Arsenal’s Formation & Tactics Part 3 – Central Midfield: Ramsey, Santi, & El-Neny
This is the last of a three-part series written by GizaGooner! If you missed “Part 1 – Can Gabriel and Koscielny Work?” or “Part 2 – The Right Wing Conundrum” follow the links in the titles to check them out. Make sure to let us know what you think and follow him on Twitter @GizaGooner!
Preceding this argument, I would like to point out that I’ve watched El-Neny for the better portion of five years now, he is nothing new to me. Now, on to the issue at hand: as concluded in the previous segment, Aaron Ramsey and Joel Campbell are the optimal options on the right side, as Bellerín’s partner in crime of choice. However, placing Ramsey on the right would pose a question: who lines up beside Francis Coquelin?
Barring a life underneath a slab of granite from January of 2015 onwards, you are well aware of Francis Coquelin: the Gilberto replacement Arsenal had been crying out for, the man who holds the piano up to allow others to play their symphonies, and an irreplaceable, undroppable member of the Arsenal midfield. Who features beside the man who shan’t be running forward, the fifth member of the defense, who requires a partner who will undoubtedly add to the attack?
Many have noted Arsenal’s decline in performances following Santi Cazorla’s injury, one which, had Arsenal not been a club built by a veritable genius, could have easily destroyed Arsenal’s season. Cazorla is not young, however, and every player requires a replacement: enter El-Neny, a player whose long passing will most certainly only improve from this point on, and whose vision is quite comparable to Arsenal’s injured regista. Alongside Coquelin, El-Neny was part of an engine room that orchestrated a 2-1 victory over Burnley in the FA Cup, where he was – to use a cliché – very solid.
Curious, to those unaware of his purpose, that he was played beside the player he’d reportedly arrived to replace; granted, he is a very capable cover option. For the uninitiated, El-Neny, 23, was not meant to replace the 24-year-old Coquelin, and as Wenger does not dabble in destroying careers, it is very apparent that he was bought as cover – perhaps as a future replacement – for Cazorla within the regista hole beside the French wall.
A midfield wherein a stamina-infused duo of wingers in Alexis Sánchez and Aaron Ramsey, padding a highly defensive, yet very distributive – Coquelin’s passing is nothing to scoff at – midfield pairing of Coquelin and El-Neny, in front of a balanced defense of Monreal, Koscielny, Mertesacker, and Bellerín, with the fullbacks on either side covering for, and overlapping their respective wingers… This is the formation that Arsenal would require behind the front two of the German magician that is Mesut Özil, and the oft-underrated Olivier Giroud in order to clinch several titles to come, and dominate a league with as much quality, balance, and refinement for years to come.
We do need to get around to replacing Mertesacker, however, though Chambers is well on the way to doing so. In closing, the benefits of these individuals may not be as great as if you’d used another formation in, say, a video game, though they are all greater than the sum of their parts, as a unit. Regardless of whether you agree, or disagree, the best option is always to balance the team, and bring the best out of everyone, even if it means bringing less than the best out of one or two players, in order to benefit the core group.
Many thanks to @GizaGooner for provide us with such intelligent and sparking articles on the Arsenal! Hoping there is more to come on the collaboration front from @GoonerInCali and @GizaGooner. In the mean time, read back to “Part 1 – Can Gabriel and Koscielny Work?” and “Part 2 – The Right Wing Conundrum” (follow the text links). As always, feel free to reach out and let us know what you think! A top guy and top gunner, follow @GizaGooner on Twitter!