The Premier League leaders need a new forward, Mesut Ozil leaves a gaping hole and other things we learned from Stoke 0 Arsenal 0
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Wenger must buy a new striker
With Danny Welbeck due to return next month, Arsene Wenger has claimed he does not need a new striker as there is none better available in the market. Arsenal fans could be forgiven for tearing their hair out at hearing such a well-worn phrase from their manager, for whom old habits die hard. It is stretching the bounds of credulity for Wenger to expect Welbeck to be a major attacking weapon in the title race after nine months out with a knee injury that has been more serious than the club have let on. Olivier Giroud has broad shoulders but he has carried the attack single-handedly for months, with Walcott deployed out wide due to the lack of alternatives. Welbeck is a fine player but Arsenal’s need for more forward power is such that they should be eyeing up a proven scorer on loan for the rest of the campaign. Their title bid could depend upon it.
Arsenal badly miss Ozil
No team in the world would fail to miss a player of the calibre of the absent Ozil, especially given his peerless form of recent months. The playmaker was sat at home with his feet up watching the match on television as his team-mates struggled to replicate the passing patterns that come more easily when he is conducting the Arsenal orchestra. One league match without the wizardry of Ozil showed how important the German is to keeping the team’s title bid on track.
The Ox is more comfortable in the middle
With Arsenal fielding the same 4-1-4-1 formation that they used in their recent FA Cup win over Sunderland, Mathieu Flamini protected the defence behind a more advanced pairing of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey. Without the injured Ozil, it gave Arsenal a more solid look, although the German’s passing in the final third was much missed. Nevertheless, Oxlade-Chamberlain acquitted himself well after a desperately disappointing 2015 in which he failed to score a single Premier League goal. Used to playing mainly on the flanks, the Ox looked quite at home in a position where he saw more of the ball than he normally does out wide.
Some Stoke fans are despicable
The Stoke fans should lay off Aaron Ramsey. Some continue to aim taunts at the Welshman, who was inconsiderate enough to have his leg broken by a Ryan Shawcross horror tackle in 2010. His every touch was jeered by the home supporters who chanted “Aaron Ramsey, he walks with a limp”. Their abuse of Arsene Wenger wasn’t pleasant either. The atmosphere at the Britannia Stadium is authentic and consistently on a level beyond virtually every other venue in the top flight, but they don’t need to lower themselves to that.
Wenger avoids Elneny fiery baptism
Looking for impact substitutes late on, Arsenal’s bench offered little in the way inspiration, even if many fans would have hoped to see new signing Mohamed Elneny in action. As the game opened up, Arsenal needed a defensive midfielder to get his foot on the ball and calm things down. Elneny may well turn out to be that player for Wenger’s team but the manager clearly knew how hard it would have been to settle in such a hostile and tense atmosphere. He will wait for an easier time for his debut.