Ox Could Be Key For Arsenal

That's according to Matt Stanger, who feels that the youngster's runs from midfield are key to getting the best out of Mesut Ozil. Arsenal shouldn't worry about bossing the ball...

Last Updated: 19/02/14 at 10:18 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Forget Jose - These Are The Mind Games That Matter


Much has been made of Liverpool's breaks between games helping them physically, but Philip Cornwall thinks it's the time they have to rest their minds that matters...

The Engineer Has Failed To Fix City's Problems


The return of Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo's partnership should have provided City with a huge boost on Wednesday. Instead, their title hopes are left in tatters...

All Articles

"We must control possession," said Arsene Wenger before Arsenal's trip to Anfield on February 8. With the Gunners averaging 57% of the ball against Liverpool, the manager's objective was achieved. It's just a pity that the hosts ran out 5-1 winners.

This has been a noticeable trend for Arsenal both this season and in previous years. Possession has often not been an issue in the biggest matches, highlighted by the Gunners averaging 57% in the 0-0 draws against Manchester United and Chelsea and the away defeats to United, Liverpool and Manchester City. The problem is that they have been guilty of 'sterile domination' in these fixtures - bossing the ball but failing to find a cutting edge in the final third.

This was certainly the case against United on February 12, when Arsenal responded to their thrashing at Liverpool with nothing more than a whimper. The Gunners were by far the more adventurous side at the Emirates but, despite dominating possession, they endured a frustrating evening. Nerves were not to blame, as Wenger suggested at full-time, but instead a lack of the impetus required to make the most of Mesut Ozil's guile. The playmaker gave one of his better performances in recent weeks, but his impact was stifled by a motionless Olivier Giroud and the absence of runners from midfield.

The return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Liverpool in the FA Cup helped to remedy this problem and it is imperative to include the midfielder against Bayern Munich. Two years ago, the 20-year-old showed no fear as he led the Arsenal charge at home to AC Milan and it is the same vital attribute - his ability to drive forward and pressurise defences - that renders his involvement on Wednesday a necessity.

In the absence of Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain is the player who allows Arsenal to pick their moments and counter-attack with the ruthlessness of Sunday's winning goal against Liverpool. He has been involved in each of the Gunners' last five strikes - scoring a brace against Crystal Palace, winning the penalty at Anfield, and scoring and assisting at home to Liverpool - with his performance on Sunday reinforcing his current importance.

There is a frequent suggestion that Arsenal freeze in their toughest tests, but the recurring problems are both tactical and mental, the biggest of which is allowing opponents to set the tone of matches. This saw Borussia Dortmund roping a dope in their 2-1 win at the Emirates (achieved with 43% possession), while Chelsea sat deep and counter-attacked in their 2-0 League Cup win, and in the 0-0 draw in the league - when they had almost twice as many shots with only 39% possession.

We have seen that Arsenal also know how to manage big moments in big games, however, instead of succumbing to the temptation of sterile domination. The 2-0 win at Bayern last season was earned with just 45% possession (compared to 58% in the 3-1 defeat at the Emirates) emphasising that there are different ways to control a match. One is to ensure a quick start - similar to the first 15 minutes that gained a 2-0 win over Napoli - but the Gunners have held a half-time lead in just one of their last 11 Premier League fixtures.

A confident opening period, counter-attacking and being decisive when opportunities arise will all be key to Arsenal's hopes against Bayern. "The truth is you can attack for too long," Herbert Chapman once said. "We try to make it rapid and direct." Wenger will need to do the same on Wednesday and encourage his team to avoid falling into the trap of having all of the ball but none of the chances. With Oxlade-Chamberlain sharpening Ozil's blade, they stand a much better chance of success.

Matthew Stanger - he's on Twitter.

Matt Stanger keeps repeating the line that Arsenal had 57% possession at Anfield, so Wenger was proved wrong. I would suggest that Liverpool bossed possession for the first 20 mins, won the game then, and hence Wenger was correct to say must control possession (Arsenal then had more of the ball for 70 meaningless mins taking their average to 57%) - wonder if anyone at F365 has the possession stat for the first 20 mins
- superJay

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Sky Bet

    • Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds

Most Commented

Readers' Comments


may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

Please Stop Telling Us What To Think


ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

Wenger hails important win


s this meant to be an aspiration for United supporters? Moyes mediocrity strikes again. I see the Bayern boys don't want to sign for him, and his reputation amongst the senior European coaches make other key signings unlikely.

De Gea's Europa League target

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Transfer news: Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino warns off Luke Shaw suitors

Mauricio Pochettino says in-demand defender Luke Shaw will be staying at Southampton.

Premier League: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers targets win at Norwich

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Sunderland's draw with Manchester City is a "warning sign" for his side.

Transfer news: Schalke's Julian Draxler set to stay put, insists chairman

Clemens Tonnies says it would take "something extraordinary" for Julian Draxler to leave Schalke this summer.

Mail Box

Mignolet Is The Reason For Liverpool Flying

Mignolet's bad kicking is the reason for Liverpool's success, whilst one man keep notes on F365 mails. Plus England excitement, Arteta and a bad Walsall experience...

City: Bottle Jobs, A Laughing Stock...

There are some harsh words for Manchester City and Manuel Pellegrini in the Mailbox this morning, as well as some rather nicer ones for Tony Pulis and his magic hat...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property