Sunday, 21 September 2014

Villa 0-3 Arsenal: Four-minute foray ignites Ozil-Welbeck fire?

Match Report | Match highlights | Wenger's thoughts

If there ever was one partnership I wanted to thrive, it was Ozil and Sanchez. I silently justified Wenger refusing to buy Cesc and Costa by thinking if Ozil and Sanchez clicked, they'd be forgotten.

The signs weren't encouraging. As much as I tried to ignore it, Fabregas and Costa's bromance was getting to me. The reason was simple - we did have the potential to have our own dynamic duos (Ozil-Sanchez, Ramsey-Walcott?), but Wenger's tactics and formational structure were bringing the worst out of them. However, once Wenger played Ozil in his familiar role, and unfamiliar partnership popped up.

Ozil and Welbeck.

Now, it was only one match, but I think that Ozil and Welbeck have the potential of forming a great threat. I mean, I think that Ozil-Sanchez and Ozil-Walcott could be more prolific, but since both of them are wingers (and Theo, lest we forget, is still inconsistent), I'm not so sure now.

Leaving aside injuries or Capital One Cup games, Ozil and Welbeck are almost certain to start in every game from now till December. If Welbeck were to improve his finishing over that time, he could be the perfect striker, every midfielder's dream. He's quick, powerful, and has great sense of positioning.

I have to also mention Wenger's hand in Ozil's great game. True, I believe that had hashtags like #PlayOzilAt10 not have arose, Wenger would have played Ozil on the left yesterday. However, Wenger playing Ozil on the left in games past has, in turn, actually proved helpful. He looks more hardworking and his stamina has increased, because he tracked back a lot while on the flanks. Playing him in the middle has almost made him feel grateful to an extent, and he's now making more use of the bonus space offered to him on either side.

In the opening minutes, when Villa had the ball in their half, Ozil pressed one of the centre backs and almost won the ball out of them. Would he have done that if he was bunged into the centre all the time? Unlikely.

While I more than understand people's elation at finally seeing Ozil back in form, credit should also be due to Welbeck as well. I thought that he began a bit clumsily, but after his assist, he became much more composed. His hold-up was Giroud-esque, he got a poacher's goal - he also made one of those headed clearances off a corner that we've come to appreciate about Giroud.

My firm belief is that if Welbeck improves his finishing (which isn't as far off as Giroud's), he's a far better player than the Frenchman. Given that there are uncertainties over Sanchez's, Podolski's and Campbell's futures as a striker, Welbeck could be a superb addition.

I have little doubt that Ozil and Welbeck can be one of the best attacking partnerships in Arsenal's history. What they need is a proper balance between form, fitness and even tactics. Aaron Ramsey, for one, looks worse as ever in one of those AM roles. Santi Cazorla is always inconsistent on the left flank. Wenger should use his Podolski's or Wilshere's or even Campbell's, if it means bringing the best out of Ozil and Welbeck whenever they play, against specific oppositions.

I'm not getting carried away after one win, but if we manage to get our attacking balance right, we'd be a serious force this season. Albeit I doubt we will.

-Santi [Follow me on Twitter @ArsenalBlogz ]

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