Thoughts On Starting Eleven And Tactics Against West Ham

West Ham come to the Emirates on Saturday for our first home derby of the season. Johan Djourou says, “… they are the games that can finish your season”, and I agree wholeheartedly.

Home games against the smaller sides are a must win. Such a statement can be considered clichéd but that doesn’t take away the intrinsic truth. Last season we lost at home to the two sides above us and drew with City and Everton. Those were the only points we dropped at home. Tougher tests at home will be coming later in the season and we’ve already conceded three points to a sloppy display against West Brom. There can be no doubt about the importance of the three points at stake in this game.

The visitors have had a difficult start and are already feeling the pressure of a relegation battle. No doubt they will work hard to get at least a point. We will just have to do better than them and with Cesc back in the side I’m confident we won’t slip in this game.

Tactically this game will be interesting because the Hammers can mix it up. They have a big target man in Cole and can use him to hoof balls up-field. With the likes of Parker and Noble in their team, they can also play a decent technical game on the ground. In the past we have seen them do a good job of pressing us and making things difficult.

This can be seen from the following chart made using the Guardian Chalkboards,

Earlier this season they went to Old Trafford and played a good passing game as is evident from the chart on top. It’s a different matter that they lost convincingly. In stark contrast, the chart on the bottom shows they can go route one and eke out a win as they did against the Tinies. Kudos to The Irons for that by the way.

A lot will depend on the way we play. If Arsenal can keep the tempo high and make the visitors chase the ball we should create some chances. Given the fragile nature of their confidence right now, that could lead to an early goal and open the floodgates.

Obviously, Arsene will have get the balance of his starting eleven right. Amongst the back five, I think only one place is up for grabs and one of Squillaci or Djourou will get the nod alongside Fabianski, Koscielny, Sagna, and Clichy.

To be honest, I’m not sure which of the two would be the appropriate choice. Squillaci is the more experienced and solid defender. He also had a decent partnership going with Koscielny before the latter got injured. Djourou on the other hand, is bigger and stronger and could do a better job of dealing with long balls and Carlton Cole. I have a feeling experience will tilt the balance in favour of the Frenchman.

For the first time in a while Wenger is spoilt for choice in the central and attacking areas. If Arsene sticks with the midfield that did the job at Manchester, we will see Cesc, Song, and Denilson. That would mean Nasri and Rosicky will have a battle with Walcott and Arshavin for the wide roles.

We could see Nasri, Chamakh, and Arshavin coming back into the starting line-up after a good rest. Walcott and Bendtner could be on the bench, and perhaps get a start in the mid-week Champions League game. I’d prefer that Walcott starts this game and Arshavin gets the nod in Ukraine. The Russian does better in the European games and will have better experience of the conditions. Theo could continue his hot streak and have some fun on the big Emirates pitch.

The side I’d like to see is,

Fabianski – Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy – Song, Cesc, Denilson – Walcott, Chamakh, Nasri.

With a strong bench including the likes of Arshavin, Rosicky, Bendtner, and Vela.

Arsenal should win this one but it won’t be a walk in the park. The difference between success and failure at this level is really small and Fabregas will have to ensure others can match his levels of focus and concentration. Another clean sheet will be fantastic.

19 Responses to Thoughts On Starting Eleven And Tactics Against West Ham

  1. Jonathan says:

    hopefully we come together and put them away early. im HOPING for 2-0 at halftime with a 5-0 result… (Wouldnt another clean sheet be wonderful to see in this London Derby?) Im EXPECTING it to turn out 4-2 or 5-2 to Arsenes Army

  2. Hamad says:

    good article but disagree when you included Vela as part of a strong bench. He is rubbish!

  3. Kieran says:

    I agree with Arshavin starting midweek. He always seems to be blowing hard this season, I’m not sure quite what to make of that. Hard to believe anyone could play in the League unfit but would be interested if anyone had thoughts on this.

    I feel we need Squillaci in as our no#1 with Kos while TV is out. Still I’m happy with Djourou’s progress. Some mistakes but you can see him learning and making some big contributions at critical moments.
    We wil miss Gibbs I think, it looked nasty but for once we can say it was down to his actions. He went through that ball hard and very committed. Older legs will help him through these challenges I just hope he makes it through withought repeated injuries.

  4. ed says:

    arshavin is unfir imo due to the amount hes played this season he needs a good rest before he can return to form. hes played all his international team games apart from 9 mins i think. and most of arsenal’s season apart from spurs cc and newcastle cc match, 70 mins against donetsk. hopefully he’ll be able to sit on the bench tomorrow maybe 20 mins from the end cameo would be good for him.

    squillaci and koscielny had a great partnership before kos got injured so i say go with that again. djourou needs game time to get fitter as being out for pretty much a year has affected his speed.

  5. Rick Jones says:

    Dear man – those charts – they’re just charts. It’s like a stats – it’s numbers from the past which will never happen, ever, again. There’s a lesson here – sweep downfield majestically, understand eachother, thrash the ball past their petrified goalie. Create news and even THICKER, MORE UNREADABLE charts fro tomorrow’s gleeful Gooners. Vela to lose a stone so that he can run as fast as he can think, and Rosicky to score the first goal, because he’s DUE, as they say in baseball. Our Giants are two-nil up in the ‘World’ Series, and Arsenal are fated to do something this season. Djourou is going to be a monster.

  6. Tan Kim Kit says:

    west ahm are failing defensively, we should go for maximum goals. we can rip em if we play this formation.


    Sagna Squilliaci Koscienly Clichy


    Fabregas Nasri

    Walcott Chamakh Arshavin

    • Dave says:

      Yep…thats what i would do…
      if not put in Diaby for Arsharvin and swap nasri up to the wing!
      Diaby plays at a different level when cesc is in the team!

  7. Gilberto says:

    Interesting fact, Johan Djourou has played in 6 matches out of arsenals total 14 this season.

    We have won every game he has played in this season

    This season arsenal have only had 4 clean sheets,
    Johan Djourou was involved in 2 of the 4 total clean sheets.

    • That stat means nothing. He was the most likely person to make a mistake and concede a goal in those 2 matches. Fabianski and Koscielny saved his ass.
      If somebody has an exceptional game when he played then we are bound to win that has got nothing to with Djourou. So far his contributions have been lots of negatives with few positives. Do not jump and tell he was injured for 2 years blah blah. I am just telling how he has been playing , not the reason for it or that he will never be good.

  8. V I C 4rm Nigeria says:

    If Arsene play nasri n cesc in d middle wit walcot on d right, we already got a lot of playmaking 4rm d right & middle so arshavin’s runs wont be needed. I wish he play these-
    nasri, song, cesc
    walcot, chamak, rosicky

  9. Aussie Jack says:

    I`m quite sure the West Brom incident will not go amiss in the dressing room prior to the match kick off, nor should it. Arsenal must take the direct approach and put points on the board early on.For this reason I would leave Arshavin out of it and play Chamakh Walcott and Bendtner up front with Song , Fabregas and Nasri in midfield, Rosicky coming on in the 65th to vary the style. 4-3-3 to begin with, then switch to 4-4-2.

  10. zedgooner says:

    the front 3 shud be walcott,chamakh and nasri

  11. Woolwichstilhere says:

    F the chalkboard we wil beat them BANG BANG and F arshavin he’s too sluppy and arsenal is a serious business and walcot luks lyk d businessman. Watch the toon game again nd u wil understand y u can’t kip dat english lad out. SELL VELA

  12. samir nasri says:

    if arsene puts out what he considers to be a strong attacking 11, then i think we will win. most of our first team has gelled a little better

    last year, and during some games at the beginning of the season, i don’t think the team clicked as well, we look stronger as of late. take nasri or cesc out of there though, and currently i would say we’d look lackluster.

    i don’t say rosicky can’t do the job, but i prefer the other two. other than that, we have many good options for tomorrow up front, on the wings and through the middle. today should be fun

  13. samir nasri says:

    haha, tomorrow and today.. fantastic. i live in canada, time difference, but i can hardly blame that.

  14. Leo says:


  15. […] Thoughts On Starting Eleven And Tactics Against West Ham West Ham come to the Emirates on Saturday for our first home derby of the season. Johan Djourou says, “… they […] […]

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