Thoughts On The Tactics And Starting Eleven Against West Brom

There have only been a handful of games this season which I thought were going to be easy. The home game against WBA was one of those. Such experience can make one respect a sentence like – there are no easy games in the Premiership – instead of ignoring it as a cliché. So Arsenal travel to the Hawthorns in what is another potential banana skin against a side battling relegation.

I haven’t seen West Brom play after the change of manager so I’m not sure if there have been any major changes to their tactical approach. Going by Hodgson’s style at previous clubs I expect to see a well organized defence with persistent pressing by five men in the middle in a manner similar to Sunderland. It will not be easy for Arsenal to bring the ball out from the defence in the absence of Song and Diaby so Wilshere will have to play in a deeper role and take more responsibility in terms of holding off the pressure to link the defence with the offence. His excellent experience against Barca will be handy.

Arsenal will also need to move the ball as a fast tempo to break the rhythm of this pressing and to create openings. That means the players will have to play with a high level of confidence and energy. After a week’s break there should be no room for excuses like ‘we lacked sharpness’.

The other major tactical points worth noting are in defence. The West Brom attackers use the spaces between the midfield and defence, and between the defenders themselves fairly well. The two centre-backs will have to track their movement without fail and should not allow the likes of Odemwinge, Brunt, and Morrison to get in the gaps unmarked. They also have players in the middle who can play some defence splitting passes. That means the midfield and forward players will have to do a good job of closing down the man on the ball.

Even the full-backs will have to do better with their positioning because the West Brom wingers are definitely better than the likes of Fabio and Rafael playing on the wings. Sagna and Gibbs were quite poor against United. Hopefully it was a one-off blip for Sagna and with Clichy back both flanks should be better protected.

The big question for Arsene will be the attacking midfield role. He could pick Nasri, Rosicky, or Ramsey for that role. If Rambo is fully fit he’d be my choice but I’m not convinced about his sharpness.

These days Arsene starts Rosicky in the middle and Nasri on the flank but in this game I’d swap the two. The main reason for that is to have Nasri on the ball more frequently.

The reason for picking Rosicky on the right ahead of Bendtner or Eboue, the only other options, is that he can play the tippy-tappy game. If the Dane is picked in that role Arsenal will struggle to deal with West Brom’s pressing and will not be able to bring the ball out to the attacking areas that often.

I’d also instruct Wilshere and Denilson to play much deeper than usual and not stray too far in front of the defence. Arshavin will leave the left exposed so having only one deep-lying midfielder will leave too many vacant spaces for the defenders to cover.

With so many second string players in the starting line-up the tactical focus has to be on a patient and cautious approach. I don’t expect Arsenal to pile on the goals in this fixture but a grinding win with a couple of telling moments created by Arshavin, Nasri, or RvP should suffice.

Probable starting line-up,

Almunia – Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy – Denilson, Nasri, Wilshere – Rosicky, RvP, Arshavin.

I know the likes of Denilson and Rosicky are not popular figures but at the moment this seems to be the best possible line-up. If things are tight, Ramsey could be introduced at half time or the hour mark.

I expect this game to be settled with a one goal margin. If the tactics are right and there aren’t any glaring individual mistakes it should be at the right end.

29 Responses to Thoughts On The Tactics And Starting Eleven Against West Brom

  1. riad says:

    ramsy must start and rozicky to be in bench

  2. MSL says:

    I would much much rather play Eboue on the right side. He has decent defensive capabilites and is a good winger who can come in or cross really well. I have always wondered why we don’t rotate our midfield with Eboue as RM or Right Wing. He has all the qualities.

    • Metalhead says:

      I second that. I think Arsenal have missed a pacy midfielder. Eboue can provide that.

    • Davi says:

      Or even in CM. He at least has guts and the energy to run for 90mins.
      Denilson for me doesn’t usually do that to anywhere near the level he should for a defensive CM. The last game at old trafford was the first time I’ve seen him sprint all season, and I thought he had a very good game. If he can keep that level of performance up, then great, but all the signs are that he will go back to just trying to coast through difficult games, in which case eboue should be given a shot there, with ramsey coming back to fitness and lansbury hopefully joining the 1st team next season

  3. simmer10 says:

    Denilson and Rosicky in the same midfield is just asking for trouble! I would like to see Miguel at cb.

  4. Listen Up says:

    Almunia/ Clichy Squillaci Koscielny Sagna/ Wilshere Denilson Ramsey/ Arshavin RvP Nasri <<<<Das wassup

  5. Sub_Rosa says:

    I thought Ramsey looked very sharp in his little cameo appearance while in midfield (and i gotta say it was a fantastic moment to see him back on the field playing for us again). I kept a close eye on him when he came on and he moved the ball around very well, knocking some great accurate forward passes over 30 yards to the attackers and he definitely looked up for it.

    So I would have no hesitation in starting him tomorrow and if Wenger decides he wants to kill the game off as early as possible he would be the right option in cesc’s role without a doubt.

    However, I think it would also leave our bench lacking the option to bring in some additional drive in midfield if we find ourselves having to chase the game in the 2nd half, and AW always seems to keep something in reserve for this possibility. Rosicky can’t do this anymore in my opinion. So instead of starting with Ramsey and substituting him at 60mins, I expect AW to bring Ramsey on as a sub for either Denilson or Rosicky … or whoever decides it’s their turn to breakdown.

    I’m going for a 3-1 win. The squad know what’s at stake and will not take this game lightly.

  6. Tee one says:

    I will like to see ramsy in the centre role, wey eboue in right wing

  7. Kubla Khan says:

    It goes without saying that without Fabregas and Theo, Arsenal struggle, and tomorrow will be no exception. West Brom will be organised, they have a lot to for, which Denilson and Rosicky don’t have to. The rest of the Arsenal players will be thinking about the CL draw that was made today, thinking of what could have been. They will have no desire, focus or quality, the Wenger triad that is. After the match which I expect as a draw or a West Brom victory, Wenger will lament the mental strength factor. However, I pray that I am proved wrong.

    Wenger has been quoted as saying today that he will honour his contract till 2014. Ah! What tragedy. A Shakespearian drama, tragedy and comedy will continue. Arsenal, who can save you?

  8. Tee Song says:

    Some difficult choices for Wenger tomorrow. Difficult because it seems none of the available backups has played well this season. Back five picks itself, Wilshere in a deep position in midfield and RvP and Nasri I agree with. For attacking midfielder, I’d like to see Aaron. Ramsey played six full games with Cardiff in February so fitness wise, he should do all right. Maybe he’s not match sharp but you have to start somewhere. I’d much rather him than Rosicky who, barring the first game away to Liverpool, has been singularly ineffective in this role. Denison alongside Wilshere seems our only choice but when we went down to 10 men after Djourou’s injury, it seems illustrative of Wenger’s assessment of Denilson’s defensive skills that he opted to play Rambo as a centerback.

    As the third forward, I think Bendtner out right would be my choice. No, he doesn’t play tiki taka but with Nasri, Rambo, Wilshere and RvP dropping deep, I don’t think you need another player to play short passes in triangles. I agree that Hodgson is likely to play a five man midfield and look to press aggressively. Wilshere, with Rambo and Nasri dropping deep should have the technical quality to beat the press. It’s not as if Theo does that when he plays. Bendtner gives us a long ball outlet to bypass the press. Plus, NB52 is a player who will make runs behind the defense and take up shooting positions in the box, something we sorely lack without Theo. It’s something RvP could do more often but his role as false 9 means he’s often in deeper positions. Against WBA, Eboue seems too defensive while Arshavin’s role for the remainder of the season should be as an impact sub as his unwillingness to track back simply leaves us too exposed.

  9. Greencard usa says:

    Once again we are bound to get some sour decisions and I hope our players do not make too much on the field about such slights. Forget the referee and giving over to emphasizing the slight; get on with it! Overly dramatic and emotional responses not only do nothing to alter the referee’s disposition but more importantly seem to sap the resolve of our own players. It is important that the effect of any injustice is minimized so that it is not allowed to impede the collective resolve. Far too often such individual slights accumulate to snowball in a way that affects our collective psyche.

    Hope we have an excellent game and give a full accounting of our undoubted talents and abilities. Cheers!

    • JJ Pittman says:

      Well said! Very likely that RvP’s swipe at Villa, and probable comments he made to the ref or within his hearing caused the ref to determine to punish RvP for anything he could imagine. Never mind the 3(!) throat grabs and the vicious tackle that preceded them. The ref took offense at RvP and punished him and us.
      Likewise, the referees as a group were offered that we dared complain about the offside that led to Saha’s goal for Everton. They made us pay at Newcastle.
      We must maintain our cool, no matter what.
      Have we learned that lesson?

      • JJ Pittman says:

        Offended, not offered. Damned autocorrect!

      • Davi says:

        I agree with you that our players have to be streetwise and cool at times, but it’s outrageous that our players in particular should have to learn these lessons while our rivals are allowed to, for example, elbow people in the head, kick players off the ball (giggs vs wolves), try to score with their hands (scholes vs wolves), try to injure our players (scholes vs us), kick our players in the chest (ferdinand vs us)– not to mention the at least 2 clear red cards that gary neville managed to avoid this year before his retirement — without any punishment!
        I don’t think rooney should have even been playing against us in the FA Cup game, as it should have been a 3-match ban (at least) for violent conduct (the media seemed to forget about that after the chelsea game) – so that ref might well have cost us the FA cup!

      • JJ Pittman says:

        100% agree with you, but it is obvious refs look for us to foul and ignore fouls against us. Any neutral observer can tell that. Wish I knew why.
        Do they hate AW that much? Do they really want clogging football? Any neutral observer will also tell you the English are famous for rough play, even perversely proud of it. I’ve followed the Arsenal for 40 years and was proud of the toughness of the old 1 nil to the Arsenal teams, but like the beautiful game more. If we put it in the net more, we shouldn’t have to worry.
        No matter what, though, when we complain, or worse, retaliate, we are always the ones who are punished. We must suffer in silence or be punished. No other conclusion can be drawn from almost every match we play.

      • Greencard usa says:

        Agree with Davie as well; The response we are talking about is controlling an important part of the game; we know we can do that in terms of playing strategies and talents directly related to playing football. What we do not do so well in the area of control is control the emotions of game; we allow others through the very tactics mentioned to unsettle us. We need to become, as Pittman says ‘streetwise’.

  10. leirbag says:

    I’d start b52 and ramsey. We’ve been packing the attacking line with many dribblers and this has caused a drop in attacks as rosicky, nasri, diaby, arshavin waste time dribbling which allows the opponents to regroup. Bendtner is not so good at receiving and dribbling but he is so attack minded and plays the ball forward.Further still, he puts pressure on the defenders coz he gives another dimension

  11. 8 inch knob says:

    Go left heavy.


  12. Phil23 says:

    Sagna Squillaci Koscielny Clichy
    Nasri Ramsey Wilshere Gibbs
    I’d like to see these personnel in a 4 4 1 1 formation. the win is vital. Good luck Lads! Btw Greencard hit the nail on the head.

  13. manJohel says:

    Sorry guys,but I don’t see how we can win this game. We’ll be fed with the usual disappointment from Denilson,Rosicky and SQ. Without Song and Fabregas in d midfield,we hardly win games(I pray that changes from today)

  14. jonty says:



    4 accross the middle nasri off rvp 3-1 go home.

  15. Dudufox says:

    Arsene should play eboue ahead of rosicky for his attacking and defending prowess and ramsey ahead of denilson who will be a more attacking threat.My midfield will be ramsey wilshere eboue and attacking trio of nasri rvp and arshavin.Nasri will cover clichy better and arshavin will focus on attack with eboue to cover for him and sagna.

  16. danny says:

    diaby, denilson, almunia, rosicky,Bendtner… all this players need to be sold out nest season………….or arsenal will not carry anything for there life again.wat to see ramsey play today game……..up gooners

  17. Canadiangunner says:

    You can’t be serious in starting Eboue! He may be able to carry the ball forward but what does he do then, he passes it or loses it to the opposition thereby needlessly truing out our supporting midfield and exposing our defense. We have seen that he is also clueless in defense. He may have become a bit of a cult hero in the last 2 years having survived the wrath of our crowd but he is a bit player at best.
    442 with rvp and Chamakh up top, Nasri has to be a central figure, a good chance to start Ramsay with Gibbs and Jack in front of the defenders.
    Time to change the game and not to preserve value by pretending that Denilson, Rosicky, or Eboue are worth more than their bus fare home.

    • Davi says:

      I think it’s a reaction to the recent poor performances of some of our players.
      Don’t forget though, that eboue has won us games before with his attacking play (wigan last year springs to mind), although that has usually come from fullback, rather than midfield.

  18. titi says:

    absolutely true, but its the high time we got shooting from long range as Rooney does it 4 manu.Arsenal pliz we wanna trophy this season.

  19. Dudu says:

    I prefer starting Chamakh or Bendtner alongside Persie. Call it 4-4-1-1 or Persie playing Cesc role. Having Chamakh gives us another option. Lads know how important this game is.

  20. […] Thoughts On The Tactics And Starting Eleven Against West Brom There have only been a handful of games this season which I thought were going to be easy. The home game against WBA […] […]

  21. Claver says:


    I’ve just had an epiphany.



    Man U are utter rubbish! An incredibly aweful, pathetic, limp, pasty club mired in debt! I hope the Americans ask for their money back.

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