Unai Emery’s substitutions have been a feature of the campaign this season.
He has shown that he isn’t afraid to ring the changes if something isn’t working, regardless of the players status or pay grade.
Emery’s constant patrolling of the technical area isn’t for show, his analytical brain is processing every area of the pitch and those inhabiting the space.
He searches for glitches and more often than not, by the time the referee ends the first 45 minutes with a peep of his whistle, he knows who he is going to replace in the second half.
His astute substitutions have turned games, made Arsenal more compact, more efficient and ultimately yielded maximum points.
Invariably, Emery has said that these substitutions were tactical but one man has suffered from these tweaks more than any other, creative midfielder, Mesut Ozil.
These tactical adjustments have seen the German benched, withdrawn or excluded on a frequent basis since his ‘ back spasm ‘ and although I was reluctant to consider the manager and player have an issue with each other, I’m starting to think that there may be some truth in the suggestion.
The substitution of Ozil at half time during the Brighton match caught everyone off guard.
I was suggesting on Twitter that Ramsey would replace Guendouzi, for no other reason than added impetus in attack.
Ramsey could have made one of those trademark late runs, ending with him turning up on the back post to turn in a precise Ozil pass.
It made sense, not only to me but to a number of others but we were left open mouthed when Iwobi came on in his place and Stephan Lichtsteiner remained on the pitch despite having a par horribilis (horrible match)
Tactically, the Swiss was a yard off the pace, impotent in attack and redundant in defence.
If anyone needed a tactical change of scene, Lichtsteiner needed to sit in the seat of Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
After Ozil departed, Arsenal looked to go through the gears but it all fizzled out rather quickly as Brighton took charge and resulted in the gunners creating just one goal scoring chance.
Ozil was withdrawn to adjust the balance and fluidity but with him went the prospect of any genuine creativity.
Moan if you like but you have to agree, Arsenal looked bereft of ideas and there was no one left on the pitch that had the first idea of how to breach the Brighton defence.
As an experiment, it was a failure, as tactical change, it left much to be desired.
Emery’s conviction to the ‘ tactical ‘ side of management blatently poked him in the eye and pulled his pants down at the same time.
I’m not going to start beating the drum to get him out or claim that he isn’t right for the job but he got that decision very badly wrong and Arsenal were lucky to get the point on reflection.
Whatever the problem with Ozil and Emery, it needs to addressed immediately.
Talk of Özil leaving along with Ramsey’s departure is a scary proposition if there are no additions in January.
Creatively, Arsenal are a one trick pony because Özil hasn’t had the support of another creative player.
When Sanchez traipsed off to Manchester for the mighty dollar, Özil lost the only other genuine World class player at the club.
Only the Chilean could work on the same level and after he left, the German had to work with normal, even average players.
Although his link up with Lacazette and Aubameyang has shown promise, it hasn’t reached the dizzy heights that he had with Sanchez.
My own thoughts are that perhaps the midfield needs to be built around the German and one other , such as Banega or Fakir.
Maybe then, we will see him perform consistently at his best, living up to Emery’s tactical expectations.