I agree with Andrea Rosati from his piece on Wednesday that we are now in a position where Wenger has to make 100% correct tactical decisions beginning with Chelsea. Conte has Chelsea playing to a system, which the team understands, and he has fitted all his square pegs into square holes. The key to his success began when he changed the set up to a back three. The wing backs surge forward when Chelsea win the ball and they all know where their nearest teammate should be. The options are simple. Play at speed, move the ball and look for Costa. When the ball is lost run back into shape and press to get the ball back. A mate will back the tackler up, and as soon as the ball is retrieved, they are off again. They play short to medium passes and Hazard runs at defenders to create spaces.
Wenger on the other hand does not have a plan or a method other than to play smooth tricky football. The first touch is vital and when it works and the players connect with each other, it looks fantastic. When Jack was at his best it was a delight to see Cazorla, Walcott and Jack inter passing with each other and with Ozil and Giroud. When it worked in the box, we scored classic goals and no other team was as attractive to watch. The problem is, it doesn`t work often enough and now Jack and Cazorla are missing from the engine room. Without a method, some of these players look like square pegs in round holes and Wenger seemingly doesn`t know how to fix it.
Andrea is right that Wenger leaves the tactics to his clever and “intelligent” players to work their magic rather than school them and the others into a means of playing consistently repeatedly until they know what they are supposed to do and they do it instinctively. Bellerin attacks instinctively and when he charges upfield the midfielders should be moving with him, they should be working to support him and the likes of Ozil, Sanchez and Walcott, whilst also trying to support Giroud in the middle. It requires discipline from Kos and Mustafi because if the attack breaks down they need to be prepared to repel the counter attack. They are no use if they are caught upfield and the opposing forwards are charging at them. Bellerin also needs to retreat as soon as the ball is lost.
If our attack does break down then we need the attackers to funnel back quickly in orderly fashion, not flying willy – nilly all over the place. Leicester did it last year and Chelsea are doing it now. Liverpool were doing it but they don`t have enough of a squad to provide a constant defence and they have been found out because their high pressing game demands equal pressure from their midfield and defence.
Our weak links are Monreal, who still attacks along the wing but who can’t get back fast enough now. He is also slow to turn and he is being targeted as the focal point for attacks. We have given more corners, free kicks and penalties from that quarter than anywhere else. Ramsey is the other one. He slows play up because he has to turn first and then make up his mind what he is going to do. It was clear against Watford that our play speeded up after he went off.
I think we need Cech to play with Mustafi, Kos and Holding as our version of a back three. Bellerin and Gibbs should play as wing backs along with Ox. With Ozil in front of them. Sanchez in the CF position and Walcott and Perez on the wings. This would require Mustafi, Kos and Holding to be limited to staying in their own half, other than for corners. It is of course a system that Chelsea have perfected and it is why they are now firm favourites to secure another title with ever narrowing Premier League betting odds.
The midfielders should never be more that talking distance from each other and the ball should be moved as quickly as possible to Ox, Ozil or one of the wingers. The speed of our front three and their mobility should open up gaps in the tightest defence and that would be my plan to combat Chelsea. I am aware that this is only an opinion, but at least it has a plan and it does provide a way to give our team some sense of purpose and enough threat to keep Messrs. Luiz and Co. busy.
A sophisticated, articulate Arsenal Man of Mystery. Aged 70 and a bit.