Now that we know who our new Head Coach is, the conversation and speculation turns to the formation Emery will want to play and the existing players and new additions he require for that system.
It seems from what I read that many observers figure he will want to return to the 4231 that served him well in Spain. I assume this is based on an assumption that they figure the 433 or even 424 he deployed at PSG was in some way forced upon him by having to accommodate the huge marquee signings of Mbappe and Neymar.
I am not an expert of French Ligue 1 but I do like a good tactical discussion and looking at the formations he has utilised I can see he favoured two deeper holding midfielders in whichever formation he has played. Whilst I also feel that, he is happy to be flexible beyond that.
On the face of it, he has an embarrassment of attacking options at Arsenal, well at least in numbers. IF he stays true to form, selects, and back four with a double pivot, he will have potentially eight or nine players vying for the four staring berths in the advanced positions whether that be a 2 2, a 3 1 or a 1 3, if you follow my logic.
Obviously, there are some many variables here and to explore them in detail now. Certainly not before we see whom the three Amigos and Emery bring in to supplement the first team playing staff and whom they deem surplus, is largely pointless. Those discussion can become more informed as the summer moves on and we hear more from the new coach, but the two deeper roles are worthy of touching upon now.
I think the 2-midfield roles are interesting because, ahead of contract negotiations at least, we have five players competing for two positions. Ramsey and Xhaka are certainly the players in possessions of the shirts now, with Wilshere, Elneny and Maitland-Niles the three pushing their cases. The reason I think this dynamic fascinating is that of the five, you could easily argue that none are the type of defensive midfielder; Emery has always used and sometimes used two of, in the past.
Young Maitland-Niles arguably looks the most natural fit for the role, although some would say either Enemy. Wilshere or Xhaka could operate there. For me, none of them is the purposed built DM that our new coach would see as a go to and particularly is, as is suggested he wants to build around Ramsey.
The simple fact is that if Emery wants to use the Welshman in a two-man midfield then I would find it hard to believe he would see any of the other four as his ideal partner. If Ramsey is allowed to play to his strengths and break forward when appropriate, his partner simply will have to be Maitland- Niles, unlikely, or a brand new signing.
The alternative of course is that, like Coleman did for Wales, Emery opts to play Ramsey further advanced, which would mean Xkaka plus one other just behind him. These would leave Ramsey in a two behind two strikers, with width from the full backs or in a three behind a sole striker, which of course raises questions about Ozil’s role. (A subject for a whole other blog no doubt!)
As I said, we will need to wait and see but the hierarchy’s first order of business, with Emery installed, is to tie Ramsey down to the long-term deal. A deal, that despite the suggestion his agent has made, has been on the table some time now. If they succeed, it will dictate that one of the next signings will be a specialist, disciplined defensive midfielder.
Fans of Xhaka and Wilshere may argue differently but let me remind you that this is a coach who won the Europa League in 2016 with Grzegorz Krychowiak (just relegated with WBA) and Stephane Mbia, on loan from QPR, as a defensive midfield pivot. He then went on to upgrade Mbia with Stephen Nzonzi, signed from Stoke City and went on to life the trophy again for a third successive year, with two out and out defensive midfielders.
Mark my words, if Ramsey stays then a high profile defensive and mobile midfield specialist who reads the game well, is incoming. He will be mature enough to have developed top game intelligence and instincts but young enough to allows us to offer a good long-term deal. We are looking at a 26/27 year old I suspect and I will leave you continental football experts to tell me who is should be. Who is the man to replace Gilberto 10 years to late?
Until next time…
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.