Ozil and Walcott: The Dark Side of The Pairing
Much has been written in last 24 hours about the positive impact of Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott during Arsenal's 2-1 victory over cellar-dwellers Leicester City.
It was Ozil's corner that got volleyed home by Laurent Koscielny, a pinpoint-pass floated to the near post that the on-rushing Frenchman blasted home.
And it was Ozil's fizzing drive that Mark Schwarzer could only parry into the path of Walcott; the young English winger dispatching the loose-ball with predatory instinct, a finish that was reminiscent of another Arsenal player who wore the no. 14.
On paper, and at times in application, the Ozil/Walcott duo is seemingly sublime.
Walcott's fantastic ability to make rounded, well-timed, runs in behind opposition defenses creates the perfect window for Ozil's precision passing and vision.
It appears a match made in footballing heaven: pace to partner through ball-wizardry, after-burners to compliment a left-foot well-cultured and marinated in the traditions of Schalke, Bremen, and Madrid.
But the pairing has a dark side: The ease at which the Leicester outside-backs and wingers, particularly Paul Konchesky and Jeff Schlupp, got forward to provide service is of major concern, and the space allowed Riyad Mahrez to influence proceedings on the edge of Arsenal's penalty area is a red flag for Wenger and Francis Coquelin.
There are two issues at hand with playing Ozil and Walcott together.
The first is that neither are inclined to defend.
The second is that neither know how to defend.
Many pundits pointed out that this was the reason for Danny Welbeck's selection over Walcott in the North London Derby, and it has to be said that yesterday the theory was proven correct.
David Ospina was lucky to escape with just the one goal against.
Several attempts at goal created by the Foxes would have beaten the Colombian if they had been guided with more confidence and accuracy.
Playing Ozil and Walcott together, even against the team buried at the bottom of the table, at home no less, nearly proved a recipe for disaster as Arsenal were once again far to open and easily penetrated.
The attacking promise and production of the duo may have outweighed the negatives on Tuesday night, but just barely.
Counting on the German and the Englishman for '90 minutes verse one of the top-seven Premier League teams doesn't seem a viable option for Wenger, Per Mertesacker and Koscielny will get pulled out of position, the outside backs will face overloads, and Coquelin will edge towards suspension from picking up cautions as he's forced to cover and foul to make up for their lack of defending.
Wenger may be enjoying a temporary increased depth in midfield personnel, yet he's not always making the right selections.
He didn't against Tottenham Hotspurs when Ramsey was clearly ineffectual and he chose to withdraw Santi Cazorla, and he only Just managed to hang on at home after starting the two out-and-out attackers Ozil and Walcott.
There is no room for error in the race for Champions's League qualification this season.
And it sure would be nice not to have to endure the added stress of the play-off to get into the Group Stage.
Wenger must be weary of the dark side of the Ozil/Walcott pairing and only use them together for 20-30 minutes or when chasing a result.