Our performance against West Ham was nothing short of diabolical, and we can’t afford to continue playing that way if we want to mount any type of title challenge this season. The whole team will be looking to bounce back against Crystal Palace, but there’s one major change Arsene Wenger needs to make.
A change of tactics arguably wouldn’t have helped against West Ham, as the entire team were playing woefully. We could do with a change of formation against Palace though, as our lack of width was a real problem at the Emirates and we may have struggled even if we weren’t playing horrendously.
With Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, and Mesut Özil all in the side, the midfield was far too congested. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the only player willing to play on the flanks, with the others clogging up the midfield and making us far too narrow.
It’s hard to know exactly how to remedy this problem, as neither Ramsey, Cazorla, nor Özil are suited to the wings. It’s understandable that Wenger wants to crowbar all three men into the side, but one of them needs to be dropped in favour of a more natural wide man.
The Ox needs to keep his place, as he was unquestionably our best player on the day and has shown his quality throughout pre-season. And with the likes of Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez, and a host of talented young wingers at the manager’s disposal, it’s madness to continue deploying a central midfielder out on the flanks.
Although it’s a difficult decision to make, Aaron Ramsey seems like the obvious choice to lose his place. Cazorla has thrived in a deeper role alongside Coquelin, and Özil has made the No.10 spot his own.
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We have excellent depth in midfield, but that doesn’t mean we need to play everyone at the same time. Our lineup against Pardew’s solid looking Palace side needs to have more balance and width, and there are several ways we can achieve that.
If Alexis Sanchez is fit enough to start, then we could start with Alexis on the left, the Ox on the right, and Walcott through the middle. This would give us an incredibly pacy forward line, and all three men could interchange as needed. If the Chilean isn’t quite fit enough to start, then we could start with Walcott, the Ox, and Olivier Giroud leading the line. The Frenchman would act as a focal point, with the two English wingers stretching play and allowing him space to operate in.
What do you think Gooners? How should we line up against Crystal Palace?