Been away from blogging for a couple of months. Not because I had writers block as those who follow me on Twitter would attest! I started a new job so had to focus my mind on that but today I have something to say that has to come out!
Earlier this year I wrote this blog on GT about our three British midfielders Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
I went into detail on how I assessed them as players, what were their competencies for example shooting dribbling and graded them in a form of scouting report.
I wrote this then as I could see a problem for the manager – How would he fit them into the team, they are too good not to play so how when all are fit could he make it work. That was January – In August the papers and our timelines still discuss the merits of the three players. A combination of England’s abject failure in the World Cup and Cesc Fabregas good form and Wenger’s decision not to buy him has got many discussing.
So I will update you on my thoughts today and how their games should or could be developed to benefit the team most.
Aaron came back from pre-season last summer and it was obvious he had been working hard. He shone in Asia and basically started the season as the best player in the Premier League. By December he led the league on touches and was our top goalscorer. We could all see his game was not economical and he was begging for an injury and at WHU the thigh strain arrived.
It was almost a relief – a 3-4 weeks out and he comes back rested for the Champions League and FA Cup run in. Well it was 12-13 weeks and we did our normal team collapse.
This season Aaron is starting to believe he is THE MAN. He has a confidence in his game that he CAN and SHOULD be the one who delivers. Fantastic mentality one that is missing from so many British players. That art of responsibility. Difficult to coach so when you find a player that wants to be responsible you nurture it you give it opportunity to shine you load responsibility onto that player. Arsene Wenger did that with Cesc he is doing it now. Sometimes it breaks a player just when IMO he needs to do less to get more from his game.
Arsenal have three Brits who crave responsibility all young and all wanting to play deserving to play.
This season Aaron looks just as good but the bar has been raised. Others have worked hard others are as fit and others want the ball. Aaron has been a little self indulgent especially in Turkey. It was a difficult night and hard to move the ball but a few of his decisions like many others were wrong and it cost him his sending off.
Aaron is our number 8 he is the engine that drives this team. His ability to run dictate and then pop up in areas make him impossible to track. That freedom of game and the fact he empties the middle maybe the reason why Wenger has put Jack next to him and lost our number 10 position.
Not sure but many of Aaron’s strengths sometimes make us weaker as a unit. Balance the constant search for it in a paradigm where every game is different and every player plays differently most games.
Aaron needs to just play fast and loose. Move it quick and follow his pass. No one can stay with him. 11k a game Fabregas can’t do that and Aaron will make him run when they meet and Aaron’s technique will hold longer.
Jack’s supposed struggles are well documented. UPFRONT – I admit I have an unconscious bias for tall athletic dynamic midfielders like Patrick Vieira, Abou Diaby, and William Carvalho!
Jack’s talents I take longer to appreciate but his talent for running games and wanting to be central is excellent. When I saw Jack and Aaron playing against Manchester City, it was very encouraging how they seemed to play together and not AGAINST each other – To me they are the same player wanting the same shirt but at times it does work with three central midfielders playing closer together.
In Turkey it did not work as well and my mind drifted to Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard’s relationship for England.
Lampard and Gerrard would not defer to each other. They both wanted to run England and in my mind they played for themselves. Paul Scholes was the player who had talents to run teams Lampard and Gerrard were scorers from midfield – NOT midfield players. One had to play not both and Scholes had to play.
Jack and Aaron must not fall into this trap and need to tactically improve. There were times this week when Aaron burst forward it broke down and you see Jack bursting into the box simultaneously – that is wrong. Jack then needs to sit behind the ball and not be too far away from where he should be, it means that he is always on the stretch going into challenges and not looking assured.
I was pleased to see Jack not go into a 50-50 this week. He needs to play. It’s not about being a macho man it’s about playing. Look after your tactical positioning Jack you in turn look after your body.
There are enough games for both of them they have to be smarter and defer to each other when the other is better placed. I do think they are complementary talents. Jack is looking quicker and fitter. He is top drawer for 65 minutes and then fades and seems to limp a little as he runs. A labouring style. At that point he must be withdrawn. But I see a returning talent. He is focused.
I explained earlier my bias for pace and the dynamic, so on a personal level I honestly think the OX could be better than both Jack and Aaron and if used correctly we have a global superstar on our hands.
I actually see is ascent similar to Gareth Bale – He was misused and when used properly he was unstoppable.
The Ox says he is a central midfield player I am not so sure. He has devastating power and power running ability. He has a shot in both feet that is like a thunderbolt. He can shoot on the run both feet. He can pass short and long distances. He can move past you both sides or blast through you.
I look at the competencies of his game and wonder what he can’t do. He reacts well when he loses the ball he tackles he plays in power bursts.
We have to move him forward. Two players come to mind. He must be used for Arsenal like Everton use Ross Barkley.
They play him as a ten. Roberto Martinez uses him as a connector. His style is robust and direct. Barkley is a shooter with a touch more expression than the OX but his speed and power is not as good as Alex.
When the OX runs with the ball, as he did in Turkey when he hit the post, one player comes to mind. Ronaldo.
I cannot see how you can have a talent like this sitting on the bench allowing Alexis Sanchez to acclimatise he has the ability to power past people when he runs – my emotions tell me where he should play.
Football for me is about how you feel, how players makes you feel allows you to assess their potential and asses how they could be used. The adaptability of such a rounded talent does cause issues but the Ox is the one who can ignite this team – there is a place in the 11 waiting for him but Wenger has to trust him and once he delivers he will be our next superstar.
I would use Mesut Ozil right, Sanchez left, the Ox in the Barkley role and Theo or Giroud as a centre-forward.
Back to work!
AFC fan of 35 years. Grew up in Luton wishing I grew up in Upper Street and could just not get enough of AFC and the area.
I was a child influenced by Charlie George but it got serious for me was in the Liam Brady, Graham Rix and Paul Davis era’s.
Home and Away fan in times gone by – More selective on games today due to prices and middle age.
Priorities – I now watch my 12 year old son play Academy football which gives me a more holistic view of the coaching aspect of the game. I study players the profile of players in relation to squad and team building. I want Arsenal to be as big as we are.
My Hero – Vieira
Happiest Day – Copenhagen v Parma
Saddest Day – Paris 06 & Cfc in the CL quarter Finals 2004
Biggest wish – Wenger to win again and for the gap between the fans and the club to narrow.
The best days are ahead.