Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Where from here???

Having cogitated and deliberated following our defeat to a distinctly average Manure side at the weekend, I have come to a few conclusions as to where we need to go from here. The defensive problems were obvious but for me they were not down to the defenders, it was more a systemic problem. The team did not defend as a unit, there was no adequate communication as to who should cover for defenders when they went on attacking forays up field, there was not enough defensive work done by our midfielders and forwards as well.

Defend from the front. The best example of this are Barca, they might not be the most physical or biggest of sides but every single one of their players works like a beaver for the team in pressing and closing down the opposition, it makes it very difficult to keep the ball against them and forces errors very quickly. If one is to do this it requires a lot of fitness, effort and discipline. Everyone must work hard, players must not dive in and commit themselves to tackles that can be easily side stepped. We have had too many passengers in recent weeks. The lack of defensive work from the likes of Denilson, Cesc, Nasri and Rosicky is obvious. Players who don't give their all for the cause need rockets up their backsides and should be dropped no matter of their reputations.

Communication. How can one or two light weight players be left alone to cope with three or four marauding attackers. The second Manure and the second Everton goal were both examples of this shambolic organisation in the current Arsenal side. Maybe it's fine to leave oneself open in the 90th minute when searching desperately for an equaliser, but doing it in the first half is just plain foolish. If players go up for set pieces or corners then there must be adequate cover left at the back to cope with the potential counter attacks, this is just simple basic defending.

The right squad balance. Song is our only defensive midfielder, while Diaby is the only other midfielder we have who can defend to any degree, obviously Eastmond is a great prospect but I do not include him in this assessment of the squad. The list of attacking players we have is ridiculous: Nasri, Cesc, Denilson, Walcott, Arshavin, Rosicky, Merida, Vela, Ramsey and on and on. The balance is simply not there. All championship winning squads need the right mixture, in the past the likes of Vieira, Petit, Edu and Parlour have given us this. The transfer window is not shut and changing the squad is impossible. I hope that the summer sees a realisation from Arsene that the balance is wrong, and that some players have had their time and failed.

Tactics/4-3-3/4-4-2. The formation matters far less than the players within it. The defensive problems with our 4-3-3 of late have been down to playing five players who don't do much defensive work in the front six, this has been a mistake. The full backs have had precious little support, even the best would have trouble dealing with endless 2 on 1 situations. Maybe Arsene has become carried away with his attacking and free flowing ideology, forgetting that at the end of the day this will count for nothing if it doesn't achieve the results. Our team has become too attacking, too small, not physical enough and weak defensively. This must change.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

very good point "squad balance".
a cover for song is needed.
and why the hell was rosicky given a new contract?....
he will be injured again for a long time, no doubt about that.
formation should be 4-4-2 again.
and our goalkeeper for next season should be diego lopez from villareal or buffon...

Wrighty7 said...

It's funny you should mention defending from the front.

I agree.

In fact I remember watching us smash Everton 6-1 on the opening day of the season in a bar in Lanzarote being very impressed with the way the team pressed from the front in this new 4-3-3 system.

We seemed to have a brilliant work ethic.

What has changed I don't know.

Complacency maybe?

Anonymous said...

You don't get it, do you !

We can all see what's wrong and have done for five years, but we don't pick the team or sign the players.

Obsinho said...

Enough has been said on te Utd game, and it should be put in a box labelled "open at end of season when it's all gone to shit".

Till then, let's crack on with hoping both Arsene and the players have enough fight to get back on the bike and start playing football like a proper team again.

There will be plenty of time for the post mortems come the summer, as nothing is going to happen in the short term to address most of the issues we all see so evidently on the pitch.

Up the Arse!!

Obsinho said...

If you look at the broader context of the game in the last 5 years, then it is evdient that many clubs are now reaping the fruits of what they sowed - Pompy, Hammers, Liverpool, Utd etc (Chelski & Citeh as well but they can get away with it) are in a very difficult position. Only £30m was spent in the transfer window. Partyl due to World Cup year, but also cos most clubs have blown their load over the last 5 years and are hoping to god they can see through the next 5.

Yes we have not won anything, but at the moment we may be better placed than most to prosper in the next few years.

It is scant consolation, an I do have regrets that we were not a bit less cautious with our money, but getting rid of Wenger will be like throwing the baby out with the bath water, then shitting in the bath.

Let's get back behind our team, and then have another look in the summer. I am sure the world will be a very different place again.

Anonymous said...

AW has nobody but himself to blame. The team cried for reinforcements only to be boosted by the arrival of untested young players. They will loaned out.
In fact anybody can see the flaws are being incorrected.
Defence is a team responsiblity.I am not surprised Arsenal have been suckered countless times and has happened to all teams.
If the defence holds a high line agaginst Chelsea and Campbell plays,dont be sshocked to see the gunners concede another three goals.

Anonymous said...

were from here?nowhere with almunia still about and wenger and his babies getting bullied by big bad boys

Anonymous said...

Oh Jesus Christ, I can block Wrighty 7 from newsnow but I can't help but see his bloody comments on other blogs. "Bar in Lanzarote"? Jesus Christ, you are quite the chav aren't you, you orange, perma-tanned fool.

Anonymous said...

amen Obsinho.

Trennon said...

It's the mentality against the big teams that has been our undoing. For some unexplained reason, when we played Chelsea and United at the Grove we lost all sense of our usual patient play. We just kicked off and charged at the opposition again and again and again. Both Chelsea and United killed us on the break because our Defenders were in the wrong half of the pitch. I really hope that Arsenal take a step back against Chelsea and play a little slower this time. Assess everything and then strike. Maybe playing away will help, I hope we'll be a lot more patient.

Ted said...

squad balance is all well and good, but you still have to pick XI players and put them in a formation. Song played on Sunday and we were overrun. So do you agree that we need to play with more Song-type players on the pitch at the same time? If so, then where are you going to put them?

Its true that formation matters less than the players within it, but you have to build a basic shape that you want the team to play to.

I simply don't see that defending from the front or better communication is going to eradicate the lamentable defending that we have seen from Arsenal in recent years.

Barcelona are not a good example of a team who are defensively strong. Their back line is historically weak as well, but in players like Keite, Toure, Henry and Eto'o, they have tall strong outfield players that we don't really have.

If Arsenal played in la liga then we might get away with it. But we don't.

You simply cannot build a solid team on such weak defensive foundations.

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marcus said...

Your point with Barca is spot-on. Their front players commit more fouls than their back line. They're a team that defend collectively -- consistently. Messi tackles, often tracks back, as does Henry even at his age.

What troubles me is this:

P8 W0 D1 L7

That's against the the mancs and the chavs. Goals for: 5, against: 18

The critical thing here is that I see NO PROGRESS in how these players learn how to deal with Utd and Chelsea. They still make the same mistakes over and over again. We're in a league all our own - better than the teams below us, unable to bridge the huge gap between us and Utd/Chelsea. And it is a huge one -- not in terms of quality of players but in tactics, physicality, discipline, communication, understanding, mental toughness and intelligence. It was extraordinary how little communication and understanding our players showed on Sunday.

Worse, I see no variation, no tactical flexibility on Arsene's part. On Sunday he refused to change anything until the hour mark, after all 3 goals had been scored. He offered Utd no variation in type of player to worry about in his team selection. Nasri, Rosicky, Arshavin, Denilson are all similar players.

The #1 thing for me is that Utd and Chelsea know exactly how to deal with us, they are organized, disciplined, they have a plan and they stick to it. On Sunday Ferguson came to the Grove taking us seriously, not believing it would be an easy game because he does respect us. However it wasn't long until he and his players couldn't believe their luck and knew very quickly they'd take control and would keep it. That didn't change even when we had decent spells, they--like Chelsea--knew we'd be no threat.

They no longer fear coming to our home ground. It doesn't matter a damn that Utd won last season failing to win any pts against the other top 3 clubs in the league. They were good enuf to win consistently against the bottom teams home and away, something we cannot do.

We don't have the bottle and frankly I don't see that Arsene is instilling in these players the mentality to acquire it.

Anonymous said...

"they have a plan and they stick to it" -- I should add, they stick to it until they see it's not working and then they change it in time to win the game.

marcus said...

That "anonymous" post was mine.