Sead Kolasinac arrived at the Emirates with a cloud of smoke over his head. The Arsenal faithful had been crying out for Wenger to spend cash on a defender and when one duly arrived, it wasn’t the marquee name that we were hoping for. The Bosnian arrived with a fairly low-key profile with not much of a scouting report on him. But after making such a promising start to his Arsenal career and establishing himself as somewhat of a new cult hero, he has found his playing time severely diminished, but why?
The left-back position had been up in the air in the summer with Wenger favouring Monreal in more of a central role in the latter part of the season. So when the strapping Bosnian arrived at the Emirates, he looked like the perfect fit for the wing-back position in Arsenal’s new 3 back formation. Having garnered a reputation in Bundesliga as a forward-thinking full-back with attacking potential, he was rewarded with a spot on the Bundesliga team of the year. At only 24 years of age, it looked like Arsene Wenger mad managed to find another steal in a transfer market with inflated prices.
It all started extremely well for Kolasinac as he looked to have built a chemistry down the left-hand side with Danny Welbeck. Through the early parts of the season, the left-back had already accumulated four assists and chipped in with one goal aswell. He had already endeared himself to the Arsenal fans by scoring in the community shield and his early season performances served to only improve that relationship. But in recent weeks and months, Kolasinac has found himself relegated to the bench in favour of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Monreal.
Initially, my first thought was that this was good management from Wenger. Coming from the Bundesliga, Kolasinac would have been used to having a winter break so giving him a break during the hectic Christmas period would keep him fresh for the second part of the season where he would be needed the most. However, that period has long gone and Kolasinac finds himself on the subs bench for league games and only seeing significant minutes in the cup competitions.
In his absence, Maitland-Niles played very assured football and reassured his class to the manager and the Arsenal fans. He was a threat going forward and was excellent in defence giving that the left wing back spot isn’t his favoured position. He was rarely caught out of position and when faced with 1v1 battles against wingers, he was assured in those battles. Additionally, it looks as if Monreal has solidified that position since his return from a few nagging injuries. The Spaniard is definitely a favourite of Wenger and it seems Wenger trusts him to provide that balance in defence as Bellerin is given much more licence to attack while Monreal plays further back.
This may have been the primary reason as to why Kolasinac has remained on the bench. It looked as if Wenger had stumbled upon gold with the switch to the 3-5-2 formation but with some early season struggles, he seems to have reverted back to 4-2-3-1. With the extra defender, Kolasinac had much more licence to roam forwards, but with a back four, he is tasked with much more defensive responsibility because having both fullbacks up the pitch would be suicidal. Monreal is blessed with a much more defensive mindset than Kolasinac, so with that in mind along with the trust Wenger already has in him, it makes sense for him to have re-established his position on the left.
With all that said, it looks as if Wenger has settle back on the four back formation due to the perceived stability it gives back to the team. Kolasinac did have a tendency to wonder forward and was suspect when left on an island against more diminutive wingers. But it’s good to know that Wenger has this option off the bench on the chance that some in game adjustments might need to be made and he can be counted on to slot straight back into the line-up.