.

The summer of 1999 saw Arsene Wenger selling his top striker Nicolas Anelka at a profit of 21.8 Million Pounds, having bought the French front man for just A?500,000 in 1996. That summer he invested the money on buying one Thierry Henry from Juventus, along with Lauren, Sylvinho and Davor Suker, the last one being a complete ai???stealai??i??.

The story this summer has been quite similar except for the fact that Arsene is yet to find a club who is ready to pay the requisite amount to avail the services of his top striker, Robin van Persie. The Dutchman is still stuck in a perpetual limbo after making that ridiculous announcement about a month back. Meanwhile, Arsene has done some excellent business, having secured the signings of three top-class Internationals in their mid-career. Lucas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla are fantastic acquisitions and means ai???ambitionai??i?? right away for this season at Arsenal. With these new signings, Arsene has moved away from his general policy followed in the last few years. These are all seasoned campaigners and have costed Arsenal A?36 Million, a staggering transfer window dealing considering that they are yet to sell ai???bigai??i?? players to bring the customary balance in transfer business.

Arsenal
football formations

First Choice Starting Lineup
Ai??.

The new signings have opened up a new door at Arsenal, one with flexibility on the pitch and competition for places. With almost everybody fit at the club, a highly hypothetical situation though, Arsene can choose from a consortium of attacking players and place them on the pitch in the manner he wants to. If he were to pick the ai???first choiceai??i?? team, Podolski, Giroud and Theo will ideally form the top three in a 4-3-3. Spanish ace from Malaga, Santi Cazorla can play attacking midfield, delivering from just behind the frontline.

He will haveAi??midfield companyAi??in fellow countryman Mikel Arteta and Alex Song; the latter should curb his attacking instincts and sit behind as much as possible. Cazorla, Theo and Podolski can swap positions throughout the game and provide Giroud with all kinds of goal-scoring options; all three are capable of scoring themselves too. Cazorla, an outstanding ambidextrous attacker, will be a step-up from Rosicky as he is capable of playing on wide positions and even scoring goals from anywhere.

Arsenal
football formations

Second Choice Starting Lineup
.

With the decent pre-season form of Gervinho, if the African is to be inserted into the Arsenal starting-lineup, Arsene can choose to play Podolski upfront. Considering last seasonai??i??s outstanding form of Tomas Rosicky, he can be inducted into the system if Arsene shifts Cazorla to the right wing, resting Theo in the process. In both these formations, Gervinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Cazorla and even Arshavin – should he stay – are wing-options, and are very decent ones. Rosicky, Cazorla, Ramsey and even Abou Diaby can play the attacking midfield role just behind the front-men. Jack Wilshere can play there too, but when fit, Arsene will prefer him playing from the deep alongside Alex Song. Mikel Arteta, will, of course, accompany Song in the absence of the Englishman.

With flexibility in positions, rotation will be easier for Arsene this season, but there can be a dicey situation wherein the manager might find all players fit and vying for the same positions. With so many midfield options, it will be a gargantuan task for Arsene to keep his players happy and motivated all the time. With young players like Coquellin, Frimpong and Lansbury, all quite ready for the big stage, will find it even harder to break into the squad. They will have to satisfy themselves with limited ai???Cupai??i?? action.

With the current injury list, Rosicky, Wilshere out and Ramsey tied with international activity, Arsene will be a little lighter with options as Arsenal start their campaign against Sunderland in two weeks from now. It is better for the manager to have a selection headache than worrying about shortage of options in case of injuries. Healthy competition, enhanced team chemistry and flexibility in the lineup are some encouraging enhancements in this Arsenal setup for the coming season.

As far as defensive options go, Arsenal are not that packed with options as they are in the middle of the park. They have three fantastic Center Backs in Koscielny, Vermaelen and Mertesacker. Djourou, Miquel and highly rated Kyle Bartley are further options for the same position. The Full Back position had been a major worry last season, with all four Full Backs injured at the same time. Many believe Arsenalai??i??s misfortunes came at that period without proper Full Backs.

Vermaelen, Djourou and many others had to play out of their positions during that spell last season, often costing the team points, for which one canai??i??t really blame them. Gibbs and Santos will have a healthy competition at Left Full Back but Arsene is yet to find a proper cover for Bacary Sagna, who incidentally, wonai??i??t be starting the season, having suffered a broken fibula during last season. In his absence, Jenkinson will be operating at right full back. The lad is a fantastic crosser of the football, but is still quite raw as far as defensive duties are concerned.

Overall, the flexibility in this Arsenal team brings a certain zing into the setup, a morale-boosting attribute even before the season starts. With the prospect of a few more signings to happen in the middle of the park (yet again), Arsenal are set up for a title challenging season, who knows the long wait might get over, after all.

****

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9 Responses to “Arsenal Strategizing – New Found Flexibility With Cazorla And Podolski”

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  1. Nice post! Agree with you when you say that having a selection headache is far better than having no-one to select.

    If Wilshere gets fully fit, I’d actually like him to play further up front this time. It’s his most natural position anyways; with Arsene playing him deep last season to improve his defensive discipline. Wilshere as the attack-minded player in a midfield three, in front of Song and Arteta, is one solid midfield.

  2. SurreyGunner says:

    Thanks good article, may not agree with every word but its good and thoughtful.

  3. showtime says:

    iam pretty sure eisfeld and gnarbry will be pushin hard for a shot in the cups

  4. Sime Otaji says:

    Good article! Without RVP the team looks interesting. Can’t wait!

  5. AmericanGunnerFan says:

    One of the least appreciated, but most necessary things that Cazorla will bring is his sense of defensive responsibility. In a three man midfield, you can’t just stick one midfielder in front of the back four and not have him go forward the way you can in a four man midfield: if you do, the attack out of the midfield becomes too predictable and easy to defend. While one of the three midfielders can/should act as the DM most of the time, depending on how the opponent defends the midfield, there will be times when that “DM” will have to go forward (or pose a threat of going forward) in order to take advantage of the opponent or make the opponent play honestly. When the “DM” goes forward, the other midfielders must rotate back, so that the advancing “DM’s” defensive responsibilities are covered by one or both of the other midfielders. This doesn’t have to require a big, obvious physical movement or rotation, but can be done with more subtle movement. But, it must happen or the back four will be left exposed to a counterattack if possession is lost.

    While Mikel Arteta proved to be very adept at covering Alex Song’s defensive responsibilities during his forays forward when the two of them played together (especially during Arsenal’s sprint into third place), the rest of Arsenal’s midfielders were very lax when it came to rotating back defensively to say the least (Ramsey was terrible, Rosicky was OK at times, but inconsistent at best). This left the back four exposed far too often. Song and the center backs, in particular, were often blamed for this when it wasn’t necessarily their fault (I say this as a former GK at the top level of another sport who is very aware of how defense is supposed to be played and what the positional responsibilities are).

    From what I have seen of Santi Cazorla playing for Spain and read about him, he is a very solid defensive player with a good sense of the defensive responsibilities across the midfield. Having him playing in the midfield, particularly with Arteta and Song, but also with Wilshere (when he returns), Rosicky and even Diaby (who isn’t great, but at least tries hard on the defensive end), should also add to the flexibility of the Arsenal attack and the quality of the Arsenal defense. If opposing defenses focus on trying to prevent him, as the AM, from triggering the Arsenal attack, he will rotate back defensively allowing the CM and/or DM to go forward into the weak spot of the opposing midfield defense without exposing the Arsenal defense. This will make the Arsenal attack less predictable and more difficult to defend, while making the defense stronger than it has been (when, all too often, the Arsenal AM has either been arguing with the referee or jogging back to his own end instead of sprinting back to help out on defense!).

    This side of Cazorla’s game will probably be little noticed or appreciated by many fans, but will be particularly important when the opposition’s defense is difficult to unlock or the Arsenal lineup features players who are obviously (in some cases, notoriously) bad defensively (Gervinho, Walcott, Ramsey, Santos, etc.). It is something that I am looking forward to watching when he plays this season because I think that it could play a critical role in the outcome of some tight matches. I just hope that Cazorla continues to play as well defensively for Arsenal as I have seen him play for the Spanish national side. If he does, I think many Arsenal fans will come to appreciate this side of his game and the flexibility that it also should bring to Arsenal’s play.

  6. @AmericanGunnerFan – Thanks for the huge response. Can you mention your “twitter id” please if you have one?

    • AmericanGunnerFan says:

      I would gladly give you my Twitter ID if I had one, but I don’t have a Twitter or Facebook account and will try to avoid getting one for as long as I possibly can. You can, however, email me at the email address I gave when posting if you wish.