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Layth Yousif’s Arsenal Rewind column – RIP Ugo

PUBLISHED: 15:16 21 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:27 21 April 2017

Arsene Wenger surprised many with his formation at Middlesbrough

Arsene Wenger surprised many with his formation at Middlesbrough

PA Wire/PA Images

Layth Yousif’s latest Arsenal ‘Rewind’ column reviews the week that was...

In memoriam:

Ugo Ehiogu was an elegant player and a decent human being. I came across him briefly when covering a Spurs academy pre-season game up at Stevenage two summers ago. He was the type of man who had time for everyone, and was loved and respected by his charges and colleagues.

On a long hot long forgotten afternoon he was happily mucking in at the end, not only setting an example to his gilded youngsters but just because he was a good, decent man. It was a small act, but an act that gave an insight into his character. And why he was – and always will be – thought of fondly.

The world of football has lost one of its good guys today. Vale, Ugo.

Buy him a pint

Yes, we know he’s getting an awful amount of criticism at the moment, and yes it’s true that surely his time has to be up at Arsenal after such a poor run of form this year – but Arsene Wenger still hasn’t lost his ability to surprise people.

His switch to playing three at the back – including the highly promising Rob Holding who this column thinks will be a better English ball-playing centre half than John Stones one day – wrong-footed every pundit in the build up to the game at the Riverside.

The switch worked as the Gunners backline held off Boro to end the club’s worst run on the road for 88 years – even if the expected attacking onslaught failed to materialise from the Teessiders.

It was good to see a 67-year-old manager prove he is not averse to trying new ideas – even if you could argue the 3-1 victory at Derby County at the long-gone Baseball Ground in May 1997 gave the decision more of a retro feel to it than an innovative one.

Although you could argue since Wenger’s men gave Chelsea that 3-0 shellacking back in September the Blues have been using that system to great effect – so why did it take eight months for Arsenal to use the formation?

But after the dismal run since losing to Watford back in January – culminating in one of the worst performances this column has seen in more than three decades of watching Arsenal week in week out at Palace last week - that would be churlish. Wouldn’t it?

Get your coat

Alexis Sanchez’s agent. Stop posturing and get your man to sign a new contract. After the way the fans have backed the Chilean marvel in spite of his - shall we say passion – shown this term, anything other than putting pen to paper on a lucrative new deal at Arsenal would infuriate supporters everywhere. Gooners have long memories if they’re not happy with a player agitating to leave. Just ask Ashley Cole.

Magic moment

Rob Holding’s performance at the Riverside. Yes, he still has a lot to learn. And yes we still don’t know if he’s the full package – Callum Chambers anyone? – but this unassuming lad works hard, has a good attitude, can ally talent with technique and is learning to read the game well. If Steve Bould can convince fans he is the right number two for Wenger in the event of a summer shake-up should the Frenchman stay – then his work with the raw but hugely promising Holding will be central to that.

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