Where have all the wide men gone?
Rather obvious answer: We only have three natural wide men, and of those Theo Walcott is out for another two months, Tomas Rosicky for another three or four or five, and Nasri has knocked his ankle for the umpteenth time this season.
Without these three, we funnel through the middle too often and find it hard to get behind opposition defences. Clichy and Sagna try their best to add that width but they cannot play both positions as well as left and right back.
As a result, the wings have been increasingly occupied by players who are not natural wide midfielders; Denilson, Diaby, Ramsey and Eboue. All four, I suspect, would rather be playing elsewhere on the pitch.
Funnily enough, we do have a naturally wide midfielder available with bite, gumption and skill – but he’s only 16. Jack Wilshere showed on Wednesday night that he is a genuine wide man. What he lacks in experience and strength he makes up for in desire and ability.
It’s a sad state of affairs that a 16-year-old looks a better bet than the 20, 22 and 25-year-olds who have been asked to play out wide in the absence of fit wide men, but that’s the way it is.
This is why Wenger is prepared to sanction a mass loan exodus in January, but that exodus won’t involve Wilshere (or Ramsey).
But it’s completely unfair to rely on a 16-year-old, and Wenger is well aware of that, hence using him sparingly. What we need, to complement Rosicky, Walcott and Nasri, is a natural wide man with pace to come in in January.
Let’s add that to the lengthening list.