Wenger on why Ozil & Mkhitaryan can play together

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Arsene Wenger says he doesn’t understand why people have questioned whether Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan can play in the same side because that’s what good players do.

The German and Armenian combined to great effect in the San Siro on Thursday night with the former setting up the latter for his first goal in Arsenal colours as the Gunners beat AC Milan 2-0.

After a great win, the boss reflected on the manner in which his midfield combined both offensively and defensively.

“When you have a good understanding of the game you can always play together,” he told Arsenal.com.

“That’s a little bit the art of combining, anticipation, technical quality. I never could understand really why good players can’t play together, that’s basically what people have said…if it’s not detrimental to the defensive balance.

“We are a team that wants to express offensive talent so we have to sacrifice as well, when we have not the ball.”

Ozil and Mkhitaryan switching from left to right during the game were ably supported by Aaron Ramsey’s energy in the centre while Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere lay a little deeper to protect the defence. After a run of defeats, the tactics worked well.

“We had a game plan that was based on their positioning on the field and their defensive responsibility, to give us stability.

“I believe they [the midfield] did a great job, from that basis we protected better our defenders, from that basis as well we were dangerous going forward as well.

“We won balls in midfield and that was down to their great work.”

Wenger added: “If you’re a great football player you love to have the ball, but to have the ball you have to win it.

“I don’t see why good offensive players should not be good defensively, one is the consequence of the other.”

It remains to be seen whether Wenger uses the same midfield against Watford. Knowing that his men are only at the halfway point of their Europa League last-sixteen showdown with Milan, there’s a chance the boss could rotate with one eye on Thursday’s second leg.

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Mootilated
Mootilated

Can? They bloody well have to 🙂

Bendtnerschristmastree
Bendtnerschristmastree

Mkhi needs to be a ball carrier if he wants to start every week on this team. He can’t just drift around the field in dangerous positions like Mesut. That would leave a too big gap between the attacking trio and the midfield/defense.

That’s why Iwobi get’s the nod so much. Mkhi was great carrying the ball with speed at the san siro. Hope he get’s to play that same role today. I like him on that left flank.

Davey
Davey

Disagree. He showed vs Milan that he’s most dangerous getting on the end of things. Mesut is better deeper.

Vescucci
Vescucci

I don’t know what Arsenal does to me. For some reason, I’m trying to quell this wild optimism welling up inside me. I would really love to win this bloody Europa league and I swear to God, if we do, I’d have taken the way the season turned out at the beginning of the season.

Faisal Narrage
Faisal Narrage

Hope they can keep it going, but it’s a bit facetious to not see how it could be a problem. I know Wenger would love it, but you simply can’t play a bunch of no.10s in a team without SOME repercussions, regardless of how good they are.

We already see it in how our fullbacks like Bellerin are generally left exposed as no one is ahead of him to combine and work with, which in turn means when our fullback attack and we’re countered, with a bunch of no.10s and attacking fullbacks, we’re exposed defensively.

Really slightly concerns me when Wenger says stuff like this and totally ignores the obvious risk.

ramgooner
ramgooner

We shouldn’t stop with Ozil and Mkhitaryan. We need another player of their quality. We need an experienced guy like Modric or someone young like Oliver Torres.
Xhaka is bench quality and El Neny is reserve quality. Ramsey and Wilshere can fight for the RCM spot.

One ball playing CM, 1 LCB, 1 RCB/RB and 1 GK.

absolut
absolut

Definitely need the gk, dm and cb. The club must have this plan ready before world cup mucks up transfer situation.

Davey
Davey

El Neny is a great squad player. No nonsense, barely makes any mistakes, doesn’t seem to mind not starting every game, very accurate passer, happy to slot in where the team needs him…

Hell, even Xhaka’s last two games have been half decent, although before that I would’ve said we should get rid ASAP.

Stonebenge
Stonebenge

Elneny is awesome. Might not be obvious to some but his safe patient style isnt a bad thing in this team, and he does make things happen in a quiet way. Kinda like Gilberto, but hes not at that level yet. I think he has improved a fair bit recently since he has been used at cb. Much like monreal did.

Bendtnerschristmastree
Bendtnerschristmastree

Mkhi needs to be a ball carrier if he wants to start every week on this team. He can’t just drift around the field in dangerous positions like Mesut. That would leave a too big gap between the attacking trio and the midfield/defense.

That’s why Iwobi get’s the nod so much. Mkhi was great carrying the ball with speed at the san siro. Hope he get’s to play that same role today. I like him on that left flank.

BromleyGooner
BromleyGooner

This to me means Wenger doesn’t understand tactics. You don’t just get the best players in the world and put them together. You need to decide your tactics and pick your players accordingly. Ozil and Mkhitaryan together as wide forwards means no pace, limit ability to run past opponents.

granit(e) hard!
granit(e) hard!

No pace?….Ozil and Mikhi might not be a Bellerin (few players are that quick in any squad), but they are not exactly slouches either. That’s a fact.

BromleyGooner
BromleyGooner

Name one top team that has slower wide forward than us in the league and less ability to run past players? Sane, Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Alexis, Martial, Rashford, Alli, Son, Lamela, Willian, Hazard, Pedo, Salah, Mane’

ronnie
ronnie

Well Auba is probably faster than any of the names you just mentioned above…

BromleyGooner
BromleyGooner

Since when has Auba become a wide forward

Sandman

Well well. So you know better than a living legend – EVEN taking into account recent results – who has been a veteran manager for more than 3 decades eh? Niiice nice. What Football Manager game are you playing my man? 😉

BromleyGooner
BromleyGooner

I’m not claiming I do. All other top teams play with fast wide forwards who can run past players and we don’t. Do Pep, Mourinho, Klopp, Poch and Conte know better than Wenger about tactics. You better believe they do!

Mpls
Mpls

Who’d have thought having defensively assigned midfielders in front of the defenders would give us stability to get forward?!

Shocking revelation!