Yesterday’s 3-0 win over Bournemouth was a much improved performance from the Arsenal squad.
You might want to argue that Bournemouth at the Emirates should be routine but, in the the Premiership, nothing is routine or guaranteed, especially coming after two consecutive defeats and all the disruption and negativity caused by our transfer deadline day dealings and the international break.
On this note, I’ll to discuss a few talking points from the game and its implications, starting with the issue of Danny Welbeck, who is now one of the most frustrating Arsenal topics at the moment.
Should Welbeck keep starting place?
A lot of Arsenal fans, neutrals, and pundits believe Welbeck is not good enough to be a regular starter in the Arsenal squad – a sentiment I also shared previously, that he is too poor a finisher to be in the starting 11 on a consistent basis.
This feeling became even more intense after our 4-0 trashing by Liverpool where Welbeck and a distracted, transfer-anxious, and possibly rusty Alexis Sanchez started ahead of our stellar summer striker signing, Lacazette.
We never looked like scoring in that game and despite Sanchez looking uninspired and ineffective, the frustration wasn’t so much about him starting – most Arsenal fans would rather have a rusty Sanchez playing than Welbeck or Walcott – it was more about who he started ahead of… Lacazette.
The manager was widely criticized, more for starting Welbeck ahead of Lacazette than for playing Sanchez, and the criticism was deserved.
Welbeck went some way to justifying the manager’s trust yesterday with two goals and a good all-round display.
While his first goal, a scruffy header which came off his shoulder after a perfect Kolasinac cross, did very little to increase confidence in him, the second was a very technical finish even King Henry would have been proud of, suggesting Wenger is starting to help him work on his finishing.
And so, the Welbeck debate continues: Should he be a regular starter, especially when Sanchez is fully fit?
The manager gave this insight on his preference for Welbeck after yesterday’s match:
Of course, he has all the physical qualities to play at that level. If he can add the finishing, he’s a team player as well, he’s loved by his partners, so that’s a lot of qualities.
Kolasinac should always play left wing-back
One of the basic rules of management and efficiency is keeping things simple, and Wenger’s failure to abide by this rule is arguably the main reason we got destroyed by Liverpool.
Everyone with a half-decent knowledge of football can see that Kolasinac, with his physique, engine, stamina, and attacking efficiency, should always be played ahead of any other player in the left-wing back position that the manager himself bought him for, provided he’s fit.
Wenger made, what appeared, a political decision against Liverpool to accommodate the want-away Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the right wing-back position, thereby pushing Bellerin to a less-suitable left wing-back position, the result was a hugely underwhelming performances by both men and an unbalanced team.
Playing both Kolasinac and Bellerin in their natural positions yesterday was the reason we kept a clean-sheet, with our defence looking untroubled by a normally vibrant Bournemouth attack. It also ensured we got a second assist of the season from Kolasinac in just his third league start.
Keeping things simple, by playing players in their best positions, alone will win us many games easily this season. I’m convinced that this FA cup winning team, with the addition of Lacazette and Kolasinac, can make the top-four.
Rotated side for Europa should still be strong
The Arsenal squad squad is lot bigger and deeper than our transfer-window narrative would suggest.
We have won big CL games against Dortmund and Bayern Munich with the likes of Walcott and Giroud in the starting line-up – both players have been substitutes so far this season.
Yesterday, Walcott, Giroud, Iwobi, and Sanchez started from the bench. Present that attack against Cologne, with Elneny and Xhaka (retained) in midfield, and we would be too strong for them; not just because of the quality of these aforementioned players but the hunger and quest to reclaim starting places.
The EPL (top-four minimum) should be our main priority this season, but our legendary manager can do himself and us a favour by finally winning our first European title under him, after the disappointments against Galatasaray and Barcelona. This season’s Europa and our strong bench should give us the best opportunity of doing that.
How damaging would a loss at Chelsea be?
If we get another good result against Cologne but get beaten by Chelsea at the weekend, the criticisms and vitriolic atmosphere of the post-Liverpool match should not return, provided the performance is credible and the losing margin is slim.
It’s important that us fans don’t get sucked into the hysteria the media and some pundits will try whipping up by conveniently highlighting our recent poor record against the rest of the top-six in the EPL, without mentioning that we have beaten Chelsea (twice) and Manchester City in two recent domestic cup competitions.
Don’t get me wrong, I want us to beat Chelsea but I’m realistic enough to admit that even a committed performance from this talented Arsenal squad doesn’t guarantee that at Stamford bridge.
However, the least we expect is the right team selection and formation from the boss and the right attitude and defensive discipline from the team.
What are your thoughts:
Should Welbeck keep his starting place for now or should the boss bring Sanchez right back in against Chelsea?
Can the boss engineer another defeat of Antonio Conte’s Chelsea to make it 4 out of 5?
Share your views in the Comments.