Cavani- Ospina

Partnerships key if Arsenal must improve

My initial thought, the title should have read “Cavani earns Arsenal point in France” but I felt that would be a tad disrespectful to the amazing work Ospina put on display last night. Arsenal’s approach to defending to put it mildly was shambolic, gifting Cavani all night the space to run through to an onrushing Ospina who continually made the right judgment not only to get the ball away but to ensure no penalty was conceded in the process.

Arsenal struggled, and this is becoming reminiscent of how we started this season. You get the feeling like the team is set up to play just 45mins of football. The first half against Liverpool was awful, the whole game against Leicester lacked effort, 2nd half against Watford was forgettable, 1st half against Southampton was appalling, so also was the first half against PSG where we really looked leggy and should have been three goals down by half-time.

How much of this is done to Wenger not acquiring players early enough to blend them into a team in pre-season or just players all getting back to required level of fitness I do not know. What I do know is the manager seems to be struggling to find partnerships that work all across the pitch. Individually I think our players are great but in key positions on the pitch the required partnerships have not formed and the result is what we are witnessing.

Our strength seems to lie in the depth and quality we have in our midfield, and everything appears to flow from there. When the midfield plays well like it did in the first half against Watford and the second against Southampton when Cazorla totally dominated, we look like a very well oil machine. When the “Coqzorla” crumbles, the whole team follows suit.

The manager still seems to be unsure of who the two in this 4-2-3-1 formation should be. Ideally, this should be a nice problem to have but until a time when he finds the answer to these questions, I fear we might struggle.
– Individually, who are his best midfield players?
– Which pair forms the best partnership?
– Given the opposition on the day, which partnership will best suit our approach to the game?

I think the most important questions are the second and third given football’s nature as a team sport. Also just as important is our center back pairing, Rob Holding early on did very well with Koscienly and the acquisition of Mustafi has seems to have relegated him to the bench. Given the investment in Mustafi, he certainly is a starter and his partnership with Koscienly can only improve time.

Down the wings, given Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin are our certain starters, the decision as to who plays in front of them needs to be made fast. Nacho has struggled to replicate his form last season, in my opinion, I think this is not helped by changes in who plays in front of him. Chamberlain, Iwobi, Sanchez and in some instances Theo has all occupied that position at some point this term.

Overall, if we are going to make any improvements this season, we would need to resolve all these issues and get the most out of our players. It’s a nice problem to have, a different kind of problem compared to our injury-enforced decisions that the manager had to make in recent past.

Overall, a point away to PSG is not a bad result. Have an awesome day ahead.

My Man of The Match – David Ospina

If Ozil and Santi are constants, who is your third choice in the Arsenal Midfield?

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