Author Archives: gamechangerew

The emergence of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain

Much has been made of Arsenal’s recent woes in midfield in the absence of Cazorla (injury), Ramsey (injury) & losing Elneny to the African Cup Of Nations. This leaving Arsenal with two recognised central midfield players in Granit Xhaka & Francis Coquelin. It wasn’t until the 28th of January in the 4th round of the FA cup Vs Southampton where we saw Chamberlian play in the engine room.

In that match Arsenal deployed a much yearned for 4-3-3 by the Arsenal fans as opposed to the usual 4-2-3-1. Chamberlian was accompanied by two rookies in Maitland-Niles & Reine Adelaide in midfield. He prospered in this particular outing, with 88 touches, 62 passes completed, 91% passing accuracy, 3 chances created, 2 tackles and 2 interceptions. Now it’s worth noting that Southampton fielded a relatively inexperienced, weakend side, but those numbers are impressive. Mainland-Niles operated at the base of the midfield trident , often receiving off the centre backs to progress play. Chamberlian exhibited a real appetite to help his colleague in the build as his 88 passes show. One thing to note is Chamberlian dynamism & creativity in possession. Often midfielders can be passive in possession and act merely as a ball circulating tool. As the 3 chances created suggest, Chamberlain is very creative in possession. This best demonstrated by his pinpoint outside of the boot pass to Lucas Perez in the games closing stages. With 2 tackles & 2 interceptions too, Chamberlian showed his worth out of possession, a near complete midfield performance.

Struggles out wide

Chamberlain’s emergence in midfield has been refreshing due to his fluctuating form on the flanks. With 6 goals & 7 assists this term, it’s the English international’s must productive campaign to date, however, Arsenal fans weren’t quite satisfied with his performances out wide. Playing out wide often restricts your infuelcne in build up play & focuses more on getting in 1v1 duels with the opposition full back or making out to in runs behind back line. This simply isn’t Chamberlian’s game. His compatriot Theo Walcott is a master of this trade & Arsene Wenger has favoured him over Chamberlian for much of the season. On the other flank, Iwobi has been used regularly. This for his neat movement between the lines & using him as link player from defence to attack. So whether it be beating the offside trap with an incisive run like Walcott or coming inside, between lines like Iwobi, neither of which suit Chamberlian’s game.

Thriving in a chaotic structure

Personnel isn’t the only problem at Arsenal. Much has been made of their abject system in & out of possession.

Here we see Arsenal’s disorientated 1 man counterpress (Coquelin) results in a Bayern-Munich counterattack. Xhaka & Coquelin simply don’t have the recovery pace to get behind the ball & regain shape. In this dysfunctional system, recovery pace is paramount. As the CM’s often have to chase back as they’re asked to lock on high up without a structured attacking system in place. In this particular match (Arsenal-Bayern) Chamberlain was deployed on the right in a 4-2-3-1. Arsenal found it very taxing to circulate possession & build through the CB’s & CM’s. This was largely due to Coquelin’s negligence in offering a passing option for the CB’s. Xhaka was often left on his own in the 1st phase which attracts a press as there’s no rotation. https://twitter.com/11tegen11/status/831984165369348097

This pass map shows Arsenal’s patent lack of structure & options in the 1st phase.

Chamberlain is very willing, competent builder in the 1st phase, making him active across all thirds, akin to Naby Keita, Marik Hamsik & Wylan Cyprien to name a few.

Here we see Chamerlain in the 1st phase building attacks and progressing play.

A further attribute to Chamberlain’s game which is a very practical tool in the middle of the park is his immense ball carrying ability & pressure resistance. In Cazorla’s absence, Arsenal have lacked a midfielder who can act has a ‘get out of jail free card’ when bypassing pressure. Due to Arsenal’s poor spacing & structure in possession, these pressure resistant players are imperative to bypassing pressure and not losing possession in dangerous areas.

Conclusion

Amid Arsenal’s midfield problems, fans have pondered over potential signings in the summer who can fill the void of the perennially injured Cazorla & Ramsey, but have Arsenal found their midfield dynamo from an unlikely source. Possessing athleticism, & a good engine, good technique, Chamberlain possesses all the tools to cement his position in central midfield.

 

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The emergence of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain

Much has been made of Arsenal’s recent woes in midfield in the absence of Cazorla (injury), Ramsey (injury) & losing Elneny to the African Cup Of Nations. This leaving Arsenal with two recognised central midfield players in Granit Xhaka & Francis Coquelin. It wasn’t until the 28th of January in the 4th round of the FA cup Vs Southampton where we saw Chamberlian play in the engine room.

In that match Arsenal deployed a much yearned for 4-3-3 by the Arsenal fans as opposed to the usual 4-2-3-1. Chamberlian was accompanied by two rookies in Maitland-Niles & Reine Adelaide in midfield. He prospered in this particular outing, with 88 touches, 62 passes completed, 91% passing accuracy, 3 chances created, 2 tackles and 2 interceptions. Now it’s worth noting that Southampton fielded a relatively inexperienced, weakend side, but those numbers are impressive. Mainland-Niles operated at the base of the midfield trident , often receiving off the centre backs to progress play. Chamberlian exhibited a real appetite to help his colleague in the build as his 88 passes show. One thing to note is Chamberlian dynamism & creativity in possession. Often midfielders can be passive in possession and act merely as a ball circulating tool. As the 3 chances created suggest, Chamberlain is very creative in possession. This best demonstrated by his pinpoint outside of the boot pass to Lucas Perez in the games closing stages. With 2 tackles & 2 interceptions too, Chamberlian showed his worth out of possession, a near complete midfield performance.

Struggles out wide

Chamberlain’s emergence in midfield has been refreshing due to his fluctuating form on the flanks. With 6 goals & 7 assists this term, it’s the English international’s must productive campaign to date, however, Arsenal fans weren’t quite satisfied with his performances out wide. Playing out wide often restricts your infuelcne in build up play & focuses more on getting in 1v1 duels with the opposition full back or making out to in runs behind back line. This simply isn’t Chamberlian’s game. His compatriot Theo Walcott is a master of this trade & Arsene Wenger has favoured him over Chamberlian for much of the season. On the other flank, Iwobi has been used regularly. This for his neat movement between the lines & using him as link player from defence to attack. So whether it be beating the offside trap with an incisive run like Walcott or coming inside, between lines like Iwobi, neither of which suit Chamberlian’s game.

Thriving in a chaotic structure

Personnel isn’t the only problem at Arsenal. Much has been made of their abject system in & out of possession.

Here we see Arsenal’s disorientated 1 man counterpress (Coquelin) results in a Bayern-Munich counterattack. Xhaka & Coquelin simply don’t have the recovery pace to get behind the ball & regain shape. In this dysfunctional system, recovery pace is paramount. As the CM’s often have to chase back as they’re asked to lock on high up without a structured attacking system in place. In this particular match (Arsenal-Bayern) Chamberlain was deployed on the right in a 4-2-3-1. Arsenal found it very taxing to circulate possession & build through the CB’s & CM’s. This was largely due to Coquelin’s negligence in offering a passing option for the CB’s. Xhaka was often left on his own in the 1st phase which attracts a press as there’s no rotation. https://twitter.com/11tegen11/status/831984165369348097

This pass map shows Arsenal’s patent lack of structure & options in the 1st phase.

Chamberlain is very willing, competent builder in the 1st phase, making him active across all thirds, akin to Naby Keita, Marik Hamsik & Wylan Cyprien to name a few.

Here we see Chamerlain in the 1st phase building attacks and progressing play.

A further attribute to Chamberlain’s game which is a very practical tool in the middle of the park is his immense ball carrying ability & pressure resistance. In Cazorla’s absence, Arsenal have lacked a midfielder who can act has a ‘get out of jail free card’ when bypassing pressure. Due to Arsenal’s poor spacing & structure in possession, these pressure resistant players are imperative to bypassing pressure and not losing possession in dangerous areas.

Conclusion

Amid Arsenal’s midfield problems, fans have pondered over potential signings in the summer who can fill the void of the perennially injured Cazorla & Ramsey, but have Arsenal found their midfield dynamo from an unlikely source. Possessing athleticism, & a good engine, good technique, Chamberlain possesses all the tools to cement his position in central midfield.

 

The Importance of Alex Iwobi Vs Chelsea 

Yesterday marked the 188th clash between London’s two powerhouses Arsenal and Chelsea. In his first altercation with the blues, Arsenal’s 20 year old starlet Alex Iwobi stole the show. Now a bona fide starter, Iwobi has become a hit among the Arsenal faithful in the 8 months he’s been featuring in the 1st team. Iwobi conjoins guile and technique with productivity; rare for a player so young. 

Positional
awareness

Arguably his forte, is his capacity to find the ball in dangerous areas. Not your archetypal winger, Iwobi has a propensity to roam inside and act as a vertical link between lines so Arsenal can progress through the thirds quicker. This manifested by Walcott’s goal in the 14th minute. 

Iwobi finds himslef between the lines of Chelsea’s defence and midfiled . The ball find its way to Iwobi’s feet and he cleverly opens up the game and finds Bellerin on the right which subsequently leads to a goal.

Furthermore, interestingly in this goal, the three Chelsea midfielders; Fabregas, Kante and Matic all seem transfixed onto the ball & Özil as Özil is traditionally Arsenal’s staple creator. Iwobi’s goes under the radar and roams beyond the three Chelsea midfielders, demonstrating that ‘unknown factor’ the youngster brings. This capacity to find gaps and create adds an element of unpredictablity to Arsenal’s game as they aren’t solely relient on Özil to find those pockets and create; taking the workload of his German counterpart.

Positional impact on the FB’s game

With this influx of players coming inside to the halfspaces it liberates our FB’s to stay high and wide using them as our staple outballs (Bellerin as the right winger for Walcott’s goal) a healthy equilibrium. With Iwobi coming into the halfspaces, it perplexes the opposition’s RB whether to stay or track. In this instance, Ivanovic comes inside, vacating space for Monreal. The images below exhibit how high Monreal and Bellerin are positioned with our wingers tucking in. 

Defensive positioning
Amid all the offensive praise & contribution, Iwobi’s defnensive contribution  has been according to many, his main ruination in the past weeks. Yesterday, this was improved. Arsenal’s defensive structure for the majority was a taut 4-4-2 with Alexis & Özil as our staple outballs if possession is regained. Chelsea operated with a three in midfield giving them a numerical superiority to our two – Xhaka & Cazorla. For all their guile and potential on the ball, the midfield dyad of Arsenal could be caught out by Chelsea’s robust trio of Kante, Matic & Fabregas as they aren’t particularly mobile. Astutely, Iwobi would often come inside acting as an ancillary central midfielder, bringing horizontal compactness. This shutoff those passing lanes to Fabregas in the right halfspace. The images below show Iwobi’s defensive positioning alongside Xhaka & Cazorla. 

With this horizontal compactness, it liberates Özil & Alexis to break fastly and utilise their talents more offensively than defensively. This tactic also curtailed Fabregas’ impact on the game as he had to roam into less threatening areas.