Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven For Another Wigan Game

This is the third time in seven weeks that Arsenal are playing Wigan. We can be sure there will be no surprises for either team. Roberto Martinez had respect and praise for Arsenal. Arshavin is hoping for a landslide victory while Arsene says any win will be a massive result.

I liked the way Arsene is looking at things. He knows there are 9 home and 7 away games remaining and results at home will make the key difference come May. I feel Arsenal will need 12 wins out of those 16 games and 8 of these will have to come at home. Tough ask but achievable, starting with a solid display against Wigan who have failed to score at the emirates in their last five visits.

Nonetheless, the visitors must not be underestimated. They’ve achieved some good results at home and are unbeaten in three away games. The Latics also have a tighter defence away from home having conceded 8 goals fewer than at home albeit with two games less. It’s easy to see why Wenger doesn’t share Arshavin’s desire of a landslide win but those who have seen the previous two encounters of these teams will certainly expect a full strength Arsenal side to take three points.

Tactically, we can expect a Martinez to use a 4-5-1 that he seems to favour. The attacking threat will come from the pace and skills of Rodallega up front and from wide areas with players like N’Zogbia running at the defenders.

Arsenal will have to avoid the organizational mistakes we saw at Wigan that left the defence exposed. They’ll also have to do much better on set-pieces. The height and presence of Szczesny might be an advantage on this front. If the Gunners can maintain the collective shape and defend free-kicks we could see the fourth consecutive clean sheet in the Premiership. That will be some achievement!

Defensively Wigan have not conceded more than one goal in any game since playing Arsenal. We can expect the visitors to be organized and hard working. They won’t park the bus but will get men behind the ball and press hard in the middle of the park. It’s a strategy that got them a win away to Spuds early in the season.

This tactic will rely a lot on counter attacks and that’s another reason Arsenal will have to maintain the right shape. The defensive midfielders will have to be close to the back four to win the ball back early.

I have a feeling that Arsenal’s attackers can have a good game in this one, especially if they get an early goal. For that to happen, the Gunners will have to start aggressively, press higher up the pitch, and win the individual battles. I feel we have enough quality in attack to convert some of the chances that will be created but we must hope the game won’t have a start similar to the City game.

I don’t expect to see many changes to the side that played against West Ham in the League. That means Walcott, Van Persie, Fabregas, Wilshere, and Clichy should come back into the team. Sagna should keep his place ahead of Eboue.

Preferred starting eleven,

Szczesny – Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy – Song, Cesc, Wilshere – Walcott, RvP, Nasri.

Arsenal have four successive home games now and seven of the next eight are at the Emirates. As Arsene said, the home form will be crucial and it’s time to make a strong impression. Usual Jinx disclaimer applies 🙂

24 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven For Another Wigan Game

  1. Wilsheres dad says:

    Spot on with your appraisal & to keep the “first choice” starting 11 (but with Szczesny in place of Fabianski) makes perfect sense.They’re on a brilliant run of form & the more game time together as a team, the better.

  2. jimi says:

    Desi I’ve been reading ur work 4 quite sometime now and I gotta tell ya, I gt mad love ya( no homo)

    On 2 the game I can’t help but see a smashing( 3gols)
    With the trinity(RVP, Fab, Samir) all on deck I can’t help bt feel buoyant.Kos nd Backry at bac! Nt 2 mentions Theo electricity!

    3 points lads

  3. tomiwagunners says:

    good thought mr desi,my concern is our players maintaining the winning tempo and whoever starts i will be happy if today we beat wigan…i m not after plenty of goals but coming out with 3 points….mr desi i m a regular reader of your articles i like your analytic mind keep it up…….gunners 4 life

  4. IndianGunner says:

    I am little worried about playing Djourou tomorrow
    This would be his 7th game in a row in 20 odd days starting from Birmingham away on 1st
    The thing is we do need him for the Carling Cup tie coming up mid-week.
    That seems to one area that could cause problems due to lack of cover. However wigan play with 1 striker upfront and that should ease up the burden on the 2 CB’s
    Still keeping the finger’s crossed and hoping that our attack makes the game one-sided early on so that the back 4 can have a breather

  5. Caribkid says:

    The key will be which AFC team shows up. The one which beat Leeds or the one which drew with them at home. No doubt we have the talent and the skill. The problem lies in the maturity, dedication and work ethics of certain players who are overpaid for being able to kick a ball around the park.

    Hopefully, the latter will show up and we should add another notch to our belt. My prayers also go out to Song, JD and Koz, for we can’t afford to have any of them get injured at this stage.

  6. chpangemanan says:

    Couldn’t agree more with wenger’s assessment about the home games, especially if we can get positive results in the 7 coming home matches out of 8 (the away will be against newcastle), we will be in contention for quadruple.

    But, then again we have to focus at the task in hand and wigan won’t make it easy for us. I won’t expect it to be like a walk in the (upton) park like the last match, but hopefully we can win comfortably. With the so-called leaders in the team playing together, wigan will have no chance.

    I’m a bit worried about JD and Kos though, having no decent back-ups now (apart from song) and playing consecutive do-or-die matches recently…

    Great analysis by the way desi…

  7. Zgunner says:

    Just wondering…. has Eboue ever played CB??

  8. Dark Prince says:

    What makes you say they wont park the bus at emirates?? They are in the relegation zone, they’ll do anything for a point.

    I think it will all come down to whether Arsenal can score an early goal or not. If Arsenal can score early then it wud be a more open game, which favours us. Arsenal did it against West ham, Birmingham, Leeds and came away with a big wins.

  9. Salvador Dali says:

    Arsenal has a fantastic fixture schedule till end of season,if the first 11 can be protected and rotated prudently a run of wins is in the offing against the likes of Wigan, everton, wolves all at home , couple of unpleasant games against repulsive Stoke, and improved Bolton should be negotiated.

    HOWEVER,any further delay in CD backup is insane gamble; our CDefense is one (feasible) red card (Kos)or exhaustion or injury (JD) from sabotaging the whole beautiful endeavor . That Arsene smokescreening again and may very likely pass is such a loony high stake gamble IMO.
    Vermaelen will not be back in a game before end of feb. (it is ridiculous to think he could be thrown against Barca in mid feb) it will take him at least a month just to get going ,cushioned in slowly, and find his game and understanding with the others. at best he will be fit and give us a lift in the last run in (April/may). Squill was always to be a Silvestre upgrade, he was also injured for a year before he came, decent at best he never excelled in anything in particular and is on the other side of 30, one should not think of him long term anyway. he was never a real top rung CDef. In short we need a 4th Central defender IN ANY CASE, but surely now for this great run
    That is the worry.

    The other issue for me, a minority view unless Arshavin can be nurtured somehow, (some support and fan love in the staium can help ffs)back into his maverick brilliant self, our chances are very undermined; many got fed up with him,alas, but Arsh is the trump card joker in our team; the out of nowhere game changer topsy turvy match decider, a cheeky, smart, daring , solo kind of player every great team needs.
    I hope for his recovery!

  10. Salvador Dali says:

    btw anyone who says Miquel can be the answer has not seen the guy . Imagine a lumbering Bendtner turned to a central defender and you got Miquel…, yesterday in the youth cup he showed how good he is…
    Arsenal academy has not turned a great Central defender since Martin Keown in the 80. the last one!

    In general this crop of youngsters ,including Aneke and Afobe looks alarmingly short. people who speak of our ‘project’ and future should watch some of these games more before they talk

    • Joe says:

      Give them time, bro. Not all kids are Wilsheres or Ramseys. 🙂

      • IncredibleG says:

        @SD – Ignasi Miquel is only 3 months past his 18th birthday. There are VERY few CBs that would warm any Premiership bench at that age, let alone Arsenal’s. If you look at the most successful CBs in the world you will see that they tend to range between 25-35(40 in some exceptional cases).
        His speed will not be an issue if his mind continues to develop as it has so far. It’s all about positioning in his role and that will improve and his control and calmness of supply will (hopefully) set him apart in future.

        Regarding the youth project, I watch a great deal of Academy and Reserve(Arsenal’s youth team) matches and I don’t know what you’re expecting to see. The style and quality of football played at Arsenal is a lot more difficult to acheive and the youth and reserve teams are used to develop that standard as a base level from which the players can develop.
        I understand that you may be a bit worried when you see scores like 10-1 or the Academy team getting put out of the cup by Chelsea but this is school for these players. They suffer the same disappointment in their defeats as the first team but Arsenal FC only gains from it.
        If we get 4 or 5 18-21 year olds being given a chance in the 1st team from a single generation, that is a VERY successful group. Especially when you consider that some will be late bloomers.
        As Joe said, Wilshere being able to perform at the level he does is an exceptional case, as was Cesc, and we should be happy to have seen more than one such young talent in so few years.

      • Swagger says:

        Joe, I would have agreed with u before that disgusting reserve performance against Aston Villa. Arsenal scored 1 and conceded 10. The result speaks for itself.

      • IncredibleG says:

        Swagger – Arsenal’s reserves are almost entirely without 1st team experience and Aston Villa seem to care more about their reserves than they do their first team. I’m not knocking them though, they deserved their result, even if the score was flattering, and they will have 6 or 7 good prospects coming through over the next half decade at least.
        We have a massive crop of players at academy age and the majority of those that are soon to be in the squad are out on loan, those that aren’t good enough are found out at youth and reserve level and are released. The reserves exist to improve the first team, nothing more.

  11. joeduke says:

    our best youth stars are on loan dont 4get dat. We have lansbury, watt, bartley, JET, bothelo n dont 4get frimpong n coquelin

  12. Ignace says:

    on ne change pas l’equipe qui gagne. wenger must streighten the def=samba, attack=honda.why don’t spend money for cups?

  13. bang_maman ganteng says:

    can’t wait another lovely goal from rvp… hope Manure got another draw.. btw, wanna kagawa than honda.. setuja..???

  14. Soloz says:

    hi reader of ur blog.must sae m v.much impressed by yo analysis!!keep it up!on2 th football,i am a big fan of Wengers ‘starting 11’ i wonder wat took him so long 2 do that!i’v bn crying for it for a while.Barca/Madrid/Chelski/ManU all have ‘best 11’s’ and it works/worked for them!however,Arsenals SQUAD IS MUCH BETTA THAN ManU/Chelsea/Barca(my opinion) and Wenger needs 2 draft in ‘2nd team players’ while th team is on a high,while results r going our way,while there is no pressure on individual perfomances.give Rosicky/Arshavin/Diaby/Bendtner/Chamackh starting places in an ‘big game’ not jus Carling/FA Cup.not all 2gtha-Wigan away-buy blend 1 or 2 of them in.believe it or not,Arsenal winning a trophy ths season is dependant on them more than our ‘starting 11’.wen injuries/suspensions/bad form kick in…WE WILL NEED THEM!

  15. Usman says:

    Arsenal are very strongest squad arsenal win every team in the world arsenal win over barca in emirates and nou camp

  16. […] Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven For Another Wigan Game This is the third time in seven weeks that Arsenal are playing Wigan. We can be sure there will be no surprises for […] […]

  17. Kushagra India says:

    Desi gr8 post as always
    but one advice as a football fanatic and player u read into stats a lot and sometimes get fooled by it especially after reading the Cesc vs Xavi post of urs u were beating around the wrong bush the whole time…
    Bosque and Aragones certainly know better..

  18. Kushagra India says:

    and if we keep RVP NASRI CESC fit with AA23 coming back to his best we will win the BPL..

  19. Claver says:


    After watching the game last night, I came to two conclusions; either Arsenal are very good and made Wigan look extremely poor or Wigan decided to save their energy and avoid injury.

    I think that we still need a more efficient goal-scorer upfront, if we are to be ruthless in front of goal. Our strikers are exceptional but someone must become more ruthless, consistently.

    Why was Nasri not on the scoresheet today? I can understand Walcott not being on because of his stage of development, even though he should feel disappointed. But, why did Nasri pose less of a threat. Is he injured? He has the opportunity to really take things to another level with the way RvP,Walcott,Song and Fabregas are playing upfront. Opening up spaces dragging defenders out of position.

    But Nasri was far too invisible in this game. Perhaps he thrives on bigger challenges and is trying to avoid injury, but sometimes the best way to avoid injury is to be positive in your play. Take those risks, like Walcott was doing.

    Nasri is the second quickest player on that pitch, but Fabregas seemed quicker than him. Perhaps he was too comfortable playing in front of Clichy.

    Anyway, it was an excellent collective effort from Arsenal. However, playing like that, I think that Arsenal will struggle to play against Barca.

    There was a sharpness missing from Rvp and Nasri. Arsenal must learn to operate at a consistently high tempo and learn to live with it.

    Walcott is showing real leadership qualities in his closing down of players, tracking back and taking on defenders.

    I think that the frustration for Fabregas is that he understands when a team is living in that rarefied atmosphere of focus, togetherness, sharpness, determination and hardwork. And he understands that Arsenal are only dipping their toes in it at the moment.

    Wenger has a lot to do. The players have to create that atmosphere on the pitch and off, regardless of who the gaffer chooses to start the game.

    • desigunner says:

      I thought Nasri had a good game. He had 5 shots, 3 on target and the Keeper made some good saves. In contrast RvP had 7 shots, 4 on target. Cesc had 5, 2 on target. Walcott 4/1.

      I guess the difference between most teams and Arsenal is that the chances are spread around much better. That’s the reason we don’t see the same names on the score sheet in each game. For instance, Last season at United it was Rooney doing all the scoring, this season it’s Berbatov with Rooney nowhere to be seen. Most teams play a defensive game with the approach of creating chances for the striker. Arsenal have a more collective game and hence they don’t have one guy scoring most of the goals.

      I also thought the team was really sharp in this game. The tempo was quite high and I don’t think they can do much more on that front. Beyond a point we also have to give credit to the opposition Keeper and defence who tried their best. I do agree that the second string doesn’t play at the same tempo but that’s a different discussion.

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