Time for Lacazette and Giroud in a new 352 – Wenger to follow England’s Cue

Together at last?

The debate on Arsenal’s contract rebels will rumble on and as long as it does it will only exacerbate the division of opinions on Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.  Neither performed at anywhere near the levels we know they are capable of last time out at the Eithad. The venue for their understated (being polite) performances only serves to emphasise the point in truth – Ozil because it represents for many another opportunity to shine in a big away fixture passed up, and for Sanchez as it was against the team and coach he seems to want to play for.

For me as well, the decision to start a player, who wishes to leave the club, ahead of our record signing, desperate to prove his worth to his coach and to a supportive fan base was a strange call by Wenger to say the least. Not quite up there with playing Chamberlain against Liverpool but not far off it.

Until Ozil commits his future to Arsenal, despite his protestations to the contrary, he will be viewed with suspicion by many Arsenal supporters, rightly or wrongly. As for Alexis, I suspect most of us, thought that despite his desire to leave the club, due to his nature and personality, he would still play at full throttle. Arguably he still is but it is becoming evident his efforts are increasingly soloist and he appears out of sync with some of his colleagues.

Happier times

Against this back drop and with a growing call for increased involvements for Jack Wilshere, for club and country we approach the first North London Derby of the season. However before that we have a further international fixture – and for the English amongst us another chance to see the new 352 formation in action. This structure has been utilised by Conte at Chelsea on occasions this campaign and it does allow a team to play with 2 out-and-out strikers. I am sure you know where I am going with this…

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Arsenal against better sides can be overpowered and overrun in the centre of the park, particularly with Xhaka’s lack of pace. Ramsey is showing greater discipline but there are always occasions in games where his Swiss partner is left exposed. We have seen this too often of late.  The 352 system allows Wenger to retain his favoured back three and his wingback, whilst allowing him to reinforce the central midfield with a third player. It also permits him to experiment with a partner for Lacazette – whether it be a big-man/little-man combination with Giroud, or a player willing to run beyond his hold-up and flicks-in: Welbeck.

The creativity in a 3?

This set up would also allow Arsenal to ease Jack Wilshere back into the central midfield with Ramsey and Xhaka, but – as you will have surmised by now – it also results in a starting 11, still strong but without the aforementioned rebels.

Bellerin and Kolasinac are still there for the team’s width which will be critical and utilised still more in this system, but it does potentially starve us of central creativity, putting huge pressure on Wilshere. That said – with our two wide buccaneers given more licence to attack, the additional crosses that hopefully would result play into the hands (or indeed heads) of the two strikers, particularly if one is Olivier Giroud.

The width

The Giroud and Lacazette combination is one I am sure most Gunners would like to see and perhaps Deschamps would give it more than a passing glance. Giroud is constantly delivering for his national team and must be keen to gain more minutes for his club. The problem he has is that he is struggling to adapt to the 3421, having flourished in the previous 4231. I would dearly love to see how the Frenchman got on with a true partner and with genuine width in the 352.

I doubt Wenger will try this against Tottenham, with little time left once his players return from international duty – but I would put money on us seeing it in the near future.

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3 Responses to Time for Lacazette and Giroud in a new 352 – Wenger to follow England’s Cue

  1. Victor Thompson November 13, 2017 at 10:39 am #

    Dave, I agree with all of this but I would just like to make some observations after having watched England v Germany and N. Ireland v Switzerland.

    Firstly, Ozi l- he was the fulcrum of Germany`s attack and he fitted into a deep lying role seamlessly. He had more possession than anyone on the pitch and effortlessly pinged passes across the full width of their forward line. He kept them moving which was in stark contrast to his performance against City. That is a commonly occurring event and within a team of world beaters he is regularly their man of the match.

    Xhaka; well, my team N. Ireland are no world beaters but with very limited resources we managed to reach the ranking of 20th in the world. We were robbed of qualifying by an outrageous penalty in the first leg. In both legs , even when we didn`t play as well in the first leg, Xhaka struggled. He made regular fouls and was caught out of position due to lack of speed. He resorted to falling over and claiming free kicks without much success and then he was lucky not to be sent off for arguing with the referee. In the second leg, he was just played off the pitch by less gifted players who were trying harder than him. I am seriously beginning to doubt his worth.

    By the way, for all you gunners who are reading this, I have been recommending that we sign Jonnie Evans. Throughout the Euros and the qualifying games for the World Cup, I have watched him putting in master classes of Centre back play. He is as quick as Kos, but smoother on the ball and more composed when under pressure. If Mustafi was worth £34m then he is worth £50m. I wish Wenger would get him. He commands the defence and shouts at those around him, which no one has done since Tony Adams.

  2. Tey November 13, 2017 at 11:53 am #

    I agree with pretty much all about the the formation and midfield, but ideally we would keep ozil who could still stay, and play him as the striker with lacazette, bringing wilshere in as the 10. A few benefits:

    1. Ozil having as much defensive responsibility as alexis (virtually none) and a similar average position (beyond the no 9) could bring back the ozil who dovetailed so beautifully with alexis at 9, when he could exploit the space created by alexis’ movement. A huge part of his less than ideal performances has been the need to drift so far from goal to receive the ball since the loss of caz.

    2. Jack is a midfielder at heart, a ball carrier and someone who can grease the wheels are bit by dropping deep and helping with ball circulation.

    3. With a wilshere (drawn to ball) Ramsey (forward runner, facilitator) combination, xhaka can sit deep enough to have the space to distribute, and not be caught on the break as much, as he has 2 doing work ahead of him.

    4. The combined intelligence and tecnhique of wilshere, ozil, lacazette takes the technical pressure of Ramsey and xhaka. It’d be harder to stifle us. I fear that asking lacazette to play an ‘on the ball’ game may not play to his strengths, which could be why he doesn’t do it for france with ollie… yet. He seems lethal but u want him finding pockets when others have the ball or running off the shoulder

    This all stems from my personal opinion that ozil has suffered the most from our pedestrian midfield. He’s still doing great chance creation numbers but he’s a fish out of water at times. Wilshere behind him, bringing the ball forward under control, would liberate the world class ozil that we see on occasion.

    Hope all is well, Dave

    • Dave Seager November 13, 2017 at 3:43 pm #

      Hi old friend and good to hear from you. I may use you response as an article in your old column :0

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