Arsenal Tactics: Picking a Starting XI That Would Include Mesut Ozil

Mesut Ozil


The last time Arsene Wenger’s mounted a genuine title challenge after going unbeaten in 2004 was in the 2007/08 campaign. That season, the Gunners led the table for two-thirds of the campaign but key losses to Manchester United and Chelsea were enough to doom the Gunners to a third place finish.

At the start of that campaign, the Gunners lost club legends, Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg, to Barcelona and West Ham respectively, while El Homesickla, Jose Antonio Reyes returned home. In came Lukasz Fabianski, Eduardo da Silva, Bacary Sagna and Lassana Diarra that later departed to Portsmouth in the winter transfer window of the same season.

The Gunners went all the way to the Carling Cup semifinals but were thrashed resoundingly by the eventual winners, Tottenham. In the FA Cup, Arsene Wenger’s side was comprehensively beaten by Manchester United but the Gunners went on to eliminate the defending champions, AC Milan, in the First Knockout Phase of the Champions League before losing out to Liverpool in the quarterfinals of the competition.

However, the Gunners had a breathtaking campaign in the Premier League winning 24 games, drawing 11 games and losing three games which amounted to 83 points but it was only enough to secure a third place finish as the league champions, Manchester United, finished the season with 87 points while Chelsea had 85 points.

Wenger started the campaign with Mad Jens Lehmann in goal but after costly mistakes against Fulham and Blackburn, he promoted Manuel Almunia to the first-team setup and the Spaniard never looked back. Almunia, in his funny blonde hair, played the best football of his career and his most treasured moment was that save against the enemy.

The defense was an organized brick wall with Kolo Toure and William Gallas coordinating things at the back and they also complimented each other as Toure was the stopper that went for those balls in the air as well as charging the opposition attacker while Gallas was the cover that stayed a step behind the Ivorian to mop things up as a sweeper. Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna balanced their offensive and defensive plays admirably and it was no surprise when both players earned a place in the 2008 PFA Team of the Year.

In that campaign, Arsene Wenger used the traditional 4-4-2 with most of the work done by Arsenal’s Fantastic Four in midfield.

Mathieu Flamini was the enforcer that added a presence to the midfield and was responsible for breaking up play. Tomas Rosicky and Alikasandr Hleb cut in from the flanks but the defenses were unlocked by the through passes from the player at the tip, Cesc Fabregas. In attack, Robin van Persie couldn’t feature consistently due to his constant niggling injuries and Eduardo was in the form of his life before suffering that career-threatening injury in St. Andrews but Emmanuel Adebayor was an ever-present figure and his 30-goal haul in that campaign remains his personal best till date.

As the seasons progressed, Arsene Wenger changed his tactical approach to bring out the best in his captain and Fabregas’ 19-goal tally in the 2009/10 season showed how much he had matured as a player as Wenger remolded him from a cultured central midfielder to an advanced attacking goalscoring playmaker that played behind the striker.

Following the high-profile departures of Fabregas and $amir Na$ri in the start of the 2011/12 campaign, Aaron Ramsey was burdened with the heavy expectations of replacing the captain’s form on the pitch and he clearly struggled for form and fitness. Tomas Rosicky’s resurgence in that position in the tail end of the campaign played a key role in securing a third place finish.

Arsene Wenger currently fields the tactical 4-2-3-1 setup and he has deployed the formation this season as well, until the moment when he tore a script from the Stoke City under Tony Pulis manual as well as applying the contents from a copy of Otto Renhagel’s Euro 2004 Greek Defending for Dummies handbook in the dying moments against Tottenham.

A vital cog in Wenger’s current formation is the double pivot at the base of the midfield, as the personnel in there are responsible for balancing the attacking and defensive side of the team’s play. With Mikel Arteta injured at the start of the campaign, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey were deployed in both positions and they failed to click against Aston Villa, as Gabby Agbonlahor exploited spaces with his pace to put the team to sword.

Both players began to understand each other better in the game against Fenerbahce but Wenger chose to rest Wilshere against Fulham, handing a deeper role to Santi Cazorla alongside Ramsey when the Gunners visited Craven Cottage. When Tottenham visited the Emirates, Wenger began the game with the Ram-shire combo but a stomach bug paved the way for the Flanimal to make his second debut, and he excelled admirably.

In the acquisitions of Mathieu Flamini and big-money signing, Mesut Ozil, Arsenal has added depth as well as quality into its midfield and you would expect the former Real Madrid man to walk into the team, as he’s odds on to improve the team as well as spurring his teammates to put up improved performances as well. The players needed a lift and were optimistic that the manager was going to make some marquee signings and in Ozil, they have found their man.

After the international break, Arsenal visits struggling Sunderland and will harbor hopes of securing all three points as they have a squad that should be challenging for the title, instead of scrapping for European places with each passing campaign.

Arsene Wenger would definitely maintain his 4-2-3-1 formation against Paolo di Canio’s charges and without further ado, here’s a potential starting XI that Gunners would deploy that will include its new star signing, Mesut Ozil.


The arrival of Emiliano Viviano seems more like a ploy to make Wojciech Szczesny understand that he has no room for complacency, so I would expect Szczesny to continue in goal against Sunderland as well as some other bad games as the season progresses. Viviano and Fabianski will definitely alternate between lower opposition and Cup matches or in a worst case scenario, in the wake of an unexpected injury to Szczesny.

With Thomas Vermaelen working his way to full fitness, it will still take some stuffing to displace Arsenal’s current central defensive pairing, Mertesielny, as their partnership was key in the Gunners’ surge for a fourth place finish last season. Even though Carl Jenkinson has shown his qualities in the appearances he has made thus far, Bacary Sagna will still get the nod ahead of him to start at right back. On the other end, the Kieran Gibbs – Nacho Monreal battle will commence again as the season progresses but I’d expect Gibbs to feature in more key fixtures than his Spanish rival for a first-team berth.

After analyzing the defense, Arsenal’s starting back five will be Szczesny; Sagna – Mertesacker – Koscielny – Gibbs.


This is the part of the Gunners’ squad that is blessed with a vast array of talent and when Arteta returns to full fitness after his long-term absence, his arrival will put the manager in an awkward situation because he must be forced to make a bold decision on the midfielders to use in the double pivot positions.

  • Will he continue with Wilshere and Ramsey, leaving a key player like Arteta on the bench?
  • Will he sacrifice the Gunners’ poster boy, Jack Wilshere, to play Arteta alongside Aaron Ramsey?
  • With Ramsey in a rich vein of form, will he benched for the manager to play Arteta alongside Wilshere?
  • What would happen to a certain new recruit called Mathieu Flamini when Arteta returns?

The Spanish pivote is reaching his twilight years quite already but Arteta is a player that has grown to become indispensable. I’m certainly no Arsene Wenger, but I’ll definitely rotate this section of the squad to keep these players happy but when I’m faced against the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and those European juggernauts in the Champions League, I will play Mikel Arteta alongside Aaron Ramsey, thus sending Jackie Boy and the Flamster to the dugout.

*hides under mattress* -_____-

Jack Wilshere is undoubtedly a star in the making but I’ll favor a Ramsey-Arteta combo in the base of the midfield against a big side because Arteta’s maturity, stability and positional awareness will complimented by Ramsey’s industry, high work rate and great technical ability.

Moving up to the attacking midfield role, a player as important as Santi Cazorla would want to play where he’s most effective in the tip of the midfield behind the striker but that’s where I’ll deploy Mesut Ozil, drafting Cazorla to the left hand side. Gooner Dave of One Nil Down Two One Up believes otherwise in this brilliant tactical piece as he favors Santi Cazorla in the middle while he’d prefer to see Ozil on the left.

Playing Mesut Ozil in his favored No. 10 position will see him showcase his undoubted talent as it would have him the room to thread his inch-perfect through balls to his teammates in advanced positions. Ozil also has the positional awareness to drift into the flanks which will give Cazorla some room to exploit the middle but he will also be key in Arsenal’s swift counterattacks and I see Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott benefiting from his influence in midfield.

In as much as I’d love to see Cazorla or Jack Wilshere play the No. 10 role again, I’m cool with Ozil strutting his stuff in that position and I hope the manager feels the same way too.

After analyzing the midfield, the starting triumvirate will be Arteta – Ozil – Ramsey.


This is the part of the first-team squad that pretty much picks itself and the fact that Lukas Podolski and the Ox are facing lenghty spells means that the Gunners can’t really afford to have more injuries in the advanced attacking positions because they are a bit light at the moment.

With Ozil playing as the creative hub of the team, Santi Cazorla will be drifted to the left hand side while Theo Walcott will continue doing his thing on the right. At this point in time, Arsenal can only call on the services of the red-hot Olivier Giroud in the center forward berth and beyond him, there’s an unproven French youngster, a Dane with ego issues and a puzzling Korean that is clearly not favored by the manager.

From my tactical analysis, my favored starting XI that would include Mesut Ozil would be,

Do you agree with this formation or not?

Feel free to share them with your comments.


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About enigma106

An Arsenal fan with a good sense of humor

Posted on September 5, 2013, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 60 Comments.

  1. The good thing about the team tactics is that the team itself is dynamic and players in the midfield and attack can swap positions according to the demands of a particular game. One thing I`m sure about though is that whoever gets to play at any time will be proofing Wenger right in his choice of players. We can only go upwards from here

  2. Great article. Keep it up. I quite agree with u. Wilshere is still struggling for form,while Ramsey is playing the football of his life. For now, i will stick with scenzny,koscieny, metersacker,gibbs,sagna,flamini,ramsey,ozil,carzorla,walcott and Giroud. arteta should come in for flamini when fit.

    Wilshere will have to be used carefully cos of his injury. He should rotate with ramsey. I wonder what happens when diaby comes back???

  3. I agree totally with you. Wilshere would be benched for now. i woul dhave love to see your bench line up

  4. The flow to this piece is in tandem, with the formation you put out, we can only support this AFC team and trust they will suprise us against all odds. Arsenal for life !

  5. Why on earth will you forget the magician and midfield marshal Tomas Rosicky, the man of the moment.

  6. Where are go 2 fix rosicky pls

  7. How come no one has considered this

    Giroud Walcott
    Cazorla Ozil Wilshere
    Ramsey Arterta

    Kos. Met. Sagna

    Strange right? But we have our best players on the pitch. We should dominate possession so much the opposition can’t really hit us. When we are defending Arterta drops in immediately to the middle of defence to make us a four. Just the ramblings of my mind….he he he

    • But Arteta isn’t available right now, so we will look at players with presence and ability to combine both attack and defensive duties without putting the team in troubles, Flamini edge it right now

    • I can’t see us using your 3-5-2 bruv.

      We wud struggle defensively as the opposition will attack from the wings.

    • I would honestly love to see that formation tried out against one of the lower teams.. 3-5-2.
      Considering everyone is fit-

      Sagn. Kos. TV5

      Wilsh. Ramsey

      OXlade. Carz.
      Wall. Giroud

      Bench would feature:
      I guess this would also work with Flamini in for Willshere, Podolski in for Walcott or Giroud, Bendtner ( if his attitude and work rate is good) used as a super sub. TR7 rotating with the OX giving players needed rest s well as Mert. And Gibb and Monreal coming in when needed.
      The reason I chose this defence would be if the remain and CB and not attack too much leaving us short at the back. When Arsenal attack our wing backs move forward and at times leave us with no cover. Playing 3 strong centre backs the remain behind to block the counter could be what we need when playing teams like Chelsea and Man city who are quik on the counter.

    • cool stuff i see here. but don`t forget dis d premiership and not serie A,u ll get so punished wiv 3 man defense cos of d pace. This may only work with d partnership of arteta-flamini,cos both are defensive minded and will play so deep 2 shield d back 3,and u can move ramsey advanced and still drop wilshere,it`s quite nice dat way. #
      sayonara,i ll like to met u in person,can u drop ur contact??

  8. Agbaje azeez olalekan

    I can’t imagine aterta ahead flamini, cos flamini is typical defensive with phisical power, my team is szcesny sagna per koscieny gibss, flamini ramsey ozil, carzola theo walcot giroud

    • agbaje,u are better imagine it,arteta is quite more technical even while performing his defensive duties. he passes d ball around and dictats d pace of d game and still detect killer even while tackling hard. just dat,arteta is too handsome and friendly-looking to be feared but flamini is fierce-looking and d opposition attacker will be scared looking at his face alone

  9. Obadimu olanrewaju

    Is gud formation, but let nicklass bendtner 2 prove him in striking roll, to challeng with oliver giroud.

  10. With all due respect the EPL is about tenacity and aggression, Omitting Rosicky and Flamini means the team will be lacking so much. You are forgetting Arsenal do not have a natural DM apart from Flamini, with his aggression and tackling a good manager will be picking him regulary. Rosicky is another team fighter. he does everything to make sure the team passes with purpose, he also defends very fast when we lose the ball. These are two players we cant afford to be benching regulary, if u as me when everyone is fit I’d be rotating Carzola wth Rosicky while maintaining Flamini in the DM hole to patner with anyone available.

  11. I can’t belive arsenal fans forgot rosicky. Anyway, i just pray there won’t be conflicts amongst the players when all arsenal players are fit to play. We are not ARSENE WENGER, so lets just wait and see what he’s going to do & how he wil be using them. #Finger crossed#

  12. While the defence and attack of the Arsenal very much picks itself,it is in the midfield that the selection dilemma will occur. I strongly believe that we should play with two defensive midfielders in a quartet. That means Arteta, Rambo,and Flamini will have to share the games. Personally,I’ll prefer an Arteta-Flamini combo due to experience. The attacking midfielders will be Ozil and Cazorla with Wilshere and Rosicky as back-ups.
    I expect us to play a straight 4-4-2 formation,with the ability to adapt and vary it depending on the opposition. It is our ability to vary and adapt on the pitch that will make the difference. For example ,if Theo is injured,I’ll like to see a Rosicky playing that ‘Litmanen role’ in the hole between the top striker and the midfield. A role that Wilshere can also function in effectively.
    We must also not forget that Rambo and Arteta are capable of picking the 30-40 yards passes that’ll lead to goals.
    All said and done,,it all lies on the gaffer’s plate,he will know how best to deploy the resources available to him.

  13. yeah…….that’s a preety good formation……where’s my wilshere?

  14. wilshare shoul be there instede of ramsey…

    • scoring goals by ramsey not mean he is in a good form if u watch him play u can see lots of mistakes like selfishness as we saw the in fulham fc victory the first goal for giroud was not an assist to ramsey was a selfish shot on target. watch hii in evrey game he is slaw and selfish player. i totally have no faith in him he need one more loan to a team like everton fc

  15. exactly how i would play ozil and santi.. even the whole team… but after impressed by flamini, I would lyk to c him in arteta’s role atleast till he is back from injury !!!

  16. Akanji moshood

    Good work but is left for mr wenger to choose is first x1

  17. The coach can’t play the entire team and I believe Rosicky has always proven himself to us coming from the Bench, he can be our Dzeko of Man city last season for us this new season, him on the bench will also add value to our bench, I remembered wen the season started and people were questioning our Bench but now there will be no cause for fear. So Engima here is my Sub players when everyone if fit. Fabianski, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Wilshere, Flamini, Poldoski. I know People will question my sub but we can’t deny the fact that Vermaelen remain the captain of the team and he can also play as left back when needed. Enigma will be glad to have your say and also see your Sub bench. I know V.persie will be crying that his not part of this wonderful team cos he will score goals from all corners, what a creative team we have in Arsenal this season.

  18. it is my view that we must not leave out any exiting young players who are now playing in a side that is very promising and my team would be schez sagna met kos gibb ramsey Wilshire Walcott ozil cazorla giroud

  19. Rotation: Arteta, Ramsey, Ozil & Flamini, Jack, Rosicky. Obviously Cazorla drafted onto the left wing (while he doesn’t favour it, he can play it). I think Wenger will try to re-form the Rosicky-Flamini partnership formed in 07/08, with either Jack or Ramsey as Flamini’s other half (not sure which one).

  20. Just like I said earlier, everybody will get to play during this long season , that is hoping we go very far in all competition and still in the chase for the league at the home stretch but for now the first name on the list will be Ramsey and Wilshere will still be on the bench while looking for his lost form (due to injuries)

  21. This will be serious dillema for the coach as far as selection is concerned… But as for me I’ll have Flamini Ramsey and Ozil in the middle right now with Santi on the left flank and ocassionally switching with Ozil… But when Arteta comes back, I’ll be pairing him with Flamini especially in the tough matches, Ramsey can come in as substitute..
    Also he can always substitute Theo when the 3 points are already in the bag or when he’s not having a good game… Rosicky can play there, on the right…
    I just hope the rotations will be done well such that no player will be feeling aggrieved and wanting to leave so as not to take us back to square one

  22. i would prefer

    cazorla Giroud Walcott
    Arteta Ozil Flamini
    Giibs K6 Per Sagna

  23. The signing of Mesut Ozil to Arsenal will no doubt add quality and strength to the Arsenal squad. With this first likely 1st XI, we are good to go

  24. How about this 4-2-3-1 formation
    Sagna Mateskar Kos Verm
    Arteta Flamini
    Podi Ozil Carzola

  25. ozil must play left attacking midflied…!

  26. Sczcy
    Sagna _ mertasacker _ koscienly _ gibbs
    Arteta. _ wilshere. Walcott. Ozil. Carzola

    Viviano gk

  27. carlos birles

    how about:


    Wilshere Ozil Cazorla

    Flamini Ramsey

    gibbs merrtesacker kosc saga


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