Aubameyang and Lacazette cast spell on doomed Potters
The long-awaited return of Alexandre Lacazette was finally realised on Sunday as he was named in the Arsenal squad. It’s fair to say that most Arsenal fans dared to dream that him and Aubameyang would start together in a 4-4-2 formation. This wasn’t the case, however, as Aubameyang started as a lone striker with Lacazette on the bench.
Arsenal were very lacklustre for the majority of the game until Lacazette came on to add something extra. Aubameyang then moved to a left-wing position leaving many fans scratching their heads as to why they weren’t being played as two strikers. However, this move seemed to pay dividends as Aubameyang could utilise his electric pace on the left-hand side, something he couldn’t do through the middle as Stoke’s defensive line was too deep. Lacazette was also making runs that Aubameyang simply wasn’t, which opened up space for the likes of Ozil to operate in. With Lacazette coming on, Arsenal managed to put 3 goals past Stoke, who looked to be growing into the game before the substitution. Aubameyang and Lacazette starting together is a scary thought for any opposition and there is no doubt that they will be a force in the Premier League next season.
Bellerin and Ozil show passion
There were numerous occasions where Ozil made a run in behind the defence, but Bellerin always either delayed the pass or ignored it. However, when Bellerin opted to do the same midway through the second half, Ozil finally had enough and told him what he thought of it. A rather heated exchange broke out which ended in Ozil telling Bellerin ‘You talk too much. Wait till we get inside’. This was quickly defused on Twitter when they poured cold water on the situation by joking about it.
In times gone by, pundits, in particular, Graeme Souness, have slated Arsenal players for being ‘too nice’ and ‘not being aggressive with one another’. Sunday proved that Arsenal players do demand a lot from each other and that Ozil is growing in stature at the club and is taking on more of a leadership role.
The first half, in particular, highlighted what Arsenal’s midfield would be like without someone with an exceptional passing range and it was very painful viewing. Elneny has improved heavily and become a very good player over the past year. However, he still doesn’t quite have the composure and range on the ball that Xhaka has. Subsequently, Ramsey is known for his midfield runs/goal scoring, while Wilshere is known for his quick interplay and forward thinking. Therefore Arsenal never had anyone to switch the play when someone else was in space and a lot of runs were missed because of this.
Also, Arsenal’s play became very tight and congested therefore the pitch became smaller because no one was there to expand it. They did have one of the best passers in the world in Ozil, but he was getting man marked in that first half and he was making the runs that needed to be found because no one else was. Xhaka has come under a lot of criticism in the past but he’s silently been our best performing player for quite some time and has had no recognition for it. He is a very good player but the media agenda against him has only hindered the opinions of certain fans of both Arsenal and their rivals.
Welbeck’s lack of quality
If Danny Welbeck wasn’t English, he wouldn’t have had a career at two of the biggest clubs in England. That’s not to say he doesn’t have positive attributes because he does. His electric pace that lets him stretch defences and his strength to hold off the opposition are both to be admired. But beyond that, his lack of quality on the ball shows and the first half emphasised it. He gave away the ball a lot (as the whole team did), failed to control the ball several times and doesn’t read his teammates that well.
For someone blessed with the terrifying pace he has, he doesn’t make the right runs. So, when some like Ozil does get the ball, it’s hard to play the right pass as he keeps making the wrong run. People slate Iwobi a lot but he can offer so much more. He has quality on the ball and is good at taking people on which players at Arsenal lack heavily.