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.