Hello to all Arsenal fans out there!
Welcome to the Arsenal Analyst blog. Here, you will find an in-depth analysis of Arsenal’s tactics, formations, line-ups and many more information that go on during the match.
Today, we have put together a “two-part” preview to take a look at how Arsenal might take on the new season.
With the opening game between Leicester City FC and Hull City AFC, the long waited 2016/17 EPL season got underway. Arsenal is also ready to start this season and they will be facing Liverpool FC in the 1st round.
Fans are now out of patience while new “big named” managers took charge of Arsenal’s rivals this season. It is a big season for Arsenal and a very difficult season is expected.
Let’s start talking about new signings first. How is the summer transfer window going for Arsenal so far?
Four new players came in until now, but only two players are likely to make it into the first team, Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding.
Arsenal definitely needed a solid defensive midfielder to replace Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta. Granit is a tough defensive midfielder with accurate long-range passing ability. Looking at his performance during the “Euro 2016” this summer, he is likely to become a quality addition to the team’s variety.
Rob Holding is a young central defender signed from Bolton Wanderers FC. Despite only being 20 years of age, he already has quite a few experience with first team football. He was a solid starter at his previous club (playing in the Football League Championship) and he was awarded Bolton Wanderers FC Player of the Year last season.
This youngster might be a great addition to the team in terms of future investment.
With some new signings on the line, how do you see Arsenal playing in the upcoming season?
When it comes to flexibility in formation, Arsène Wenger is not the person to talk about. He likes to keep things stable and is surely not a very flexible tactician.
With 4-2-3-1 becoming the trend few years ago, Wenger has long been a maniac for this formation. This will probably stay the same this season too.
Arsenal has three goalkeeper options in the first team.
With Emiliano Martínez staying as a third option, Petr Čech still remains stable in the number one goalkeeper position.
BUT, let’s not forget David Ospina.
Looking at his performance in “Copa América Centenario” this summer, he definitely has the potential to become a starter too.
One of the two centre-back positions definitely goes to Laurent Koscielny.
He was great throughout last season and he also did very well during the summer in “Euro 2016.”
The problem is at the other centre-back position, Laurent’s partner.
Arsenal has four options at this place: new signing Rob Holding, Calum Chambers who wasn’t given too much chance last season, Arsenal’s new captain Per Mertesacker, and Gabriel Paulista.
For few years, Mertesacker and Laurent kept up a good partnership. However since the second half of last season, Mertesacker’s form started to decline.
Gabriel was given several chances to replace Per as a starter but failed to satisfy Arsène’s expectation. His performance was way too risky to be given a big role at the back-four line.
Per and Gabriel are both injured at the moment. They are not likely to make it to the first game, reports say. Laurent, as we all know, is taking a break after “Euro 2016” which also makes him unavailable for the start of the season.
*Calum Chambers & Rob Holding
Arsenal now only has two youngsters to rely on, Calum and Rob. Wenger was already getting ready for this kind of situation as he tested out the youngster duo’s combination during the pre-season matches.
This combination definitely showed the fans something to worry about. There were some hopes for the long term future but playing these two right now for a big game could turn out to be a disaster.
Let’s take a look at Chambers first.Chambers opens up far too easily there. Just one flick and he’s gone!
This is even worse.A stupid header from Chambers to open up a great chance for the opponents and a goal conceded.
Here is yet another stupid header from Chambers, giving away an easy shot.Calum’s independent defensive quality just lacks to be a starting player yet.
How about Holding?
This was the Manchester City FC game in pre-season.Rob loses Sergio Agüero, doesn’t go for the header, and a goal. Not something the fans want to see during the season.
Arsenal just might have one more option to consider: a youngster from the Academy, Krystian Bielik.
Bielik is actually a defensive midfielder but Wenger used him as a central defender during the pre-season. Bielik told in an interview why he was playing as a centre-back; Wenger saw some positive aspects from Bielik’s passing ability, his ability to build up a play from the defensive end.
But, that’s not exactly what we see here: a horrible mistake to breakdown the whole defensive line.
Koscielny’s best partner still seems to be unclear.
Now, let’s look at the right full-back position.
In the right full-back, Arsenal has Héctor Bellerín as a definite starter.
Two players backing up Bellerín are Mathieu Debuchy and Carl Jenkinson.
Mathieu might be leaving because he is still looking for a guaranteed starting position. He was actually given some chances during the pre-season. He did well, showing some great overlapping abilities but not too well enough to overcome Bellerín.
Carl seems to be staying for sure, so there is no worry for a backup in this position.
The left full-back position does not have much change from last season.
Nacho Monreal will be a starter since he was one of the best left full-backs in the league last season and Kieran Gibbs will support Monreal as a substitute member.
Two central midfielders or two central defensive midfielders, Arsenal has four good options at this position: Santi Cazorla, Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin and Granit Xhaka.
These four players are all capable of playing the best eleven and the choice will differ with Arsène’s tactics in each game.
If Arsenal plays a very defensive game, Elneny and Coquelin will start the game. If Arsenal needs someone to carry the ball into the attacking third, Cazorla is definitely the best choice and if Arsenal chooses to play some long balls from behind, Granit will fit the tactic.
There is one controversy at this position which is Jack Wilshere.
Will Jack play in the central midfield position? I don’t think he is any better than other four players competing in the same position. He doesn’t seem to have a place anymore.
Arsenal has their biggest star occupying this spot, Mesut Özil.
He will be a starter for sure. But who will backup Özil? Özil cannot and should not play in every game. He should be rested time to time, to keep his best form.
His backup is probably going to be Santi Cazorla or Jack Wilshere.
Jack was more of an attacking midfielder before he changed his role, so if he can’t play as a central midfielder, why not just use him as a rotation for attacking midfielders?
Santi can play anywhere in midfield and he is good in every one of those positions. During the pre-season, Wenger played him in a more attacking position.
He made a great long range goal
and he also opened up a great chance for his teammate.He clearly understands his role at that spot.
On the right wing, players will face lots of competition. Let’s first take a look at two players who might play in this position, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (a.k.a Ox) and Joel Campbell.
Both showed great display during the pre-season. Ox definitely proved that he put in a lot of effort during the break and Joel always did his job when he was given the chance to play.
If Ox can keep up this kind of form throughout the season, he will definitely stay in the best eleven. But, Joel is different. For some reason, he is not at all favored by Arsène.
Other than these two, there is actually one more player that might occupy this position, Aaron Ramsey.
To be honest, he is a disaster when he plays in the central midfield position. He is a little better when he plays on the wing but one thing that might worry the fans is his new back number.
He was number sixteen until last season but changed his number to eight before the start of this season. Eight being a symbolic number for central midfielders, is this a sign of him playing in the central midfield again?
*Aaron Ramsey as Central Midfielder
As Jamie Carragher analyzed before, Ramsey has an undeniable weakness in defensive ability. His defensive positioning is just tragic.
Here is Ramsey running into the attacking third.
It’s that big space he leaves behind, allowing the attackers to easily run into the back-four line.
Again here, Ramsey is running in like an attacking midfielder (he’s a central midfielder in this game).
He comes out to receive the ball
and makes a pass into the middle.
As soon as the ball is lost, Ramsey is out of his position, leaving that big space unoccupied.
An easy counter attack chance given to the opponents.
Game against Manchester City, Ramsey this time distributes the ball from behind.
A cross goes in
and Arsenal loses the ball. Where is Ramsey?
Look at that space in front of Yaya Touré!
Yaya Touré runs in and that space widely opens up for a counter attack.
Here, Ramsey doesn’t even bother running.A pass into the middle by Yaya Touré but where is Ramsey again?
Why isn’t he covering the right space?!
He is goddamn central midfielder in this game!
*Aaron Ramsey on Right Wing
So, is Aaron any better on the wing? For the last two years, Ramsey’s goal scoring ability vaporized. If he is looking to play as a starter (at least on the right wing), he should revive his 2013/14 season form in front of goal.
That’s it for the first part. In the second part of this preview, we will go on to take a look at rest of the positions (left wing and striker) and analyze how things might shape up in the upcoming 1st round.