With silly season underway, fans go through a rollercoaster of a ride. These days, rumors seem to fly around more than real birds. Arsenal, as usual, have been linked with a number of players. Some realistic targets, others not quite so realistic. So in the midst of this transfer window, how about we try to focus our attention away from ‘external solutions’ and instead use our footballing wits to brainstorm some unexplored ‘internal solutions’, in typical Arsene Wenger usage of these terms?
This will be an attempt to move the pieces of the chess board around to come up with some unseen, untried yet potentially exciting combination of players and positions in the new 3-4-3 system at Arsenal.
- Welbeck as RWB: On paper, Welbeck has all the attributes to be successful in this role. He has speed, strength, power, and tenacity, and can pretty much keep running up and down the wing the entire 90 minutes and still not get tired. He’s demonstrated over the past few seasons that he has the ability to beat his man by knocking the ball beyond the defender and making a dash for it. The Ox does it brilliantly, and there’s no reason to think why with a little bit of getting used to the position, Welbeck won’t perform well either. He’s rugged in defense and can make a tackle or two. Of course, this is far away from his preferred position at CF, but it might just be a blessing in disguise. For all of Welbeck’s brilliant work rate and stretching of the defense when he plays at CF, his final product is pretty shambolic. His goal return isn’t something any striker would be proud of, and maybe putting him in a position a little further away from the goal would not be the worst idea. You end up retaining his best attributes while taking away the spotlight from his deficiencies. At least on paper, the idea doesn’t seem too bad.
- Walcott as CF: Theo seems like the odd man out in the squad with the change to the 3-4-3. Even though in this past season he produced 19 goals, his all-round contribution to the general play has always been somewhere in the ballpark of utter mediocrity. He rarely got any minutes since the switch to 3 at the back, and even when he did, it was with him as the right inside forward where he failed to produce any meaningful contribution. He’s one of the few good finishers at the club and Arsenal would be jumping the gun if they sold him. He can stretch the defense with the amazing timing of his runs and open up space for Alexis and Ozil behind him. Try him again at CF, Arsene!
- Wilshere in the Ozil role: This is first and foremost contingent on Wilshere staying at the club and managing to keep himself injury free. Currently, Arsenal have no replacement for Ozil, and Wilshere is the closest thing that they can manage. As an inside forward, Wilshere can make those driving runs where he can play quick combination passes with his teammates, something he’s brilliant at. The inside forward role is different from a 10, a 6, or an 8, and could potentially really suit him. If he and Iwobi could take some of the burden off Alexis and Ozil, Arsenal could manage a good rotation in the Europa League, thereby keeping their best players fresh for a proper title challenge.
- Monreal in the midfield two: This sounds funny, but it’s only a Hail Mary attempt to ensure Arsenal do not concede when they’re defending a lead. Consider the case that Arsenal have a healthy set of defenders to choose from, so Monreal is not needed in the back 3, or as LWB with Kolasinac taking that spot. When defensive substitutions need to be made, it might not be so ridiculous to throw Monreal in the midfield with, say, El Nenny and Coquelin. He has terrific versatility, great awareness, good feet, sharp passing, and great defensive ability. He is starting to emerge as a leader and could marshal the defense better than Xhaka or Ramsey in midfield. He’s both quicker and a better defender than Xhaka and Ramsey and might help shut out leads.
While some of these ‘internal solutions’ do sound funny, sometimes we as fans underestimate the footballing abilities of these professionals. Who knows which players are more than capable of holding their own in an unfamiliar position? Besides, we’re just fans so we aren’t really burdened with the real responsibilities that come with actually picking a team; we’re all allowed to channel some of our inner Pep aren’t we? Which fan hasn’t thrown around weird ideas and wondered why the manager can’t think of these when we can, even while taking a shit at the office? It is what makes the silly season even sillier. And football even more beautiful.
Let me know in the comments which of these ideas you think would work! (And which of these you don’t think will!)