Why Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Gonzalo Higuain Would Work Well at Arsenal

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2013

READING, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 17: Santi Cazorla of Arsenal is congratulated on scoring by Jack Wilshere during the Barclays Premier League match between Reading and Arsenal at Madejski Stadium on December 17, 2012 in Reading, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Arsenal are edging ever closer to a deal for Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain, according to The London Evening Standard. The prolific forward will form a potent attacking trio with Gunners midfield schemers Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere.

Collectively they will give manager Arsene Wenger the creative three he needs to make his fluid brand of football work. Wenger's best Arsenal teams have all featured dynamic attacking trios.

His double-winners of 1997-98, were driven by the efforts of Dutch playmakers Marc Overmars and Dennis Bergkamp. Nicolas Anelka was the fleet-footed striker who complemented the pace of Overmars and was the target for Bergkamp's many intelligent through passes.

When Wenger captured his second double in 2001-02, the dynamic was the same, but two of the trio had changed. Bergkamp was still the key creative cog, but Overmars had been replaced by Robert Pires.

The stylish left-sided midfielder combined flair and ingenuity with a natural industry. Arsenal produced their best football under Wenger when Pires and Bergkamp combined to orchestrate play.

Anelka was replaced by an equally speedy, but more powerful and creative main striker, Thierry Henry. This triumvate formed the foundation of the team that won two league titles and three FA Cups in four seasons.

Even during the last eight barren years, Wenger has attempted to maintain his reliance on these triangles. The 2007-08 squad, probably the best of the Emirates Stadium years, was successful thanks to the combined efforts of Cesc Fabregas and Aleksandr Hleb.

Their artistry in midfield was supported by the power of Emmanuel Adebayor in attack. In 2010-11, Arsenal should have captured the English Premier League title.

That would have been just reward for the expansive football created by Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie.

Signing Higuain and combining his skills with those of Wilshere and Cazorla, can give Wenger the same attack-minded trio to direct his imaginative and expressive style of football.

Combining Wilshere and Cazorla in advanced midfield areas is vital for the success of this Arsenal team. Cazorla is a master playmaker, but he too often lacked sufficient support last season.

When opponents enveloped the Spanish ace, Arsenal's forward play became stunted and predictable. Wilshere can provide the extra elements of thrust and invention, to complement Cazorla.

This is a critical season in Wilshere's development. Wenger attempted to make him his advanced central schemer during the last campaign.

It is a bold but necessary gamble. Wilshere is naturally a quick, pass-and-move midfielder. His game is based on technique and instinct for the movements of those around him.

At times, he has lived up to his billing as a No.10. He was outstanding against Swansea City in the FA Cup. Wilshere demonstrated ideas, resilience and guile, to go with a scoring touch, in his best performance of the season.

But there were other times when the England youngster wilted under the pressure of being the successor to Fabregas. In the 2-1 North London derby defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, Wilshere could not provide the creative flourish Arsenal desperately needed.

He was occasionally negative with his passing. When he did attempt to split the defence and probe for openings, Wilshere's execution was poor.

The 21-year-old can still be the maestro Wenger needs in central areas. What will help him take that final step is to be surrounded by players on a similar wavelength.

Cazorla boasts the technical quality to respond to Wilshere's movements and maintain the flow of play with the same assured, intelligent passing.

That is why playing Cazorla on the left and Wilshere as a central attacking midfielder can work wonders for Arsenal. It gives them a dual-creative threat that Higuain would make even better.

One of the main principles of Wenger's 4-2-3-1 formation is the need for a creative central striker as its focal point. It is why van Persie was such a perfect fit.

Wenger needs more than just a goalscorer. He needs a forward fulcrum who will contribute to the overall flow and symmetry of his team's passing and creativity.

Higuain has those skills. He will drop off from the front and join in passing moves, without looking out of place or behind technically.

He has the skill and touch to be a provider as well as a predator. The video below shows plenty of fine examples. The best is his assist against Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League, at the 1:51 mark.

He receives the ball in the center with his back to goal. Higuain then plays a smart one-touch exchange, while peeling off to the right. He finishes the move with an accurate pass across the box to set up the winning goal.

This example of strength, fluidity and creativity is the essence of playing striker in Wenger's formation.

With Higuain as a roving creative force up front, Theo Walcott can finally assume his role as the Freddie Ljungberg of this team, a direct runner with the potential for 15-25 goals.

Higuain is the flourish Cazorla and Wilshere's intricate build-up play needs. He is a more fluid moving striker than either Lukas Podolski or Olivier Giroud.

His movement is more varied than Podolski and he is quicker than Giroud. Having a striker they know will make quick, intelligent runs, will encourage Cazorla and particularly Wilshere, to be more daring with their passing.

Attacking between the lines is the foundation of Wenger's style of play. That is why it has always worked best with a pacy striker leading the forward line.

Wilshere and Cazorla will be able to thread more passes between the lines and exploit the gaps in defence. Higuain's instinct for drifting along the last line of a defence means he will be on the end of more of these passes.

Think back to what happened to many of those passes last season. That delightfully delivered reverse pass from Cazorla against Sunderland on the opening day, was spurned by a typically wild finish from Giroud.

Imagine Higuain instead turning onto the pass. The Argentine's composed and confident finishing skill would not waste so promising a chance.

Despite two goals and an assist in the final two games, Podolski was largely unconvincing as a centre-forward. He was too static, particularly against Queens Park Rangers and Manchester United.

Higuain would be anything but static. He is active and decisive when running across the front, always presenting himself for a through pass.

In Cazorla and Wilshere, Wenger has the technicians to create enough chances to win any game. Higuain can give him the fleet-footed and quick-witted striker needed to convert those chances.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.