Our season went up in smoke on January 4th when Theo Walcott was stretchered off during our 2-0 Cup win over That Lot.
Regular readers of the site will know that I am no fan of that continental Total Football nonsense. For me, it’s an outdated throw back to the dope smoking hippy days, and has its home in the Coffee Bars of Holland.
What I mean is this. I get interchangeability and flexibility, but I firmly believe in specialists.
As far as I’m concerned, the moment Theo went off, there was only one course of action. Oxlade becomes his immediate and permanent replacement for every game, with Serge as his back up.
However, what happened was that Arsène did use Ox out wide, but not always. On occasion, he was to be found playing a more central role.
Early yesterday morning, both Arnie and Goonerkam made the excellent point about how different roles for players is part of their development and education. I do agree, and have always said that I believe Ox will ultimately end up more centrally, however, needs must, and the Team should come first.
The loss of Theo left a massive tactical void, that ONLY The Ox could fill. This was not the time for Arsène to muck about. Ox’s development was actually hampered this term in my book, as he did not have the consistent runs in any one position to develop key understandings, as much of our beautiful football is played in small triangles, and telepathic understanding only comes with continuity. Thus, Ox was less effective than he should have been.
Ox played central, so it came as no surprise to me that when shunted back out right, he became unsure, or perhaps simply unused to, his role. He drifted central leaving us lacking the vital pressure release valve.
Thus, to my mind, the biggest loss to our season was not the loss of Aaron, or even Theo, but rather not playing The Ox there as first choice every available game following the tragedy of January 4th.
Written by MickyDidIt89