I believe there is a general consensus that our left side was quite weak against Bolton. It’s not rocket science and most of us saw that their attacks originated mostly from the right channel. We were under pressure in the second half and I thought it might make sense to analyze this in detail. I have taken the 45-70 minute period for this analysis. The following image clearly shows that Bolton attacked mainly through the right.
Traore was widely criticized for his performance in this game with many people, including myself, wondering what’s happened to his game. One thought that bothered me was, would a player who has had a good start suddenly perform poorly in a couple of games? It is possible but there could be other reasons as well. So I looked at the involvement of Arshavin, Eduardo, Diaby and Eastmond during this period.
The following image shows the passes made by each of these players in this period.
Apart from Diaby no one really had any contribution on the left channel, especially in a defensive role. I know that Eastmond was substituted just after the hour mark and there is no point in criticizing a young debutant but Song would certainly have given Traore more support.
Similarly both Eduardo and Arshavin failed to track back. I think Dudu was playing up front and can be excused to some extent. In this case the bulk of the blame would fall on the Russian master for not doing enough to help the defense. AA23 recognizes this problem and was quite honest about it while speaking to his website
We changed the scheme of the game today. My task was to play left field. I was not able to fully help out in the defense but thanks to the guys who corrected my flaws.
I am not sure if he was aware of this during the game or if Wenger pointed it out to him later on. My guess is that it would have been later as it’s difficult to think he wouldn’t have corrected the problem if he had realized it on the pitch. Although, one can always ask why didn’t he get the message from the bench during the game?!
The point of this article is not to blame Eastmond or Arshavin, nor am I trying to defend Traore. The point is, sometimes we see some problems during the games and jump to the obvious conclusion but the truth might be much more complex.
I don’t claim that these images prove anything conclusively. I would certainly like to see data on where players received the passes and how they ran during this period. In the absence of other details these images do give us enough food for thought.
My conclusion is that Traore didn’t get enough support from the DM or the left sided attacking player and under pressure he made some mistakes. We will have to address this balance against the bigger teams with more clinical finishers. I guess this is one of the reasons for Eduardo playing on the left in stead of Arshavin and we might see him back in that position for the return fixture.
In case you want to explore further, do visit the guardian chalkboards. I look forward to reading your thoughts on the subject.