It’s fair to say the atmosphere around the Emirates right now is as miserable as it’s been in a long time. Nine days ago Arsenal were top of the Premier League table. Now they’re nine points off league leaders Chelsea, after back-to-back defeats away at Everton and Manchester City.
Though it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where things are going wrong for the Gunners, many have questioned the recent performances of Mesut Ozil.
The World Cup winner has been largely ineffective of late, despite scoring five league goals.
When he’s on his game, he’s simply unplayable, and he’s allowed to roam around the field at whatever pace he likes. But when he’s not doing so well, his style is a frustrating one to watch.
The midfielder has just two assists to his name so far this season, compared to the 16 he notched up in the first-half of last campaign.
But what’s been the reason for the dip in form?
The answer is simple: Olivier Giroud.
Wenger has opted to play Alexis Sanchez through the middle in every league game the Chilean has been available for.
And while he’s repaid his boss’ trust by netting 12 goals, it would appear Wenger is missing a trick by leaving Giroud on the bench.
That’s because of those 19 assists Ozil made in the top-flight last year, seven were for the French striker.
So often this season we’ve seen the German playmaker look up to see no one in the box as effective in the air as Giroud, and that’s why his numbers have dropped this year.
He may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Giroud is undoubtedly a natural goal-getter, having scored 60 league goals since arriving in north London four years ago.
Without him, Arsenal are lacking a genuine physical presence in the middle, and for all of Sanchez’s attributes, he does have a tendency to come deep to get involved.
That’s not part of the Frenchman’s game though, and this is certainly having an effect on Ozil’s game.
Performances from the Gunners of late have meant that any change Wenger makes could easily be justifiable.
While Theo Walcott has impressed out on the right-hand side, neither Alex Iwobi nor Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been able to hold down the spot on the opposite flank.
We know that’s a position Sanchez can operate well from, scoring 42 goals in all competitions from out wide in his first two seasons with the club.
That’s why Wenger should, at least for the next few games, consider bringing Giroud back into the starting XI, shifting Sanchez out onto the left.
Do that, and it’s likely we’ll see a huge improvement in Ozil’s performances.
What do supporters think? Would a tactical shift favour the Gunners? Or does Wenger need to look at adding to his ranks in January?
Have your say in the comments section below!
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