Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil and the soon-to-play Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott are options every manager would love to manage. Add to that squad depth in Podolski, Joel Campbell and Rosicky, and it would be perfectly reasonable to suggest that Arsenal have the personnel to score goals for fun.
There is potential for Arsenal to shine, but to get the best out of the team Arsene Wenger still has work to do. Here are some of the things the gaffer should consider if he wants the best for Arsenal in the Premier League:
1. Shore up the defence : The transfer window has ended, but Wenger still can improve on his measly showing of six first-team defenders. Mario Yepes, a Colombian who lifted heads in the World Cup, is a free agent who can be bought anytime during the year. In addition, if possible Arsenal should look to cancel Carl Jenkinson’s West Ham loan. Whatever Wenger’s plans were with Calum Chambers, they’re surely skewed owing to his impressive performances at centre back.
The six defenders that Arsenal possess are good and able, but they’re too few to go through a season unscathed.
In addition, playing a 4-1-4-1 isolates one of Arsenal’s weakest positions – defensive midfield. By pushing central midfielders like Ramsey and Wilshere further forward, Wenger is making a tactical error in leaving the likes of Arteta and Flamini devoid of support. It was no wonder that Flamini was all over the place against Leicester. The present formation has stifled Arsenal’s attacking prowess and weakened the midfield. Wenger really should put his money where his mouth is and revert to the conventional 4-2-3-1 formation – one that brought him considerable success last season.
3. Personnel structure : One of the most important changes the boss has to make is decide a primary position for each player and play him there for most of the season. By experimenting and giving mixed signals through match conferences, the likes of Sanchez, Chambers, Ramsey, Ozil and Santi Cazorla’s plans for this season aren’t clear. Instead of buying a load of attacking midfielders and playing them everywhere across midfield, perhaps Wenger could assign round pegs for round holes in a suitable formation.
Assuming – on the terrible off-chance – that Arsenal recall Jenkinson and sign Yepes, this is where I personally feel Wenger should assign his players to play, stacked in order of priorities, irrespective of injuries and in a 4-2-3-1 formation:
Arsenal have strength of depth in midfield and forwards, but the downside is that they have a manager who is reluctant to use those options. Wenger has praised his egalitarian squad back in January, but it’s time he starts using it.
Using the right players for the right occasions is also a part of rotation. For instance, in the match against Everton when Lukaku was deployed on the right, Wenger shouldn’t have made it easy by pitting him against Monreal and Ozil. Instead, he should have made Ozil and Oxlade-Chamberlain switch flanks, because at least The Ox is much better at tracking back than Ozil. He and Nacho could have worked out a plan to stop Lukaku.
If the opposition demands a situation where Arsenal need to press the ball high up, then it’s more feasible to sport a lineup with Rosicky, Welbeck and Sanchez, as opposed to Ozil, Podolski and Cazorla. It’s little things like these that Wenger is negligent towards, that add up those extra points. Lest we forget, tactics are in no way connected to having less funds to spend.
Despite the transfer window closing, Arsenal can fill numbers in defence. In addition, should the manager play his cards wisely according to circumstance, he could take the club far in the league. It’s unlikely, but possible.