When looking back at our big matches last season two stand out,and I don't need to tell you which, However when we had our best team available we had a good big game record last season, and since the double pivot of Arteta and Ramsey we have had a great defensive base for big games. The results in the big games since the change after Spurs were; 2-0 vs Bayern, 0-0 vs Everton, 1-1 vs United, 1-2 vs Dortmund, 2-0 vs Liverpool, 1-0 vs Dortmund and 0-0 vs Chelsea. So thats P7 W3 D3 L1 but most notable, we only conceded 3 goals in 7 games. So with them two at the base, and greater pace in the front 4 it seemed that we had the tools to start the season well.
However Arsene has changed the shape of the midfield and as a result we haven't had a single good performance and were embarrassing vs Dortmund. I'm struggling to justify this as it has caused problems for a number of players, including Ozil, Ramsey, Arteta and Per.
Mesut Ozil for me is the best number 10 in the world, his eye for a defence cutting pass is 2nd to none and I'm at a loss to why he is on the left/right. Now I know that our wide players have freedom to drift into the centre to overload that area but it means that he gets on the ball later in the play and by then the defence is deeper and the run by our striker has finished. It also means he is on the ball less and therefore has less of an effect on the game. Another strength of his, is the ability to find space in between the lines, this is made harder by starting out on the wing. I feel sorry for him for coming back into the squad, with no pre-season, and starting in a new position, where we are adapting for a new formation and struggling.
There is no doubt the Ramsey was our best player last season, and it wasn't just because of his goals, as he turned into the complete midfielder. Before he was injury last season he was our top goalscorer, our 2nd highest assister, completed the most passes, the most tackles and took the most touches in the PL. So he was an invaluable player to build the team around and could dominate the midfield for the entire 90 minutes. Yet with his new position he seems to have less of an impact, this is partly down to poor form, but also because our midfield is based around Wilshere now. Now I know I'm far from one of Wilshere's biggest fans but this isn't me trying to downplay his ability, its just that I think Ramsey is the player to build our team around.
Last season our main defensive tactic was to sit deep and counter attack when under pressure. This was our best option due to having Per and Arteta in our squad. Now I love both and feel that their lack of mobility leads to people undervaluing their ability, However that being said, that weakness has to be considered when setting up our team. We shouldn't be pushing up and playing a high line with Per, we saw last season vs Liverpool and yesterday vs Dortmund how he struggles. Arguably more this season with our RBs pushing higher up the pitch.
Furthermore Arteta's lack of mobility last season wasn't a problem when paired alongside Ramsey, who has an incredible engine, as he was able to help with protecting the back 4. There is this myth that protecting the defence is down to only the defensive midfielder, however it is down to the entire midfield. With our tendency to use our fullbacks for width there is no way a single midfielder can cover that space, especially someone as old as Arteta. Now saying that it doesn't excuse some of the ridiculous mistakes made by him yesterday but it does explain how he struggles me this season then in his first big games last season.
So please, please Arsene change back to the foundations of last season, we have a superb squad to use and I think a game plan similar to last season is the best way to use it