Blog Post by @KingHenryTheFif
It is often said that the calm precedes the storm but in the case of Arsenal in 2015/2016, the dark cyclone which currently threatens to eclipse the club’s aspirations surely can’t get any more wavy, with the Gooners once again having a November to forget and banking on the frenetic December schedule (despite Arsene being worried about the hectic program) to restore some calm into Arsenal’s results, in what still remains a promising season for the club.
Now just when we thought the current tide seemed to be turning Arsenal’s brief blip into much needed stability, things have taken an even worse turn at the Emirates, with Koscielny, Alexis and Cazorla also succumbing to Arsenal’s Achilles heel of the past decade. Not even the return of right sided duo, Aaron Ramsey and Hector Bellerin has sprung some spark into Arsenal’s misfortunes and this was evident in the disappointing draw at Norwich.
It’s an imperfect time to lose the effervescent Alexis Sanchez, who secured his first Premier League assist of the season and followed up on his glowing partnership with the mercurial Mesut Ozil. The German, scoring in back to back games for the first time since January, now appears to be the last glue left in holding this battered side together, after just four months of a title surge.
With Alexis looking doubtful for the next couple of games, Arsene will be hoping the in form Ozil continues his rich vein of form to carry Arsenal over the line in the last month of the year; a month which always turns out to be decisive in predicting the fortunes (and misfortunes) of the club.
Having developed a key eye for goal recently, Arsenal will need Ozil to play as close to Giroud as possible as he seeks to dominate the final third, without sustaining any injuries that come with more running and probing. The impending reliance on the German International is reminiscent of the dependence on Samir Nasri at this same stage in the 2010/2011 campaign.
Nevertheless, such reliance on the genius of an individual could be coined into an interdependence on the rebirth of the Ozil – Ramsey partnership, with the telepathic understanding between both needed now more than ever.
With the absence of Alexis Sanchez, a gaping hole on the left side of Arsenal’s attack will need some attending to, which favours the aforementioned duo, with Ozil always happy to dart to the left to broaden his vision, while Ramsey finds it more elusive to run in behind the opposition defence from an inside left position.
The Welshman’s disallowed strike against Liverpool, as well as his performance at Crystal Palace earlier in the season, shows how expedient it is for the 24-year old to find more space on the left to exploit.
With the chemistry between the duo looking a little bit subdued in the last few weeks, the timing couldn’t be any more perfect for the mobile attacking pair to rekindle their eye catching partnership, even as Arsenal will be hoping the club’s misfortunes ended with the unsettling month of November. With the aid of Olivier Giroud, Ozil and Ramsey have every right to believe they can get Arsenal over this line of mini crisis.
Perhaps another pairing destined to have reached its climax is the Ozil – Theo Walcott partnership, as both have been reportedly going the extra mile in training (for different reasons) and would have been of an immense two-sided advantage to the team.
Like Ozil’s clinical development in front of goal recently, Theo almost certainly would have made significant progress in the development of his hold up play and eye for a pass/assist had he enjoyed the same level of fitness as his central attacking partner. Arsenal’s 11 and 14 looked destined to complement each other, with Theo arguably being the best finisher at the club while Ozil remains the assists king in London.
However, one more pairing involving a scorer and a creator capable of complementing each other lies in the chemistry between Olivier Giroud and Oxlade Chamberlain. Since the tail end of last season, Arsene has made use of both in tandem, largely due to the tendency of Chamberlain whipping the ball into the Frenchman’s path at every given opportunity.
Having said that, the partnership could do with more substance to back up the numerous chances both players produce with frequent combinations. The last time a move directly involving both resulted in a clinical outcome came in May, with virtually the last kick of the game in Wembley.
Nonetheless, both have conjured up an impressive number of chances since then and would need to turn those genuine goal threatening moves into net rattling beauties. The fast approaching run-in presents the best opportunity for both to turn on the heat, and this time remain there, regardless of the return to fitness of teammates who appear highly capable of starting ahead of them.
With the team in need of a lift in the final third especially in the wake of one too many sidelines, having Chamberlain back and with a point to prove might be what the English man needs to improve on his indifferent start to the season, following a promising first few weeks.
In the case of Olivier Giroud, rising above expectations has been a routine challenge since his arrival from Montpeiller. With a real possibility of combining more frequently with a willing crosser like Chamberlain, the Frenchman would do well to make the most of the added services he’s poised to receive, much in the same manner he has utilized the deliveries from Ozil in the first four months of the season. With three Arsenal forwards all struggling with match fitness, the Frenchman remains the most likely to surpass Alexis’ 25 goal record of 2014/2015.