Apr 19

Tactical Reflections on Arsenal

It’s no wonder Arsenal are able to draw so many penalties with their flicky-flicky football and repeated 1-2’s. Sure the style draws fouls, but so often it looks incredibly narrow and like a long shot that it can create a goal. How many seasons now have critics said we are trying to score the perfect goal?

I am not proposing a complete adjustment of the style but unless you take enough shots, then you don’t force errors, create opportunities or force some luck. Cristiano Ronaldo would not have beaten Gomes had he not have shot. The worst thing I’ve heard is the management are considering letting Rosicky leave to be replaced with Hleb for his second spell. I think the Czech should be allowed to move on but signing a player renowned above all others for not shooting makes my eyes water. 

The fullbacks, Clichy and Eboue, gave the width for parts of the game but it looked as though the Liverpool defenders could handle head height crosses all day long bar one corner Koscielny nearly scored from. What’s the bottom line? Van Persie is not a last man forward. Numerous interceptions made from his feet because their defenders knew he does not have the pace to run beyond. It reminded me of the FA Cup final against Manchester United, which we ultimately won. With Bergkamp unable to beat Rio Ferdinand for pace, he did what Skrtel did. 

I’d like to see Arsenal with Van Persie running on to neat lay offs from a player ahead of him not running behind. He’s a fantastic goalscorer, but not suited to the attrition and warfare of roughing it alongside the rough henchmen of the league. Should someone as brittle be battling with Terry, Vidic, Skrtel or should he be given a free role to link play in behind someone physical enough to bully those players and outpace them? The risk is he would become a luxury player in this role. Maybe he is unable to track back and tackle as effectively as, say, a Fabregas or a Nasri in the role. If that is true then might Van Persie be the wrong player tactically? I do not say this is what I think, I seek to discuss a way of deploying him more efficiently.

Another player I would like to consider is Abou Diaby. He gave Arsenal a power and physicality they miss greatly. His ability to move through tackling midfielders is superb, and yet, I still groan when he is in the side. Why? He doesn’t step up and perform in the massive games. Wilshere, Nasri and Fabregas have all given big performances on big stages at various times (though not lately). The times I get frustrated with Diaby is when Arsenal’s attacking midfielders are straddling the thirty yard line trying to penetrate a stubborn defence. He continually slows the game down, allowing any decent organised outfit to realign to any space made by the player who has passed to him. Watching Barcelona, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Arsenal at their peak you see how vital the speed of tempo is against such a tactic. 

What is more, it seems like it has been an age waiting for Diaby to truly arrive at the highest level. It’s been many years that Diaby has flattered to deceive that he would become the all action match winner he could be. 

Diaby divides fans into two camps; those that say he is not good enough and those that say he possesses the natural athletic prowess to win games by himself. I am waiting for that player to arrive; and not against Newcastle, West Ham or Everton but against Chelsea, United or Tottenham. For surely that has to be the standard, a group of players individually and collaboratively capable of dominating top matches. Let’s see if he can deliver on Wednesday, and show what he is all about. 

Footnote: For all Arsenal chat, transfer news and the odd bit about my career as a Police Officer follow me on Twitter @Detective82.



11 Responses to “Tactical Reflections on Arsenal”

  1. bayo says:

    In a candid interview with Spanish magazine Don Balon, Fabregas says Spain’s leading coaches would not expect to survive for three years without a trophy. Arsenal have not won a major honour since 2005.

    “It [Wenger’s position] is now easier to understand because I’ve been here for many years,” said Fabregas.

    “Obviously, if you come from Spain and you say to [Unai] Emery, and [Pep] Guardiola and [Jose] Mourinho that they would spend three years [at one club] without winning anything, it’s understood that they’re not going to continue in their position.”

    Wenger has been at Arsenal since 1996. He is the second longest-serving manager in the Premier League, behind Sir Alex Ferguson.

    Traditionally, managerial spells at La Liga clubs are shorter than those in England. Emery, the Valencia manager, and Barcelona’s Guardiola were appointed in 2008. Mourinho replaced the sacked Manuel Pellegrini last summer.
    It’s different here,” explained Fabregas. “The coach is a smart person and the club appreciates other things. The team is always in the Champions League and competes to the end of the season, and it has economic stability. I guess that is important for the board.”

    Fabregas admitted that sooner or later Arsenal’s management will have to decide whether or not winning trophies is the club’s primary goal.

    “I imagine there will be a time when they will have to take the plunge: to win or not win.”

    The midfielder believes that there is a risk that the club’s famed ability to punch above its financial weight by finding promising young players will ultimately make it less competitive.
    When I started we won the FA Cup and then we reached the final of the Champions League. We didn’t win but you say, OK we lost to Barcelona, by one goal in the last minute. It’s not a victory but still – it’s the first time the club reached the final of the Champions League.

    “From 2007 I started saying, ‘we didn’t win but we played very well.’

    “But then you realise it doesn’t work. This year, for example, when we were in four different competitions, you think to yourself, ‘We could win it all!’ But after missing that final point you have to make a decision: play to win, or to train players.”


  2. Zeeqz says:

    Arsene Wenger needs to buy a lot of players and sell alot. The team needs world class players, Leadership in their team. Wenger needs to fix up

  3. GunnerMKD says:

    agree, rvp should be given a free role tomorrow behind the striker. imo wenger should give a start to chamakh up front, rvp behind him to give balls to him, nasri and walcott on the wings, fabregas and song in midfield.yes, we havent played rvp like this lately, but what the heck, we should try it. diaby will probably choke,wilshere-i would put him if we lead instead of rvp, arshavin for fabregas and maybe bentner. this man.u result tonight has given me hope that we are still in for it. just, just, beat the spuds!

  4. Simba says:

    Good post – I agree with you on all the issues you raised – You look like a gooner i would watch every game with because of your balanced view .
    RVP – the 4-3-3 with him as lone striker does not suit his qualities. I watched Netherlands at Euro 2008 – RVP deployed on the right flank (right foward position) by Van Basten .He provided a good balance and additional dimension to that Netherlands squad.HIs ability to pick passes with his left foot from the right flank as well as 1-2s with the central foward made the Dutch side very lethal on attack. RVP should be deployed on the right and switch occasionally with left foward.Make him work the channels between the left back and CBs as well as right back and CBs .He cannot be holding up possession as the central striker .He is not that player and Wenger should bring in a true centre foward in that role .I always wonder why Adebayor was never effectively replaced .There are surely better strikers than Chamackh and Bendtner.

    Diaby has been a failure waiting to happen .I dont knwo why Wenger doesnt make him watch Viera / Edu / Pires videos when they played . They never slowed down the game they way he does .What is Wenger doing at practice sessions .He should be telling Diaby that he wont play at Arsenal unless he improves his speed of thought and passing .Every game Diaby plays Arsenal struggle because he slows down the attacks when defences are out of shape .He is so bad and cuts out 80% of all attacks that go through him.

    The 4-3-3 needs two good dribbling fowards – right foward and left foward .Nasri and RVP should be those fowards and then find the true centre foward to hold up play and be the target man for any crosses into the box .

    I have started to doubt Arsene’s tactical abilities and changing variations of play to continuously change the approach play Arsenal .I watch Barca a couple of times and they way they vary their approach always keep the opposition in disarray .Wenger being Wenger i doubt he would want to admit that he learns anything from other managers about tactics because he wants to do things his own way and be the guy that says I told you so

  5. ole says:

    @GunnerMKD: I disagree, I think we should play like you say at home, yes. But away the 4-3-3 have worked very well, what we need is to be braver at home, but wenger is afraid with good reason because of a weak back five.

  6. jason says:

    hahaha. Further proof that change is needed! Game’s over. Season’s over.

  7. The_Wenger_Boyz says:

    Hello 3rd place jesus christ!

  8. GunnerMKD says:

    guys, i didnt watch the second half, can anyone tell me how we played? the first half was pretty good and controlling for us i guess. i am disapointed that we`re 3rd and probably will remain there till the end

  9. tc says:

    the mentality needs to change,we need a psychiatrist at the club

  10. Marty Price says:

    I like the man, but his tactics never seem to vary. Trying to slug it out with Barsa was foolish in the second match. You play them like Inter(Mourinho) does. I do not know about Diaby, he does slow the game down and does not pass as fast as the rest, and the backups are error prone. Why the hell is Bendtner playing in fron of Chamakh? This guy comes in new to the league and was on pace to match Chicahrito, who has what 17 goals in his first year in the laegue at 19!!! He needds to really get an assistant that he respects tactically. I mean he probably respects Rice, but they need some new blood.SAF does not have the same dudesup there with him, and he changes his tactics while Arsenal changes faces, most often with a drop in quality. they have done well to stay in the Cham[ions League, but they have to up their game, and I think he has lost the plot

  11. GunnerMKD says:

    wenger said he wont spend this summer. WTF???


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