Maybe Jack Wilshere prefers playing as a central midfielder, a playmaker in the classic sense. But considering the squad Arsenal have and the system Arsene Wenger deploys, time and time again it’s been proven that the English international is a lot more useful when he plays in a wide position, almost as a winger.
The return from injuries has suddenly given Arsenal a very deep look, allowing Arsene Wenger to give some players rest, as the poor and pathetic Marseille come into town, showing nothing of their past success in the competition. They might be doing OK in the French league, but their performances in the Champions League this season have been embarrassing, losing all five matches while scoring only four goals.
It wasn’t much different at the Emirates on Tuesday night. Mathieu Flamini filled in for Mikel Arteta without any problem, Aaron Ramsey playing next him, busy with handling the creative aspect. Flamini did manage to get Arsene Wenger fuming by cutting his long sleeves, but that was pretty much the only thing Wenger had to be displeased about.
Tomas Rosicky isn’t a man for big matches, but it’s still quite stunning to see his passion and stamina at the age of 33, balancing the midfield and the attack wonderfully for most of the match, doing a much better job at it than Mesut Ozil, who is struggling over the last month or so living up to the expectations he created thanks to a wonderful start.
Things got worse for the German international when he missed a penalty kick due to very poor execution. Ozil has never been a quality finisher, in and outside the box, and he’s not overrated despite what Twitter was saying after he missed that kick. However, there’s no doubt that his disappearing acts and slumped shoulders, looking like he’s accepting his bad form as something he can’t fight, are something to be concerned about for Wenger.
Olivier Giroud was efficient, nothing else. It’s getting quite tiresome to see the same striker pull in another 90 minutes, knowing there is no relief. Theo Walcott is Wenger’s only option right now to give Giroud some rest, but Wenger has a grudge against Walcott as a striker, even though his scoring record at the position speaks for itself, and probably will if Wenger will simply step outside his arrogant shell when it comes to certain subjects.
Arsenal are almost in the clear, although a match in Napoli isn’t the easiest fixture in the world. As long as things don’t get out of hand in South Italy, which means losing by three goals or more, they’re safe in the next round, but finishing first in the group should be quite important to the Gunners considering the kind of rivals they can encounter among the group champions. Even though this is a better team than we’ve seen in recent seasons, it’s always better to avoid the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona so early in the competition.