Aaron Ramsey suffered a game ending hamstring injury against Bayern Munich this past Tuesday night, and Arsene Wenger claims the Welshman is likely to be sidelined for about a month (via the BBC).
Being without the midfielder for so long is obviously a blow, but it also looks set to signal a serious change in tactics.
Arsene Wenger has insisted on deploying a centrally minded midfielder on the right flank recently, with Ramsey picked ahead of more natural wide men like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Joel Campbell.
The 24-year-old sticks to the right when performing his defensive duties, but is given much more of a free role when going forward. This means we spend much of the game without an attacking player on the right, overloading other areas of the pitch and relying on Hector Bellerin to provide width. This should change now though; not by choice, but out of necessity.
Jack Wilshere has been utilised on the wing in the past, and as he too is more naturally a central midfielder he would more or less be a like-for-like replacement for Ramsey. He too is injured though, and is not expected back until the new year (via Arsenal.com).
Danny Welbeck is another player who more often than not has been pushed out wide on the right, with Olivier Giroud normally preferred ahead of him up front. The former Manchester United man certainly isn’t a midfielder, but he does like to roam, come central, and play as a striker more than a winger. He is also on our increasingly lengthy injury list though, and should return around the same time as Wilshere (via Arsenal.com).
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This doesn’t leave Wenger with a huge amount of options, and means something is likely to change in the coming weeks.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the obvious choice to replace Ramsey on the right, and has looked good when given the chance there this season. He plays far more like a natural winger though, despite many believing he has a future more centrally. There are certainly question marks over his defensive awareness and ability to offer adequate cover to Bellerin.
Joel Campbell is another option, but the Costa Rican really hasn’t looked up to the standard required when we’ve seen him so far. He may improve if given time on the pitch, but we can’t afford any passengers at the moment.
The third and final option is to push Theo Walcott back onto the wing, with Olivier Giroud reclaiming his spot up front. A front three of Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, and Theo Walcott would certainly offer us a real goal threat, but similarly to the Ox there are definite question marks over the speedster’s defensive credentials.
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Whoever Wenger opts to field on the right we are going to see a real change in style for the foreseeable future, and it will be interesting to see who starts the game against Everton this weekend.