Towards the end of last season, Arsène Wenger finally took his head out of his Arsenal and blatantly cloned the 3-4-3 system Chelsea so successfully adopted after a shaky start under Antonio Conte. This system, although unconvincing in the first few games, clearly had a positive impact on the team
New shape and tactics meant players had to focus more on positioning and improve their concentration on the pitch. But it also meant experimenting with personnel because none of the current players were signed with a 3-4-3 system in mind.
The back three allowed the opportunity for Rob Holding to triumphantly emerge as a respawn of Tony Adams, bossing opposition forwards around as if they owed him money. It also sharpened up our defensive play, allowing more freedom for our centre-backs to make a few inevitable mistakes without being as severely punished as they would be in a back four.
In midfield the centre-mids became more defined than in the 4-2-3-1, staying more in their designated positions and having plenty of backup from behind whilst providing even more cover to the backline.
With Bellerin injured, Wenger opted to try Oxlade-Chamberlain in the new RWB position. This is a natural-born winger who reportedly can’t shut up about how much he wants to play as a centre-mid, despite the fact that he was chiseled by the gods to be a flank player. The RWB role, as it turns out, is the ideal position for him. It allows him to bomb down the flanks like a freight train, and in defensive play all he needs to do is cover the zone to the right of Rob Holding. No expert-level tackling necessary.
Don't let all this exposing let you forget about the fact that Oxlade Chamberlain is the best wingback in the league
— Alejandro ? (@Chamberlaxn) August 13, 2017
This is why Bellerin isn’t as convincing in the same position. He’s an attacking defender, but a defender nonetheless. He thinks like a defender. He goes for the tackle instead of just covering the zone. Oxlade-Chamberlain is the opposite. He’s essentially a deep-lying winger in that RWB position, with all the freedoms of a forward and more channels available than a £120 Sky package. He doesn’t prioritise getting in a challenge; he just holds the shape to let the real defenders take care of any problems.
Ever since Oxlade-Chamberlain was deployed in this position he’s been in Ultimate Beast Mode™.
130% full steam ahead for 90 minutes straight is exactly what the supporters have been wanting from our players since the Nokia 3310 was the coolest and most high-tech mobile phone on the planet, and now we have it. In the span of a dozen games, the former Southampton man has entirely usurped Bellerin as the automatic first choice right-back.
So with all that said…why the fuck are we even thinking about selling him? Chelsea clearly identify him as a brilliant wing-back, hence why they want to sign him. Victor Moses isn’t exactly making sex organs tingle when he receives the ball on the flank and unsurprisingly manages to lose it in some humorous way.
For a wingback… Victor Moses doesn't add width to our game. He's shit at crossing too.
It's been annoying since last season.
— Marc™ (@Tzar_Marc) July 29, 2017
In fact, RWB is the one single position Chelsea really need to strengthen. Ox falls under the homegrown quota, and his contract runs out in 10 months so they won’t have to pay much for him. He’s also just 24 years old so can play there for Chelsea for half a decade before declining in power.
I guess the even more pressing question would be: why on earth would Oxlade-Chamberlain want to move to Chelsea in the first place?
First of all, most of Chelsea’s supporters won’t like the fact that he’s slightly browner than a Caucasian. Secondly, if he thinks he’s going to play centre-mid there he’s more delusional than Diego Costa on a three-day coke binge in Brazil. He’s popular in the Arsenal dressing room, loved by most of the fanbase and must know what kind of image problems follows a move to a local rival.
Here’s the point. If we sell Oxlade-Chamberlain to Chelsea we will be dramatically improving their wing-back positions and drastically worsening ours. Personally, I don’t think Arsenal should be in the business of strengthening our rivals at the cost of our own squad (anymore).