Analysis Using Snapshots: Why Are Arsenal Susceptible To Counters Attacks – I

While Gooners disagree on many issues, I think our weakness of conceding counter-attacks, often from good attacking positions, is something many agree on.

Since this international break is boring the life out of me, I thought it will be worthwhile discussing why we are so vulnerable to the counter. The Chelsea game threw up some interesting situations and I’ll follow my usual approach of using snapshots for the analysis as I feel that makes it easy to follow the narrative.

In the first instalment of this series let’s take the fifteenth minute of the game. Arsenal had just won a throw on the right touchline. It was taken quickly and Wilshere spread the ball to the left with a good cross-field ball (something I want to see a lot more of but that’s a topic for another day).

In the first image we see Clichy controlling the pass. Most of the Chelsea players are on their left flank or central. Arshavin is fairly central but leaning towards the left. Wilshere can be seen at the bottom left of the image and Song is somewhere behind him.

From the next image we can infer that Clichy takes the ball forward and plays a one-two with Arshavin. Chelsea have men behind, look at the three man wall in front of Arshavin, and Diaby has made a run into the box. It’s interesting to note that while Chelsea were playing a 4-3-3, all their three midfielders are close to the defence and very well organized. Also note the huge space behind Essien and Mikel as neither Song, nor Wilshere has moved forward. We can’t see Chamakh in the centre of the box being marked by Terry or Nasri on the edge of the box with Cole.

Next we see that Terry intercepts the cross easily without any pressure from Chamakh and rolls it to Mikel.

Chamakh tries to close him down but the Nigerian has enough time to turn and play the ball forward to Essien who is already running into space. Arshavin is admiring the movement.

Essien has acres of space to run into and that forces Wilshere to rush forward. The youngster comes forward at high speed and dives in. The Ghanaian hard-man beats him with a simple flick to the side. Wilshere commits a foul but Essien stumbles and regains control of the ball. Jack is on the ground and can’t get back in time.

Song is quite a distance away in no man’s land and Essien has a lot of time to pick the right ball forward.

Drogba had moved to our left touchline at the halfway point. Essien put a lovely ball between Drogba and the defenders. Our central defenders are backtracking and one of them is forced to come towards the ball.

Drogba then rolls it into the path of Anelka who has made a run to the left side of our penalty box. Squillaci is in close attendance while Koscielny is tracking back.

Anelka then tries to roll it back into the path of the onrushing Drogba but doesn’t get his angles right. Squillaci does a good job of pressurising him and Sagna does well to sprint back and hoof it for a corner, a good safety first approach.

While the articles looks long and takes time to read, those with a keen eye would have noted that only 20 seconds had passed from the time Clichy controlled the ball till the time Sagna hoofs it out. If you look from the time Terry intercepted the ball, Chelsea took 13 seconds and roughly 4-5 passes to reach a threatening position.

All credit to the defenders for dealing with the situation but this sequence of play does highlight some of our weaknesses.

  • The cross was easy to intercept
  • There was no pressure on Terry from Chamakh
  • Chelsea players had about 25 yards of free space in front of their box with no pressure from an Arsenal midfielder
  • Wilshere dived in instead of staying on his feet and forcing Essien into a quick and difficult pass
  • Song was in no man’s land

In itself, each of these issues is not that big a deal. But put them all together and we go from an attacking position to one of danger within seconds. Unfortunately, we tend to repeat these mistakes quite often, especially against the bigger teams.

Our defenders do a good job most of the times but when they’re put under pressure time and again, an odd mistake is bound to occur. Inevitably, that leads to a goal and further pressure.

In the coming days I’ll repeat this analysis covering different situations and other mistakes that lead to counter attacks against us.


60 Responses to Analysis Using Snapshots: Why Are Arsenal Susceptible To Counters Attacks – I

  1. 7masters says:

    Great observations, So it is true we make hard work of getting the ball forward. It seem keeping the ball and passing is not good enough you also need to be direct in attack. I think Chelsea have been lucky last five years nothing seem to right for us.

    I think now it about mental strength and despite many top players we become fearful once we meet Chelsea or Man United why? Chamack despite his great debut looked nervous and clueless but mark my word it good for him to see what the big deal now than later.

    We don’t have good ball crossers or effective passers from wings. I still think we let Ashley Cole go for peanuts in return for Gallas a man who spent time with us causing maximum damage. Wenger choice of players is also to blame and many good players are available at good price.

    Every year we buy young players costing between 0 to 8 million mostly in two or three, Now if we could just add one quality player instead we would have been able to have won something instead of having Kids Like Vita Mannone who are never goner player anyway but still cost money. Including looking after them and training, I think Arsenal have made some big mistake and it almost like trial and error both on field and out of it.

    Let hope we have learned from our mistakes and move on stronger with it.

    • MSL says:

      Correct me if I am wrong. We probably have the largest squad counting the under-21s. Its a huge investment and dividends are earned differently. I guess the point is to spread the money as wages into younger players and watch them come through the system than spending it on one big signing and salary. The catch is we have to get great quality as good as the top-market value player or else the system is not sustainable. A good example would be Cesc. World class player from the youth ranks; not exactly but from the buy early program.

      Players like Mannone may or may not make it. But we have to stick with them if they show signs and hope for a break through year. That said, we do need to re-enforce when we must like a GK.

      The system is not a mistake but a much better option than buying because you have your own self-financed production line. You keep the best and sell the rest.

      • 7masters says:

        MSL@ You don’t need any corrections you are right. I think keeping quality players who are goner be great in future is no problem, But Arsenal are behaving like farmers here buy growing their own products, Instead of combining buying ready made players for first squad. The only way to make it easier for young players is winning and the feel good factor spread to everyone. I have to say Fabianski has been thrown to Lions by Wenger and it would stand him in good stead in term.

        It seem we are buying young players who are goner cost more money in training, Education, Welfare and others. In other word Arsenal become there mum and dad until they break through and bring in success. We have sold more players to other team than them breaking through etc Wiltshere, Gibbs etc

        Also Wenger made big mistake dismantling the Invisible without letting them run the career to Successful conclusion etc Denis Bergkamp, Keown and others. We should have gone easy here instead of wholesale replacement of that team by inexperienced players. Looking at Chelsea it seem they have done opposite than us and kept the squad Ranieri Built and bought World class in other positions.

        Also Wenger should now focus more on football side and let the board run the club. It getting tiring to him talk about financial issues when he should do what he is paid for.

        But These season we have some spine with few holes in between that need addressing with common sense. Etc. Put Song on bench for a change or buy in January cause he is the only player who has gone backward.

    • desigunner says:

      The probability of success isn’t 100% when you sign a big player. Ultimately you have to sign more than one. That’s why it’s better to bet on younger, cheaper players in a larger number than expensive players in a smaller number. If we buy two big players and one flops and the other is injured where do we end up? There has to be a contingency plan but with all the money exhausted where do we go?

      I’ve said this often, saying we should buy one or two quality players is easy, and I agree we should do it, but actually finding them and spending money is not easy because you’re accountable for the money and if you waste it there is no second chance.

      Why do you forget Arshavin, Vermaelen, Squillaci are not youngsters.

      • Furovich says:

        I believe Wenger is the only manager in the Premier League to make a profit on transfers. Anelka, Henry, Vieira and recent players such as Adebayor and Toure have all left the club. Arguably they haven’t been replaced but the transfer fees rendered have assisted in the building and paying off debts of The Emirates Stadium. This has left Arsenal as one of the most financially healthy clubs in Europe. While clubs such as City, United and Liverpool are struggling to deal with 400-800 million pound debts, Arsenal’s future is secured.

        However as a result of this Wenger has had to show faith in a talented yet young and inexperienced squad that is yet to win a trophy. Some are supporters of Wenger’s recent approach and others a critical. I personally admire the fact that Wenger shows faith in the young players at the club and strives to build a team environment without often looking to bring players in although it could potentially strenthen the squad.

        But if there is one thing I don’t quite understand in regards to Wenger’s team choice is that many of the midfielders he deploys, both central and wide, are essentialy creative second strikers or players ‘in the hole’. Nasri, Arshavin, Rosicky, Wilshere, while all being extremelly creative, they have not often played with much defensive responsibility throughout their careers.

        We’ve seen Wilshere in a deeper midfield role recently and he has done well but to expect him to carry too much responsibility in essentially his debut season is a bit unrealistic.

        Song is very important as the only established holding midifelder in the squad, which is also an issue in itself and unfortuantely so far this season he hasn’t been at his best and the balance of the team isn’t looking ideal.

        Desi as you pointed out in one of your snapshots, Mikel, Essien and Ramires were all in defensive positions. It is not often you will see Arsenal’s 3 central players all get back and defend which they often will have to do if Arsenal are going to be solid defensively.

        My opoinion is that Wenger needs to tweek some of his positional selections. In fairness, this has again been restricted by injuries. Injuries is not excuse making it is a factor that cannot be ignored.

        I know how brilliant Fabregas was last season behind the striker but I think it may be better for the team if he is used in a more defensive position as he is perhaps the most tactically intelligent player in the squad. As I’m sure you’re all aware, Fabregas was originally signed to replace Vieira. Conversely, Fabregas could be used in a ‘false winger’ position where he basically drifts in and plays a central creative role. This would not be unlike what Messi does at Barca or what Iniesta has done for Spain. This would afford Arsenal the creativity but also allow another more defensivly minded midfielder such as Denilson to play central giving the team better balance.

      • santori says:

        @furovich.

        I agree with your tweak.

        Fabregas to me, is better at this point of time played deeper sitting next to Song.

        He will have more time to play heads up and run in from deep. Wilshere should be his understudy in similar position.

        The rest of the second strikers (+RVP and Diaby) should occupy the second attacking line in a 4-2-3-1 in fluid positions.

        That will maximise the strengths of our players.

        Still does not make up for the fact that Song is our only real DM (unless Denilson can challenge..given Song’s recent form, not entirely implausible). An Alternative would be to render Kos a second role as DM cover.

      • desigunner says:

        I think Song and Diaby make a good defensive partership. The WBA game was a one-off, last season these two had some great times together.

        I do agree about the issue of playing many central players on the wings but I think a lot of that is down to the importance of keeping the ball. There are some pacy wingers but many of them don’t get involved with the game that often. So we cannot have too many of that type unless we want to be a predominantly counter attacking team.

  2. sam says:

    Question that I’m sure you can answer: If switching play this quickly means the fullback gets so far forward, the midfield is overloaded on the wrong side of the pitch (where the throw in took place), and our ‘wingers’ like Arshavin, aren’t keen to track back, and Chamakh is the only target to aim at in the box against two centre backs and a goalkeeper — then what’s the point in switching play!? Or, what is the best way to switch play to not leave oneself open to counter attacks?

    My suggestion: when their are three opposition midfielders centrally positioned and ready to spring the counter (with three targets to choose from up top against three defenders), then Clichy doesn’t get so far forward and leaves it to Arshavin to try and work some magic near the touch line toward the far corner, giving song and jack time to get more central.

    Why are we doing this again?

    • because of beautifuk football? lol

    • desigunner says:

      Interesting question. I’m not expert but I’ll try to explain what I understand.

      Firstly, we need better co-ordination. Diaby made a run to the near post for a short pass. instead, if he’d known that the ball will be crossed he could have stayed central. That would have pressurized Chelsea into clearing/hoofing.

      Secondly, Wilshere could have rushed forward after spreading the ball wide. Mikel and Essien would not have the kind of time they had to bring the ball out.

      Thirdly, Song could have dropped deeper freeing Koscielny to mark Drogba. The defender could have intercepted the long ball in that case.

      So with better organization and co-ordination we can attack at speed and cover all the bases. It’s when the players are not on the same wavelength that the problems start.

  3. g0on3r says:

    i think that’s the risk of playing such attacking football. barca also often caught on counter attack, so does real madrid(before mourinho). when play like this, defensive line need to be high up the pitch, often almost to opponent’s half. if attacker didn’t put pressure and opponent able to break free, it will happen like analysis above.

  4. Cassius says:

    That used to be us mate. We would be down the other end of the pitch in 3 passes. Now we pass 30 odd times get everyone up there by then their whole defense is back and organized, we fluff the shot and they’re down our end and scored before we realize what’s happened. Way too slow from Arsenal

    • MSL says:

      We miss Walcott.

    • desigunner says:

      That’s too big a generalization. I think we still have an excellent counter attack but don’t get it as often as before. Part of the reason is that we need 10-11 in our own box on set-pieces. So no one is up front. That’s a separate problem but it does affect the number of times we can counter.

  5. MSL says:

    Good explanation of the counter-attack. This is the “shape” that all the pundits have been moaning about. Being in the right positions and pressing the opponents when they have the ball. It takes time for someone young like Wilshere to get the finer nuances about other players’ positioning etc. I don’t know what to make of it because Song took a while getting there and now Wilshere hopefully can cope faster. I much rather we play last year’s system with Song solidly anchoring with the new CBs.

    Lee Dixon’s article(someone posted it here earlier) was excellent. He pointed out Nasri, Rosicky and Arshavin of being unable to keep switched ON without the ball. This must be killing him because tactics, quality all aside, Wenger cannot impart winning mentality. Dixon says he is not that type of a coach. Who then?

    • Ole Gunner says:

      Wenger can’t impart winning mentality? What year were you born?

      • 7masters says:

        Wenger sometimes need to play the team with a plan instead of preparing them in best physical shape and let them fend for themselves. He need to drill them on regular basis or they go awol, Take a look At West Brom game or Wigan last seasons. It the style that is wrong, It seem after 2005 FA Cup final he changed completely and became more casual with games, Sometimes even losing on purpose why?

        I am quite happy with Chelsea game at least they made effort and they continue in same mode. Chelsea where lucky full stop.

    • santori says:

      Well we actually contained their counter attacking threat well (until late into the second half when our team shape changed)

      Our goals conceded seem to come from 2 set pieces compounded by a lack of concentration on our part. Dixon has a point.

      Wenger needs a hairdryer.

  6. Dutchgunner says:

    cassius is right, every time we counter quickly through someone like arshavin we get down to their box, and then end up passing back and sideways a bunch of times totally losing any advantage of the break away because we give them lots of time to get back in numbers to defend.

  7. Johnny Deigh says:

    The main problem in my eyes was that Clichy mostly and Sagna to some degree were bombing forward and exposing our centre backs.

    It might have been okay if either of these two were dangerous going forward, but they are not. Sagna did have a good cross in the first minute, but hardly anything after that.

  8. metalhead says:

    Excellent Analysis! Yet another example of our poor organization. Like someone said, while it is important what you do with the ball, it is also equally important what you do when you don’t have possession of the ball. I’m afraid Arsenal are not up to the mark with the latter. I hate it when Arsenal fans blame our goalkeepers all the time when our problem is so much more deep rooted. I’m not sure whom to blame here. The Coaches, players. It’s hard to pin point. I think it is a bit of both. Players like Henry, Pires, Ljungberg were not only intelligent but also had great work ethics. I’m not saying the current lot are dumb but they seem to be lost when they don’t have possession of the ball (mind you they are the exact opposite when they have possession of the ball). You can blame the coaches all you want but if players don’t implement what they are taught then there is hardly anything a coach can do. I think Arsenal need 1 or 2 guys in the midfield who can reorganize things when they are out of place. Someone like a Gilberto who was excellent at spotting danger. But again we don’t have that someone with Gilberto or Vieira’s vision.

  9. Ajinkya says:

    Good analysis. Now that Pires is here, he should tell Arshavin how to play on left wing.

  10. Valentino says:

    I agree with Cassius.Chelsea have not been lucky these last five years. They have been
    clinical and are more direct.
    I say cut out the passing.I believe the gunners outpass all teams in the epl if not Europe by a factor of at least three times.
    Most teams make at the most 3 to 10 passes to score.Wenger wants at least15 passes before shooting .Yeah I know it’s awonderful spectacle for what. The gunners continually get beaten.
    This is a flawed strategy and is playing into the hands of opponents.
    Birmingham may play anti soccer and nick a point. Then what is Wenger going to say?

    • Messi's Dad says:

      The old days are gone. Teams used to try to attack us more, and we duly exploited the gaps with the quick players we had (esp. Thiery Henry).

      Tactics and counter-tactics evolve over time, and it’s gonna be a lot harder to play like that with teams set up specifically to defend against us on the counter nowadays. When they lose possession, you see how quickly they form 2 rows of 4 players.

      “Most teams make at most 3-10 passes to score” Really? So if a team makes (conservatively) 100 – 200+ passes a game, there should be at least 10 – 20 goals per game, per team? Don’t see Blackburn putting in this kind of scoring ratio.

      • santori says:

        Good point.

        Our play has changed to suit the players we have.

        I honestly feel we would benefit from having more speed up front (as Walcott provides) but alas, there aren’t many available with both speed and cunning that Henry possessed.

  11. Phil23 says:

    I agree with others that we are missing our counter attacking threat but that is a trade off for pure attacking football. When you’re strength is counter attacking you can only score so many goals because you are defending most of the time. If you have 70% possession if you are more clinical you are much more likely to win the game. Our squad is about half way through its development and is aldready a title contending team. We dominate the midfield battle and create enough chances. In the second half of its development the team will get more and more clinical.
    In 4 2 3 1 the attacking midfielders are high up the pitch. The central of the three is noticably higher than in a 4 3 3. Because they sit so high we need to press the midfield behind them higher. Of course we then need to push the defense higher so there isn’t a huge gap. This is much more risk reward stuff but we have very specialised players like koscielny who constantly snubs out anything near him. He needs to be higher to be more effective.
    As you can hopefully gather from that paragraph, when we have a 4 2 3 1 (our best formation) we need to push really high up the pitch. When pushing high up the pitch the only way you can really defend effectively is by pressing the ball. I believe that because our players are higher up the pitch, their attacking threat becomes more important than defensive ability. When pressing in defence the most important assests are enthusiasm and high fitness levels.
    Anyway, what i’m getting at is that if we can get 70%+ possession and our most clinical attacking weapons on the pitch we are going to out score anyone. This looks like a whole lot of our most attacking players on the pitch- probably because it is. Do you know what is the most amazing thing? This could possibly (it wont be) be our line up for our next game thanks to finally easing up on injuries!
    Chamakh
    Arshavin Van Persie Walcott
    Wilshere Fabregas
    Gibbs Vermaelen Koscieny Sagna
    Fabianski

    • Gunner says:

      hmm. it is very interesting thoughts.. it is almost like Parca’s standard line up..

      but for me, i would prefer Van P to be the centre forward, while fab sit in the centre. preferably, i will place either song and diaby/wilshere as the screen. in this case, at least we have song to provide some cover in the event we got hit by another counter attack. diaby/wilshere or even nas can support song and act as a deep lying playmaker.

      • Phil23 says:

        I agree that normally we would need Song, but Wilshere and Fabregas can improve their defense a lot if playing deeper. The point i’m trying to make is that instead of having a defensive midfielder the defence compresses the midfield so that Wilshere and Fabregas are totally dominant possession wise. Their team would be pinned so far back that they couldn’t counter effeciantly either that or they would conceed so many goals that we could afford to conceed a couple. It would be hugely gratifying for the players to know that they are capable of scoring huge numbers of goals. I would like to mention that in the hole Van Persie would still be the front man on many occasions (i.e striker) as Chamakh often drops deep or pushes wide. Van Persie would be a master of finding the gaps and waiting for a dangerous pass from Walcott Arshavin Chamakh Fabregas or Wilshere. Sorry for sounding crazy about such an attacking line up but I don’t think we’ve seen anywhere near the best of our team. They just need to win something for me thats a given. We’re all just waiting to see what. Fa cup? The clubs first CL trophy is a possibility!

    • desigunner says:

      I like your positivity but in games like the one against Chelsea I don’t see us dominating 70% possession 🙂

      For that our pressing would have to be out of this world and better than anything we’ve ever done.

      Not meant as a criticism but we should show some respect to the other big teams.

      • santori says:

        @phil, you have to be careful of the defense ‘compressing’ the midfield.

        That’ll compound the highline issue and we will be caught out with a ball over the top (sounds familiar?)

      • Phil23 says:

        Absolutely agree with that. Remember I did say that I would only play with that lineup at the Emirates. Against any team outside of the top 6 I would expect that team to outscore their opponents. Lets not forget that Van Persie is often injured so Nasri would fit into the hole when Van Persie is out. Anyway this is all speculation and I realize this is very optimistic so thanks for trying to see where i’m coming from!

      • desigunner says:

        The one you’ve mentioned is an exciting line up no doubt, especially at home against teams that park the bus.

        Of course a lot depends on form. For instance, if Diaby is on form I’d pick him over Wilshere.

    • GamseyZimGunner says:

      i think our best formation would be when playing against teams from the bottom end of the league

      Fabianski

      Sagna Squilacci Kocielny Clicy

      Song
      Nasri
      Fabregas
      Walcott Van Persie Asharvin

      Substitutes (Vela,Rosicky,Kocielny,Denilson,Eboue)

      Then when we play the physical teams,

      Fabianski

      Eboue Squilacci Verminator Clichy

      Song Denilson

      Fabregas

      Walcott Chamack Vela

      (Arshavin,Wilshere,Kocielny,Rosicky)

  12. bops says:

    good work desi.. nice technical article.. was getting tired of those lets-buy-more-player blogs.. keep it coming..

    btw where u from ?

    • 7masters says:

      Desi is a slang for Indians but does it matter we all human with common interest Arsenal fc. Buy players blogs are joke, Le satan and every idiotic Arseblog with his escapade on his drinking and vile racism. No wonder we don’t have any luck with these kinda supporters in our rank. Some of them call other teams names and insults that make you wonder if they really football fans or BNP wannabees.

    • desigunner says:

      MP/Gujarat. Also been in Trichy,Hyd,Bangalore,Delhi, and Lucknow 🙂

      • santori says:

        LuckNow…what a great name! Must be a popular destination. 🙂

      • desigunner says:

        😀 well that’s an anglicized name. The original Hindi pronunciation is a bit different and would probably be spelt differently.

  13. mmusi says:

    The reason why we are caught most of the time is the lack of proper wingers. Our full backs are always trying to cover those wide positions to deliver croses hence when the ball is snatched back they are chasing. Rosicky is always in the center Arshavin and Nasri as well so the only ones delivering crosses are the full backs and this leaves a gap at the back.

  14. Messi's Dad says:

    Hi Desi, good analysis.

    I’m not sure if drastic changes to our possession play philosophy is desirable or possible. Here’s my armchair 2cents contribution:

    From the pictures, and as you pointed out, there was a big gap between Song / Wilshere and the attackers. For Wilshere, he was way back probably as he had initiated the move by his cross field pass to Clichy. Song seemed to have been instructed to curb his recent tendency to surge forward.

    Either way, at this point in time, one of the two (whoever is nearer) probably should’ve moved forward into the space you picked out, between the centre circle and the Chelsea box where Diaby and Arshavin had vacated as they made their runs, to provide support to Clichy / pick up scraps out of the box. On hindsight, especially when we have strikers like Chamakh / Bendtner, crossing feels like the easiest thing to do, but of course may not always be the best option. To be fair, Clichy had split seconds to make a decision) at a time when our players were out of position and not really ready to support him in midfield.

    Especially at that time, Chelsea were very compact at that time, and with Chamakh vs Terry + Alex, you’d really have to deliver an excellent cross. Seeing that the semi “quick break” opportunity (initiated by the crossfield pass) had been lost (Chelsea had regrouped), it might’ve been more effective to maintain composure and pass back to the midfielders (Song / Wilshere), for recirculation of the ball around to move the chelsea players out of position again. The players have the skill and capability to do this even in big games – remember the 23 pass move vs ManUnited a coupla seasons ago, resulting in Cesc releasing Nasri to fire a thunderbolt past Van de Sar? I feel this is the opportunity cost of playing Nasri & Rosicky on the wings. Cesc aside, these 2 guys are the best for retaining possession, passing and creating moves in the final third near the box.

    System wise, the photos seem to show how superbly organised Chelsea were. They (Essien and Mikel in particular) showed the greatest respect to Arsenal in giving their full concentration and discipline in maintaining system compactness.

    I agree with Phil23’s analysis of our system, and it looks like Barca are the template to follow. They really press all over the pitch, esp. immediately after they have lost possession, and more often than not in the opposing half. Our system needs to be tighter tho, as shown in the above photos.

    • desigunner says:

      I agree, Wilshere should have moved forward to cover the space in front of their box.

      Another option would have been for Wilshere to be in the middle and for Song to drop back freeing Koscielny to track Drogba.

  15. Ole Gunner says:

    Every team gets counter-attacked. The only team that never gets counterattacked never leaves it’s own half.

    Desi very rightly identifies points we can improve on. The number of times we tamely cede possession in forward areas requires attention.

    That said, while you can criticise Arshavinfor not closing down, or Chamakh for not closing down, but ultimately your example was good for showing how play breaks down unnecessarily, thus conceding a counterattack. But ultimately this wasn’t a particularly bad defensive position as we had sufficient numbers back.

    Also, you’re wrong to criticise the positioning of Wilshere and Song. Wilshere lost his duel to Essien but slowed down the counter, and Song was also in position. You can’t expect players to never get beaten. They will be beaten.

    Ultimately, Arsenal dealt quite easily with the threat.

    • desigunner says:

      I actually think Wilshere and Song were the biggest culprits here.

      I don’t mind if a player is beaten in a duel. The real question is why he was beaten. The answer is he was out of position and had to sprint forward thereby making it easy for Essien to go past him. If he’d made that sprint immediately after spreading the ball wide Chelsea would not have been able to play the ball out so easily.

      Secondly, if Wilshere was in the middle, Song should have dropped into the back line. This way Koscielny would have been free to track Drogba.

      I agree we had plenty of numbers at the back but we didn’t have the organization that makes a team look solid and impenetrable.

  16. Hong_gunner says:

    the reason we’re being caught on the break so often:
    Arshavin, Nasri and Rosicky are attacking midgets who have no clue how to take up good positions when we loose the ball. this team is supposed to intercept the passes a lot more when we defend than go chasing for the ball, but our off the ball play has just not been good enough. and I don’t blame Wenger.

    • desigunner says:

      I think that is a little harsh. We all know how Arshavin is. The system has to accomodate him. Work rate is not his biggest strength and will never be.

      Rosicky has been disappointing in this aspect and I agree with your criticism. I think he’s not as focussed as he used to be before his injury problems.

      Nasri does a great deal of tracking and often adds a lot defensively

      • Hong_gunner says:

        yes, you’re spot on. but i wasn’t asking Arshavin to track back, which we know isn’t his biggest strength. but atleast he could work a bit more without the ball in the attacking 3rd. may be try intercepting the 1st pass from a loose ball a bit more. great wingers do it, and it isn’t as much hard as tracking back. he seems lost without the ball, and I’m sure wenger is equally worried regarding the aspect. same with Nasri. but he has a plus point he tracks back a lot more and fills the spaces in the defensive 3rd, and can ocassionally also win the ball. I just feel there is a very fine margin between a good team and a great team, and we are walking on those margins. but the future is definitely bright.

  17. winston says:

    I remember reading an article by Lee Dixon a while ago where he mentioned about how Petit and Viera were so good at breaking up attacking moves in midfield that as a defender he felt less under pressure.I think if I remember correctly he said that the defenders felt protected!!This is coming from the one of the best Arsenal defenders.Petit &viera were no slouchs at attacking and scoring goals either.Now can we even remotely consider Song and Diaby are in the same league?I guess we all know the answer to that.Which means given Diaby is an allegedly attcking midfielder Song should play as a holding midfielder.I think he makes far too many forward runs and leaves defenders vunerable.Unless we get this right we will always come out second best against the likes of chesea&Man U

    • desigunner says:

      Dixon never played against an expensively assembled Chelsea did he? Let’s not forget in those days the quality in Premier League was not that good because for all their talents Vieira and Petit didn’t take us far in the Champions League very regularly, did they?

      Point is those days and these days are different. Comparing players across different time periods does not make that much sense.

      • santori says:

        Albeit, Dixon can almost run you for the money Desi with his post match break downs. Almost. 😉

  18. Renan says:

    Spot on. We simply got our tactics wrong. I believe our team are capable to beat any team in this world but it’s all down to tactics these days. Wenger should tell our “wingers” and fullbacks to stop playing low and ground crosses because they are easy to defend and those crosses could put us in danger if our oppositions play a quick counter like you analysed above. We should instead cross to the far post where it could be tricky for some defenders. But you have to agree with me that Song has been under-performing so far this season. He often puts himself in no man’s island, he should really work his positioning again. Song doesn’t have the technical ability or the pace to get past people like Nasri easily does, but he does have the strength and awareness to shield the defense and to break-up plays. The 4-2-3-1 formation gives him way too much freedom to join-up the attack that he usually fails and puts himself in no man’s island. We should go back to the 4-3-3 formation or try the 4-1-4-1 formation where Song plays just in front of our centre-halves.

    • desigunner says:

      I think I was one of the first to say Song should not go forward so often, I said it when others were happy he scored the goal at Bolton.

      To me it’s absolutely imperative that Song shows perfect position awareness. Anything less will leave us exposed because other players will take liberties in attack.

      • santori says:

        And I thought Song was actually more disciplined against Chelski with the 4-2-3-1

        You have to admit though, Chelsea are quick on the transition and they have pace to hurt you.

        We take too many touches currently with our breaks.

  19. Harry says:

    When Messi scored his goals against the gunners,Wenger said he was out of this planet.In the cl final,he was effectively stifled for 90% of the game.He came into the game when Inter had more or less wrapped up the game.
    This shows that all dangerous/deadly strikes can be 80% to 90% neutralised if the coach goes about it. I’m afraid Wenger’s defensive approach to Drogba aint working.

    • Hong_gunner says:

      I’m sure you meant to say “cl semi-final”. because as far as I know, Bayern Munich were also participating in the final. can’t be 3 teams there, can they?

    • Hong_gunner says:

      And Wenger will never, i repeat Never go out to stiffle out one single man on the field. he always goes out there to play football the only way we know and stiffling out oppositions is a team art when you play with such an attacking nature and that is where something is just not right.

  20. santori says:

    You don’t necessarily have to man mark or stifle a player to execute good overall team defense.

    With good teams( such as Barca), plugging the hole by covering one dangerous striker is like trying to plug a leaky sieve. If you man mark, you run the risk of being pulled out of position.

    If you put two men on Messi, he will pull you out of position and someone-else will punish you.

    Far better to defend well as a collective. That of course entails excellent communication and being switched on at all times.

  21. stressed gooner says:

    say what we want, (and we normally do) but got to face facts Desi. I love Arsene’s faith in youth (albeit forced by lack of funds in past) but we have not bought a great established international (not an over the hill one anyway) since arshavin and before that when???? (names and answers on a postcard). Who is the last great player we signed that was on top of his game?? Dennis B? (a Buce Rioch signing). It might hav been ok in the past and early premiership, but not now. Wenger needs to evolve too. Man city this year will not win league, but if mancini is still there come Aug next year we can forget about winning league again. Truth. Spend on money on some top players,like the one’s falling out with their mega rich owners. Examples, like Given & Benzema and add a couple of 25 games a season good prem professionals would be goood. Crouch would have been good 3yrs ago after liverpool, but he’s tainted now. Or even in midfield S Parker when fell out with Chelski, or Nolan after Bolton. Not to break bank just a bit of steel and stability. We are in major need of experience. no matter what you say about statistics. we played Chelsea on Sunday and never troubled em. NO PENATRATION, we won league breaking with purpose, Ljundberg, pires and Henry running with heads down past defenders knowing a telling pass from Viera or Dennis was on its was to them without looking. (like Man u not so long ago with Rooney/Tevez/Ronaldo). Fergie saw how we dominated and evolved his team with his trio. We cannot do that today, Unless Fabregas runs 50 yards and does summat amazing, the rest of team cannot do enough.

    Woth heavy heart i write this mail

  22. Ntopa Peter says:

    I have also a problem or two. Firstly, our wingers are attack-minded than defence-minded. Much as a winger is supposed to attack, he also has an obligation to stop the other side’s wing. Right winger needs to work hand in hand with a right back, so is a left winger with a left back. Secondly, I observed that playing, for example, Chamakh, as a lone striker did not materialise, because, though he can be labelled a finisher, he spends most of his time hunting, when we are already having 5 midfielders plus two defenders who are trying to hunt and supply a ball up front. We, thereby, failed to utilise many of our crosses. Lastly, our defenders, especially left back and right back, take time to get back after an attack. You might have noticed Clichy trailing a striker towards our goal.

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