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The culture of extremes makes it difficult to create a nuanced image of what is happening at Arsenal, or whether the journalists are intentionally disregarding Arsenal’s success as failure, because it doesn’t match up to their idea of success. After all, no matter what, if Arsenal doesn’t win the league, someone else will, and Arsenal will always be compared to them, not the teams that finish below them with more resources, not the teams that have never finished above them under Arsene, not the teams that won the league last year but are fighting relegation this year.

The prospect of a Santi-less life is one that no Arsenal fan should have to endure, at least not at the tender age of 27. Arsenal have been, I guess, hugely unfortunate to be without the diminutive Spaniard for the majority of the season. We may tell ourselves, as Arsenal fans, to expect to be without key players for large swathes of the season but nothing can prepare you for the loss of Santi. His presence in the team enables so many other players. He is our most comfortable ball-playing midfielder. His two-footedness, a facet that many of the best wingers in the world struggle to emulate, makes him unique

It’s over 20 years since Arsenal resided under an alternative manager. The club has been developed, stabilised and revolutionised under one of the most forward thinking and innovative managers of our generation. In fact, it’s hard to fathom Arsenal football club without Wenger at the helm – and it seems that Mesut Ozil considers his future entwined with the Frenchman’s own

The partnership seems like a straightforward one: Xhaka sits deep and dictates play and Ramsey bombs forward at opportune moments to link with Giroud and push beyond the lines of attack. Yet against Bournemouth, Ramsey was the player who opted to come deep to gather possession and Xhaka pushed higher up the pitch; this may have been a quick-fix as Arsenal were pushing for an equaliser but it still begs the question as to why Wenger would start Ramsey in the number 10 role and then when forced into a midfield two, that Xhaka would then begin operating closer to goal.

 

Arsenal are no longer a team of kids. They have title winners, European Champions and World Champions amongst their ranks and still this team lack the mental fortitude to challenge for a league title. On a number of occasions, in both the Everton and City game, Alexis could be seen berating his colleagues for not supporting him in pressing the opponents. He was constantly trying to cajole Oxlade Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and the midfield pairing to put pressure on the opposition’s defence. Yet each time he was left out to dry.

Gabriel is also a front-footed defender. He often marks his opponents touch tight and is more than willing to battle for possession and challenge strikers on the turn. However, does his prowess for stealing possession match that of the exceptional Mustafi? Doubted. The Brazilian has been waiting for his chance to play and it has come but only through injuries to Bellerin and Debuchy and a decimation of confidence of Jenkinson. Now with Mustafi suffering from a hamstring strain it seems that Gabriel will get an opportunity to compete in his favoured position

Without Sanchez and with Iwobi struggling in his current capacity, Arsene may choose to adapt his preferred starting eleven and include the hot and cold Oxlade Chamberlain in place of the young Nigerian. Despite the England manager being a firm admirer of Oxlade Chamberlain, the wide man has been left at home by Gareth Southgate. Recent ups and downs have probably cost him a place in this current England squad but the Ox’s capacity for the unpredictable is akin to Sanchez’s explosiveness. Both players, to their credit boast an ability to beat a man

  • 15 Sep 2015
    So let me stop reminiscing of days gone by and let me focus on our Welsh wonder. Let me start off by saying that I think it is quite obvious that Aaron Ramsey is better in central midfield. His partnership with Mesut Özil, his running from deep and his underrated ball winning ability makes him a ...Read more