Why Jack Wilshere's Return Can Lead Arsenal to the Title Next Season, Pt. 3
How Will Wilshere Lead Arsenal to Titles?
First, let's account for the fact that single players seldom wield such power or influence, so like I've said in the previous articles, Wilshere is employed here mainly as a principle, not as the trump card for Arsenal's return to winning ways.
He is an example of what could happen if all of Arsenal players returned to full fitness. This would imply the return of Abou Diaby as well. These two players would be equal to two additional signings, and if they remained fit, they would be a tremendous boost to the squad.
Arsenal's midfield would read as follows: Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, Alex Song, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby.
What an option! In addition, we would have Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin as cover and as options for cup games.
Arteta (seen here) and Wilshere are likely to be the fulcrum of Arsenal's midfield. Michael Regan/Getty Images.
Secondly, Jack Wilshere' return is important precisely because of the impact it will yield.
Since I've imagined him playing as a box-to-box, he'd be a viable option to Mikel Arteta. In other words, Arsenal would have two solid players to man this position allowing for rotation to forestall injury and burnout. In addition to these two, Diaby would be available as a cover, both for this position and the holding position proper.
For me, then, Wilshere isn't the solution for the creative midfield position, which isn't to say that I'm denying that he could be the option there.
Again, I base my conclusion on the role he played in the 2010-11 season. In that season, Wilshere's role as holding/box-to-box midfielder allowed Alex Song to overlap forward more than he had done in previous seasons. That season, Song scored five goals.
What I'm saying, in essence, is my assertion that Arsenal need a creative midfielder still stands.
Rumor states that Arsenal have signed Giroud. Ian Walton/Getty Images.
Is Wenger Aware of This?
So, if Wenger knows this, why is he signing strikers instead? And why is he linked additionally to a holding midfielder instead of a creative midfielder. (Let's call this "PLM," for "playmaker.")
First, until the summer is over and the new season begins, we cannot be sure that he'll not buy a playmaker. Who that might be is open to speculation, but no one is being linked with Arsenal.
Second, if indeed Wenger isn't planning to buy a creative midfielder, and if, as we can suppose, he is aware of the need for one, then one of two things will happen.
Why Wenger Might Be Buying Strikers
Let's, however, account for the strikers first. Wenger has bought two already: Lukas Podolski and according to Goal.com, Olivier Giroud (this is open to further confirmation).
I am apt to think that Podolski will function more in the False 11 position—a role Andrei Arshavin failed to make his—while rotating with Robin van Persie from time to time in the advanced striking position.
Or, if the rumor about the signing of Giroud is true, I might be right in assuming that Podolski will indeed function in the False 11 role, with Van Persie rotating the advance striking position with Giroud.
The other option could be that Van Persie might indeed be leaving Arsenal at the end of the summer and that both Podolski and Giroud have been signed to be his replacements for the advanced striking position.
This implies that two of the redundant strikers will be sold: my guess would be Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner while Park Chu-Young is retained. I believe Wenger likes Park and his lack of playing time is only to allow him to adjust properly to England and to the English Premier League.
Park and Miyaichi, what role will they play at Arsenal in the coming season? Getty images.
Robin van Persie Leaves
The departure of Van Persie is one of the two options I have spoken about in the foregoing. In this case, we have two solid advanced strikers in Podolski and Giroud.
But since the likely scenario would involve one of them sitting on the bench inasmuch as only one of them can play in the advanced position at a time, it is likely that I'm right to suppose that Podolski might play mostly in the False 11 position.
So formation wise, beginning from the top, we would have Giroud (I feel very sheepish about this, since his signing hasn't been confirmed) at the very tip of the formation, with Podolski swinging in to support from the left.
Gervinho in action. Bryn Lennon/Getty Images.
In this event, what then would happen to Gervinho?
Gervinho, we know, played mainly on the left. So if Wenger decides to use Podolski on the left, it'd mean Gervinho wouldn't have much game time.
The only thing I can think of in this event is that Wenger might rotate more next season.
The reader might have observed that Gervinho was more of a width provider when he played on the left than a False 11.
This distinction is very important. Practically, it'd allow Wenger tactical latitude.
For example, in games where both sides are attack oriented, Gervinho (as a winger proper) might be a more suitable choice on the left.
Whereas in games where the opponent is more defensive, the False 11 (Podolski) might be the best option. Again, I'd assume constant rotation among players to keep them happy.
This would imply, though, that the team is well-drilled so that players can come in and out of the system without adverse effect on cohesiveness.
When this is the case, a team can marshal its resources more pragmatically to account for the gruesome number of matches in the league. In other words, burnout and injuries would be (or are likely to be) reduced.
In summary then, we assume that Van Persie does not stay, that Giroud indeed is coming in and will play at the tip of the formation with Podolski and Gervinho rotating on the left, while additionally, Podolski and Park can cover the advance striking position where Giroud would operate at the main option.
Podolski: False 11 or main striker? Getty images.
This scenario implies shifting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to the right as the supporting option there, with Theo Walcott still the first choice there, assuming that Walcott is to stay.
If Walcott doesn't stay, AOC can then be assumed to be the option on the right, or alternative, Gervinho would be shifted to the right to rotate with AOC.
This, though, exposes the left flank, leaving only one option there (Podolski). This could be accounted for by making AOC the cover for both flanks. Optionally, Ryo Miyaichi is retained to be the permanent cover on the left.
Will he be Arsenal's big hope? Alex Livesey/Getty Images.
I intended this to be the final part of the series, but as it is, the present part is long enough already. I think it is best to divide the conclusion into two parts.
In the next (hopefully, the final, final), I'll explore the option of Van Persie staying next season and what it might mean in the light of the two signings Arsenal already have made (if indeed the signing of Giroud is true).
I will also provide my opinion regarding why Wenger seems to be interested in a holding midfielder instead of the creative (playmaking) one I insist on as necessary for the squad.
Thanks for your faithful following and for your thoughtful comments. I hope that in the final part of the series the issues and questions you've raised will find answers.
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