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How Arsenal might line-up next season with Vardy & Xhaka included
All the talk today has been surrounding Jamie Vardy’s proposed move to Arsenal with the Mirror reporting that we expect to complete the deal within the next 24 hours after triggering his £20m release clause yesterday.
This deal has come from nowhere and the online soccer betting odds would have been huge on Vardy joining Arsenal, but it appears the 24-goal striker is set to arrive from newly-crowned champions Leicester City, so thoughts will soon turn to how the England international will fit in to our system.
I personally have my doubts as to whether Vardy is the striker we need as he’s been deployed in a counter-attacking 4-4-2 at Leicester which plays to his strengths. The Foxes sit back, soak up pressure and hit teams on the break with pace.
It’s a different story at Arsenal as we are the team who have possession and press, with the opposition usually keeping 10 men behind the ball, especially when we play at the Emirates, so Vardy isn’t going to have all that space to work with.
It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how Wenger integrates him in to our team next season, but here are a couple of ideas assuming we stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation:
The most obvious position for Vardy would be as the central striker up front. He would lead the line in place of Olivier Giroud with Sanchez, Ozil and possibly Ramsey occupying the three attacking roles.
I hope we bring in another wide player this summer and one will certainly be required if Walcott leaves but going on the current squad, Arsene may opt to play Rambo out wide as he’s done in the past with Cazorla in alongside new signing Xhaka in midfield.
My concern here is that Vardy isn’t the tradition ‘back-to-goal’ striker who can hold the ball up and bring others in to play. While Giroud has been rightly criticised for his lack of pace and poor finishing, he is a very useful target man and his link-up play can be brilliant.
Can Vardy play the solo role up front? In my view, only if we change our style of play, otherwise we’ll see similar performances to that of Walcott when he started up front against Man Utd last season.
Alternatively, Arsene may be looking to play Vardy out wide with Giroud keeping his place through the middle. Vardy is a hard worker so wouldn’t shirk his defensive responsibilities, while his pace and movement would be useful cutting in from the wing.
The 29-year-old played this role for England recently but he didn’t look that comfortable out there so he may take some time to get used to his new position. My main concern over this formation is that it wouldn’t get the best out of Vardy as he’s a striker and should be playing through the middle.
If this is how Wenger decides to go, he may need to bring in a more defensive partner for Xhaka in midfield with Elneny or Coquelin coming in to offer more protection to the defence.
Who knows what Wenger is planning but it’s certainly going to be interesting to see how Vardy fits in if he does end up securing a move from Leicester. I have my doubts over this deal but I’ll reserve my judgement until Arsene concludes his business and I see how we line-up in pre-season.