Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Ipswich Town

Much like the game against Leeds, I’m in the dark about the football prowess of Arsenal’s opponents in the Carling Cup semi-finals. Add the fact that I haven’t had much time in the last couple of days to even search for highlights involving their games and you get an apologetically ignorant blogger attempting a match preview based on some general observations.

We do have some facts to consider. Ipswich Town are 19th in the Championship table three points above the relegation zone having won 8 and lost 12 of their games in the division. They’ve recently sacked manager Roy Keane, a commendable action in itself, and will face Arsenal in the first leg before new manager Paul Jewell can take charge. They’re also going into this game on the back of a 7-0 drubbing by Chelsea in the FA Cup.

Undoubtedly, Gooners have valid reasons to be confident and demanding.

That said, we must also acknowledge that performances in Cup ties do not always reflect the League form. The two legs of the semi-final will probably be the biggest games of the season for Ipswich (unless they make it to the Final!) and their best shot at glory. I’ll be very surprised if Arsenal don’t come up against a determined and tenacious home side.

Arsene made an interesting point in his pre-match interview – when facing Championship teams, the threat doesn’t come from one or two star players but from the collective.

Normally, we’d expect the technical difference between the Gunners and players from the championship sides to be significant but in such games the smaller teams can make up for that with extra effort and motivation, something they cannot produce week in, week out. In other words, if the Ipswich players play out of their skins and avoid individual mistakes they can put up a genuine challenge.

Nonetheless, Arsenal are favourites and the onus is on the Gunners to back that billing with their performance. The hosts have nothing to lose.

Once again picking the team will be a very difficult job for Le Boss. After this game Arsenal have three games in a week all of which will need a strong team. Moreover, Arsene hasn’t played a full strength side in the Carling Cup for a long, long time and I don’t expect him to change that policy. The key will be to find the right balance between first choice and second string players. One could also say that he has to send out a mix of the in-form players with those who need games to get back to their best.

Arsenal do have a small cushion of having the second leg at home but that should not mean that this game is taken lightly. A poor result here could force Wenger to play a stronger side in that game meaning little chance of rest for the key players.

Szczesny should start in goal but in defence the choices are limited. Due to the injury to Squillaci, either Koscielny or Miquel will have to come in to partner Djourou. The Spaniard might feel entitled to his chance given the club’s League Cup policy, but I’d prefer a strong centre back pairing.

But with Arsene we never know. Since there are three crucial games coming up after this one he might even rest Djourou and partner Koscielny with Miquel. With due respect to both defenders, such a pairing could be suicidal.

In the midfield, I expect to see Rosicky and Denilson retain their places. Wilshere could come in to give Song a breather. Wenger might even start Eastmond but I feel that will affect the defensive balance of the team and the ability to bring the ball out from defence.

Up front there are plenty of options. I’m not sure about the situation with Vela’s loan but this seems like a good game for the Mexican to have a run out. If Vela is on his way, Arshavin should get another game to get his confidence back.

I’d also play Walcott on the right and have Bendtner or Chamakh down the middle. It would be a new combination but with pace on both wings and given the fact that Ipswich will want to make the home leg count, I think this attack should have enough fire-power to give Arsenal the win.

On the bench Arsene could have the likes of Song, Cesc, RvP, and Nasri; all of whom will have a heavy work load from the weekend onwards.

Preferred starting line-up,

Szczesny – Eboue, Djourou, Koscielny, Gibbs – Denilson, Rosicky, Wilshere – Walcott, Bendnter, Vela.

Tactically, I don’t expect this game to be much different from the one against Leeds. Ipswich might use the long ball more often and will probably offer a sterner physical test, but barring another daft mistake at the back I don’t see them scoring.

A clean sheet with a goal or two should be more than enough to make the return leg comfortable. Statutory Warning: The incurable DesiGunner Jinx is known to have an adverse affect on all positive predictions on this blog.

PS: I also wanted to share this wonderful article on Arsespeak with tactical analysis of one of Wenger’s big games at Monaco. They’re running a series of such pieces and I’d recommend it to fans of Le Boss and to those with an interest in the way managers and their thinking evolves.

33 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Ipswich Town

  1. w12mcee says:

    were really overdue a good vela performance. just wanna see him beat a couple defenders and score a goal or two.

    • desigunner says:

      That would be good for his confidence and might help him get straight into the starting eleven at his loan side.

  2. sam says:

    I’d like to see Miquel play, but of course don’t want to be surprised for the worse. He’s 6’4″ and has two good feet, but I have read he’s a bit slow for the way we rely on individual athleticism at the back, so unless Leeds have a lot of pace up front this could be a good game for him to play in and give him a memory of being a youth player and give us a look at him.

    • desigunner says:

      Wickham is probably quick and I think he can trouble Miquel. I’d not have a problem giving the youngster a game in a stronger team.

      At times I feel Arsene plays too many players who have a weakness or two and it tends to weaken the collective instead of strengthening it.

      • Miranda says:

        I saw Whickham in the under-17s tournament and got the impression he wasn’t that quick. What he was was enormous. Hence his ability to outmuscle the elf-like Spaniards who, though infinitely better technically speaking, hadn’t previously encountered a giant. In addition, Whickham had experience against Championship defenders, which obviously gave him a huge advantage against little Spanish kids not yet out of Real and Barca’s academies, places where the development of skill is what matters more than just winning games. In short, don’t be misled by the hype in the wake of England winning that comp. They weren’t that good and Whickham isn’t a Drogba as yet. Which doesn’t mean he won’t turn into one some day – or, of course, that he won’t score against us, especially if Miguel plays.

        I love Miguel but he is a bit slow and inexperienced. Hope I’m wrong but I don’t think he’s ready to face a Championship side.

    • w12mcee says:

      i think its a good match for him to play but A.W will probably feel more secure playing him at the home fixture especially if we have a good goal advantage

      • desigunner says:

        Yeah even I feel giving him a home debut on the back of a win in the first leg seems like a better choice.

  3. IndianGunner says:

    I read somewhere that Ipswich themselves are having sort of an injury crisis and that they are thinking about resting some players.
    If that’s the case then we should try Miquel out. Djouro is still recovering from a year on the sidelines and i wouldn’t want to lose him since Vermaelean seems to have suffered another setback
    If Chelsea with the form they are in can hit 7 past them then i wouldn’t worry too much about them.
    Still as you say caution is advised

    • desigunner says:

      I haven’t seen that game but based on reports it was a tight game till the first goal went in. Quite likely to be the same tomorrow. An early goal from Theo can make this a lot of fun.

  4. w12mcee says:

    what about rambo? i’m sure he’s ready

    • desigunner says:

      I’d say bring him on with 20-30 mins left. Then if he does well, he could be in line for a start in the second leg. But that would depend on the scoreline. Can’t bring him on if we’re chasing the game.

  5. RockyLives says:

    Also, beware the curse of the new manager. Whenever a new guy comes in (and apparently if Jewel has not yet taken the reins he will be in the stands watching) everybody in the team has a clean slate and is playing for their place.
    This will not be an easy game and if we come away with a single goal victory I’ll be happy. Even a score draw would not be a bad result.
    Hope that doesn’t sound too pessimistic…

    • desigunner says:

      Btw Paul Jewel is the guy who took Wigan to the Carling Cup final after beating Arsenal in the semis 🙂 2006 if I’m not mistaken.

    • roh top gun says:

      Cautious about the curse as well… But we faced Bolton with new gaffer Owen Coyle last year and we did well…Let’s hope we get to see more of the same… 🙂

    • Miranda says:

      Too right about the curse of the new manager. I predicted this happening when the draw was made. Not clairvoyance, just that it always happens to us. Which means poor Grunt will be getting the chop at West Ham any moment now – Allardyce in, just to make our lives miserable? – but, since we’ve already played Chelsea twice, Ancellotti is probably safe.

  6. Filip says:

    We love to screw up.I am not confident as usual.I hope for a win but anything can happen with these guys.Vela must start this game.

  7. MAMAN THEA says:

    maybe ramsey, rosicky, and wilshere will be better in midfield and then walcott-camakh-arshavin i attack.. but first thing first, we do not concede goal..

  8. roh top gun says:

    Cautiously optimistic about today’s tie… Jus hope we bag the first one in quickly… Most of the time, when we don’t score within the first half-hour, we tend to panic… I felt that’s what happened in the Leeds game and also in the Newcastle League game…

  9. onabolu (teacher) says:

    The so called small boys are now mature and hungry for glory. Since they all receive salary and we cannot risk all our regulars getting injured at this time of the year, there is nothing stopping the prof. encouraging by pushing everybody to make them realise their potentials. This is our year !

  10. johnny says:

    Great article on Arsespeak! Probably the Misery Brigade will say that AW has always been rubbish after reading that piece 🙂
    Anyway, we should also remember that George Weah thanked AW after winning World Fifa Player of the Year in 1995…

  11. nitin says:

    After observing Squillaci’s performance in the 6 months he;s been at the club..we can at best say that he is average..given the amount of money spent on him in comparison to the money spent by arsene on arshavin and nasri and even kosc to a certain extent..this particular signing dsnt look so good…I tried to fit an alternate explanation fot the signing-may be he was signed to sort of lead the defence and even if not then use hs exprnce and people skills to kinda help the youngestrs…but his demeanor and his playing dsnt look like even that is happening..given that i would in no way be able to find out what happens inthe dressing room (unless a player comes out with the talks), this is just an opinion
    If wenger signs a new CB, which i hope he does (possibly from with in the EPL), there would be a situation where in the furutre we have an extra..i hope wenger dsnt do wat he did with kolo and william and makes a choice based on stats and performance, which m sure he would

  12. Nii says:

    yes that is good but i think we should give Djourou a rest for the plg

  13. Miranda says:

    To respond to your comment on Adrian Durham yesterday, yes, his hatred of Arsenal is an illness.

    It began as a patriotism thing: he has a longstanding resentment of Wenger (a) for not wanting to be England manager and bringing our country to glory in the World Cup; and (b) for failing to favour young English players over the likes of Bergkamp or Cesc or Henry. (Forget the fortune he spent on Jeffers, for instance – we’re not dealing with the rational here.)

    Briefly, with the emergence of Wilshere, he changed his tune and even began complaining about dangerous tackles, but this moment of sanity didn’t last long. Clearly he needs medication as there’s obviously something unhinged about this obsession with Arsenal – he can’t leave them alone, he watches them avidly, even goes to the Emirates – and daily outpouring of hate. This suits talksport, of course, as it winds people up. The shock-jock thing.

    • Miranda says:

      Also, that reserve side that lost 10-0 to Villa was almost entirely English, which for Durham adds an extra dimension to his hatred. How dare Wenger cause English players to fail … He doesn’t coach them properly, he subjects them to humiliating defeats which will destroy their confidence for ever, and I’m going to scream and scream and scream till I’m sick.

  14. Claver says:

    If Durham wants to blame someone for failure of the English to win a major trophy in recent times, he should look no further than Ferguson.

    Alex Ferguson, for the last 12yrs, has received prime British players. All the top English players have never wanted to sign for ‘skint’ Arsenal. With the exception of Theo Walcott.

    What training has Ferguson given to players like Beckham, Scholes, Ferdinand, Rooney, Carrick…?

    Has he made them World Class players? If so, why do they perform so awfully, below expectations, on the Intl. Stage?

    For years, we Arsenal supporters have had to live on the scraps of talent looked over by the likes of Ferguson, Redknapp and other favoured, trusted managers. Just to compete.

    Ferguson has had the cream of the crop of English talent.

    But how ironic. We knew Wenger was a better manager than Ferguson all these years, but those filthy singers of Old Trafford deluded themselves and the rest of the country.

    Vindication is sweet when it comes!

    Unlike Barcelona, ManU have produced nothing but peacocks without feathers. The evidence is in the performances from the England national team.

    The only reason why people like Durham, and the media, blame Wenger is because they are conniving cowards and not men. They (the media) were happy to gloat in Arsene’s face, to laugh when Arsenal were down, when Wenger was making tough leadership decisions on spending.

    We don’t want Cahill, Bolton should sell him to ManU or Tottenham or Newcastle or Liverpool. Clubs which for years enjoyed the best of the English but did nothing with it.

    For years these clubs earned more than Arsenal, bought more than Arsenal, but did nothing with the likes of Lennon, Rooney, Bentley and likewise will do nothing with Smalling.

    The reason is simple: Wenger, who is the best manager, could not afford to buy or keep these players so he had to adjust his strategy for the sake of the club. Which he managed to, and to do so brilliantly.

    Now, they say Wenger doesn’t buy English players?

    Remember the days when Leeds, ManU, Newcastle, Liverpool bought the best players?

    I hope Wenger doesn’t buy Cahill, as a matter of principle. He should come out and say we are not interested in Cahill.

    We have the BEST MANAGER IN THE WOLRD. It shows. From the way the football is played to the way the club is run.

    So, what do other teams in the Premiership have? What does Redknapp have? He has spent more money than Arsene. Ferguson, apple of Murdoch’s eye and knight of the Blackhole.

    Quite frankly, if we spend another 5yrs without a trophy, but clear our debts, play better football, have better players, make more profits…I’d be even happier.

    Redknapp has been to West Ham, Tottenham, Portsmouth – what are the chances that Tottenham go broke?

    • Miranda says:

      Agree about Cahill – I don’t want him at all – but Werder are demanding an absurd 23m euros for Mertesacker, so who else is there? The kid at Schalke maybe, if they want to sell – big if, I’m afraid, and Wenger is pretty scrupulous about the way he treats other clubs.

      • Claver says:

        Bolton were happy to have Sam Allardyce tell his team to kick lumps out of our players. Putting at risk the value of our players due to injury.

        Now that they heard we have some money they want that too. Using bullying tactics through the media.

        Forget it! Wenger, I hope, has no more dealings with those thugs. They can go and beg ManU for money.

        Oh wait, ManU are actually begging for money!

        It’s sheer spitefulness and I hope Wenger has nothing to do with Bolton or Cahill. We need a first class defender, Cahill can’t even make the English national first team why should he play for us?

        We have had Campbell, Adams, Bould…Cahill just doesn’t cut it. We can wait for our youngsters to come through. Maybe JET, after all, Campbell started as a striker.

  15. naveen says:

    hi desigunner.. i was wondering if u could help a fellow asian buddy out by letting me promote my new blog on your site 😀 do let me know..i dont want to be pasting any site on your wall without our permission..thanks mate! cheers!

  16. Miranda says:

    Ah. Have just come home to discover Bendtner is the central striker. So that’s why we have been getting a goal a minute – him making his pacy, intelligent runs. According to the radio which I’ve just turned on, Denilson has also been awful. True?

    Dear, oh dear. And this is the side that Chelsea have just beaten something like 7 nil.

  17. Miranda says:

    Right, have now read two minute-by-minute reports and it seems we had barely a shot on target. Arseblog suggests a cardboard cut-out of Eboue would be better than the real thing. I’d recommend playing a cardboard box next time rather than Bendtner.

  18. […] Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Ipswich Town Much like the game against Leeds, I’m in the dark about the football prowess of Arsenal’s opponents in the Carling […] […]

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