How to Balance the Squad?

I still feel that one of our major problems is that UE has inherited an unbalanced squad that had been getting more steadily unbalanced over the latter few seasons.

In many ways it could be argued that UE is over-achieving with this current squad, but I also wonder if at times he doesn’t quite know how to set up what he has at present to give us a team where the players compliment each other and therefore give a more rounded and fluid performance.

Questions could be:

Do you feel the squad is unbalanced?
What do we need to do to improve the balance in the squad?
What are the orders of priority to be addressed?

If we are talking about ins and outs within the team in the summer TW it would be good if suggestions are quantified to fit within what is likely to be our financial constraints, rather than just a load of players that will exceed it, and therefore is not realistic

Another consideration is Ramsey. I like Ramsey, and ideally would have liked to keep him, but have always felt he was replaceable. More recently, however, he seems to have become increasingly important in our play.

Is this because he has now transcended to a different level, or is it more that he has a a style of play we are missing elsewhere in the squad, so his importance to us is overly magnified beyond what it really is, which is what I kind of felt with Sanchez in the last 2 seasons.

What he brings does seem to be needed to be replaced though, so how?

written by Gooner B


24 Responses to How to Balance the Squad?

  1. Big Raddy says:

    Thank you GB.

    I do not think we need a Ramsey replacement. we have the tools in the squad, especially with the (hopeful) emergence of Smith Rowe.

    We have Douzi, Xhaka, Torreira, Kolasinac, AMN, Smith Rowe, Ozil, Mhki, Willock and Elneny though I think Elneny should be sold.

    UE must agree about the balance or he would not have brought in Suarez though it remains to be seen if he is to be a permanent signing.

    Priority has to be the defence. Not a single away clean sheet is a damning indictment. Simply not good enough.

    Also long term injuries to key players has damaged the flexibility of the squad.

  2. Wolfgang says:

    When Wenger was manager he wanted to play the Barcelona way.
    Technical but skillful players .He loaded the team with a lot of guys below 5ft 11inches.
    He forgot the epl is not only a physical league but combines other attributes like muscular power and skill.
    There are few 6 footers in the team . In fact at one stage Arsenal were on the average the shortest.
    Its up to Emery to restore the balance. For starters he could do with
    a monster in md.

  3. GoonerB says:

    Bit busy from now on till later so best get my tuppence worth in and answer my own questions 🙂

    I think our biggest area where we are unbalanced is in a lack of pacey goal-scoring wide players. My first priority would be to bring in a pacey wide player that has goal-scoring ability. Preferably a left footer that can give us width and pace on the right but cut inside onto their left. On the left side I would happily let Nelson have a run.

    I agree Raddy about 1 top CD coming in, if we can find that player at the right price, but am also keen to see what Holding and Mavro can do.

    I also agree with you Raddy about not trying to find a like for like Ramsey replacement and we can find the answers with those you have mentioned above. I am very keen for us to promote the likes of Smith-Rowe, Willock and Nelson.

    In considering the midfield and attack, it is just about finding the balance in what we already have, in terms of who plays the more advanced CM roles and who plays the deeper holding CM roles and who plays the more box to box roles. We have the numbers in CM. Do we have the quality and balance? I feel yes, we can get this right with our current crop and youngsters coming through.

    I potentially see the likes of Smith-Rowe, Nelson and Willock as all being more suited to the attacking roles. All seem to have a mix of pace and an eye for goal to varying degrees. At the moment we seem to use Micki and Iwobi in more attacking roles but I have a feeling they may be better suited to more box to box central roles.

    I also wonder whether there is more to Torreira than the holding midfield role. He looks good going forwards and has something of the Kante’s about him so could he be a more box to box player? If so then should we also look to bring in a more specialist holding midfielder to release the shackles somewhat from the likes of Torreira and Xhaka? I still wonder whether Chambers could fulfill the role with a bit of time under UE’s tutelage and step up.

  4. tonny says:

    UE has a trust issues to some players and his team set up. Sometimes he fails to adjust to a system that can create balance and wait till its maybe not workable.. case for instance against Everton, from the onset he knew everton had the numbers in the midfield to much his side. being an away side and having the damage Everton were inflicting to arsenal he should have switched to a back four with AMN moving to the centre of the pack to play along side Gue and Elneny moved slightly a head of them to reduce the gap between ozil mukhitarian and Laca. the team would have been balance and everton would have been contained for the fast half and arsenal could have won the game

  5. Richard Compton says:

    I dont know if I can talk authoritatively about imbalance but I can detect some noticeable weaknesses. We need a Patrick Viera-type in the midfield, someone who can consolidate and distribute. I wonder if this imbalance stems from a physically weak (Guendouzi and Maitland-Niles) and comparatively slow midfield (Guendouzi, Torreira, Elneny and Xhaka).
    So, there is definately a need to find some strength, speed and skill in the midfield while I would say goodbye to at least Mustafi, Iwobi and Elneny.

  6. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers GB. The balance is a matter of choice by Emery. Play two deep and one to connect midfield with attack or one deep and two pushing up, playing close to the attackers. Emery, like Wenger last season, is still struggling to get it right. At home we find it easier to push up than away. For me it is not a matter of new player(s) but better tactical adjustment and discipline in midfield. Xhaka-Torreira/Ramsey – Ozil in midfield should do the trick every time.

  7. RA says:

    A very good response to your own questions, GB, and nothing I could argue with. [Well, I could, if I wanted to wind you up] 😁

    I most particularly agree that we lack pace, both in midfield and defence.

    If we could get a Rambo replacement who was anywhere near as good as Vieira, we would be foolish to turn our noses up — but there is no reason for anyone to get their knickers in a twist over it, because if a Vieira type player became available he would be snapped up by the ‘Big’ teams – ~Barca, Real, Man City, Manure —- oh bugger, you know who they are.

    Going with the kids makes sense, and in the mid to long term that could be special.

    A youngster you did not mention, but I have high hopes for, is Medley, a youngster we got from the Chavs, who is only 18 but stands 6′ 5″ and plays at CB or CM. Mark my words, with enlightened coaching he could be special, answering our calls for a big unit with abundant skill and pace, who just lacks experience.

    How do we tackle a lack of experience? We play him in the 1st team squad, or we loan him out!

  8. Nomad28 says:

    Assuming funds are limited (as usual):
    CB & LB are priorities(pretty obvious)
    Quality players in those positions blow up the budget. Re-sign Welbeck, keeping him as 3rd STK who can play wide, loan Eddie.
    Nelson and kids to hopefully kicking on to help the wing/CAM situation, a ‘moneyball’ type winger signing would help (worked last season). Chambers looks like a CDM/utility back these days so offload Elneny. Any chump change left on promising youngsters

  9. RA says:

    Hi TA,

    Your tactical awareness and insight when applied to our players is spot on.

    You also have an enthusiasm for, and give support to, our current players, come what may, and I wish I could too, but losing a game against a useful but limited team like Everton, only make me see a sometimes useful, but far too often limited team in Arsenal.

    In truth, it is not easy to point the finger at specific individuals, because if, in my case, I am less than impressed with a player and say so, it is likely he will have a good game in the next match.

    Equally, if I praise someone for putting in a good shift and producing an exquisite pass, or two, like say Özil, it can happen that in the next game he seems disinterested and sulky.

    It is difficult for the players to be consistent, and perhaps the manager is still exploring his options too, but I am an Arsenal fan, and if players can’t cut it consistently — they should go – for the sake of the club and its supporters, both of whom have visions of future success.

  10. jjgsol says:

    AW always said that there is only a point in buying a player if he is better than what we have already.

    There is a temptation to buy for the sake of it, to freshen up the squad, which, with limited funds seems wasteful.

    I feel we lost on Sunday because our midfield was far too light.

    Guendousi and Elneny, both reasonable players together with one of the other more experienced ones, are fine, together, on their own were a disaster waiting to happen.

    With injuries and suspensions, as well as an eye on Thursday, this choice was forced on UE and proved to be a problem.

    That we only lost to a fluke goal showed that the situation was not that bad and this may be a one-off, although the other away games are against known Stoke clones, with hard pressing the whole time. With no protection from the ref, as one might expect, these games will be wars of attrition.

  11. allezkev says:

    And another comment disappears into the great blog in the sky. ☹️

  12. allezkev says:

    Short version.
    Sign goal scorer who can play either wing or through middle.
    Sign left back.
    Sign centre half.
    Sell Mustafi, Chambers and Elneny.
    Possibly sell Mkhitarayan to reduce wage bill if need be.
    Develop Academy players like Saka.

  13. fred1266 says:

    Has anyone been following how Smith rowe has been doing on his long thus far

  14. fred1266 says:

    Nomad stop reading affected I saw the words resign welbeck grrrr

  15. LB says:

    A concise GB post, well, I never thought that I would write that.

    I jest, thanks GB for giving us something to read and to ponder because that is what is does and does it well.

    You are write about the balance not being right and that it is not really UE’s fault as he inherited the main part of the squad.

    I see the team as a three legged table, at certain times on certain days it is possible to make it stand up right as was demonstrated against United but it takes so little for it to fall over as we saw against Everton.

    I think UE should take a lot of credit for Ramsey’s improvement, he will be missed.

    Ozil was interesting on Sunday, rather than having the luxury of floating in and out and playing where he wants he had to do something different. With Ramsey, Xhaka and Torreira missing he had to play a much more disciplined role of linking Elneny and Guendouzi to the attack — the result was pretty tepid, mind you he had no help from Mkhitaryan.

    Still don’t get why supporters get upset when the club say there is no money to spend, have they ever heard of negotiation, what are the club supposed to do — announce that they have money to burn?

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    RA 🙂

    If our players can beat the Chavs, Mancs and Tots at home, and draw away against two of them, we must assume that the players are not all that bad. We have a fine squad – as good as any except for the Oil-sponsored lot of MC. I am convinced that Klopp, Guardiola and a few others in the PL would do a good to great job with our current squad. Emery is doing not too badly either, but I really believe he is as yet unable to bring balance in midfield, and with that the team. The only time I felt Emery got it right is when he played Xhaka-Torreira as our midfield base, but he is reluctant to do so, and I guess that’s because he likes to be more adventurous than that. Pool have Milner, Henderson and that Dutchman whose names escapes me. Are they great players? No, but Klopp has them playing fab midfield play together, and they all know what is expected of them from one game to the next.

    I also don’t like the way Unai makes changes at half time when things are not going our way. Wenger used to have a good talk with a few individuals and the team as a whole at half time, and all 11 players would come out and make a difference together. That way no individuals are left with feeling unnecessarily bad about themselves, which often results in low confidence in the next games they are asked to play.

  17. chas says:

    Thanks, GoonerB.

    The whole balance of the squad question and who we should buy is well beyond my level of supportership.

    Are we saying that Everton’s squad is better balanced or just that Marco Wagner asked them to play in a way which was more achievable than senor Emery’s tactical design (if there was one) was for us?

    No idea.

  18. Big Raddy says:

    LB. The 3 legged table analogy is excellent. Must be time for another LB post to enlighten and entertain.

  19. fatgingergooner says:

    Oh dear, Harry Kane just tried to put one on Delph and ended up knackering his ankle. What a shame.

    Could be end of his season!

  20. RA says:


    Your comment @ 4:27 proves the point — a very good analysis, and who could argue with that?

  21. RA says:

    Bloody Spuds — altho in fairness that guy Son is terrific – better than Kane? He certainly is in my book!

    Come on Citeh (well they cannot let the Spuds win – surely?)

    Bugger! 1 : 0 final Score.

  22. chas says:

  23. chas says:


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