Saturday, September 16, 2017

Time for Arsenal to unleash the AOL

Arsenal went past AFC Bournemouth with ease scoring 3 past hapless defense last week. Considering the negatively around the club and the way in which Arsenal lost against Liverpool, this was a welcome relief. With all due respects to Bournemouth and Eddie Howe, their performance (or the lack of it) helped Arsenal's cause. The first goal was only because of Welbeck's determination (and not technique or talent) while 2nd and 3rd goals were mistakes from Bournemouth. In the end, Arsenal took the spoils and Bournemouth were left knowing they deserved more.​

Arsenal played their first ever Europa League game and ran away 3-1 winners. After a flat first half performance, gunners came back with zeal and desire to finish the game as winners and they did just that. Both the full backs (Kolasinac and Bellerin) scored on either side of an Alexis goal. The momentum is now there after two straight wins and 6 goals in total. Arsenal fans cannot wait for the next game to arrive but they are about to face their biggest challenge of the league yet - reigning champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.​

Chelsea have been in top form since their opening day loss against Burnley. Their last game was in Champions League and they romped their opponent 6-0. Many, including your truly, questioned Chelsea selling Matic to Manchester United. But they made astute business in the transfer window – Morata, Bakayoko and Drinkwater to name the best of the lot. With Morata at the helm, Chelsea have found a young and more prolific replacement of Costa. His transfer was overshadowed in the Premier League by Lukaku's transfer and then by the biggest transfer of them all - Neymar. Bakayoko and Kante have formed an impressive partnership in the center of the field. Defense looks solid and the attack will only improve further when Hazard returns. Arsenal have a task on their hands this Sunday!

Arsenal formation with Alexis Ozil and Lacazette

A look at Arsenal's attacking options reveal, in no uncertain terms, that they have three top class attacking players in Alexis, Ozil and Lacazette. That's the “AOL” I am talking about. Imagine the front three in Alexis and Ozil just behind Lacazette! Quite intriguing, in my opinion. If Wenger goes with 3-4-3 formation, AOL as front three makes a lot of sense. If Wenger goes with 4-2-3-1, then I'd love to see Ozil as CAM, Alexis and Welbeck at wings (interchangeable) with Lacazette leading the line. Alexis has shown in the last season that he can score goals and create chances at will. His situation (last year of contract) will also be a motivation to show his suitors that he can perform against top opponents. Same is the case with Ozil. One criticism that Ozil has received in the last 4 years at Arsenal was that he goes missing against title contenders. This could be the occasion when he silences the critics. But, for Ozil to perform at his best, he needs defensive support from central midfielders in Xhaka and Ramsey. If Ramsey contains his attacking instincts and stay back to break the counter attacking football of Chelsea, we are in for a top-class game on Sunday. Lacazette has proved his attacking ability by scoring two amazing goals. Having Ozil and Alexis providing will be a striker’s dream and Lacazette is no different.​

Should Wenger unleash AOL against Chelsea? Yes. You always need the best players to play for the team. Will Wenger do so? No, not yet. But Arsenal fans, we are not far from seeing this lethal combination leading Arsenal this season (finger crossed for no injuries).​

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