Arsenal V Wolves: From Beauty To The Beast

I can’t think of a bigger contrast in footballing terms. We just played a team that was happy to keep the ball and made us run all day. Perhaps, the best team at that and the only one that could do so to us. Now we are playing a team that will let us keep the ball and will be happy to run around all day long.

It’s a 180 degree swing and will come a full circle once we vist the Nou Camp. How do the players adapt to this mentally? Well, I don’t know how the players will adapt but all of us know there is no choice. We just have to win this home game.

Stats

  • I was looking at their goalscorers and here is how it looks – Doyle (7), Craddock (5), Jarvis (3), Milijas (2), seven players (1).
  • They are joint lowest scorers in the league with 28 goals.
  • Surprisingly, Wolves are a team with as good an away record as their home one! Won 4, Drawn 4, Lost 8. And they have scored more away goals (18) than home (10).

Tactics

In business/management circles we use a term “core competency.” In general terms, I would say it describes your biggest strength. For Wolves, it’s their hard work. With due respect to their players, manager, and fans, the Wanderers are not a team that will make you fall in love with football. But they can certainly teach everyone the value of diligence.

Do we need any specific tactics against them? I doubt it. We do need to minimize the number of set pieces they get. We also need to block as many crosses as possible. That’s their biggest strength and our biggest weakness. Most importantly, we need to match their work rate. Given the fact that they had a week’s rest and don’t have a challenging mid-week game coming up, this is easier said than done.

Team Thoughts

Arsene has a challenge on his hands. Our long term casualties have been joined by Arshavin and Fabregas. Gallas was already on that list. What does Le Boss do now? Should he pick his best team and risk further injuries and fatigue? Or does he play some players who’ve had a decent break like Eduardo, Traore and Vela?

Another question is that of continuity. If Campbell can’t play two games in three days, does it make sense to play Song at centre back and give him time to develop an understanding with Vermaelen? Or do we play big Sol against a physical Wolves side?

Do we risk guys like Clichy and Denilson? I know Wenger has declared them fit but we’ve seen enough recurrences this season and we can never be sure.

Can Rosicky play two games in three days? Ever since his return to fitness, I’ve not seen Little Mozart start and complete a string of games in a row. So do we rest him for Barcelona or play him in both games?

A small positive is that we don’t have any game at the weekend after the trip to Spain and our players will get a week to recover before the North London Derby.

I think we need to pick a strong side and go for a win from the kick-off. We can then rest a couple of players if we get a good lead. The team i’d pick is,

Almunia; Sagna, Campbell, Vermaelen, Clichy; Song, Diaby, Nasri; Walcott, Bendtner, Rosicky.

We can bring on Denilson, Vela and Eduardo at a later stage and rest the likes of Nasri, Rosicky and Bendtner.

Bottom-line

If we don’t win this game we could easily get sucked into a negative spiral. It could lead to a fight for 3rd and 4th instead of the trophy. We’ve stretched our mental reserves in the last few weeks and it’s time to give them a booster dose of a good win.


23 Responses to Arsenal V Wolves: From Beauty To The Beast

  1. harryo says:

    why not play sagna at cenre half tomorrow with song . they wont have much to do saving the verminater and soul for barca

  2. Paul says:

    denilson at CB – he did a good holding MF job on Wed

  3. Goonerloon says:

    Agree with your team selection. AW will probably
    put Alex Song at centre half v Barca so Sol should get 90 minutes. If Denilson and Clichy are iffy then Nasri can do a job in the middle but can Traore cover left back defensively?? Only concern is that Eduardo and Vela do not provide enough impact should things not go as planned!
    IAWT

  4. Vermaelen says:

    I have just had a horrible thought that Sol would play tomorrow with Silvestre against Barca….
    on second thought… it might even work, it sounds like something Wenger would do….

  5. Sammy says:

    My line up is almunia: sagna,vermaelen,sol,clichy: song,nasri,diaby:eboue,bendtner,rosicky

  6. Jibzi says:

    Im not really worried about the line-up as our home record against all teams with exception to ManUre, Chelski and Everton is perfect. We just have to escape the match without anymore injuries than we have already. Nevertheless, a line-up you’ve laid out looks sensible in my eyes.

    I have said before that Campbell will be crucial as he and Vermalaen should be able to nullify Wolves pretty easily, and from now on Campbell will have to be first choice CB in PL games, with Song being used as CB in Europe.

    Looking forward to the Nou Camp, we just have to learn from our mistakes. We showed them too much respect and we need to be more solid. We had at least 3 players who were not fully fit, which was a dangerous gamble by AW, and didnt pay off with long term injuries to Cesc, Arshavin and Gallas, but we survived. Everyone has to press and track back when possession is lost, as we saw a few players who got frustrated when we lost the ball and didnt track back.

    The last time I believe they played without Puyol and Pique, they lost to Seville, so this could be really interesting. I mean, in one night, we got two of their CBs suspended, plus miraculously survived their best ever 45 mins. We cant possibly play worse, nor can they play any better (I hope not).

    Finally, Cesc may have ended his season on Wednesday, but what a way to bow out, and after 4 broken legs within 12 months (Ramsey, Cesc, Samir and Djourou), surely we deserve a trophy, but long way to go and we really have to fight for it.

    Come on you Gooners!!! (and great article as always)

  7. Jibzi says:

    Also dont forget, that since 1998, we have reached a semi-final in either the Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup or League Cup (in a few cases, 2 of them in one year) in EVERY SEASON. Plus Ibrahimovic (even though he scored) is 11 matches and counting, without finishing on the winning side against English sides, and no team has ever retained the CL in the current format. Craig Bellamy also had a golf club incident with JA Riise before they played Barca in 07, and they both scored to win 2-1. So it can be done at the Nou Camp, but must focus tomorrow against Wolves.

  8. Nischit says:

    This might be a tricky one desi. Atleast 4 of our main players out, Barcelona to come, any win will do for me. I’d like to see vela start on the left tomorrow, and prefer to rest rosicky for barcelona. Bring him on as a sub if necessary. I have a feeling if walcott starts this game, he may not start against barcelona

  9. book says:

    My line up is almunia, sagna, vermaelen, silvestre, traore, song, nasri, diaby, vela, rosicky, bendtner

  10. fanofwenger says:

    i would go with
    almunia
    sagna-sol-vermaelen-traore
    song
    rosicky-diaby-nasri-eduardo
    bendtner

    bcoz both rosicky and eduardo have had enough rest in the previous weeks.we can bring denilson and vela for diaby and eduardo in the later stages since diaby needs some rest bfr the next game.i will play sol today bcoz he can no way match ibrahimovic’s speed on tuesday and so we can better play him today itself.he can also take care of the set pieces threat of wolves.late introduction of walcott will improve our speed provided he doesn tries something different.bendtner should use this game to improve his finishing skills.wenger should not attempt to aggravate clichy’s injury.he and nasri were the best on the pitch against barca and so we must not miss him on tuesday.

  11. fanofwenger says:

    guys do u have any idea on wen djourou will return and dont we have any good quality CBs in our reserve squad. why cant we play kyle bartley for these kind of matches.

  12. Robespierre says:

    I think what you suggest is ‘irresponsible’,
    precisely the words used today by Domenech (who is a joke and a buffoon) BUT absolutely right regarding the rushing of Gallas. Gallas needed another week at least, or possibly a couple of weeks it turns out by the nature of the injury, but then he would have been of very diminished use and effect to Wenger ; I read all Wenger’s interviews re Gallas and Fab, now it turns out that Fab was never MRI-ed before the Barca game (because one does not do that ‘for every kick of a player’ said Wenger).
    This is recklessness!.
    Bottom line, Arsene was asking brave dangerously under-fit players like Gallas and Fab if they are ready to play, is this serious?.Gallas is not popular with everyone but he is a warrior, and that was a big game, so what would he say you think to such question?. To ask Fab (whose desire and will trumped any fear of pain or further injury and has no experience of big injuries)to make the call in what he thinks is the biggest week of his life so far.., enough said.
    Arshavin seems off for some games now. he was out with little injury (he called it ‘pain in my foot when I shoot’)but seems worse when he returned,his serial misses of sitters were radically out of character, probably too early too.In Birmingham he was gasping on couple of occasions. some gunners can be so fickle regarding this newly arrived russian, who is not yet fully embraced, ,not just because he is russian but also because of the obviously irrepresible individualism in his nature; and inspite of his huge mentality ,ability and big game heroics they already disowned him as ‘lazy’ or ‘playing for himself’. he is a very tough guy But he was clearly not well as well.

    Barca did not KICK us off the field, but they stretched a tired overused, under-rotated, unfit bunch of players to their outer limit.
    I say SAVE THEM!
    The admired Arsene Wenger is a little insane, the way he gambled the entire stake, the entire season, on this very one game as the ultimate jugular.The Emirate display meant everything to him ; now It will almost certainly mean that second CL leg is gone,the title is certainly gone. though it probably was anyway.

    But one thing is left which is the intactness of the club,its spirit and its pride, its prestige, which is not nothing but a foundation for these very players to build on for the future, for next season.
    If our B-team with couple of A team defensive licnhpins cannot take wolves to the cleaners then we are real shite. but we aren’t.
    Give Vela and Eduardo a start, let Walcott have another run for 60 min to sharpen up, keep Song and Vermaelen, save Sol for barca , we will need him, and we will definitely need Song in DM if we are to have any chance at all.Let the Carling cup team + few first teamers run the show, seriously.

    Barca is having a difficult game against Bilbao this weekend. they must win it before the Classico next week. Let THEM be overtaxed,tired, and freshen up and spare the last men standing that we still have for the showdown in CampNuo next week, which could be the last big hurrah of our season AND in anycase a matter of huge pride and statement for us.

    • desigunner says:

      Well, we don’t know how long Gallas will take to recover. It’s impossible to decide on such things and once a guy has trained for a few days what rational basis can you have for delaying it? If three days of hard training isn’t enough, how can we say 10 days is enough or 20 for that matter?

      Fabregas looked like he was fit because his game wasn’t affected. The accident with Puyol was a freak one because his foot got caught between the defender’s feet in a sandwich manner.

      I’ve talked about rotation a lot, right from the start of the season. But you don’t rotate in big games. Either a player is fit or is not, I’d go with the medical advice on that one rather than speculation. If Wenger ignored words of caution from the medics then he is at fault, only then.

      I don’t think the Carling Cup team can beat Wolves. Anyway this year Wenger played experienced Centre Backs in the cup. And we will need a strong midfield. No one can expect to make wholesale changes and expect the team will gel. Don’t know how many reserves players are match fit either.

      I do agree the need for resting players who can be a risk, so Clichy and Denilson can be rested if there is any doubt about their fitness but the rest have to perform.

  13. Robespierre says:

    And one more thing Dessi, In light of what we saw on the field, and even though you were “warned” ahead bu few mates here who know and follow Barca very closely, I don’t know if you already bit the bullitt and retracted your silly & pumped up evaluation of ARSENAL first teamers compared to the Blaugrana wizards counterparts,a which I always found strange on your part

    • desigunner says:

      I completely stand by my analysis. It was an individual comparison and not a statement that Arsenal were better than Barca as many interpreted it to be.

      Football is a team game and when a guy like Messi occupies the attention of three people consistently others get more room and look better players. That doesn’t make them better players.

      Speculatively, if we swap arshavin and bendtner with messi and ibra, Barca will struggle to touch the ball. It won’t make their players any worse but the team dynamics just work that way.

      Barca midfield and defence looked solid because we were preoccupied by their attack. Once their attack relented their midfield and defence was exposed.

      I find it amusing that people assume almost each Barcelona player is superior to his Arsenal counterpart.

  14. Hong_gunner says:

    If we are to compete for the title(or top 2, for that matter), our carling cup squad must be able to do wolves at home. It should be a cleaner. But having said that, this game is much more important psychologically, to get back on footballing terms and play our game for a full 90 minutes in build up to camp nou. There’s nothing to talk much, tbh, except from 3 points we MUST bag. My line-up:
    almunia
    eboue song vermaelen traore
    denilson
    diaby nasri
    walcott rosicky
    bendtner
    Sol will need to start at camp nou, no doubts about it. His experience, tenacity and leadership will be severely required in between the thunderous catalan support. Speed in not always the major factor that judges a game. Its very much a mental thing as well now. And he has the experience(given he’s fully fit) to compensate his lack of speed against Zlatan. I predict a 2-0 win tonight, bendtner and eduardo(off the bench) to score.

  15. critic says:

    god is cruel on us. It will be devastating if we fall out of the cl place. very slim chance though, but still possible.

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  17. Hi says:

    Hopefully Michael Schumacher wins the Malaysian Grand Prix tomorrow. Please god let him win. PLEASE! He is the best. Not even the likes of Drogba or Rooney are up to Michael Schumachers standard. 😀 PLEASE WIN SCHUMI!!!!!!

  18. Gtr gooner says:

    Hi desi i would like to read your article on arsenal wage system. Where do we go from here? If you had already written in past then i am new here so could you please give me link?

  19. Hong_gunner says:

    ONE OF THE SLOWEST BLOG, POST GAME. I’ve arrived home already and so much has changed. Another late goal, Emirates felt like our old lovely Highbury, another belief that our name is written all over the premiership(8th game in a row where we’ve grabbed a goal in the last 10 minutes, fuck yeah), IBRAHIMOVIC IS OUT OF THE 2ND LEG.

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