Sunday, 2 May 2010

'Midfield has not been the problem'?

These are the Arsene's words and I feel that I am not alone in finding these quotes more than a little worrying:

"I believe the midfield was not a problem this year because we created so many chances from midfield and we dominated nearly all the games in midfield. I don’t think we had a big problem in there. I believe we had a problem of efficiency defensively."

One can't disagree that we have had a lot of possession and that we have dominated a lot of games if one sees possession in midfield as an end point. Unfortunately you do not win games as a result of possession, you need to score more goals with the ball that you do have and make sure that you stop the opponent from scoring at the other end.

Firstly I can't argue that our midfielders have developed well. Song has been a rock, Diaby has played much better on the whole despite still frustrating on occasions, Denilson has been good and terrible, Eastmond has shown early promise.

The problem with Arsene's words is that a big problem with our midfield is the fact that other than Song, they don't tend to help the defence out much. This means that when Song is out, our midfield is cut through a bit like a knife through butter.

Part of this problem with our defensively weak midfield is due to personnel, there is no experienced defensive cover for Song, Diaby is no defensive player and Denilson cannot defend. Part of it is related to our formation of 4-3-3 and if we have too many attacking players we are left rather exposed by our lack of defensive help from the midfield, we often play five attacking players in the starting eleven which can leave the balance of the side all wrong.

Part of it is due to our tactical naivety and the fact that we only have one way of playing. This is a bit of a double edged sword, I shall explain. We can only play pretty possession football, because of our defensive weakness we are unable to sit back, absorb pressure and play on the counter. This means that we are often stuffed by conceding a cheap early goal, then the opposition can sit back and kill us on the break, we have lost the ability to do precisely this to the opposition ourselves as our great double winning sides used to do so effectively and regularly.

Arsene's words worry me because midfield has been part of the problem, when we need to shut up shop and defend with men behind the ball, for example at two nil up against Wigan, we have been found wanting time and time again. We have only one way of playing and that is attacking with lots of possession. We need to be able to defend better, sometimes tactically it would be better to play a counter attacking game, sometimes when the passing is not going well you need to be able to grind out a clean sheet.

Fundamentally we need the whole team including the strikers to defend better as a unit when we need to grind out a result. The defensive weakness we have shown this season has been multi factorial, but there are clear weaknesses regarding the personnel in both the defense and the midfield. We clearly need new blood in at the back, this is obvious. However does anyone seriously believe that a squad with these midfielders has enough balance in terms of defensive grit: Diaby, Song, Denilson, Cesc, Nasri, Ramsey, Rosicky. For me the balance is wrong, it is not just about improving 'defensive efficiency', the squad as a whole needs reworking from a defensive point of view, if this is not done then we will simply be watching the same mistakes all over again next season.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you are just very wrong. I wouldn't swap our midfield players for any in the Premier League.

Anonymous said...

Come to think of it, our back four of this season have all performed better than the ones of last season.

Also, we have had a better DM performance than the one of last season but yet we are conceding even more goals than the last campaign?

Of course, a big problem is the GK but in terms of open play, I think our attacking players need to help more defensively.

We need to realize that great defending is as a result of team effort but sometimes we tend to leave the dirty work to certain players which continually bites us.

The likes of Hull, Wolves, etc might not be able to punish this weakness but good attacking sides like Chelsea, Man city, Man utd will which was shown this season.

More experience will help in declining this problem, they should have more awareness about defending.

Football is not just about "pass, movement and technique". We and barca play very similar football bu what mainly separates us from them is that they are much better off the ball.

naj

Anonymous said...

I agree - I find these comments a little worrying too, for me the midfield balance has not been right since Flamini left. Can't deny that Song has been excellent this season and you can never doubt Fabregas's class. Diaby has improved this season but the number of goals we concede that stem from our midfield players not tracking back (eg. Rooney at the Emirates being let go by Denilson's jogging back and Watson's goal at Wigan when Diaby let him go) suggest that is a lot of defensive naivety in our midfield ranks too.

Anonymous said...

Wengers right. Our midfield is not the problem. The likes of SONG, Nasri, Diaby, Denilson havent been too bad.

Our problem is finishing. END PRODUCT. and GK

Wengner needs to tell Arsenal instead of playing pretty football and trying to walk the ball into the net they should take their chances and shoot.

Another problem we have, MAJOR PROBLEM, is GK problem! WE NEED A NEW GK END OF.

Finally what wenger needs to do this Summer is buy another striker possibly Balloteli along with Chamakh. Ship eduardo and loan Vela. Buy a Backup DM. Buy a NEW CB, Cahil, Hangeland? AND DEFINITELY A NEW KEEPER!

Next season will be ours!

NEW GK
sagna-Verm-NEW DEF-Clichy
Song-Fab-Nasri
Bendtner-Chamakh-Van P

Arshavin* ? Not so sure about him!

amorris444 said...

what idiot said he wouldnt swap our midfielders for any in the league. i will just point out we failed to dominate any other team in the top 6. dominate does not mean % possession. that stat is useless because a third or more of our so called possession is in our half going sideways

Anonymous said...

well there is no doubt our keeper alone has cost us about 10 vital points this season so that is an area which definetly needs to be addressed.personally i think that song has been fantastic but he has not recieved enough help from the likes of denilson and diaby.i think the chelsea and united midfield is much more efficient all round and i think most would agree with that.we have definetly not mastered 4-3-3 yet as well.I would love to see a box to box defensive midfielder in there with song both playing behind fabregas. There are so many good players out there, Melo,Veloso,Inler the list goes on.our back four do not get enough protection.Song is not enough. Secondly after watching all the other teams this season aswel im actually envious of how chelsea and united can literally just pump the ball up,flick on my drogba someone running in behind and they score.we have lost the ability to do that.we have to commit 6-7 players forward to score when other teams can sometimes commit 3.

Anonymous said...

Just go and rewatch the games when Song didn't play in the midfield and you will understand arsenal's midfield Dilema. If the midfield was good the back four would have been protected. Check out the Barcelona game at home when Song moved in the defence and Vermalin was playing midfield and defence at the same time. Check out the wigan game. Will not even remind you of the losses to chelsea and Man U at home. Song cannot play all the games in the season

Anonymous said...

"Come to think of it, our back four of this season have all performed better than the ones of last season"

Jesus Christ, Arsenal have some muppets as fans! We've lost more games and conceded more goals this season. How can your statement be true? Wenger has lost it big time, he is unable to motivate, has no tactical knowledge at all and lies to the fans at every opportunity. The only way Arsenal can move forward is by getting rid of HIM.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28S8kFG7hBM

Rhinogooner said...

Shocking statement from the boss. It's comments that he makes like this which have caused the seeds of doubts to grow in the supporters minds that Mr. Wenger has truly lost the plot.

Sure Song, Diaby and Denilson have improved since two years ago. But that is a very weak standard to measure by.

I remember the Fulham midfield, not once, but twice, dominating the midfield against us.

To recognize that we've conceded too many goals and need to improve defensively, and not attribute part of that to the midfield, is lunacy!

I'd feel better had he not said anything at all.

Still, I maintain that we would have won the league this season if we had a decent coach of defense on staff. With Keown drilling the defense - I'd guess that would have equaled another 12 - 15 points this season.

You know it makes sense ;-)

Anonymous said...

yes our midfield is good enough if you are not worried about losing to the top two every time we play them, like this year-or failing to beat Man City or if you are not worried about being over taken by Spurs. All of those sides will strengthen this year.
Wenger is wrong- the midfield is one or 2 players short- a Ya Ya and a Flamini- even a Hleb (a very underrated player).

Russ said...

Those posters who say our midfield hasn't been right since Flamini left are spot on. It's a shame Diarra left but there's no way Wenger will re-sign him. Denilson wont be sold either - Wenger loves him. I think he'll sign Chamakh and a defender if Gallas leaves and thats it. He has Gibbs and Djourou back so will count those 2 as 'new signings'. I hope we sign a GK but think it's unlikely.

Anonymous said...

Our wingers need to take more defensive responsibility, we need a backup for song and in defense. Another problem has been our goalkeeper, we really need a new 1. Chamakh will help us in many ways because he is so versitile. He can go deep with pace, bring down long balls, he is a good combination player aswell. I think that he can make a big diference in the big games. Another good thing about him is that he can cover for our injury prone dutchman :P

1979gooner said...

i agree with a lot said about our deficiencies this season,

those who pretend our midfield is good enough defensively are living in cloud cuckoo land i'm afraid,

we have been outplayed by several average sides

Dero said...

We got off to a great start to the season secause the midfeilders were actulally doing there job and tracking back, then around november time they got lazy and lost focus. All wengers fault by the way it's the managers job to clip them around the head and tell them to get their arse in Gear!! I agree with one of the early comments, we also need to stop arsing around the goal and just put the ball in the bloody net!!! We would have most games won in 20mins if we did this. Arsenal create chances so easy its amazing but how many times has eboue or walcott missed the target from 10 yards! I think the 4-3-3 system at home is good the midfeild should be Cesc Song and another deep player who will have to be bought. Nasri Chamake and RVP can do the bizz up front with RVP and Nasri closing down the defenders to keep them in there own half and not ours

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