With this being my last column for 2017, I’m going to try and answer the three biggest issues facing Arsenal in 2018, as they try to keep up with their rivals and not let another season slip into the abyss that is Europa League football.
1. Will they keep being sentimental?
Jack Wilshere had his best game in an Arsenal shirt since scoring ‘that’ goal against Norwich four years ago when he ran the show against Crystal Palace.
He controlled the tempo of the game, beat defenders off the dribble, and Tiger Woods would have been proud of the lob wedge he pulled out to set up Alexis Sanchez for Arsenal’s third goal.
He’ll never be as quick as he once was, but that was as close to ‘the old Jack’ as we’ve seen in a long time.
Can he play there regularly in the future? Yes, but the player beside him has to be able to cover for Jack defensively.
In Arsenal’s last two games, they’ve conceded almost identical counter-attacking goals to Phillipe Coutinho and Andros Townsend, mainly because neither of our central midfielders could keep up with play.
It’s bad enough that the defence treats the 18-yard line as if it’s the coffee creme in a tin of Roses and avoids it like the plague, but when the midfielders can’t fill in the gaps, then the opposition will always have chances on the counter.
If Jack is to play more often, then he needs someone who can do the hard work beside him so that it frees him up to push further forward.
The problem Arsenal have is that the exact same premise applies to Ramsey, who has excelled this season because of the freedom he has to make attacking runs whenever possible.
Having both of them play centrally denies them of the one thing they both need; freedom.
When faced with a similar problem in 2015 because Santi Cazorla was undroppable, Ramsey was shifted out to the right.
But when Arsenal play 3-4-2-1, that option doesn’t exist, because you have Alexis, Mesut Özil and Alexandre Lacazette in those forward positions, and they aren’t being dropped.