And then along came Pires and he took a year to settle down.  Then the whole show took off to a level we have never seen before.

So buying new players is good, of course, but only if they enhance the team.  That is why the screaming of names of centre forwards instead of Giroud was silly – what we need always is a developing structure – ideally devised so that only one or two bits need changing each year.

Given that Mr Wenger apparently confirmed on French radio during the semi-final that he was expecting Alexis Sanchez at the club upon his return to London, and given that the more trustworthy sources have pics of Theo returning to training, we can look forward an attacking orientated  line up of

Ramsey Ozil

Walcott  Giroud  Sanchez

The only problem there appears to be with that is the it doesn’t find space for Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Lukas Podolski…

Except of course we will have injuries, and so they will all get their chance.

Now I have been saying, if we can but have Ozil, Ramsey and Walcott fit for a while, then we have a chance.   If the Ox continues developing as before then he could be a good back up.  But with Sanchez now things are starting to take on an even more exciting flavour.

And look, we are doing all this thinking, without talking about Giroud – because in an attacking part of the team that includes Ramsey, Ozil, Walcott and Sanchez we have players who can pick out the pass, and slide the ball into the net.  But then suddenly the play switches and we have the big striker in the centre who still has to be marked by the defenders.    Replacing Giroud with someone else who would take a year to settle in would have been pointless.

Besides which, with the Ox, Walcott, Podolski, and Sanchez, not to forget Santi Caz, we ought to have enough players to play on the wing and feed the centre forward.

Also the arrival of Sanchez gives Ozil and Ramsey greater chances – Ramsey to do his runs to left or right or down the centre, Ozil put through those perfect passes to fast moving wingers on both sides, or through the centre.  Meanwhile, as I noted, the defenders are not just trying to catch up with the wingers, they also have to mark Giroud.

Now Giroud might have reached his level (22 goals last season) and might stay at the sort of goal total he has, but even at that level no defence can leave him unmarked and focus on the wingers.  Now we are starting to worry defences, because even if they man mark the three forwards, someone has to pick up Ramsey.
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Of course I could be making an idiot of myself all over again if there is no signing and like Higuain, we have another “the player never arrived at the airport” scenario.  But then if that happens, remember what happened after Higuain…. Ozil.

But everyone seems fairly certain now however that this deal is on, and there is also talk that the Debuchy signing is happening.  And there is still talk of more.

This is all because as we kept saying year on year, the financial deals are different now.  The old arrangements for sponsorship have finished and the club is now striking new deals that lead to new money.  (Although I understand the AAA are still telling their diminishing band of followers not to buy Puma shirts until we see some signings.  Hey ho.)

So who next?

Well, you just have to look at the blogs and work through the lists.   But at the same time, its never a bad idea to think how the tactics might work.   For this line up the tactic seems to be, astounding pace and scare the shit out of the opposition.

It works for me.

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24 comments to It’s not about who we sign, but about how they play as a team. Of course.

  • oldgroover

    Is it true that some supporters are suggesting that we don’t buy the Puma shirts until new signings are completed?
    Seems a bit counterproductive to me as that’s where we get the new signings money from in the first place.
    Anyway, yes as you say there’s lots of scope for rotation and as long as they stay fit there’s every reason to anticipate a successful challenge on all fronts.

  • Stuart

    “The only problem there appears to be with that is the it doesn’t find space for Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Lukas Podolski…

    Except of course we will have injuries, and so they will all get their chance.”

    Exactly. The season is long, and what is important is how all the squad members can help the club achieve. If Jack or Santi have to sit on the bench for a few games for the good of the club then so be it. It’s up to them to force their way into the team.

    Good to see us strengthening, if the Sanchez rumours are true. I personally think we also need an energetic midfielder with a bit of pace, aggression and leadership, as we got overrun badly in some big games last season and that cost us heavily. Debuchy for Sagna seems like a logical one. All in all, a lot to look forward to.

  • ClockEndRider

    OG,
    I suspect the people of whom you speak are the same types who try to arrange poorly attended marches and black bin bag protests. More to be pitied than blamed.

  • Mandy Dodd

    rotation is key these days. Perhaps a relative lack of it in the past has been…at least in part responsible for some of the injuries and extended recovery times, though we know there are other factors as well

  • Alex

    Seems everyone forgot Dyiabi.I wish him all the best.

  • olubenga

    I still don’t feel like we’ve shifted the needle of squad depth far enough to make an impact on the major trophies, but I do think the addition of better players and more know how will impact the areas we’re never going to get impact from Wenger. For me though, the manager should have been working on internal issues this summer. Because realistically, to make change happen, you have to be somewhere. Change management doesn’t really work via Blackberry. What are the core changes he’s made? His fitness coach is still in Brazil with Germany. What are the club doing about tactics? What are they doing about preparation? Have they made changes to the formation? Have they assessed where it all went wrong last season?
    Doubtful. Because the manager hasn’t been there.
    I just don’t get holiday if things aren’t working… and that’s coming from personal belief. I’d never go away if there were problems or issues at work and I’ve cancelled plenty of summer holidays over the last few years that are testament to that. That might seem an extreme view, but look, if he’s as passionate about work as everyone says he is… well, the idle nature of this summer seems contradictory.

  • will

    It seems to me that most blogs that are supposedly arsenal are actually anti arsenal such as a n r and there are people that want change good or bad however if the signings come off arsenal will be stronger well run club up against sugar daddy clubs that don’t pay their way

  • nicky

    @Alex,
    A vast number of us, Alex, still regard Diaby with much affection and admiration.
    This will be his season, when all the pain and setbacks will be forgotten.
    It’ll be like a new signing and he will play an important part in Arsenal’s success.
    Trust me….

  • Hisham Hashim

    Rotation and variation in the playing formation. Most matches we lined up as 4-2-3-1. Poor Giroud all alone upfront. Then we saw the team switched to 4-1-3-2 particularly when we have to chase the game, with Bendtner, then Sanogo, coming on to partner Giroud to find that goal.

    With Sanchez coming on board (fingers crossed), he would be best suited to play the roving role behind the main striker. That would be in the 4-1-3-2 formation or even the old 4-4-1-1 setup. Heck, Sanogo can start some matches with Sanchez all around him to give the attacking department some balance, giving Giroud a day or two off!

  • Dom

    A good post but you fail to mention that Giroud has no (decent) competition for the centre forward role and we DO still need another forward be it Remy or Jackson or whoever, Sanogo is still too raw and Sanchez can play that role but any injury to Giroud and I fear we’ll find ourselves reading the same old last January headlines of “should of bought another striker”

  • nicky

    @Dom,
    In all the forecasts about the coming season, no mention of the returning Campbell as a striker, or Walcott.
    I hope Sanogo stays and learns and doesn’t go out on loan.
    And don’t forget Diaby…

  • colario

    samrat
    July 10, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Do you believe everything you tell your hairdresser?

    Do you believe everything your hairdresser tells you?

    If its not on the Arsenal website then its not true. If its on the their website then the transfer is signed and sealed.

    The teacher was having to make a comment on the end of year report on the progress of Robert – a hopeless case. Not knowing what to say, he read his colleagues comments. One teacher had written ‘This year Robert hit rock bottom in this subject’.

    The teacher copied the comment for his subject. The next year the teacher was faced with the same problem. He looked to see what his colleague had written and read: ‘Last year Robert hit rock bottom, this year he began digging’.

    You are doing what Robert was doing if you believe claims of transfers of players to or from Arsenal on the internet or in UK newspapers.

  • Oliver

    I do wonder if with Giroud, Walcott, Sanchez, Podolski, Sanogo… there is space for 2 up front. I can’t really see how that would work, perhaps an asymmetrical team?

  • H Bo

    It is looking promising with this imminent signing although you missed a midfielder out and think that the Ox will play deep centrally more this season and that last midfield position will be rotated by him or Jack, as I can see Arteta being used a lot more sparingly this season and as for a striker we may not see one he may just rotate Theo, Poldi and Giroud. However we must make signings we have 1 goalie and 1 right back so there will be 3 at least it’s just who and when but see if they don’t unveil Sanchez in next 24 hrs with the shirts

  • samrat

    colario that is exactly what i wanted to say. The websites are so bereft of ideas that they are now concocting stories involving almost anybody.

  • olubenga

    IF Sanchez comes then I think it will be Cazorla who goes, we could get somewhere near 20m for Santi, Poldi is only worth 10 or so……it’s all about balancing the books a bit!!

    But the Sanchez deal still looks like another Higuain……..Liverpool or some Italian club will come in with a late 40m bid and it will all change……this is Arsenal!!

  • bob

    olubenga,
    Santi out in order to balance the books a bit? Maybe there’s other reasons, but why that one? I thought the ongoing big clear-out of all our lessers is supposed to do a good deal of that balancing act; plus there’s the Puma deal that kicks in starting today; plus the ever-growing TV deals to EPL squads; etc. So I don’t think balancing the books is an actual concern in this moment. Santi, of course, may want out; but given the inevitable injuries to come (always tempting to ignore that inevitability at this time every season running), if I had a binding vote to cast it would be stay Santi, stay.

  • bob

    Oliver,
    When Arsene switch the formation to 2 strikers (ex: Sanogo) near the end of several matches at the end of last seasons, it succeeded and posed serious problems to our opponents. Having that tactical flexibility to switch formations with a gain in serious firepower upfront should prove a tremendous weapon for us this season.

  • Quincy

    bob and olubenga, Cazorla is going nowhere, not least because he recently signed and improved contract. And anyway, you can’t complain about our ‘lack’ of depth last season, and then want the club to sell one player because we bought another. In fact, I still see him as our first choice LW.

    Anyway, I agree with everything in the article, except about the Ox. Am I the only one who’s very excited about him? When he was fully fit, I thought he played exceptionally well last season. The only question is, can he break into our very competitive midfield? And where? LW? RW? CM? Nonetheless, exciting times for the team.

  • para

    Our mid fielders are going to be like a gun(pun really not intended) cartridge with it’s six bullets, each ready to fire that all important goal into the opposition’s net, while rotating position at will.

    But for when it is needed, we will also be able to change our formations depending on the opposition.

    Best thing is, that we are going to have a better squad, big enough and good enough to cope with injuries and the many games. Don’t forget ManU is hoping on this fact of no EU games to propel them back to top of PL, so Arsenal is going to have to be strong, very strong next season.

    So i just cannot wait for the new season to start and the first match, against Henry’s team, i am well ready for it.

  • John L

    tony,

    i think the back line will stay much the same with the exception of RB. a big year for jenkinson and miguel to see if they will be able to step up.

    i think that this season we will see arteta, flamini and rosicky play a less integral role in the team. with wilshere, ramsey, the ox becoming the more influential midfield three. big year for diaby to see if he can stay fit one last time.

    ozil, cazorla, walcott, poldi, sanchez (hopefully) give us an exceptional attacking midfield with options and tactical variety. big year for campbell and gnabry both of whom i would really like to see given a chance.

    giroud will continue to be our main man upfront. with sanogo and possibly campbell covering.

    i think this gives us room in the first team to fit a couple extra players, it all depends on how wenger is planning on using arteta, rosicky, flamini and diaby.

    -obviosuly we will sign a RB. with jenkinson providing cover and competition.

    -if TV goes we will need another DC. otherwise i think it will be miguel or another young player for the future being signed.

    -i think we could use a very mobile athletic young signing for the future center midfielder, to phase in as arteta, rosicky, flamini are slowly phased out. although this could be done next season as well depending on how wenger sees our ‘old’ gaurd in midfield.

    -attacking midfield is looking great. especially with the addition of sanchez and with campnell and gnabry hopefully ready to explode onto the scene this year.

    we could use another striker although i think this is the trickiest area, i think if we see additions to this area of the field it will be another sanogo type signing. young, athletic, high potential player for the future. theres not to many players better than giroud in regards to what he brings to the team and im not entirely sure they are available.

    we look very good to me going into this season, and very very bright for the future. so we certainly dont need signings, however, where to but them doesnt seem to me to be a problem. as there is lots of room for the right players here and there…

  • John L

    in fantasy land…i would sign….

    aurier, hummels

    pogba

    hames rodriguez

    and the fastest striker, over 6’0 ft tall, and under 21 i can find for wenger to work his magic with…

  • Linz

    Alexis Sanchez has not come to Arsenal to play with Ya Ya Sanogo.Its insulting to expect him to.Also as we are being linked with Khedira or Bender it suggests that the club has finally given up on Diaby who will see out his last year possibly on loan.Wilshere is going to have to get his act together as well as it seems that Wenger is aiming high and the days of putting up with mid table level players is over.This will definitely be Rosicky and Artetas last season.Finally the rumoured signing from Atletico Madrid of the young RB Marquillo on loan,with an option to buy is bad news for Jenkinson and appears to suggest the whispers of Wenger not fancying him could be true.I anticipate a loan and then a transfer for poor old Jenko who will be devastated. The non appearance of club captain Vermaelen in any Puma pictures is the biggest indication he is off. Therefore a CB is a priority as Djourou signed permanently for hamburg in April I believe.