Wenger's Lack of Faith in Width
Arsene Wenger once again choose to play Aaron Ramsey out on the right flank verse Manchester United at Old Trafford, and because of this, it was a another match wherein Arsenal had no width down the right channel.
On occasion, when Ramsey has been deployed in his new role, Hector Bellerin has played behind him and provided some semblance of needed width, and an outlet, going forward. With Ramsey unchanged in his desire to cut inside, to try and be the focal point of the build-up, and to create as a playmaker, it was a tactical decision that didn't quite come off for Wenger.
The French manager would have been concerned with the on-form Ashley Young and will have chosen Ramsey to start over Theo Walcott to help young Hector Bellerin deal with the marauding Englishman. Theo has never been known for his defending, and seeing that Wenger continues to play Ramsey out of position and leave Walcott on the bench, it can't be a good thing for the speedster from Southampton.
Wenger will have been convinced that by playing it safe and going with the Welshman to help provide cover, he could negate Young's impact, and use Bellerin to provide width on the break and in possession. It was, perhaps, the prudent course of action, and in fairness, Wenger was right, Arsenal got the vital point they needed to stay on target for a 3rd place finish.
That being said, Bellerin rarely got forward, as he was so preoccupied with Young, despite Ramsey's help, and the Gunners attack stalled in paralysis for most of the 90' minutes played at the Theater of Dreams.
It's hard to ignore the facts, there exists an obvious lack of faith in Theo Walcott's ability to be a two-way player. Nowadays, there are better luxury players at Arsenal (who also don't defend well) than Walcott. I wrote back in February that there might be a dark-side to pairing Walcott and Mesut Ozil together https://www.football.com/en-us/ozil-and-walcott-the-dark-side-of-the-pairing/.
True it may be, that Ozil has gotten better at putting in a all-around shift for the cause, but it became clear, early on in 2015, that playing Ozil and Walcott together from the start might pose real problems for the balance of the team.
Talk of Walcott's 'golden age' as player may be a smokescreen by Wenger that helps him get a tidy sum for the player; perhaps it is Walcott that departs this summer rather than Jack Wilshere... The lack of width on Sunday wasn't the only issues with the performance.
Santiago Cazorla had one of his worst games in a long, long time.
Cazorla's world-class quality this season has been such a joy to behold that it was confounding to see the ease at which he squandered possession and passed carelessly without conviction. Santi has been the heartbeat of the team for the past two seasons, infallible in his artful passing, mesmerizing technical ability, vision, and two-footed mastery. It is unfair to begrudge him for one poor match, but he was poor on the night, and it was alarming to see how hurtful that can be to Arsenal's game.
The same can be said for Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, little was created by the artisans, poor service to Olivier Giroud (who noticeably suffers when Ramsey is played wide on the right), caught in possession, and unable to influence proceedings; the German and the Chilean were were passengers on a voyage to nowhere.
Ander Herrera and Ashley Young were the bosses on Sunday night.
Credit Theo Walcott for making the most of his 20 minutes. He immediately brought the good parts if his play to the contest: intelligent running in behind the back-four, pace, fast-feet, and energy, to an otherwise dim Dial Square.
It's hard to imagine that Walcott will be satisfied with playing the role of super sub at this 'golden' stage in his career.
Unfortunately for the player, the manager currently doesn't have much faith in giving him a leading role...