Thoughts On The Starting Eleven And Tactics Against Birmingham

Arsene Wenger says, “It’s Arsenal’s title to win.” And I agree. The stage is well and truly set for the second Act of the season and it’s up to the manager to direct and the players to perform.

Birmingham away is not an easy game for any team. None of the top 6 have won at St. Andrews in the last 18 months. Arsenal fans don’t have happy memories of this ground and I don’t have to remind anyone how the 07-08 season was unhinged at this venue. What then, could be a better place to kick-start the title charge this time around?

Tactically, Birmingham don’t hold any surprises. They’ll park the bus and work hard defensively chasing every ball while sticking the foot in at every opportunity. Arsenal struggled to break the defence down for a long time at the Emirates. I don’t expect this game to be any different.

If we see the kind of movement up front that we saw against Chelsea, eventually the Gunners will score. If the team plays like they did in the second half at Wigan this could be a frustrating game.

I’d love to see a quick tempo with incessant movement and sharp passing. The Gunners will have to score at least two goals in this game if they have to come back with three points because the Brummies will be a threat on set-pieces with their aerial presence.

Defensively, Arsenal need to win the second ball when long balls are played from the back. If the midfield shows the kind of balance and discipline we saw against Chelsea, Birmingham should not get too many chances. Of course, Arsenal do have a habit of conceding from a solitary shot on target. Fabianski will have to come up with a couple of big moments.

Arsenal’s defending on set-pieces has been a concern for a long time now and this game will prove to be another big challenge. Hopefully it will go along the lines of the Blackburn, Wolves, and Everton visits and not the Sunderland or Wigan ones.

Wenger rested a number of key players for the game against Wigan so the onus will be on the players to vindicate the manager’s selection. The draw against the Latics will be forgotten if Arsenal can secure three points in this game.

At the back I expect two changes. Djourou and Clichy should come in for Squillaci and Eboue. In the midfield Song and Cesc should return and Wilshere will have to play again despite playing for an hour at the DW stadium. Up front RvP and Nasri should come back into the starting eleven and I’d pick Arshavin for this game but I’ve a feeling many including Arsene will prefer Walcott.

I feel Arsenal will need the creativity of Arshavin in this game and the defence should not be troubled to that extent by this Birmingham team. Towards the end the Russian can always be substituted if Arsenal have to defend a lead.

The starting line-up I’d like to see is,

Fabianski – Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy – Song, Cesc, Wilshere – Nasri, RvP, Arshavin.

Birmingham have this uncanny ability of snatching late equalizers. They tend to park the bus for 80 minutes or so and then throw two or three strikers on the pitch towards the end. Most of their attack is hit and hope but it tends to work for them at home. The Gunners will have to be extra cautious at the end and will not be able to afford any lapses in concentration.

After a long time I will actually miss an Arsenal game as Mrs. Desi is running the show this weekend. The match report will be delayed because I’ll only be able to write after catching the game on ATVO.

Before ending, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a joyful and prosperous new year. May 2011 be full of words like Title Winners, Silverware, and Champions. Cheers!

24 Responses to Thoughts On The Starting Eleven And Tactics Against Birmingham

  1. Am says:


    This will bethe team:


    I think Scillaci will be pushed back to the bench with Arshavin. As Walcott had a full rest. I also think Scillaci will be dropped because he was rubbish as was Konscielny, but the partnership with Djourou seemed to work.

  2. Aniruddh says:

    the positive though is that they’ve a very limited squad and with their style of play each player has to give a 100 percent every game, that after the crammed festive period could be very difficult for them against our fresh pair of legs. The gamble that Wenger made by resting so many players may just come good today

  3. Ashis says:

    Thank you desi. Have enjoyed reading your blog. Wish you and your family tons of joy and happiness.

  4. Karthik says:

    Mrs. Desi’s running the show eh? 😀 Been there, only it’s my mom!!

  5. santori says:

    Happy New Year and may we start it off on the right note!

    I think we will be a slightly different proposition then against Wigan with Song, Fabregas, RVP, Djourou, Clichy and Nasri back in it.

    and I agree AA should start in place of Walcott. AA is better in tight spaces (which we will be facing) whilst Walcott prospers from space. Let the little Russian play for 60 and put Walcott in for the remainder (particularly when Brummies load up up front toward the end)

  6. Aussie Jack says:

    We must concentrate on the Premier League and we need a regular squad of sixteen players dedicated to that task. Other than that only Barcelona should bring the best available eleven to the paddock. Rotate as much as you like for the Carling Cup and even the FA Cup they are secondary issues ,the first two bring money the second two glory in terms of a silver pot. You can`t have it all.

  7. ' koye says:

    No I do not agree that arshavin should start in place of walcott. On what basis? We’ve heard of his ability to ulock defences many a times before games but what does he bring to the game? Another disappointing performance. Walcott was among the guys rested for the wigan game. The other guys will come in and its walcott that should stay on the bench. Crap. He had a great game against chelski and he should be rewarded with another start. Let the man build some momentum please. Arshavin should start from the bench.

  8. Stingy Voyeur says:

    I hope that Le Prof will buy quality to strengthen our soft underbelly. Get De Gea or Steklenberg for goaler. Get that tall German Mertasaker too. If we don’t improve these two spots then the best we can hope for in terms of silverware this year is the Carling Cup (which should be abolished as a competition in the first place).
    Happy New Year to all Gooners everywhere.

  9. dw says:

    Good team , but i would take out jack
    And put nasri there and put walcott on
    The right

  10. FoolishgooNer says:

    Well said mate; Arshavin is needed for his creAtivity againts teams who park the bus. But I also like to see NB52 earlier than later cause they will dare us to cross and win headers in both boxes. But I have feeling we will see the team against Chelsea. I would drop nasri in the middle and use Nb52 with Van Persie up front. Luke Sagna Koc JD Clichy. Middle Nasri Cecs and Song upfront Van persie Arshavin NB52

  11. T2T says:

    I suggest to put at least one of Bendtner/Chamakh to have a focal point for crosses, maybe even both. They can also be of great use at defensive set pieces.

    GK (Szczesny/Fabianski – either one)
    Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy
    Fabregas, Song, Nasri
    Bendtner, v Persie, Chamakh

    The creativity and passes of Fabregas, Nasri and RvP will cause havoc in B’ham’s defence as well as Bentner and Camakh will be a constant threat with their aerial capability.

  12. Woolwichstilhere says:

    Ha ha, not the arshavin that i’ve watched recently. He is lazy, has no defensive qualities and run’s into his opponent whenever he wnts to dribble.

  13. kloney says:

    Happy New Year Desi! Thanks for all your incisive posts last year and may your prayers be answered…amen! As regards today’s game I believe your selection is spot on because we have the right personnel to unlock any defence. Djorou will bring stability to the backline. Let us hope we start the year on a winning note as we chase the title!

  14. shanu says:

    my team
    use RvP against city.
    No need of resting walcot.
    Bendtner can score. He is better than chamakh.

  15. Bergkamps nephew 81 says:

    Hey desi great post. The reason why I would go 4 theo to start is cos he can b a threat with darting runs about the defense and as he’s on fire scorin atm why not?

  16. segelo says:

    thanks for your blog and i wish all gooners fans a wonderful new year. Today is must win for us if we still want to be contender and not pretender. The players should play with all their heart

  17. Miranda says:

    Horrible place to go, almost as bad as Stoke, and we’ll be lucky if we get home without any serious injuries. A game for Bendtner, I think, i.e. for his bulk. I’d keep Walcott and Chamakh fresh for City. Van Persie needs games; experience suggests he needs at least eight to get back to his best when he’s been out a long time. True, he’ll be vulnerable to the leg-breakers – e.g. Bowyer who broke Modric’s last season – but Van Persie can injure himself standing under the shower so it’s hardly a consideration. I’m much more worried about bad tackles on Nasri and Cesc, both of whom are essential for City. Fingers crossed for even half-competent refereeing.

  18. walle says:

    song n koscienly hv to be carefull one card away from suspension

  19. critic says:

    due to pure unluck(ref included) we have a tendency to lose our best players for lengthy periods at andrews.

    Let’s prey it’s not d case from now onwards.

    • Miranda says:

      Got away with it, thank God, and that’s them over for the season. Next season, with a bit of luck, they’ll have gone down. What a horrible player Bowyer is – should have been off for that spiteful stamp on Sagna’s leg but luckily for him the ref missed it. Ridgewell not a lot better.

  20. […] Thoughts On The Starting Eleven And Tactics Against Birmingham Arsene Wenger says, “It’s Arsenal’s title to win.” And I agree. The stage is well and truly set for the second […] […]

  21. Arun says:

    Read this one only after the match. Actually DG, except for Arshavin in ur starting line up, you can copy paste this post as your Post match aritcle. Everything you said above came true. Baba DesiGunner!!??
    Hope the last line of you article also comes true 🙂

  22. Miranda says:

    Transfer rumour:

    A couple of days ago someone suggested we might be signing a 25-year-old central defender from Hoffenheim. I thought at the time they’d be unlikely to sell in this window but it turns out I was wrong. Their manager has just resigned because another of their defenders has been sold to Bayern without consulting him. Not sure whether that makes them more or less likely to be selling their other central defender to us but it occurs to me that if the 25-year-old German bit is correct – big if – surely the most likely candidate is Papiss Cisse, a striker at Freiberg, currently top scorer in the Bundesliga. We’ve been interested in him for a while and, if we’re losing Vela or Bendtner, he’d be a great buy.

    Defenders? There’s a 22-year-old at Schalke, who we’ve been linked with vaguely and who sounds a much better proposition than the Hoffenheim centre back because he can also play in holding midfield.

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