Analysis Of Some Interesting Situations From The West Brom Game – Part II

Before I begin, I just want to take the opportunity thank everyone who sent me supportive emails over the last couple of weeks. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to reply to everyone individually. The Gooner empire is going through a difficult period and everyone has their own way of dealing with it. There was a time when I got actively involved in the discussions but now it seems pointless to go through the same arguments over and over again. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing but just that I’ll try to keep it about football and analysis of the details of the game rather than opinions on individuals even though that seems to be the popular thing to do at the moment.

Coming back to the game against West Brom, I wanted to talk about a couple of other observations I had.


Click on the image to view a larger version

The first image is from the build up to the moment when Van Persie hit the bar and Ramsey couldn’t score from the rebound.

What I noticed about this move was that Clichy actually made a run on the inside channel. Full-backs these days don’t do this on a regular basis and I guess there must be a good reason for that. But there are times when I feel such runs can be extremely useful in opening the opposition up. Evra is one player who does create and utilize such situations rather well.

I was happy that Clichy moved in with the ball from the Arsenal half before playing it to Arshavin on the wing and continuing on his run. Hopefully we will see more of this from Sagna as well. Both Frenchmen did use this tactic and excelled in the 07-08 season but that used to be in a 4-4-2 formation.

In that year the understanding between the wide midfielders and the full-backs was impeccable. If this game is a sign that those movements are coming back it can only lead to a massive improvement in Arsenal’s attacking options.

There was another move in that game which gave me some food for thought. This came just after the half-hour mark. Clichy got the ball on the left inside the Arsenal half. He moved forward with it and played it to Van Persie who had come deep and wide. The Dutchman rolled it first time to Arshavin, who squared it to Ramsey in acres of space. The following snapshot captures this moment.


Click on the image to view a larger version

It’s interesting to note that when Ramsey is about to get the ball there is a great deal of space behind the WBA left-back and central defender. Nasri is free, wide on the right but is also pretty static. Sagna is jogging forward.

Now I’m not sure why Nasri didn’t make a run into this space. It should not have been too tough for Ramsey to find a pass into such a vacant area. Granted, at least one of the defenders would have gotten back to track the Frenchman, but with this kind of space who wouldn’t back Samir to dribble past his man?

I’m fairly certain if it had been Cesc in place of Rambo, Nasri would have been off in a flash. We have seen that combination work quite often. So was this opportunity missed because Ramsey hasn’t played regularly and Nasri didn’t know what to expect?

It’s difficult to say exactly what went on. There are many players involved and each has multiple decisions to make. Any one, if out of sync, could break the move.

In this case what eventually happened was that Rambo took a couple of touches while running square. Then he passed it across to Sagna who’d moved forward. Ultimately the winger and full-back were hemmed into a blind alley.


Click on the image to view a larger version

Arsenal get into such positions on the wings quite often. Very rarely does something come out of it and when it does it’s usually due to some individual magic by Cesc, who always seems to be around when needed.

Those who’ve been reading my match reports regularly will know that I often talk about switching flanks at pace or moving the ball at a faster tempo. The above situation is a classic example where moving the ball from the left to the right without many touches could have led to an incisive attack. But for that to happen all the players need to be on the same page and that’s not easy to achieve when there are so many changes to the starting eleven due to injuries and other reasons.

In such cases the functional approach of Fergie and other managers could come in handy. It’s not easy to get in behind teams that are defending deep. If the wide players are under instructions to be alert for such runs when the ball is on the other flank it could speed up the moves. Not only would it lead to more threatening moments, it will also create space for the full-back to run into thereby creating two good options for the man on the ball. As I said in the previous article, Wilshere, Ramsey, Cesc, and even Rosicky are capable of finding the runner when they have that kind of space and time on the ball in the middle of the park.

While it can’t be completely eliminated, such tactics will also reduce the number of times the Gunners run into cul-de-sacs on the wings before passing it backwards.

I want to end with a disclaimer which seems very important in the current climate. Such articles are not meant to prove that Wenger is tactically clueless or that some players don’t know what they are doing. They’re certainly not intended to imply that I can see certain things on the pitch that the manager, his staff, or the players can’t. Only the extremely ignorant can fool themselves into believing such self-indulgent notions.

Football is a dynamic game and a lot goes on that we tend to miss. I’m just trying to discuss some observations and I have no doubt the coaching staff and the players do the same. It could be that what they try doesn’t always work out. It could also be that they might have a genuine blind spot somewhere or a completely different way of looking at these things.

Personally, I’m off the opinion that Arsenal could do with some changes/additions to the coaching staff. I also feel there is room for the team to improve on the tactical front. But I try not to disrespect the people who have been at the club for years and have worked hard sincerely. And I never assume it’s as simple as saying “use more width”, “put in more crosses”, and stuff like that. That only works in pundit-land not in real world football management.

47 Responses to Analysis Of Some Interesting Situations From The West Brom Game – Part II

  1. Mark from the Netherlands says:


    Do you think Arsenal will dominate world football if mr. Wenger keeps faith with his first and second 11?

  2. Wrenny says:

    Excellent work Desi, thank you for bringing these observations to our attention.

  3. w12mcee says:

    I know you mentioned leaving the staff alone and this is no disrepect to pat rice, and i’ve no idea what he is like behind closed doors but personally i think someone with more presence should be no.2, if anything just for the motivational side of things. for me it should be steve bould. maybe i’m wrong, maybe rice does his job as good as it can be done. i’m only going on the impression i’m given and i think we need a bit of fire off the pitch aswell…nice 1 ladz.

    • msl says:

      I think some shuffling in the backroom staff should do us good. I would try out Ray Wilkins maybe if he is still available.

      • Flobaba says:

        Poor Pat Rice. What has he ever done to deserve this? How many assistant coaches have you heard of that tell the head coach what he should be doing, or are constantly influencing his decisions? Who’s the present assistant to Mourinho at Real Madrid? Pep at Barca? or even Fergie and Ancelotti?

        Leave Pat Rice alone. Direct your inquisitions at the main man at the helm of affairs.

  4. Phv says:

    Before we were a counter attacking team and no one was complaining about the way we were playing so why did Wenger change it (5-6 years ago) to the slow build-up tiki-taka approach? I want him to stay and correct that because we are creating less clear cut chances. Passing the ball in midfield without any penetration is so boring.Barca need a legendary player like Messi to make it work. I think we have been a counter attacking in most of our away games this season but we need more of that.

    • w12mcee says:

      thats a good point but we really starting doing that when teams realised they had to park the bus. but we do need to find a way around that though. its tactically more complexed than people think.

    • Claver says:

      You have a valid point, but I think perhaps consider that the Invincibles were a more powerful team than this one.

      Remeber Vieira(sp) running through defences? Or look at Henry’s physique and that of RvP.

      The ‘small’ like Ljundberg, Overmars(who had left I think) were pretty explosive players.

      Perhaps Walcott is the only one with that ‘explosive-ness’.

      Nasri is more elegant than explosive, I think.

    • Wrenny says:

      How can you counter-attack if the opposition has decided to park the bus? What happened 5-6 years ago was that Mourinho arrived at Chelsea, which played a part in English football shifting from playing the adventurous 4-4-2 to more conservative 4-5-1/4-3-3 shapes.

      Look back at some of the quick break away goals that the Arsenal Invincibles team used to score so regularly, and how few opposition defenders they had to cut through. Then compare that to the Arsenal of today, and the wall of bodies we face almost every game.

      • Phv says:

        Wrenny, Man Utd keep scoring goals on counter attack this season. They let the opposition attack them. Teams know the way Mourinho teams play but still Inter and now Real Madrid keep catching them on the counter and he wins trophies with that style.Sir Alex and Mourinho teams seem to find a way to score quick break away goals.

        What I think about Man Utd is that they keep giving the ball away in mifield so the opposition starts thinking that they are rubbish and comes out more and that`s how Man Utd find space to score.
        I think we should try that – Give the ball away on purpose and let the opposition attack us and then we find space to counter attack them.

  5. SgtWilGunner says:

    I think AW tried to rectify this in the second half by playing the right footed Nasri on the left side of the Midfield while the left footed Wilshere was put on the right. This was meant to make switching flanks faster but we all know Cesc is the only one in that team with the confidence, vision and technical ability to produce such passes. The others am sure still see the openings but are not able to exploit them soon enough before the gaps are closed down by the opponents. Either that or they don’t have the confidence to try them out. This is especially true with players such as Diaby who we all know misses many opportunities to make what could be killer passes because he usually is capable of prying open defenses with his runs, but cannot put proper weight on the passes.

  6. Claver says:

    Desi, a small quibble; it would make a lot of difference to freeze the action when the ball is at a player’s feet, where possible.

    That picture of Ramsey is pretty hard to analyse if we can’t see his options with the ball at his feet.

  7. Claver says:

    Also Desi, I was watching some old videos of the NBA Chicago Bulls team with Pippen, Rodman and Jordan.

    Do you think that Arsenal miss a Rodman-type player?

    I know that a lot of team sports followed Phil Jackson’s model after he won the Championships by having a Dennis Rodman in the team.

    Arsene doesn’t seem to have one. A player who will not be awed by the opposition.

    Rodman was never fazed, awesome foil to Jordan’s gentleman approach.

  8. Claver says:

    The thing about Rodman was that he freaked everyone out, even Jordan.

    Rodman was always fantastic against the physical teams.

  9. Sammy says:

    I quite agree with your statement “I often talk about switching flanks at pace or moving the ball at a faster tempo”. I myself have noticed this on numerous occasions. Many a times there is an opportunity for switching flanks, but the person carrying the ball keeps on running with it for some time then pass it on to the midfield players who take a couple of touches before releasing it to the other flank. The spatial advantage is lost by that time.

    I must say that I quite enjoying your posts. Keep it up!

  10. alphie says:

    excellent article desi. your disclaimer is enlightening.

    am looking forward to see how the players will respond to the challenges into the run should tell us more about them. i have a feeling arshavin will step it up a notch or two and theo’s return could really be good news for us.we’ve lack speed upfront plus having the captain back is only good.

  11. Maximilian G. says:

    it is Rocky Rocastle memorial day ,
    It is great to pay tribute to an Arsenal legend with class AND heart
    watch this wonderful tribute

  12. JJ Pittman says:

    Have to break poorly self-imposed silence to add my own tribute to Rocky. He was the the transitional player from 1nil to the Arsenal to our beautiful game players since. Never understood how he could be sold to Leeds cloggers, and probably never will. Didn’t have the details then that we do now, and even more mystified!? We’ll need every bit of the emotion from the tribute on Saturday. C’mon you Gooners!

  13. Kushagra India says:

    On the sunday supplement the gentleman from the times of AST just said this–

    Times – This is the worst Man United team to ever win the league.

    Presenter – Does that make the rest of the teams, Arsenal, Chelsea worse too?

    Times – Yes.

    In fact I havent been saying worse United team, I have been saying worse team ever, worse than Blackburn ever were.

    Presenter – Do you think Arsene has taken Arsenal as far as he can?

    Guest – No, but he has to change, he has to spend money on the defender he has needed, he has to spend money on the players he needs.

    So may as well say he is finished then cause he aint changing.

    Guest – every season the fans say “If Van persie would have been fit” dont you get it, HE WILL NEVER BE FULLY FIT!

  14. Kushagra India says:

    and what excuses are left for Almunia none really he has been hear fro ages and barring 6 months he has been a disgrace…

  15. Kushagra India says:

    I wonder what our final points total will be this year and I wonder how different it will be to last years?

  16. Kushagra India says:

    Same grave problems lack of killer instinct lack of leaders etc ….

  17. Kushagra India says:

    How a player who wants to leave can be our captain…

  18. Kushagra India says:

    Another issue our youth players are one of highest earners around the globe and we all are seeing their output..talkin about Diaby Bendy et al…..

  19. Kushagra India says:

    Too much too early….

  20. dy says:

    to break down a walled defence, you challenge their players, go into their box, go in pair or a triangle. Say, a combination of AA23, Nasri and Fab, someone good with close control of the ball. It doesn’t hurt once inside the box because if you control the ball , your opponents tackles will be very likely resulted in a penalty. If not, as shown by Nasri a few times already, you just dribbled around their players and find an opening and shoot for goal. Simple.
    When you lack that skill and desire ( or bravery ?) to run with the ball and penetrate the defence, it would be like Arsenal playing sideway passes outside the box and never threatened anyone.

  21. Kushagra India says:

    One can’t judge players in 1 game or 2 or even a season but the last few years have well and truly showed that the likes of Denilson Bendtner Almunia(OMG) et al are not good enuf for the Arsenal no matter how u put it or justify it by telling Reina made howlers ,Henry missed chances…The bigger picture tell us there are a lot of mercenaries playing and our captain shows time and again his heart isn’t here….

  22. Kushagra India says:

    I dunno why is Arshavin getting substituted time and again….

  23. alphie says:

    desi write an article already.we are tired of reading crappy blogs elsewhere.
    have a strong heart and ignore the foolish comments people make.we are all allowed to have opinions…sensible ones that is.

  24. critic says:

    desi is dead…..

  25. Kushagra India says:

    Desi pls continue mate……..

  26. santori says:

    Where are you desi? You alright?

  27. Kushagra India says:

    WE need a clinical striker….simple as…

  28. Zgunner says:

    Go Gunners! COME ON!

  29. dhoni says:

    Think desi is still hungover after India’s victory last saturday!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Joe says:

    Where are you, bro? We need you more than ever!

  31. Kushagra India says:

    As desi is not posting here is another 1 to keep u busy

  32. Pistol says:

    Desi – whats happened I know times are hard for us gooners but come on!!! You could have done a great Blog about Spurs getting tonked in the CL in this time! lol 🙂

    Congrats to India – we better hear from you soon!lol

  33. Claver says:


    ‘Things are gonna get betta!’

    The circumstances of Arsenal are not at all ‘sporting’, I wouldn’t take these results anymore seriously than if Murdoch came and said he’s a self-made millionaire – sorry, billionaire.

    We, at Arsenal, have the best team in the PL. The present position of ManU tells you all you need to know about the ‘British psyche’, it is not a reflection of the abilities of individuals on the pitch.

    RvP IS a better player than Rooney.
    Fabregas IS the best player in the PL.
    Wenger IS the best coach in Europe over the last ten years.

    We know this.

    Let’s not be fooled by the media in general, we know what they are like. They could tell you black is white and alright, if you are willing to believe them.

    Murdoch controls the media, controls the football, and has supported ManU for as long as he has appointed public service officials.

    Somethings are bigger than just football Desi.

  34. HexyDre says:

    Anyone knows what’s up with Desi?

  35. chpangemanan says:

    And still no new update? Where are you mate? You even didn’t say anything about the blackburn match?

    And also no preview against blackpool?

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