Welcome back to another season at A Bergkamp Wonderland. Along with the Podcast and #ABW Radio, the blogging side of things has shaken off the cobwebs of lazy Sundays and idle transfer speculation as we’re ready to return to writing about the team we all love, the Arsenal.
To kick things off, we’re bringing you a special four part Bloggers’ Season Preview this week. We’ve all gotten together to write a few words on a given topic. In Part 1, we’ll look at our best starting XI’s and give you a breakdown of how they might play out on the pitch. We hope you enjoy it and be sure to check back tomorrow for Part 2.
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We’ve debated it all summer, and we’ll never fully agree, but the time is now where we build our tactics around the players and not the other way around. The back-four and the keeper are no brainers, with both Monreal and Bellerín proving beyond question of their status in the XI. The rest needs more time for
Central midfield will continue to be debated, but for me, Ramsey along side Coquelin should be preferred. Not only does Ramsey have the best engine in the first team and an ability to make consistent well-timed late runs into the area, but he has formulated a wonderful understanding on the pitch with Özil – for me, he has become irreplaceable in the XI. It may be at the expense of Cazorla, but Cazorla offers such versatility off the bench and that is something most sides in the league cannot turn to. His ability to slot into five different roles makes him invaluable as a tactical option.
Alexis didn’t feature in the Community Shield, but the left wing is certainly his own. The form of Chamberlain in pre-season and his excellent showing against Chelsea, for me, provides the proof that he’s ready to take up his place on the right. With Walcott central, we now have three players on all sides of Özil who not only make forward runs, but also are completely interchangeable across the pitch. It’s that movement on and off the ball that will help Özil have his best season in an Arsenal shirt to date.
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Perhaps the most startlingly thing about this team is that 12 months ago I would not have had four players in it. I certainly would not have had Petr Čech. The goalkeeper is quite simply a brilliant signing by Arsène Wenger. His calmness transcends through the team and improves the back four immensely.
The two full-backs, Héctor Bellerín and Nacho Monreal also wouldn’t have made the XI. Bellerín has emerged and established himself as a regular, while Monreal’s consistency is greatly undervalued. The fourth and final surprise package is Francis Coquelin. He is arguably the hardest man to replace in the squad and any injury to him would leave the side severely lacking in power in the midfield. The Frenchman has gone from Charlton to stardom – a call up to the national side inevitably beckons.
As for the team as a whole I have gone with a 4-2-3-1 formation. The difficultly is Aaron Ramsey. Undeniably his best role is in the middle of the park but Santi Cazorla’s dictating of play makes the Spaniard a must there. Ramsey still makes the XI though, just because I have always followed the philosophy you get your best players on the pitch no matter what.
Looking through the team now, it instills me with great confidence. The only change would perhaps be up top. It is said a lot but a world-class striker really would take Arsenal to the next level. It’s just finding that special someone which remains a challenge.
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Let me start out by saying I trust Wenger with his team selections and who he decides to play. We all have players we would like signed, as would I, but that also doesn’t mean when we’re down a goal in the 60th minute, I wouldn’t like Arsenè to make a sub a little sooner.
That being said, here is how I’d like to see the team line up. Formation wise, I’m happy to be playing a 4-5-1. We have too many good midfielders to be playing a different system at the moment in my opinion. In an ideal world, we could play Giroud upfront with Walcott, but I don’t think that does us any favours with our well stacked midfield as I mentioned earlier.
My team, which I’m sure is quite similar to the rest of ours, looks like this:
Debuchy, but note that I don’t think he will be here the season after this one if Bellerín continues to improve. The only reason I’m not fully committing to Bellerín now is that I’d hope he wouldn’t burn out by 25. If we keep him, we are looking at our right back position possibly being filled for the next decade. That’s the level of faith I have in the young Spaniard.
The rest of the team is pretty basic. Čech of course, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Cazorla, Alexis, Özil and Giroud. While I think we found a nugget with Cazorla alongside Coquelin, I’d rather have him in a free role on the right side of the midfield. I just can’t leave him out and would rather have his consistency in the team then the on again, off again Walcott.
Giroud up top is a no brainer for me. I feel we play our best football with him up there, regardless of the fact that many don’t view him as world class.
And that’s about that for me people. I’d like to be more in depth, but that will have to suffice.
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The most wonderful thing about sitting down to write about our starting XI is that for the first time in many seasons you can argue a case for so many various options and even the possibility of various formations. The starting cast for next weekends visit of West Ham United does offer many connotations and it has reminded me that we actually have a fantastic squad.
Naturally some decisions are set in stone such as Sanchez and Petr Čech along with the centre back pairing of Per and Koscielny.
The full back positions are where the first questions come into play and I would opt to go with Bellerín and Monreal. The pair seems to offer a certain stability to the side with Nacho not being quite as cavalier as the young Spaniard. Many will argue for the return of the fit again Debuchy but after such an incredible break through season I believe that Héctor has earned the right to start as first choice and at 20 years old he really is the future. I think the argument for Monreal and Gibbs is a lot simpler where Gibbs form dropped considerably whilst Nacho has gone on to make the position his own.
I would like to see the forward line bursting with pace so would like to see Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo and Alexis be the three. I think this is a massive year for The Ox , if he stays injury free he could go on to be a world-class player for The Arsenal and England. I think the side would score a huge number of goals with Özil feeding Theo through the middle, it really is about time we got the best out of our Mesut – he is a world-class player. Özil feeding those front three would leave opposition defenders not knowing whether to defend high or deep, tight or stand off them. A very exciting season is almost upon us.
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A new season and at least one new face in my preferred starting XI. Petr Čech is undoubtedly a world class goalkeeper who is worth points to any team, and I’m hopeful that will be enough to put us into the title race this year.
Across the back four there should be no surprises. Koscielny continues to look assured alongside Per at centre back with maturity of Monreal on the left and the blinding pace of Bellerín on the right. It’s surprising to me that the young Spaniard is, in my opinion, a certainty in his position given the debut he had at Dortmund just 11 months ago. But he has been a revelation since and I look forward to another strong season from him.
Coquelin and Ramsey get the nod in the centre of the park. The young Frenchman preferred for the more defensive duties in contrast to Rambo’s continuous box-to-box running. The fact that Coquelin is developing an eye for a pass is almost as exciting as the defensive stability he’s introduced into the side.
Up top is perhaps a controversial decision. Theo Walcott seems to be the man of the moment, and there is no denying the fact that Özil likes runners ahead of him, but Olivier Giroud gives us something different. His hold up play and sheer strength make him an interesting option and the runs of Theo and Alexis in behind central defenders that are drawn to Giroud, will still give Mesut his options. Additionally, we don’t have a big man for set-pieces (offensively and defensively) if we drop him from the squad.
A quick shout to the love of my life, Santi Cazorla, who fails to make the squad ahead of Ramsey. I love Santi along with the Ox as options off the bench and they will get their share of games this season. What wonderful squad depth we have which will be needed over the course of the 50 odd games ahead.
Thanks for checking out Part 1 of our Bloggers’ Season Preview, check back tomorrow for Part 2.