Arsene Wenger was recently quoted saying that no one wants to play wide, ask any attacking midfielder where they want to play they all want to be Number 10’s.
For us this problem has come to a head with quite a few of our players over recent seasons. Nasri, Arshavin, Walcott, and even young Oxlade-Chamberlain all possess the attributes that can make good wingers but all would prefer to play centrally.
Rasp recently asked in the comments that Arsene find us a new winger as the team could do with one or two true widemen rather than another attacking central midfielder.
Like any good comment this got me thinking and also looking around the PL for other teams wingers to see where they were.
I am very Arsenalcentric I rarely watch 90 minutes of matches featuring other teams but I do watch all the highlights on MotD, and this lack of widemen is actually a pandemic across the league.
United have the most with Valencia, Nani and Young, Liverpool have Moses, City don’t really have true wingers but they have a couple who will play there in Silva and Nasri. Spurs have Townsend and Lennon, Chelsea have Hazard. Looking to the top European sides again the lack of true wingers is there to see.
So can Arsene surprise us with a new signing in this area or are we seeing a change to our style, even his greatest side didn’t really have true widemen, Pires was a No 10 prepared to play out left, and Ljungberg was a goal scoring midfielder prepared to start on the right.
Without Theo we have lacked natural width, but we have been devoid of it on the left for a number of seasons.
So I think there are two solutions to this problem, do as Rasp asks and sign a natural winger, although this would seem a tricky proposition given the scarcity of talent.
Or convince our players that starting on the wing is not as restrictive as it seems they think it is. Two names that spring to mind are Messi and Silva, both start wide right, Messi scores goals for fun from this position, Silva assists everyone from there without being a “get to the byeline and cross it” winger we are used to seeing in English football. True English wingers remain, Downing and Johnson spring to mind but both have failed to reach the heights when put in a top side.
The acquisition of Flamini could be a very useful tool in allowing a new shape to our play, one that allows the likes of Jack, Santi, Özil, Ramsey and Ox to start anywhere across the midfield, and go anywhere across the front when we are attacking, and not be as responsible when defending.
With Flamini and Arteta playing deep in midfield we have a more solid base than in recent seasons, the full backs should be allowed to go forward more freely safe in the knowledge that these two will track and cover any danger on the counter. Afterall only one should need to leave the centre of pitch because the ball can only go to one flank on the counter. That should give us our width, and if the midfielders are doing their jobs properly should not create the blockage that occurs when an overlapping fullback gets too close to the wideman in front of him.
So over to you…..are there wingers out there who can improve our team, do we need to find a new style, shouldn’t we be able to ask professional footballers to play anywhere and make the most of their talents?
26May posted an article this morning discussing the lack of true strikers and the lowering need for them, perhaps it’s actually the lack of wingers supplying the strikers that is causing the change in scoring stats?
Gooner in Exile