Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven For The Stoke Game

Arsenal must break this habit of losing two in a row. I realize that it doesn’t happen all the time but we’ve seen successive losses far too often for any fan’s liking. This time however, I do feel we should be able to bust the trend on Saturday.

Stoke. What can one say about the Potters? I fell asleep thinking about their game and then woke up with a start due to a nightmare in which another Arsenal player had been Shawcrossed or perhaps more generally, Stoked/Pulised; couldn’t see the details as it was a hazy vision and thank God for that!

To summarize the visitors in a nutshell these words come to mind – organized and stubborn defence, rash tackling, deliberate and rotational fouls, good crosses, dangerous throw-ins, aerial strength, and physical battle.

Offensively, we can be sure Stoke will be looking to win corners, throw-ins, and free-kicks in the Arsenal half. Win a number of those, put enough men in the box and hope for a mistake. Foul the Keeper or other players and hope the ref misses a few. Be persistent and a goal is likely to come at some stage. The visitors might also look to break on the counter but most of it will eventually boil down to set-pieces and throws.

Defensively, they will have 9 or 10 men behind the ball. Pulis’ side will be happy to concede set-pieces and throws because they have the physical advantage. They’ll also break Arsenal’s rhythm by “getting stuck in”.

Arsenal just cannot afford a lapse in concentration in the box while defending. At times we have a tendency of leaving some opponents unmarked while the players are caught ball-watching. That must be avoided and we have to hope the defenders put in as strong a shift as they did at Blackburn and Sunderland. After the recent attempts by some teams and given Stoke’s penchant for long balls, the central defenders will have to be ready for a busy night. The midfielders in front of them have to win the knock downs.

Creatively, I feel this team should have more than enough to score some goals. Hopefully, one will come early and open the game up. A high tempo along with good movement up front will the key. Last season at home against the same opponents Arsenal attempted over 700 passes. Something like that cannot be accomplished without excellent off the ball movement and quick passing. More of the same please.

Needless to say, the ref has to play a vital role in such a game where one side will spend the ninety minutes flirting with the boundaries of football laws. Based on this review of Lee Mason, I’m a little worried things might get too rough. Normally the home advantage should count in Arsenal’s favour and the home support should influence the ref like it does almost everywhere. But it’s the Emirates and the crowd could just as easily do the reverse.

A lot might depend on the first five to ten minutes. If Arsenal can establish control of the midfield and push the visitors back in their own half we can minimize the threats they pose and give the supporters good reasons to cheer. If Stoke can win some set-pieces early on and put the Arsenal goal under pressure it could lead to some groans and moans from the fans. The first few minutes will define the momentum of the game.

As far as the starting eleven goes, I’m hoping for some crucial changes.

I don’t have any updates on Fabianski’s fitness so the junior Pole might continue his challenging Premiership introduction. There is a case for having Djourou in the starting line-up for this game, especially if the inexperienced Szczesny starts, but I’ve a feeling Arsene has his reasons for picking Squillaci and Koscielny. Sagna and Clichy have to start.

In the midfield, hopefully, we’ll see Cesc back in his usual position, fit and raring to go. El Capitan can make a huge difference to the way Arsenal play and deal with pressure. Last season in the same fixture Fabregas attempted close to a 100 passes with a great deal of accuracy and impact. We need him back at that level not only for this game but for the rest of the season. Song and Wilshere will probably start although some might want to see Denilson instead of the youngster.

Arsene will have to make some important decisions in attack. I’d start with Van Persie in the central striker role flanked by Arshavin and Nasri. If Stoke do push forward and press us higher up we should bring Walcott on at half-time. If Fabregas can run the midfield, the trio of RvP, Arshavin, and Nasri will be too much for Stoke to handle.

The starting eleven could look like,

Szczesny – Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy – Song, Cesc, Wilshere – Nasri, RvP, Arshavin.

On an unrelated but important note, I’m happy Arsenal have drawn Farca. As of now that game belongs to Messi, and unless he is injured for the two ties I can’t see Arsenal going through. Nevertheless, they’ll be exciting games for football fans. Here is a hilarious take on the draw.

Finally, I just wanted to share this post by Mr. Renoog on his Backwards Gooner blog. If you haven’t already seen it and if you enjoy getting into details of the game, that post and the blog in general are highly recommended.

30 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven For The Stoke Game

  1. rohan says:

    Wouldnt Chamakh be important against a physical stoke desi? I am not sure about Arshavin.. He was very poor against united..

  2. Sean says:

    Arshavin has the talent but only appears in top form for glimpses here and there. If he was more consistently involved he could easily help Arsenal outsmart the rest of the field.

  3. SFOGunner says:

    Agree. It is important chamakh plays to defend the setpieces you talk about..

    Maybe Van Persie can play on the right, Nasri on the left.

    Arshavin might find it tough in such a physical game .. Considering his recent form, he should be dropped.

  4. manas says:

    Chamakh is a shit, no skill, no footall brain, poor reflex. Bring Walcott and keep Nasri in the middle and RVP as striker. Rest are same.

    • DFO says:

      Yes, his goal and assist tally are all fabricated by Wenger so we keep believing in Arsenal’s scouting ability…

    • sam says:

      He’s better than Eduardo was in that role and a very good second string striker or plan b. He’s given us a good innings. He’s also adjusting to the league. He’ll get better, too. He’s tired now, no doubt.

    • nick says:

      You are right man, Chamakh has no skill at all. He does not play as striker and he is always looking to pass the ball. I have never seen a striker who is so happy to pass the ball. This is what you get when you get something for free.

    • shooter says:

      I see that some of Le grove avid readers have come on this blog. I don’t know what kind of Arsenal supporter calls “shit” the best striker of the team (didn’t see much of RVP and Bendy this season…), but I wonder how you call Gallas…
      The best one is “This is what you get when you get something for free” from the user Nick. Obviously Nick thinks that anything free is bad. Obviously Nick believes that Bordeaux (if he knows where Chamakh comes from) didn’t want to offer Marouane a new contract…

  5. DFO says:

    I don’t know what’s going on with Bendtner but I’d love to see him and Chamakh up front at the same time in a 4-4-2. That will never happen with Wenger’s sometimes obsessive stubborn approach to tactics, but one can dream. Also not crazy about fielding Cesc if he’s going to play like he did v. Man U, I almost felt sick seeing his performance after the substitution.

  6. Ajinkya says:

    Nordtveit sold!

  7. rohan says:

    Huh? Where?

  8. nasdrible says:

    i dont know why people dont see wilshire as the weak link in midfield denilson or koscielny would be better there

  9. nasdrible says:

    nordveit sold to borussia monchengladbach

  10. Raghugovind says:

    The Backward Gunner post was amazing . Thanks Desi 🙂

  11. nikkoguners says:

    Gunner Most Offensive side:-
    Clithy, Djarou, Scillachi, Sagna

    It time to rebuild the team. This side did well against Man U in the second half. Nasri, Walcott Cesc and Chamakh has the potential to score goals at will on a good day. Rosicky,Arshavin, Denilson and Wilshere can come in in the second half. We have been good at creating opportunities but not scoring. We need goals and we need to reprogrammer for the next big matches. If we beat stroke and Chelsea we will have done 75% well in December.

  12. dw says:

    . . . . . . . . .chamakh
    . . Ashavin. . . . . . . . . Vanpersie
    . . . . . . . . . . Fabragas . . . . . . . .
    . . . .. . . . . .song. . … .nasri. . . . . .
    Koscielny . Djouroue. .scillachi.. sagna
    . . . . . . .. . . . . .sczcesny

    For a bit more hight and power i would put koscielny at left back

  13. Finnish Hit says:

    I know this is the most rational of all Arsenal blogs, but I want to share a Christmas wish with you.

    Let Arsenal lead by three goals near the end. In the last 10 minutes, rain or shine, let Arsenal players take all their throw-ins in the Delap way, coming from the other side of the field, tenderly caressing the ball with a towel… wasting all that time to show the obvious of what is so wrong.

    • desigunner says:

      😀 that would have been fun. Hopefully in the rearranged fixture. Although at 3-0 it might not be such a big deal as it would be at 1-0. But I’d prefer a 3 goal cushion given the recent trend of gifting goals 🙂

  14. Ketch says:

    can i just say aswell, i would do a 4-4-2 with Bendtner and Chamakh upfront. I would not risk Fabregas and RVP, there coming back from injuries, do you really want them to get bashed up in this game?

    • desigunner says:

      Fair point. I was thinking about that because RvP got injured last time he started against Blackburn. Well the weather has taken this decision away from Wenger and he must be grateful. Full team against Chelsea should be fun.

      • Ketch says:

        yeah definetly, especially with Chelea off form, would have been better if they could have played Man United and got a little bit of fatigue.

  15. Miranda says:

    Big pain as our fixtures are going to be well and truly clogged up after Christmas what with the Carling, and the FA, and the CL. The weather is fine now – typically – but can’t really blame the ref. At midday there was deep snow around the Emirates and the blizzard was so fierce I could barely see as far as the other side of the street.

  16. critic says:

    gr8 links…thanx

  17. […] Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven For The Stoke Game Arsenal must break this habit of losing two in a row. I realize that it doesn’t happen all the time but we’ve seen […] […]

  18. Kushagra India says:

    Gr8 post Desi
    I think Arshavin needs a straight talk he is underutilising his talent

  19. Ajinkya says:

    Desi is frozen.

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