Superb performance, balanced side …. and without Ozil?

What you are about to read may be considered sacrilege by many. I don’t want to cast any negatives after such a good result yesterday ….. but I’m just going to put something out there.

I only saw highlights of the game, but from that and the comments of respected bloggers, I think we all agree that the team performance was excellent with special mention for Monreal, Iwobi, Ramsey and Bellerin … and all that without Mesut Ozil.

Many of us would make Ozil the first name on the team sheet. His technical ability is on a different level, and contrary to popular opinion he works very hard and covers a lot of ground … but there is a growing belief that he and Ramsey (and Iwobi, his understudy) cannot function effectively in the same side. Moreover in playing them both, the team becomes unbalanced and gaps appear in our midfield.

I’m a self confessed Ozil fan. I’m also a big fan of the Ramsey we saw in yesterday’s game. He’s a much more potent attacking force when he’s not having to share territory with Ozil. There doesn’t seem to be the same problem when he plays with Iwobi. I don’t know the answer. They’re both great players. Ironically, I think that more clubs would be interested in signing Ramsey than Ozil.

Arsene clearly loves having Ozil in the side. He hasn’t signed a new contract and may leave on a free in the summer …. would that be a huge loss if we can get the best out of Ramsey and Iwobi continues to improve?

I don’t want this topic to be hijacked by ‘fans’ who don’t have the perception to appreciate what a brilliant player Ozil is … he’s class … the only question I ask is …. is he always the best man for the balance of the team?



74 Responses to Superb performance, balanced side …. and without Ozil?

  1. Zee says:

    Micky an I are often late to the party, so I am copy/pasting the last two comments from the previous excellent Post by GN5. 😀

    — mickydidit89 says:
    September 18, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Banning draws would be good

    Going to pens at 90 wouldn’t half raise tensions both on and off the pitch. Reckon you’d get far less people leaving early as well

    If you had the option now of going back in time to the 90th minute at The Bridge and going for pens ie forfeiting the one point in the hope of three, would you take it?

    Of course I would without a moment’s thought

    — Zee says:
    September 18, 2017 at 9:28 am

    I know poor old GB has problems with his cloven hoofs, but I would like some clarification on the following, as our lad Iwobi has enough problems;

    GoonerB says:
    September 17, 2017 at 3:08 pm
    Enemy for iwobi.

    Did you perhaps mean ‘enema’ for Iwobi? 😀

  2. Zee says:

    Morning, Rasper, 🙂

    Your Post made me smile remembering those long gone days when someone volunteered to write a match report – not having seen the game – and produced an excellent synopsis. 😀

    And you have too using the highlights!

    Mind you, that compliment comes from someone who did not see either the game, or even the highlights! 😀

  3. Zee says:

    Incidentally — is there any significance between the accreditation for the Post (Rasp) and after an extended blank space, the word ‘Like’?? 😀

  4. Rasp says:

    Hi Zee, this isn’t a match report, the post references yesterday’s game, but is a thought that has been building in my mind for some time. Peaches has asked the same question several times recently.

    I think most of us would concede that the best 11 players don’t always make the best team. A player in his best position is going to be a 20% (random figure) more effective version of himself than if he’s played out of position … if you see what I mean.

  5. Zee says:

    For what it is worth, Rasper, I think Özil is a class act too, altho that is a somewhat moot point as he will be on the slow boat to …. somewhere …. at the season’s end.

    Pity — especially as that despicable person Maureen has shown his tapping interest already.

  6. Rasp says:

    I don’t think any team came in with a serious offer for Ozil in the last transfer window.

  7. Zee says:

    I do see what you mean, Rasp, and it is a valid point — for myself, you could also add to that my belief that he is surrounded at Arsenal by players who are ‘not quite good enough’ and are unable to make the most of his incisive and split second passing, which requires the recipient to have some grey matter to anticipate them and capitalise on them.

    It is interesting to note that Real Madrid did have the ‘right’ sort of players around him, to benefit from his largesse, but they also seemed to have mainly ‘subbed’ him after 60 or 70 minutes in each game.

    Different management techniques – but Real also had effective cover in that position.

  8. LB says:

    Excellent read Rasp

    I am really sorry to do this but I agree with all the post.

    The only thing of controversy that I can add is that if Ozil had played yesterday we probably would have won.

    It’s true what you say that too many gaps seem to appear when both Ramsey and Ozil are on the pitch at the same time but I think the finger of blame for that should be pointed a little more towards Xhaka whose ability to protect the back four is a porous as a colander.

    To try and make a clearer point, imagine having Kanté behind Ramsey and Ozil, it’s not that I dislike Xhaka or that I particularly like Kanté but I think this example makes the point well.

    How is this solved? I haven’t got a clue.

  9. RC78 says:

    Excellent post and provoking replies too 🙂

    I love Ozil as he is a creative player and has a cunning eye for passes and spaces but it is about team balance. A few weeks ago, I was saying that we should sell Ozil because Ramsey and Sanchez can play behind a striker and Ramsey would be able to flourish.

    Yesterday was a team effort with balance. However, we conceded some clear cut chances and Monreal should not be a first choice CB.

    Ultimately – we need shape, balance and strength to defend well and yesterday, we had that for most of the game BECAUSE Iwobi and Wellbeck tracked back properly.

    I still think that our best shape with the current players is a 4-3-2-1

  10. mickydidit89 says:

    Thanks Rasp

    I agree with you, it is a problem.

    As I stated last week, I would start Mesut simply because he’s the kind of very rare footballer who does things that make you Oooh and Ahh.

    Now, fitting him in. I agree with LB that the issues are who slots in the midfield roles. On this I agree with his Kante suggestion, and it’s also why I believe our best midfield two is Coq and Santi. Again, that balance thing.

    I increasingly think our best pairing, for Mesut, is Xhaka and Elneny which leaves Ramsey Iwobi and Mesut all vying for one spot.

  11. mickydidit89 says:

    Could Maitland-Niles develop into our first choice anchor man, thus allowing Ramsey AND Mesut?

  12. Thanks Rasp

    Ramsey was a super hero yesterday – and I have been guilty of moaning and groaning about him, saying that we will never see the Ramsey of four years (yes four years!) ago again.

    As Rasp points out I have been saying for weeks that Ramsey invades Ozil’s space and so leaves spaces where he himself should be. I have offered the idea that Ramsey needs to alert team-mates when he intends to vacate his position – I’m not adverse to shouts of ‘Tally Ho’ or even just ‘I’m going’ so that someone else can tuck in. (I always felt that Lampard and Gerrard needed to do something similar when playing for England where the situation was almost the same).

    I love Ozil too and it’s entirely possible that he would have found a great pass for Sanchez to get on the end of yesterday. We’ll never know.

    I have no idea how Arsene is going to solve this one …….. but competition is good as long as it doesn’t unsettle the rest of the team.

  13. Actually Ramsey has always invaded someone’s space ……. remember when he used to nick the ball off of Arteta’s foot 🙂 🙂 🙂

  14. ………. I think he nicked the ball off of Fabregas’ foot yesterday too 🙂

  15. LB says:

    My guess as to how Wenger solves this in the next game is that he will play Ramsey out right in place of Iwobi yesterday.

  16. LB says:

    The thought of MN playing behind Ramsey and Ozil had crossed my mind, I suspect we will see this tried in lesser games in the near future, should be interesting.

  17. mickydidit89 says:

    tally ho ROLF 🙂

    Didn’t someone on the North Bank used to clang a bell everytime Supermac went on a run 🙂

  18. Rasp says:

    🙂 You’re right peaches, we often used to comment on Ramsey going over to Arteta to collect the ball rather than move into space for a pass.

    I think the Europa League and the CRB could prove to be an excellent opportunity to try out new formations. M Nyles, looked very assured playing DM, and I still think that Nelson if managed cautiously has immense potential.

  19. RC78 says:

    Ramsey can only play his best at the tip of a 4-2-1-3 or as one of the two in a 4-3-2-1 formation. Now – the question is: do we play around him? The 4-3-2-1 formation also gives the best of Sanchez. However, who will be the three in midfield NOW (with all injuries): Xhaka, El Neny and ?

  20. chas says:

    Cheers, Rasp. A fine post.

    I’m scratching my head about the team performance yesterday.
    By all accounts it was more balanced.

    Was that down to tactics?
    Certainly after the Liverpool calamity the other week, not getting hammered must have been top of the priority list.
    Playing against the bigger teams (away from home, especially), you’d think that any good result would be built on a strong defensive foundation with none of that heads down and everyone charge nonsense we’ve seen which always leaves us exposed.
    Maybe if Pedro had scored early on, it would have all gone tits up.

    When Ozil and Ramsey play in the same team, they do seem to leave us short in midfield defensively. This doesn’t make a huge amount of sense because Ozil doesn’t play in midfield as such.
    It’s almost as if Ramsey wants to vie for the limelight higher up the pitch and consequently shirks his defensive duties.

    Maybe Sanchez not giving the ball away in dangerous areas made us more solid.

    Kolasinac on the left versus Bellerin on the left may have been a contributing factor to us looking stronger defensively. 🙂

    Chelsea failed to score in a competitive home match under Conte for the first time (27 games).

    The last time that they failed to net in a competitive game at Stamford Bridge was in April 2016 against Manchester City when Guus Hiddink was in charge – 29 games ago.

    This was the first 0-0 draw between these two sides at Stamford Bridge since April 2005 and the first time that Chelsea have failed to score at home against the Gunners since then.

  21. chas says:

    P.S. I was just thinking that Ramsey and Ozil played very well together at Wembley in the Cup final

  22. LB says:

    True, true but as much as we like to pat ourselves on the back Chelsea played pants at Wembley.

  23. Zee says:

    That was good stuff, Chas, and revealed a keen eye.

    My only double-take was the – “Kolasinac on the left versus Bellerin on the left may have been a contributing factor to us looking stronger defensively.” — I bet no one got down the left — maybe we were lucky the open pastures of the right were not spotted by the Chavs?? 😀

  24. LB says:

    I don’t see where the mystery is as to why we played better than recently which seems to be the question doing the rounds within the sporting media.

    Because when played better than recently is mentioned it can’t be supposed that that is to mean better than against Cologne because we played very well against the Germans.

    It can’t mean better than against Bournemouth because again we played well against them. It has to mean better than against Liverpool which makes sense but mystery, what mystery? We simply replaced Holding with the far superior Koscielny, put Bellerin back over to his favoured right side and got rid of Oxlaide-Chamberlain and put one of the best wing backs of the German league last season on our left flank.

    Mystery, what mystery? Of course we were defensively stronger.

  25. Rasp says:

    Good points by LB re Xhaka and cover, and by chas also. It’s true it would have been a different game had Pedro scored but I guess the same would apply if Danny had put away that header.

    I think the blend of the midfield 4/5 has been a problem for a while. Maybe it is Xhaka/Ramsey/Ozil axis that is the problem. Xhaka is good at distribution, but not the best tackler and certainly not in the mould of Kante.

    I wonder if AW buys into the idea of setting up substantially differently for away games compared to home games?

    Some people (ex Arsenal media pundits included) are using the performance yesterday to bash Ozil (and even Sanchez), that is ridiculous.

    I will throw something else at you all that probably should be the subject of a new post …. Like most of you I look for, and take pride in our players’ pass completion percentage … but then I thought, maybe it’s so high because we opt for the safe pass too often (sideways or backwards) … could it be possible that a lower pass % could in some cases show a bit more ambition …. a measure of self confidence in taking a risk in the attacking third … (never in the defensive third)

  26. chas says:

    Bellerin played on the left against Liverpool in The Beast’s position.
    What’s not to understand?

  27. chas says:

    And Citeh played shit in the semi as well.

  28. chas says:

    I didn’t watch the game and have only seen brief highlights since, so the ‘keen eye’ bit was just smoke and mirrors. 🙂

  29. GunnerN5 says:

    Then we need more of your smoke and mirrors Chas.

  30. LB says:

    No Chas, City didn’t play shit in the semi but Silver, who was on fire, had to go off in the first half; their loss would have been the equivalent of us loosing Sanchez.

    When the cup has your name on it and all that………….

    My point it that referring to the line up that was fielded against the chavs at Wembley is weak because they had such an off day.

    Yes, their loss our gain etc but the fact remains that they were well under par and we took advantage.

  31. GunnerN5 says:

    However LB when the Arsenal have an “off” day we are considered to be no better than crap – even by our own supporters.

  32. chas says:

    ‘Weak’ is what I am.

  33. Eddie says:

    and selfrightous.

  34. GunnerN5 says:

    I do hope you blog in jest as he’s one of the few major contributors here on AA and should be recognized as such.

  35. Eddie says:

    thanks for the post Rasp, nice one
    We usually have a discussion about 2 players that cannot play together. Well, I am not qualified to call it bollix, but I am thinking along these lines. Look, footy is not synchronized bloody swimming where team members aim to do the same thing at the same time. No, they are footballers and even with a tiniest brain surely they know what to do in their position.

    And if they are incredibly thick than we have a manager who should point it out to them – Ozil, you is in the middle, Ramsey – on the flanks, rest of you pass/cross the ball to who is 1. not offside, 2. best position to score.

    Are we making footy too complicated? It really is a simple game for a simple fan. That is why I am not a rugby supporter, too fooking complicated for me

    I like both Ozil and Ramsey, and cannot imagine either of them leaving. Sanchez never ‘grew’ on me, he can go, but Mesut and Aaron are both top blokes, proper Gunners and I would like them to stay and win trophies

  36. Eddie says:

    here we go, reprimanded as usual. I really hate that. Good bye.

  37. GunnerN5 says:

    Where is the reprimand? It’s simply a question followed by a fact.

  38. Rasp says:

    Thanks for having the manners to reference the post Eddie. I think our attacking midfield players are given a fluid role, sometimes it works beautifully and other times it doesn’t and leaves us open to the counter. If we could consistently perform as we did against the chavs, we’d be the best team in the league.

  39. LB says:

    GN5 re 5.32

    Sad but true, sad but true.

  40. LB says:

    “Weak” a bit harsh Chas, I always think of you as a strong minded person with a good sense of humour.

  41. GunnerN5 says:

    LB it’s extremely sad but very true. The day of the loyal passionate fan seems to have been lost in today’s internet ether.

    I agree with you about Chas he is one of the main stays of AA and long may it/he last.

  42. GunnerN5 says:

    Rasp personally I never look for or seek praise for my posts I accept that as part of the blogging culture.

  43. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks Rasper,

    The good news is that without Mesut we can still create good chances in a difficult away game. But we missed his calm genius nevertheless.

    Rambo and Ozil, and Xhaka from deeper, are all able to create chances and there is no doubt that this is a very, very strong trio to build our team around. Key is to play with intensity and discipline all over the pitch, and that is what we got against the Cherries and now the Chavs. Wenger has once again worked his magic.

  44. Rasp says:

    Hi Total, I know you love a bit of genius in the side …. don’t we all 🙂 I agree intensity is sometimes lacking. I think that when the team is balanced, the intensity increases …. the machine runs more smoothly and the understanding between players allows our game to flow at pace. If anything, it’s that aspect that will make a difference to how our season pans out.

  45. mickydidit89 says:


    Depends what you mean by weak 🙂


  46. mickydidit89 says:


    Also, I reckon the players try harder when they believe the selection has the right balance and they’re all comfortable in their designated roles

    Hence the lack of oomph against Pool

  47. chas says:

  48. Rasp says:

    Morning Micky, I agree. Confidence is key, and that means confidence in your team mates as well as self confidence. Henry knew that if DB had the ball, he could go on a run and there was a good chance that he’d find him with a pass …. it’s that chemistry we want to see developing amongst this crop of players. Ramsey and Iwobi worked very well together.

  49. mickydidit89 says:

    Can’t hang about now, people to deliver to places. Later

  50. Eddie says:

    just a quick explanation – I wrote ‘and self-righteous’ after chas’ ‘weak’ comment for fun. We had a spat, in a fure I called him names and since then he referred to himself as ‘self-righteous’ a few times, hence my not very funny comment, mistake I must admit.
    For reference – I don’t even think he is ‘self-righteous’, he is many other things but not ‘self-righteous’ 🙂

    If anyone thinks it was a genuine attack on chas, then please accept my explanation – it really wasn’t.

  51. chas says:

    Don’t worry, dude, I didn’t think it was an attack – just Polish sense of humour.

    As for LB saying that it was weak me referring to our line-up versus the chavs at Wembley – GRRRRRRRRRRR.

  52. Eddie says:

    cheers, I was actually hoping that you would chuckle

  53. mickydidit89 says:

    Too much Carp I reckon 🙂

  54. TotalArsenal says:

    All agreed Rasp. To play with intensity, discipline and belief the players need to trust and feel comfortable with each other. A lot of this needs to be done on the training ground. To swing from a 4-0 defeat to a hard-fought 0-0 in just 20 days in two difficult (and far too early in the season) away matches, is a big achievement. Let’s build further on this.

  55. Rasp says:

    Hi Total … I totally agree 🙂 🙂

  56. Rasp says:

    I shall be going on Wednesday (don’t know if any other AA’ers are?) and will look forward to seeing the young guns and some of the forgotten players showcasing their talent.

  57. Zee says:

    Apologies Chas,

    chas says:
    September 18, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Bellerin played on the left against Liverpool in The Beast’s position.
    What’s not to understand?

    You started your original comment scratching your head about the team’s performance against the Chavs.
    it was just my humour, which is obviously not to everyone’s taste, but your comment re Belli and Sead both being in the LB position [in the context of the game under review] amused me.

    It makes me cringe having to explain my humour — but no offence was intended — quite the opposite.

    In the future, if there is one, I will do my best not to find things funny.

  58. Zee says:


    I am hoping to get down from Manchester for the game tomorrow — what pub are you going to be watering in?

    If I can steer my rowdy buddies well enough — no guarantees there — it might be good to meet up at last. Or not! 😀 [Oops — that’s humour!!] 😀

  59. Rasp says:

    Hi Zee, it would be great to meet up …. put a face to the prose 🙂

    I’m going with peaches and she may not be able to get away early so The Faltering Fullback may not be possible, but the Kings Head in Blackstock Road is a possibility.

  60. Eddie says:

    no micky, in Poland they also think I am strange 🙂 one in a million 🙂

  61. Zee says:

    I will try and nag the other galoots — you will like them, all of them are professional dudes who look like loggers — it depends on how early we get down — once they start taking on the beer it’s anyone’s guess as to what happens next! 😀

  62. mickydidit89 says:

    There are more handbags at the moment on this site than in my wife’s handbag warehouse, and that building is enormous, and full 🙄

  63. LB says:

    Wow ok, this still needs explanation.

    My point is that many people refer to our line up at Wembley as being something close to the holy grail when it comes to team selection, saying things like: well we played with that team against the chavs and won, etc

    At no point did I say our team selection was weak, what I did say was that the argument for continuing with the same team or in particular the midfield was weak; the reason being, that in my opinion, the chavs had a bad day at Wembley, in fact they probably had one of their worst performances of their season, again in my opinion I believe that had the same team that had won at Wembley been fielded at the weekend we would have lost.

    Why, I refer to my 3.22 above.

  64. Eddie says:

    handbags galore 🙂 🙂

    I have been blogging here for a few years now and one thing I learnt from the early days is that bloggers are often nothing like the real people behind the keyboard. Even their opinions can vary significantly in the open air.

    And therefore it is not worth losing sleep over anything that goes on on a blog. It’s virtual, it doesn’t really exist.

  65. chas says:

    No-one said you said our team selection was weak for the cup final.

    What you did say was
    “My point it (is) that referring to the line up that was fielded against the chavs at Wembley is weak because they had such an off day”

    i.e. it’s the referring to the line-up which is weak, hence the person doing the referring has made a weak suggestion.

    I’d also like to say that didn’t Ramsey and Ozil play virtually all of our series of games at the end of last season where everyone started to feel that buzz of optimism for the new season?

    Or maybe that’s just a weak thing to say?

  66. mickydidit89 says:

    At least we all have our humour ROLF 🙂

  67. Rasp says:

    I think we need a new post 🙂

  68. Rasp says:

    …. New post …..

  69. Asking questions are in fact nice thing if you are not understanding something fully, however this article
    provides fastidious understanding even.

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