Written by CarlitoII
When I sing the song “We’re the boys in Red and White, and we’re fucking dynamite”, a number of iconic players run through my mind. Rocky Rocastle, Anders Limpar, Marc Overmars, Freddy Ljungberg, Robert Pires sprint through my inner thoughts, terrorising defences as they go. Close ball control, beating their man, finding space behind their opposing full backs and some wonderful play overlapping with their own full backs.
Strange that this image should come to me as it has been years since we’ve really seen it on the pitch. Wenger has a great history of signing or developing wide men. The only real failure I can think of is Jose Antonio Reyes but I didn’t think he was a failure when he burned up the left wing, only when he left us prematurely.
The left wing has been particularly iconic for me personally- the Limpar effect in 1991 was astonishing and both Overmars and his eventual replacement in Pires exemplify the way I think Arsenal should play. I think many of us felt that Rosicky would become the new Pires, but this has sadly not come to pass.
“But we’ve got wide men”, I hear you shout at your monitors! “What’s wrong with you Carlito11? We’ve got Theo, Nasri and Arshavin and they’re all wizards in their own way!” The key word in my defence is this: Byline. When was the last time you saw Arshavin, or Nasri, beat their full back for pace and whip in a cross from the byline? Theo has done it occasionally but I think most would agree with Wenger that his future is likely to involve a more central role before long. Gifted as all three of those players are, I would suggest that NONE of them are wingers.
As I mentioned, we always got extra width from our full backs pushing up, but I now fear for being caught on the counter when Clichy or Sagna push forward. There is also a distinct lack of the neat overlaps that characterised the Dixon/ Overmars and Cole/ Pires relationships. Our full backs currently push up and stay up- not a quick thrust as in days gone by.
So I wish for wingers! But what can be done? I see two potential solutions.
The first would involve changing our defensive set up to have 3 centre backs or a sweeper, thus allowing Sagna and Clichy to perform the wingers role better. However, it is asking a lot for them to get to the byline.
The second potential solution is the fantastic prospect of Ryo Miyaichi. This lad looks like he’s going to put the dynamite back into the team we call The Arsenal! If you haven’t seen him yet- search him on Youtube as there are extended highlights clips of all his substitute performances for Feyenoord posted there. He’s got broad shoulders, lightening pace and a great eye for distribution. But above all, he has wonderful close control when he dribbles and beats full backs in the Eredivisie for fun! I can’t wait to see him playing at the Mothership next year!