So the defence is sorted. Now what about Arsenal’s attack and midfield?

by Tony Attwood

I have been writing a few rambling pieces of late about the defence, reflecting the arrival of our new men.   My general point is that playing four at the back we have a wide choice of players – enough to cover for injuries, and to put out a different but still very experienced team, in the cups.

Given that our manager has shown himself to be an absolute cup expert both in winning the Europa League and in winning the French Cup and French League Cup twice, I think we can take it that he knows how to change the side and play for cup wins.

So I think we are going to play four at the back, and then have in front of those four one or two defensive midfielders, depending on who we are playing (is it a club with a modest attack or a highly offensive side, and are we at home or away).

Which means we have the keeper, plus four, plus one or two, meaning six or seven players defending, leaving obviously four or five more attack minded players.

If it is four attack minded players that means one midfielder and three forwards.  Obviously with five attack minded players (for example against a team in the lower reaches of the league playing at the Arsenal Stadium), we have two in midfield, and the three up top.

The obvious midfielder always to pick is Ramsey, because he can defend and attack from midfield positions.  For the second attacking midfielder, the number 10, I would have Ozil.  In other words where possible I’d have Ramsey and Ozil playing in most games, with Ramsey playing a more defensive role where the situation demands, but heading forwards where we are already several goals to the good, or playing at home against any but the most powerful opposition.

I still rate Xhaka very highly, and I see Elneny as the obvious Cup and injury replacement midfielder.  So for difficult games I’d play


4 defenders

Xhaka Ramsey


and for games where we are going more positive I’d play


4 Defenders


Ramsey   Ozil

But what about Torreira?  This is where it gets difficult.  If as everyone says, he is signing for us, where do we play him?  We could obviously play him next to Xhaka but then we need to drop one of Ramsey or Ozil.   Maybe it really is a case of always choosing three from Torreira, Xhaka, Ramsey and Ozil.  Unless Ozil goes back to the wing on occasions.

Which takes me onto the front line: three from Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, Aubameyang, Iwobi, Welbeck, plus perhaps Ozil.  The obvious choice for me for as many games as possible is

Mkhitaryan,    Lacazette,   Aubameyang

And of course I know Aubameyang is a centre forward, but as I have noted before, playing on the wing he can cause chaos to defences as no one knows where he is going to end up.  This is particularly the case where he can come in from the wing as a second centre forward while being replaced on the wing for a moment by Ozil.

When it comes to playing cup matches and covering for injured players we have Iwobi and Welbeck, plus one player who I have not slotted in anywhere: Maitland Niles.   We have seen him play in several places on the pitch and I suspect that central midfield is his ideal position.

But this still leaves us looking a little light if we really are going to replace much of the team for certain cup games.  We have plenty of spare capacity in defence, but for midfield and attack thus far we have 


4 Defenders

Elneny Maitland-Niles  ???

Iwobi   Welbeck  ???

If you are a regular reader of my wild ravings (as some consider these pieces – I prefer to call them ramblings, but you can choose), you may recall my excitement at watching Eddie Nketiah playing for England in the Toulon tournament this summer.  Personally I would play him at centre forward and put Danny on the wing.

And in the under 23 ranks we have Nelson, Willock and Dasilva all of whom have looked to me to be worth giving more time to.

Now putting one of these three guys in the lineup for a game is hardly a risk, because we are talking about cup matches against lesser opposition and we clearly do have a multiplicity of defenders to give solidity behind them.   So my midfield and forward line for such cup matches, and as a way of giving experience to the youngsters and keeping the backup players on their toes to cover in the eventuality of injury I would play


4 Defenders

Elneny Maitland-Niles  Nelson

Iwobi   Nketiah   Welbeck  


Of course I have not considered the keeper and I don’t know what the club plans to do, but we have three first team keepers in Leno, Cech and Ospina, and then three backups in the under 21s in terms of Virginia, Iliev and Macey.  Even if one of the first three leaves we still have plenty of cover.

So we actually have a surfeit of players if Torreira plays.  But I think this will be sorted out by going all out for the three cups and recognising that without a total implosion at Manchester City, given their money they are going to be very hard to overtake for a while.  Just as Bayern, Barcelona, PSG, Celtic, and Juventus have all already won their leagues, so I suspect Man City have won the Premier League.  That’s not our fault, but it is going to be very hard to do much about it.

Unless of course those underground peat fires currently circling Manchester find a route to under the stadium us tax payers paid to build, when Man C ply their trade.  Although I wouldn’t want anyone hurt along the way.

9 Replies to “So the defence is sorted. Now what about Arsenal’s attack and midfield?”

  1. Sorry, off topic.
    Ozil responsible for Germany’s WC exit, now Xhaka is to blame for Switzerland going home early. If England beat Columbia tonight I bet Ospina will get the blame!

  2. A question mark is Perez and what role he may or may not play.

    Which brings me to the who was in training today game. Apart from the core first team you’d expect to be there, I spotted Emile smith-Rowe in the pictures and apparently Osei-Tutu was also there. Akpom, jenkinson, Nelson, Willock and Nketiah all there pretty much as expected

    Those I thought could be there but didn’t spot (doesn’t mean they weren’t there) included Perez, AMN (still injured after Toulon?), Zelalem and Bielik.

  3. As I understand it at the moment, Tony, there are six over-age goalkeepers on the roster: Cech, Ospina, Leno, Emmie Martinez (whom you seem to have forgotten), Macey, and Iliev.

    Surely Ospina’s position is untenable, with Leno and Cech almost certainly ahead of him. I like Matt Macey (what a giant – did you see today’s training photos?), and especially Martinez, who got a rough deal last season riding the pine at Getafe – a year treading water and not progressing. Iliev, with a long-term injury has also stalled. All but Leno and Ospina were training today (why no Leno by the way?).

    Personally, I’d like to see Leno, Martinez and Macey. None of them would let the team down. I still, as I have observed before, believe Martinez to be the best of them all – well-built, a good shot- and penalty- stopper, strong on crosses, though don’t know anything about his distribution. Cech’s been good, but showed signs on occasion last season of slowing down: he continued to make world-class saves, but was largely responsible for several unnecessary goals; nor does he get any more reassuring in the air.


    The Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) recently closed an investigation into Paris Saint-Germain with regards to FFP spending, but the chairman of the CFCB has decided to send this decision for review by the adjudicatory chamber.

    This could mean the investigation could be re-opened, but only if the adjudicatory chamber rules it should not have been closed.


    Willian is subject to two bids from Barca and Man U, whilst Kante continues to be linked with PSG, who can now spend it seems.

    Tibault has reinterated that neing close to his children in Madrid is paramount, sparking fresh rumours regarding Athletico and Real.

    Whilst Hazard wil want some considerable additions to the Chelsea squad to stave off a move abroad. Although with plaers being linked to a revolving exit door, the end might be nigh, with significant investment unlikely if things surrounding the owner and international relations continue to fester.

    Althletico lose another experienced head, with Gabi set to link up with Xavi in Saudi.

    With so many significant exits from the World Cup, transfers may begin to roll on, with teams likely to want to conclude negotiations prior to players taking extending holidays. This will be especially significant for UK based clubs, with the transfer window closing for incomings prior to foriegn departures.

    Arsenal close in on their fourth transfer target as Uraguay enter the Qtr final stage, meanwhile Ryad Mahrez appears set to be announced as a City player along with Jorginho, as negotiations gain traction.

    Livrpool will have to reduce their squad size, before adding new players, will that intesity survive a World Cup?

    United find themselves in a similar position, but Jose is no stranger to taking a loss on a player, to ensure he has the bodies her prefers.

    Chesea continue to quietly go about selling the fixtures and fittings before repossession.

    And the Spuds, well they will need to deal with Toby, Dembele, Wanyama and Rose before they can realisticly gain any new personnel.

    Thank the heavens our prvious Manager set things as such….

    Giving up on the UK, along with Arsenal, maybe a nuanc I can embelish.

  5. I like MArtinez too Moody, I think keeping a slightly unhapy Cech isn’t worth the hassle, especially when we have two competent HG players to fill in. Ospina has to leave, keeping the keeper is simply unfair.

    Callum just extended, but interestingly Ozil now has Jack’s shirt, meaning it appears he will be given preference in his best position, in behind, although I genuinely think going 4-3-3 would be foolish given thzt only United and Spurs are restricted to go narrow, with the most significant threats coming from wide areas, with Salah, Sane, Sterling, Mahrez, all likely to drag midfielders out of position, without direct cover for the FB/WB areas.

    I think it looks like the first choice format will be 4-1-2-2-1 or 4-2-3-1 with AM and DM being rotated in game and depenant on opposition.

    What is exactly needed are versatile AMF who can be deployed wide if necessary.

  6. Don’t know what gonna happen but I’m rooting for OOOOOooooooooooooooooooospina!

  7. England actually played OK. I thought they did slightly better than Colombia. As for the shenanigans…England did go down easily but Colombia were also a bit thuggish so both managers were right.

  8. Maxwell – Martinez’s distribution is another of his strong suits. I remember him making multiple pinpoint accurate goal-kicks and throws. I haven’t seen any obvious weaknesses from him and I’ve no idea why he continuously seems to get overlooked. I just really hope we actually give him a chance this season, would hate to see him be sold or sent on loan to sit on the bench for another year. I’d like for him to be second choice, but I can’t see Arsenal selling both Ospina and Cech.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *