Gary Neville identified what could be one of Arsenal's main problems on Sky Sports last night.
Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville suggested on Sky Sports last night what could be Arsenal’s biggest problem.
Before the game against West Ham United kicked-off, Neville questioned some of the tactics used by Arsene Wenger in the Sky sports studio alongside Paul Merson.
“He’s got players who could be effective on the right wing in wider areas and moves them in centrally expecting them to compete against players like Matic and David Luiz,” said the former United man.
Neville went on to cite Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky as two contemporary examples from the Arsenal first team of players who could play wider roles for the Gunners, but find themselves playing increasingly in central positions.
In theory having plenty of players in the middle of the team should help Arsenal dominate possession but they lack pace out wide, putting pressure on the full-backs to get forward and supply the width.
Arteta and Rosicky are never going to be the quickest players in an Arsenal shirt but what they offer in wide areas is control in possession and could be used in the same way that Shinji Kagawa has been handled at Manchester United ever since he moved to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund.
They suffer centrally because of that lack of pace and also because of their lack of physical presence in the face of opposition stars who are extremely aggressive and tough in the middle of the side.
In the same studio discussion, former Gunner Paul Merson suggested that ‘big to small players’ was another reason Arsenal find it difficult to compete in an area where they have been traditionally successful throughout Wenger’s tenure.
With Theo Walcott on the treatment table, there’s enormous strain on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski to generate pace on the counter attack in wide areas.
Even the Ox has been encouraged to play centrally at times this season, which demonstrates Neville’s point perfectly.
Fortunately for Arsenal, they have plenty of cash in the bank and the means to go after another wide attacking player this summer, which will increase their chances of competing for the Premier League title again next season.
Does Neville have a point? Should Wenger use some of his central players in wider roles?