Love is in the air at London Colney.
After weeding out a variety of shady Bendtner-like characters over the years, Arsenal are a close-knit bunch.
As a result, partnerships have been cultivated and we see “bromances” in full effect both on and off the football pitch. Like Romeo and Juliet, like spaghetti and meatballs, like Arshavin and pie, Arsenal have players that go together.
Years gone by have given us a plethora of quality Arsenal duos. Paul Merson was the maestro that helped orchestrate so many of Ian Wright’s goals. Tony Adams and Martin Keown formed a brick wall in defence. Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry embodied class while providing the perfect blend of creativity and clinical finishing. Nicklas Bendtner and the taxi seat…I digress.
The most notable off-field example recently was the friendship between Mesut Ozil and Matheiu Flamini. They both had their attractive significant others, but that didn’t stop them from having quality “bro time” with one another.
This piece examines the top current and potential partnerships within the team and the best Arsenal love cliche for each.
5. Danny Welbeck and Nacho Monreal
Our favourite Mexican snack-themed player (despite being Spanish) has been left exposed all too often this season. Overall team shape and the tendency for our wide left options to drift inside contribute to the fact that we’ve left Nacho Monreal to cover too much space and defend 1:1 too often.
Danny Welbeck has proven in the past to be that counter balance in our base 4231 formation regardless of if he’s deployed on the left or right. Fitness and match sharpness still need to be reached by Welbz to kickstart this partnership. Nacho hopes it comes soon, especially in big games, so he’s not left isolated against the game’s top attackers like someone left without a sweetheart on Valentine’s Day.
All’s Fair in Love and Welbeck
4. Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny
It may not always be aesthetically pleasing, but these two centrebacks paired together have very few blemishes on their record. Both are internationally proven, front-footed defenders with high footballing IQs.
Koscielny is the ball winner and strong in the challenge; Mustafi is the boisterous coordinator that reads the entire game and intervenes. They have developed an on-field understanding desperately needed in an attacking team that often leaves defenders exposed. Exposure is a good thing late at night on Valentine’s Day, but not in defence on a team trying to win trophies.
3. Olivier Giroud and Lucas Perez
They haven’t logged too many minutes together this season but this seems like a match made in heaven.
Giroud’s game is enhanced when he has quality service from wide areas and runners off the ball. Lucas’ crossing ability, movement off the ball, and willingness to engage in interplay in the final third should dovetail nicely with Giroud’s game.
It’s a shame the only extended look at this partnership was away at Bournemouth and home to Crystal Palace. As both players enter the twilight of their respective careers (both are over 28), it’s only natural these mature footballers would want to drift off into the sunset together.
Love Comes When You Lucas Perez It
2. Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil
Both of these players are midfield generals in very different ways.
Xhaka sits deep, surveys the field, and advances play forward with progressive passing. He is the quarterback.
Ozil finds space in advanced midfield positions where his technical brilliance and creativity can benefit the team. He is the wide receiver, or playmaker. Without a link from deep to advanced midfield, our side struggles for fluency.
Let’s hope Xhaka and Ozil can develop a partnership down the spine of our team that is the equivalent to the love Ozil once had for his long lost Mathieu.
Ozil Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
1. Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott
This partnership thrives on effectiveness rather than efficiency.
Theo Walcott is the only attacking option we have that retains any semblance of width and makes intelligent runs off the shoulders of defenders.
Sanchez is a man that loves to come in from the left and cut in on his right foot to create.
These spaces are more often available because Walcott knows to stay wide instead of gravitating centrally like almost all our other wide options.
Like Cupid firing an arrow from his bow, Alexis loves a high risk/high reward through-ball and Theo is often the beneficiary with his well-timed curved runs.
If You Can’t Love Me At My Worst, THEOn’t Deserve Me At My Best