Arsenal: Where will Arsene Wenger play Mesut Ozil – No. 10 or on the wing?

Blog by: Onenildown Twooneup

Mesut Ozil is one of the world’s top attacking talents and his assists and even his goal record stand comparison with the very best. Most would describe him as a playmaker or an attacking midfielder, and he is has undoubtedly been used there for club and country, but for me he may just answer our left wing problem.

Many of you will disagree but I do not enjoy Santi Cazorla out wide for Arsenal. Even on Sunday as well as he played, the level of exasperation in Tomas Rosicky was palpable. He continually had to cover for Cazorla’s roaming. This is okay to a degree but there is literally no discipline at all from the Spaniard and a better team than Tottenham Hotspur would have exploited our left flank. We are lucky that Kieran Gibbs is in such fine form.

Cazorla also has no pace to beat the full back on the outside but my biggest bugbear is that he does not act as the second striker when we attack from the right flank and this can leave Olivier Giroud isolated.

If you play our 4-2-3-1/4-3-3, one of the wingers has to join the centre forward and act as the second striker. Cazorla does not do this when he starts as a left winger but he does as a CAM. Conversely Lukas Podolski naturally fulfils the second striker duty but lacks Cazorla’s creativity.

However it is not primarily the indiscipline of Cazorla as a winger that influences my view, more just how brilliant he is given the free role in the centre ahead of the two deeper midfielders and behind Giroud.

It is in this position that the diminutive Spaniard can dictate the pace of the game and make his telling passes. It is from here that as the midfield general he will be able to find the curved runs of the wingers, either out wide or in behind. At that is the key from my perspective – pace!

Cazorla is not as fleet footed as Theo Walcott or Ozil. I would prefer to see the flexibility in our formation, assuming it remains the same exercised by our wide men. What do I mean by this? Well for me, having watched all Ozil’s assists from last season for Real Madrid, by far the majority have come from the wide positions. He is naturally left footed, although like Cazorla, he is strong with both. So in as far as we will have a formation and each player a position, when we don’t have possession I would like to see Ozil wide left.

He is a more natural winger than Cazorla in his ability to run with the ball and beat a player with pace, at least in my opinion. That is not to say that the positions when Arsenal are in attack should not be interchangeable.

Both Ozil and Cazorla at CAM and LW, which I suspect will happen naturally, but also between The German and Walcott, who should also continually switch flanks. Both Ozil and Walcott can make the runs in behind and Cazorla will find them. It can be a throwback to Dennis Bergkamp finding the runs of Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg.

I may be wrong but I also feel with Ozil and Walcott at least starting in the wide positions the speed of Arsenal’s break out play will significantly improve; another throwback to the early 2000s.

The reality is that whatever the combination or starting set up the threesome of Ozil, Cazorla and Walcott behind Giroud is as potent as any forward line in the league. I can’t help thinking that we may be entering an era of winning by outscoring significantly rather by not conceding.

Does this bother me? No not really, bring on the party.

This contention is based as much on the rest of the team as the new attacking combinations because, unlike many commentators, at least in the media I do not think Aaron Ramsey will miss out. I have seen most assume that due to the potential new look of our front four; one of Jack Wilshere or Rambo will miss out to accommodate a more defensive player, namely Mathieu Flamini or Mikel Arteta.

This is entirely possible and in the big top of the table clashes probable but Wenger may just say what the hell, we can defend better these days, so I will pick my most talented front six.

Many may consider this a risky strategy but in Ramsey and Wilshere, assuming the latter is back to full fitness, we have two players who can cover the ground and each other. This will include assisting the full-backs because Ozil and Walcott will not always track back as they might.

The deepest role is one of anticipation and intelligence, interception and distribution not crunching tackle and last ditch lunges. Both our young Brits have the attributes and in Ramsey I feel we have the most improved player in the Premier League.

Now given how thin our squad has looked with a few injuries and how inexperienced our bench has looked the management have come under some criticism during this window. Not sure many would argue they did not deserve the scrutiny and most would have added a cover defender and striker.

But any defence in the league will struggle against the pace and the creativity of the three operating behind Giroud. Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar – don’t matter, no danger and an acting award quite frankly.


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