Inter Showed The Change Of Pace That Arsenal Have Been Missing

I hate the self styled Special One. I’ve often called him the Dark Lord of anti-football, a man capable of taking all joy out of the beautiful game. Irrespective of how one might feel about him, no one can deny the tactical genius of the manager who must not be named.

I had mixed feelings about this semi-final. I want football to win and by consequence I want Barcelona to win. Yet, the performance of Inter had some beauty in itself. Any fan who considers himself a student of the game would have learnt a lot watching the Nerazzurri carve out a win against the reigning champions of everything.

A supposedly defensive team with only 28% possession scored three goals while an impeccable attacking machine boasting the greatest talent in world football and 72% of the ball could only fashion one. Can it get any more counterintuitive than that!?

The simple truth of the game was that Inter were far more efficient with their possession than Barcelona were with theirs. Of course they were helped by the vast open spaces in the Barca half and to some extent by the referee and his assistant but no one can claim the result isn’t a fair reflection of the game.

With less than half the possession the hosts created almost the same number of chances as the visitors.  In part it is a testament to the dark arts of defence that Dark Lord has mastered and the rest to the uncomplicated nature of their attack. One of Inter’s strengths was the speed with which they converted a change of possession into a chance on goal.

It took me back to the days when Arsenal could massacre a team that pushed forward and lost the ball. One player wins a challenge, the striker exploits the space available, a couple of support players blitz forward and the ball is in the back of the net before the opposition realizes they’ve lost possession.

Look at the goals Inter scored. They always had 2 or 3 players in the box and Barca hardly got their midfield back in support. Their back four just wasn’t equipped to deal with a rapid attack in numbers, very few defences can.

A number of Arsenal fans have been wondering why we can’t do this anymore. Yes, we do score some goals on the counter but not as many or as often as we should be. I remember the other day, I think it was against Wolves, when we had a 4 V 1 situation in injury time and still managed to mess it up. These days even the likes of Wigan and West Ham can set up camp in the Arsenal half leave alone the might of Barcelona.

This isn’t an easy question to answer. The simplest explanation is to blame the quality of the players. The obvious counter argument is that if we have so many sub-standard players how could we have been in the title race with 5 games to go and comfortably above teams that have outspent us for years!?

As I said, it’s not an easy question to answer. What we do need is an acknowledgement of the fact that we’ve lost an edge on our counter attacks. Then we need serious work on improving this aspect of our game. For a long time I’ve been getting a feeling that we are content with only one style of play. We try to keep the ball and break the opposition down.

On rare occasions, we come up against a team like Barca who can keep it better than us. Result – a clueless Arsenal side running around in desperation, fighting but yielding to elementary mistakes borne out of an unfamiliar game style.

Our other problem games have been against teams with a solid defence and a strong counter attack. United and Chelsea have mastered this game plan against us, Man City and Tottenham have taken a leaf out of their book. Sunderland were defending for a draw and got a freak goal for the win, while the Wigan game was too crazy to be classified into any category.

If we wish to develop into a squad capable of challenging on multiple fronts we need adaptability. A complete change of personnel and manager cannot be the answer. Acknowledgement of the need, dedicated training, hard work and some tweaks in the squad could be.

As always, the onus is on Arsene. His future and that of many of his youngsters depends on it.

37 Responses to Inter Showed The Change Of Pace That Arsenal Have Been Missing

  1. stonroy says:

    If Mourinho was in charge of Arsenal he would have whipped this team into shape. He may not have Wengers talent but he can inspire and discipline a team far better than Wenger

  2. arvind says:

    You offer a really good analysis. My opinion on the counter attack argument is that we do not have players of the same skills set by a large margin. Back then we had PV4 and pires and freddie on the wings just itching to break forward. THey ran their tales off. Of course we had TH14, the prodigy that was part of the 3 or 4 headed counter attack. I also think that DB was the perfect link man in the counter.. he knew instinctively where TH would be and others. This group only has a large slow target man in Bendtner who has trouble holding up the ball… the other thing is that much of our goals scored with Bendy have been scrappy and hardly any of them have come with a proper shot from the run of play… our entire style has changed to becoming a scoring team from basically inside the box. Gone are the days of shooting outside of the box.. its all down to the lack of skills this crop has. Rosicky is a good shooter..but has struggled a lot lately.

    • desigunner says:

      The goal at the nou camp came from a good counter – scored by Bendtner. Sadly we just didn’t repeat the trick often enough. And that’s when we didn’t even have Cesc, Arshavin and RvP. My point – we have enough good players to execute these plans but something is preventing us from developing them.

      The goal against Wolves came from a shot from distance, that was parried into Bendtner’s path. If I remember correctly Arsenal are the top scorers this season when it comes to scoring from outside the box. My point – we have enough quality and variety but we aren’t making the best use of it right now.

  3. stonroy says:

    Not that I want that cunt as our next manager mind you.

  4. Phillip says:

    Actually this is because we have barely had our three best counter attacking players playing together all season. Van Persie, Arshavin and Fabregas are very good at counter attacking. Walcott could be great at it but I think he needs a couple of years to develop the kind of footballing brain he needs.

  5. Frank says:

    The more I look at Inter-Barca game, the more I understand Wenger employs the same tactics to approach every game. We gooners hate the Dark Lord that is for sure but he has really demonstrated that studying your opponents well could pay off.

  6. 8 inch knob says:

    Allow Silvestre to leave
    Allow Senderos to leave
    Loan Fabianski
    Loan Rosicky
    Loan Eduardo
    Sell Merida (sadly)

    Buy Sakho
    Buy Palacious
    Buy Hazard
    Buy Chamakh


  7. WC says:

    While I respect Jose’s for being a tactician you forgot one of the big issues – money.

    Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Spuds, Inter, Barca, Lyon, Bayern Munich – what do these clubs all have in common? They’ve spent more money than Arsenal.

    I don’t want to take anything away from Inter’s performance because they played a good game but they have on of the biggest squads in the world and definitely cost more than Arsenal. They have experienced internationals eating their bench and getting paid big bucks for it.

    It’s no coincidence that Arsenal’s drought has come about the same time we build The Emirates and billionaires are raining into the EPL. Wenger won titles when Arsenal had the money to spend. Sure he always looked for bargain buys but he’s also had relatively higher spending power compared to many other clubs to supplement that youth. With the club hundreds of millions in stadium debt his spending power is greatly decreased. He could go further in debt and buy us a team but he has a degree in economics and the cost-benefit of that is not viable in his eyes.

    So yes money can buy you a level of success.

    Additionally we all marvel at Barca but after they won La Liga in 1999 they went bare for 6 years. It took Rikjaard over half a decade to get Barca to where they are today. Don’t forget that, because that could very well be Arsenal’s path right now – a trophy drought for years on end and then a dynasty.

    • Nischit says:

      You make some excellent points. I’d like to add to that a bit more. Rijkaard got barcelona on track by spending a whole lotta money. It was through Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o and Deco that barcelona built that team, not through a youth policy. They spent massive amounts on those players. What most people don’t realize is spending massive amounts is a huge gamble. Take for example the many “stars” for which big money was paid and they failed terribly. Mendieta, Veron, Quaresma, Shevchenko etc etc, most of it was spent by clubs who could afford an outlay of that sort to be a failure. What some people don’t seem to understand is that we aren’t yet a club that can afford a gamble of that sort.

  8. munala says:

    desi, id be proud if wenger can find dis post on his desk b4 da mshity game.

  9. True gunner says:

    8 inch knob u are damn right! Only that we need to SELL Fabianski, SELL Rosicky, SELL Eduardo. This bunch don’t have the winning mentality. They should go to mediocre teams. Your selection of players to buy is good. Wenger is a cry babies trainer who entertains too much shit from his bunch of non performers. We also need more creative players other than relying on a few who get injured alot.

  10. Duckster says:

    There is no doubt that the premier league is a much tougher league now compared to 5 years ago.
    Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool are as strong as they were. But now we have clubs like Man. City, Villa and Sprus who would win the league in every country in Europe bar Spain and Italy.
    So we may see third place as a catastrophe but in reality in European term we’re doing quite well.
    It looks as if Wenger has already made an addition to the squad in Chamake (spl) which should prove to be a decent addition to the squad.
    Obviously Wenger will get rid of some dead weight which will free up some wages for new players.
    The noises coming from the board sounds like we’ve got our finances for the stadium under control after what was a very rocky year.
    For this Summer I think we will see as one of our most active in quite some years.
    Who Wenger’s got in mind is anyone’s idea but I for one just hope that he get them on board sooner rather than later because I for one can’t go through another Summer of will he/won’t he.

  11. saminator says:

    8 inch,
    you still mention denilson in your lineup? what’s wrong woth you…?

  12. Maanav says:

    That;s what I’ve been hankering for. A change in tactics. Just when will Arsenal break away from the same style of play?? There occasional long ball too. Delivering long balls accurately is an art in itself but I don’t know why Wenger is so averse to employing them. Man. Utd. do it so often to move the ball to-and-fro between the wings. Chelsea do it. So do Villa. I’m not in favor of modelling our style around long balls but ruling out their use completely is to deny this team the complete weaponry offered in football.
    We need a bit more variety!!
    Shoot long & strong. Chip the ball above enemy lines (Chelsea’s defense feeds Drogba so often with this technique). Improve the first touch and get better at winning the ball back.

  13. Maanav says:

    Inter had so many barrel chested wrestlers in their line-up that it wasn’t very difficult for them to stop Messi & Co.
    Messi was brutalized by the Dark Lord’s men. How they threw themselves at shots was so brave of them.
    They knew they couldn’t match Barca’s style so they did what they are best at; defend, defend like the San Siro’s walls are made of gold.
    Efficiency in possession (28%???) was due to some sound decision making in and around the Barca box. It was experience at work.

  14. gook says:

    if you hate the dark one for who he was,.then you better start liking him for what he is now…you are only lieing to yourself if you dont appreciate him for he stunnes us everyday….our manger embarrasses us everyday with his bunch of lazy potentials like denilson,old fool like silvestre (32)….did you see what lucio (almost 32} did yesyerday….our coach has alot of the blame cos he bought these players….he even said recently that he is the only voice when it come to transfers…so how is to blame…you will only gets the applauds when you pass…failure of 6 years need ???????????there is something really special about the dark one…and there is something very bad about the proud one

    • critic says:

      well said mate…Proud one…..i think wenger should come out and say it clearly “we don’t have the finances to compete with united, city and chelsea hence we will fight for title but our main aim is to qualify for next year champions league” that might reduce some of the frustration in fans….

  15. gook says:

    why hate the special one and keep defending the proud one…..youv got to love them both cos the special one is delivering now and tahts what football is all about

  16. gook says:

    lets start loving the dark lord now cos he might end up being our saviour if project youth fails again next year cos am sure wenger will leave us after then

  17. Boozy says:

    CRAP CRAP CRAP. I mean you are supposed to read a game better, for someone who writes a blog.

  18. critic says:

    mourinho is the better manager than arsene, far far far better. He can adapt his gameplan in accordance with personalities available, wenger can’t do that. He knows only one way to play, he can’t think out of the box in crisis and certainly can’t inspire anyone. Organisation is not his cup of tea.

    What the fcuk u guys blabber about beautiful football, i haven’t seen arsenal play football in last 4-5 games forget it being beautiful.

    Playing an open game doesn’t mean beautiful, it shows lack of organisation.

    Defense is part of the game and naive people like u discard it saying it kills the beautiful game.

    Accept it – if winning is an art mourinho is the master.

    • desigunner says:

      seriously? do you have such a short memory? after all we are talking about a man who spent hundreds of millions on choice picks and yet failed to win the champions league. And make no mistake the Barca tie is not over yet.

      Nothing saddens me more than short memories and ignorant abusive opinions.

      • critic says:

        what??????what’s abusive in my comment??? money doesn’t guarantee success, mourinho won cl with porto, their he created his team. He can adapt to any situation.

        If wenger is provided with such funds will he deliver??? hmmm…hard to say….but i will bet on HE WON’T.

        Wenger is genius when it comes to his transfer dealings and finishing in cl spots. But is he really innovative??

        Arsenal are now being defensively poor for 3 consecutive years and don’t throw stats on me, they are used to concede late in big and crucial game after taking lead or concede some outrageous goals. cl quarters with liv comes to mind, game against utd, chelsea, city as i said big games comes to mind.

      • critic says:

        chelsea were very unlucky against liverpool under mourinho. He can play defensive, offensive anything according to personalities available to him and what is required to win the game…

      • critic says:

        Awful defending in the name of beautiful football is nothing but disgraceful.

      • desigunner says:

        Mourinho created his team at Porto? Are you sure or just being ignorant? That CL win was a fluke as was proven by his failure to win even with Millions of pounds.

        He’s never played positive football even when he had all the money. Wonder why a guy who wins so much gets fired? Simple answer is owner didn’t get value for money.

        I can understand some people who have never won anything in their own life liking him because they get to win something by proxy. For the rest he’s just a highly tactical manager and his teams are intolerable.

      • desigunner says:

        Anyway this article was not meant to be a discussion about Mourinho but just an observation that we’ve missed something. To me it’s far more important to get to the root of that than just singing hymns in praise of the dark lord.

      • critic says:

        Ignorant fool also don’t win anything in their life. If winning cl was a fluke then my word what a fluke it was!!! Invincible season was fluke, arsenal winning 1997-98 title was a fluke, utd winning 99 cl was fluke…..DESI IN THE WONDERLAND.

        u have no right to comment on people life, just shows what an ignorant fool u are.

      • desigunner says:

        Lol … one thing that’s very obvious in the arguments of most DnG brigade is the obvious contradictions.

        On one hand Chelsea were unlucky against Liverpool, which obviously means the Liverpool win was not deserved but a fluke. On the other you cannot see what a fluke Porto’s win was.

        I’ve no right to comment on people’s life? Yet the same people can comment on me? No contradictions there I guess!

        Btw just for the record what I said was not my personal opinion but a widely accepted theory that I happen to agree with. Did it touch a nerve?

        Using all caps, making random baseless statements by twisting things out of context, hiding behind contradictions, putting words in others’ mouth, and excessive use of rhetoric – these are all tricks used to convert a rational discussion into a meaningless argument.

  19. Joe gunner says:

    We have some great players (Arshavin, VPersie, Fabregas, TV) AND WE HAVE SOME WEAK PLAYERS (senderos, Eduardo, Bendtner, Silvestre. We also have some seriously bad football tactics. You cannot play attacking football with the large number of weak players Arsenal have. Neither can you neglect your defence by not buying proper defenders. This has been said of Wenger for a very long time now. Arsenal’ problems has been a combination of unbalanced personnel and poor management. We need to spend £40 million to get Real’ German centre back, Zapata, Melo, Chamak (who may well be at Arsenal soon)Akinfeev, while losing Eduardo, Merida, Silvestre, Gallas (unlikely to re-sign)Eboue and senderos. 5 in 6 out. And stop buying inexperienced youngsters under the age of 21.

  20. critic says:

    as far as refree is concerned barcelona got the taste of their own medicine. I wud love it if barcelona suffers the same fate as chelsea in last semis. I want inter to go through with 14 players. I wud love to see the reaction of best player on the planet.

    Beautiful football my foot….

  21. gook says:

    wenger shouldnt leave in my own opinion…i would prefer he stays…but its time we start being realistic even if we are die hard fans.if he accepts his mistakes and do the proper dealings..then we could be where we want to be…barcelona are the best as at last season but yet dint they bring in zlatan with a whole lot,even chygrisky and a few other deals…….why didnt they beleve in a complete youth project like we do…we buy mainly young good players without much experience most times.if wev been dealing same way like barca for some years sure we will be ahead of them right now…they got henry,hleb,alves,zlatan.chygrisky,maxwell,pique back from man utd and they still bring in players from their academy like messi,pique,xavi,valdes,iniesta..etc….that is how it is done………….a mix….not only relying on flashy youths with litle winning mentality

  22. gook says:

    player like diaby ,dennilson,bendtner,fabiansky..shouldnt be starters in a club like arsenal..(song is a force now)….they are young with no exceptional talent like fabregas even with better experience.and maybe nasri.wenger and some say they are young,so why not let them learn like young peoople,so that they get better with time….let the non exceptional ones go through the learning curve.

  23. […] Inter Showed The Change Of Pace That Arsenal Have Been Missing I hate the self styled Special One. I’ve often called him the Dark Lord of anti-football, a man capable of taking all […] […]

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