Exactly my thoughts, the idea that he just fluked 40 odd games over 14 months is just hilarious, however something is wrong. I wonder if it’s that he doesn’t do well for us unless he’s in a 4-3-3 (three man midfield) with the defensive backup, the central passer and him as box-to-box, where he just runs and creates and kills space in midfield while offering that second wave in attack with a long shot on a deflected ball coming out of the box etc. When we played 4-3-3 we would occasionally (more often after 13/14 as Cazorla took central) run out of wide attackers and play him there and it rarely worked that well.
He hasn’t played in that central midfield role since we switched to 4-2-3-1 because it has been 2/4 of Cazorla/Coq/Elneny/Xhaka. When we have played him it has been wide-ish in attacking midfield, like for example vs. United where he took Iwobi’s place but him and Walcott both got pretty much nothing done for 90 mins.
For Wales they did some 5-3-2 or something similar but the point is that he was in at least a similar 3-ish man midfield with Ledley and Allen, offering a sort of additional guy up front whevnever he could to support Bale and Robson-Kanu, he’d be wide but wander into the middle if needed.
I’m beginning to think that he doesn’t really do anyhting for us if we’re to play 4-2-3-1 as I don’t think he could fill the second midfield position particularly well (where we need someone to control the pace and passing) and he never did well for any prolonged period wide in attack imo. I hope I’m wrong in my assessment, I hope he can find his place but I’m worried.