Complaining about squad depth didn’t come with warrant, but at the moment, there isn’t too much wrong with Arsenal, who have now won six consecutive matches in all competitions, and are enjoying, maybe for the first time, an Aaron Ramsey they dreamed about when he first arrived from his Welsh club, and was seemingly lost forever after his awful injury.
Obviously, there’s been more than Ramsey to this team this season, but even though there are bigger names in the lineup that includes Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil, his work rate all over the midfield along with Mathieu Flaimini who might be one of the steals of the season at the rate Wenger got him for, Ramsey has been the stand out performer so far.
Their performance and 2-1 win over Marseille didn’t come without its scares, as it required a strong defensive performance from Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and an impressive goal-line save by Kieran Gibbs among other less glorified moments of defending, but it seems like the movement, passing, intelligence and finishing ability Wenger his in his attacking players would have been enough even on a less successful defensive day.
Mesut Ozil has change the alignments in the Arsenal midfield, pushing Jack Wilshere into a more retreated role, where he belongs. While with Santi Cazorla their duties often overlap, and not in a good way, more than necessary, it’s a lot clearer with the German being designated as the free role man, while Wilshere players a bit further behind, in a more limited role that’s actually better for him and the team.
The free, unchecked Wilshere isn’t always good for him team. He tried to do too much at once, which eliminates other players from the equation, and makes it a bit easier for teams to close down Arsenal, which happened quite often during the darker stages of last season. Giving him a limited role while allowing Ramsey more freedom to move up and threaten the goal (six goals in all competitions this season) has been one of Arsenal’s greatest strengths this season.
All complaints about depth and injuries are still valid, but they don’t matter when Arsenal kick off their campaign in a very complicated group with a great win against a physically dominant Marseille side that was the more dangerous during the night. However, when the matches come pouring in and the rotation becomes too short to cover for everything that’s going on, the absences of too many players might start getting in the way.
For now, Arsenal are in the best form among Premier League clubs. Their attacking and defending seems to be in a very confident mode, and Ozil is only two matches into his arrival. Wenger has some tweaking and chancing to do in his lineup, while the players get used to each other. There’s a good chance that at some point, especially against stronger sides than Marseille, having too many attacking midfielders on the pitch won’t be the best of ideas.