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October 2016
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Scoring more goals by buying a defensive midfielder…

By Walter Broeckx

At the start of last season we had a fairly good run of results. Arsenal was creating most chances in the PL and converted them very readily and to win some matches.

But then came the moment we lost both Coquelin and Santi in two weeks and both were out for a long time.

After that we had a spell in which it went down a bit. We still created chances but not as before. And on top of that Alexis had a long injury and when he came back he lacked something. To make matters worse we had to see how Giroud had his worst spell in Arsenal colours. His goals dried up in the PL. The result was that we only ended up in second place.

Now with the hysteria out there on the social media these days let us try to look at what Arsenal did so far and how this might change our team.

When everyone was fit the combination of Santi and Özil was the driving creative force behind our game. We played a more realistic game but created a lot. This was because of the difficulty for the opponents to stop us from creating. When they covered Özil, Santi had more freedom to create. And then when they tried to stop Santi… it was Özil who had more freedom.

But once Santi got his injury and Coquelin was out also it became easier for opponents to cut our offensive power out.  They just had to make sure that they would stop Özil and our main threat was nullified for most part.

Now with the strikers we have we should be sure that both Giroud and Alexis when being fit all season will each score between 15-20 goals. Certainly when they are being fed by the tandem Santi-Özil.

The cry we hear about a top goal scorer is fine and I wouldn’t mind if we did buy one but with the ongoing prices for the moment it is pure madness.  I’m not really sure I want to go with that madness. After all we will always will be one step beyond the money teams like City and Chelsea.

I do think however with the purchase of Xhaka we have more or less arranged erradicated a big flaw from last season. By buying a central defensive minded midfielder we might have improved the chance of us scoring more goals. Strange? Well not if it all works out as I have it in my head and I think it might be also in Wenger’s head.

Missing Santi cost us created chances. But with Xhaka we have a player who can both control midfield and who can create things up front. Xhaka might not be the man of the assist but he surely is one of the players to give the pre-assist.  From what I have seen in the Bundesliga and in the few minutes he played for us is that he has the ability to play the pass between the lines. He can spot the openings and deliver a good pass that can lead to us opening up defences.

And on top of that he also has the eye and the quality to play the long ball over the top of defences. I think if Alexis and Xhaka can fine tune their runs and passes we might be in for some great moments.

If Xhaka finding Alexis with a long ball doesn’t lead to Alexis scoring it might lead to Alexis giving an assist to Giroud or whoever plays in the centre of the attack. If not Alexis himself. As that is an option mostly ignored but he has played there and can play from the shoulder of the last defender.

I have seen Xhaka attempt to play that ball when he played for Switzerland in the Euros more than once. But alas for Xhaka and Switzerland, his teammates weren’t good enough to do anything with those lovely weighted balls.

So I think that if we could play Xhaka-Santi-Özil at the same time we have all what is needed to open opponents with all kinds of passing. Short, long… we have it all in there.  Xhaka is and can play as another deep lying playmaker just like Santi did at the start of last season and in the period when we had most points of all the teams in 2015.

Even if one of them is missing we still will have two that can cause havoc with the opponents with their quality. So it will be no more : stop Özil and you cut out half the Arsenal danger. No it will be much more problematic for other teams to stop Arsenal. If Özil is stopped then Xhaka and Santi will come out more. And any other combination is possible of course.

By buying a defensive midfielder-playmaker I think Wenger has done a good job as it will create more chances up front for us. This might sound a contradiction but if you watch Xhaka play you will see that he is more than just a guy taking balls of the other team and then play the simple pass to a teammate.

I think Arsenal will score more because of having bought a defensive midfielder. I think that is part of the plan that was in Wenger his mind when he did go in early for Xhaka. He was the player he wanted most of all.

For the rest about buying a striker I will just wait and see what happens without going in to panic mode. I also think it would be ridiculous to buy players because three players could miss the first match of the season because of the Euros. You don’t buy a player for one or two matches. Certainly not at the inflated prices of today.

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12 comments to Scoring more goals by buying a defensive midfielder…

  • Wellbeck=back up striker=out till next year=panic

  • Dennis Series

    The actual issue was that we never had a defensive midfielder to win the ball back, you can only make chances if you have the ball which is exactly what Gilberto used to do. Thing wrong with Wenger is he wants too many creative players, hopefully the new guy can be the robust tackler we require and then Ozil, Sanchez and Co can do the rest. On a similar topic we need a no nonsense centre half who will hack the ball away in danger not try to nutmeg the forward or try to play one two’s out of defence., maybe Wenger should consider someone like the bloke sitting next to him.

  • Nikkogunners

    It a good article and not many fans think the player in the centre of the pitch scores goals. But this can be a super squad with a striker who actually scores more goals and i think right now if we get Lacazette we will be well.

    The other thing is Wenger should stop the fascination with wingers. We can play with a strong midfield that can exploit the wings when needed but can concentrate it’s ball play in the centre. and we can have a super wing player. Someone like Alexis with a free role would explore the wings from all points.

    look at this arrangement 4.5.1

    ——-Alexis (free role)——–

  • Zzzz

    Yet another one where the writer is so convinced of his views he/she not only has to hide behind an assumed name, but can’t actually bring himself to deliver a proper email address.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    @Nikkogunners My impression is that we come into the middle a lot. Having at least one effective winger and a good overlapping fullback is a good alternative to trying to muddle through the center all the time. Walcott seems to finally have conceded that wing is his best place. Sadly for him, he might find himself surpassed by the Ox.

  • laos gooner

    Thank you, so many have, it seems, forgotten about these key injuries last season. I think we did well from a nightmare season on the injury and form front. It makes our St Totteringhams day all the greater in its acheivement as the spuds had a much more stable team with first choice players in their main roles. As ever our reserves are better than spuds 1st team. I do tend to agree and it will make an interesting sub-plot to follow. I await the next article with analysis of the points discussed above to see if you were right. There was a clear change in our season from the time of these injuries so let’s hope we can keep players fit to be able to fairly compare. I think Elneny did help to stabilise midfield once he came in and I think he will be important for the team in this season, not only on the pitch but also to keep sharpness to performances by putting pressure on selection. I have a feeling from some of the preseason I have seen so far that it will be a very open and even season. I look forwards to the Arsenal proving me wrong and romping to the title by a 25 point margin.

  • nicky

    @Going Gooner,
    As you say, it would appear that Theo at long last knows his place. I still feel however that there is room both for him and the Ox. Two strings to Arsene’s bow is not to be sneezed at.

  • marcos

    Cast ur mind to d Ars 5 vs lecister 2 our midfield had afta flamini left arteta caz n ozil.from dat moment we controlled dat game n cud hav scored much more.granit is a better arteta so imagine him caz somtymes dnt try to enjy wat dey hav always afta wat s bin sold.goin afta a striker doesn’t min t must b a bg name.slimani of Lisbon can do a gud job as well Evans of west’s all bout d organiztn of d team.

  • Minstrel

    Yes agree! Also several other things suggest Arsenal will be stronger this season:

    –Dont forget that wilshere was out almost the entire last season. If he stays (relatively) uninjured, we have another excellent creative spark who can alternate with cazorla.

    –it also has to be said that Elneny has been a great buy. He brings considerable intensity, composure and intelligence to the middle of the park. With a first half season under his belt, i have no doubts his performance will be even better this season.

    –Also: Ramsey is a better player in the middle than out wide. In fact when in form he’s a great player who can deputize there, too. As can oxlade-chamberlain.

    -In terms of creativity up front, let’s also remember the rise of iwobi last season. Here is actually a worldclass player in the making, who seriously vies for a starting Berth. (As i see it, his price should be equivalent to what city paid for leroy sane, if not higher. And he progressed through our youth ranks!)

    // With this said, i think things look exciting.

    Let’s hope we get a striker in though. We cant solely rely on giroud (he’s good but no henry or van persie), plus the competition will do him good. And nobody can say Wenger hasnt tried to sign a striker: Suarez, benzema, vardy… (could perhaps have tried harder, but…)

    Finally, i think mertesackers injury has been a blessing in disguise. It’s obvious he is a dependable player, but there are many upgrades out there who would (pace Wenger) improve the team. Mustafi being one. Let’s hope we get him in.

    Ok one more: ideally we should sell walcott. Unfortunately, I think he’s shown he wont develop as a player.

  • JohnW

    i also looked at Xhaka in terms of managing stress and tiredness. He together with Elneny and Coquelin can hold in midfield. If any of them is injured, then we won’t be thrown into panic. In a difficult game against the big boys, should we take the lead and want to hang on, we can put in all three and shower up the midfield. So this season, we will be more ‘safe’ than last season.

  • nicky

    Can’t agree with you about Walcott.
    Now that he appears to accept his permanent role is on the wing, I feel he still has an important part to play in next term’s campaign.
    On his day he is unbeatable.
    Give him another season and we may well see him at his best.

  • omgarsenal

    Marcos…………is that English you’ve written but your keyboard lacks a few letter keys? Is it a strange form of pidgin English from lower Stoke or upper Liverpool? Is it even English?