Arsenal’s Formation & Tactics Part 2 – The Right Wing Conundrum
This is the second of a three-part series written by @GizaGooner! If you missed “Part 1 – Can Gabriel and Koscielny Work?” follow this link to check it out. Make sure to let us know what you think and follow him on Twitter @GizaGooner!
The right wing: conservatism, while it is a factor within this argument, is not the focus of this piece: the focus now, is the position that – to many’s surprise, including my own – has become Campbell’s own; perhaps not for long, however. Upon entering this odd 2015-16 season, Arsenal possessed a multitude of options on the right: from Theo Walcott, to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, to the aforementioned Joel Campbell, and the first choice for the previous season: Aaron Ramsey.
Those familiar with me will know my gripes with Aaron Ramsey playing centrally, though that is reserved for the third part of this argument. As previously stated – and most likely hated, as military references are not quite a rarity within football, at least Egyptian football – the tactical unit of players, all inter-twined, overlapping, and interdependent in their functions; a well-oiled machine such as Arsenal requires each cog to move the other in perfect synchronicity to produce the optimal result. Presuming that the first-choice defensive formation – Monreal, Koscielny, Mertesacker, & Bellerín – were picked, how would the wings produce the best out of these players? All of these squads overlap within the greater squad; the Gunners’ platoon, if you will. As of writing, Theo Walcott seems to have given up on either wing, which leaves Campbell, Oxlade-Chamberlain, or Ramsey; the latter of which believes himself to be the optimal choice in the centre, a sentiment many share; once more, Ramsey will be discussed at length in the final part of this series.
Currently, Campbell has solidified the position as his own as stated, while Oxlade-Chamberlain’s performance against Bournemouth has left a very good taste in many of our mouths – don’t take it that way – and has provided several questions as to who should be on the right side: in order to answer this question, we must look at who is best placed to squeeze every ounce of power, skill, and pace out of Héctor Bellerín.
The left wing, meanwhile, is quite steady with Natxo Monreal taking up the left-back position and making the denizen of the left wing need no further defensive contribution in order to look quite good, and with Alexis having returned from injury, there are no question marks over the left wing. The right wing, however, must feature a player who tracks back, defends, and is willing to allow the lightning-fast Spaniard to bomb forward, creating space and chances that only Mesut Özil and Santi Cazorla can rival.
With Oxlade-Chamberlain bombing forward with almost frightening frequency, this leaves Bellerín to defend, which nullifies his contribution. Likewise, Campbell, while he does defend, does not provide ample cover for the Spanish dynamo’s runs forward. This leaves Aaron Ramsey: while he is not best utilised on the right, he may need to be placed there in order to bring out the best in the aforementioned Barcelona youth product; it doesn’t hurt that Ramsey’s performances have been almost identical on the right as in the centre.
Await the third and final part of this, wherein we’ll wrap up this argument, and discuss the centre of midfield. If you missed “Part 1 – Can Gabriel and Koscielny Work?” follow this link to check it out.