Tiny Totts 3 – 3 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

What a cracker! Probably was the most open and entertaining game I have seen in the Premiership this season. Begrudgingly, I have to say congratulations to the Tiny Totts for putting up a performance like that. I lost count of the long balls and hopeful crosses but in between all that there was some good football from the hosts.

I thought one of the reasons the game was so tightly fought was that Modric was playing out of his skin and might have produced his game of the season. For Arsenal, Cesc was nowhere close to his best. The other reason of course was that Arsenal really struggle against the long-ball/cross-to-big-man style and the Tinies pulled it off pretty well.

To be fair no team should be criticized for a 3-3 draw in which either side could have scored more. I loved the similarities between the goals. Both teams scored the second from outside the box from a position one would not have normally expected the ball to go in. Arsenal’s first was a lovely through ball that caught the defence out and Spuds scored a similar one for their third. Their first and Arsenal’s third came from crosses into the box from the right and some defensive mistakes. Freakish!

I don’t think in this game anyone can say that Arsenal bottled it. That would be an extremely ignorant and lazy opinion based solely on the fact that a lead was lost. But in such games I find that irrelevant. We cannot be in denial about some of the weaknesses that Arsenal have. When the opposition exploits those we just have to say fair play to them. I’m convinced Wenger has some defensive blindspots that are about the system and not individuals. That’s the reason I have been talking about a new defence coach but now is not the time to get into that. One thing is for sure, if you think buying a goalkeeper or defenders would have changed anything in this game you haven’t been watching closely. It’s a complicated topic so more on this in the summer.

I don’t want to write about the goals and other aspects in detail as it would turn this article into a novel. I’ll just cover key aspects in the bullet point form.

Tiny Goals

  • First– Diaby should have read it better. Central defenders were doing a good job on the strikers. Szczesny should have covered his near post as Diaby would most probably have blocked a strike across the goal. Van der Vaart deserves credit for his opportunism and technique.
  • Second– System problem, too many players in the box no one outside. Have covered this in the past so will leave it for now.
  • Third– Stupid mistakes by Sagna and Szczesny. Sagna moved forward when that angle was already covered, he should have moved towards the centre. Szczesny could easily have pulled out. At this level the keeper should be aware that the attacker is at a hopeless angle and is most likely looking to go down rather than control the ball. Lennon anyway doesn’t have the control to take a soft touch in such a position.

Arsenal Goals

  • First – Another superb break at speed. Excellent finish from Theo.
  • Second – Opportunism and technique from Nasri. Awful tracking by Van der Vaart.
  • Third – Excellent cross by Sagna. Rubbish from Gallas. Wonderful chip by an alert Walcott. Powerful header by RvP, top class save by Gomes, good finish from Van Persie.

General Observations

  • The Tinies moved the ball from flank to flank really well. Even though my head was aching after watching some of the long balls, I must commend their general approach and the technique to successfully execute it on many occasions.
  • Arsenal seem to suffer an identity crisis at times, especially when the team is leading by a couple of goals. This team plays its best football when the pressing starts higher up. They can also do a decent job when they stay back with discipline (Wolves, Everton etc). But there are times when we get stuck with a couple of players in a no man’s land. That’s the time when the attack doesn’t have enough numbers to create or press and the defence doesn’t have enough bodies to cover the key areas.
  • The Gunners didn’t do a good job on the second ball on some occasions. I thought this was related to the identity crisis issue as the bodies were in the wrong areas of the pitch. It’s another issue that I want to expand on with snapshots, either next week or in the summer.
  • There were acres of space in the Spuds half but the system didn’t allow Theo the chance to run into those spaces often enough. That’s another example that the team/manager doesn’t have a clear cut approach in some cases. If you want to attack after three goals, press a bit higher up. Don’t allow the opposition so much time to pick out effective long balls. If you want to defend, change the shape and get the fastest man down the middle.
  • Arsenal should not have played the end-to-end game in the second half but slowed the tempo down a bit. This would have allowed the team to get back into shape and pushed the Tinies back. When a game is so spread out it favours the team that thrives on long-balls.
  • Redknapp brought on Sandro for Pavlyuchenko in the final fifteen minutes. Arsenal introduced Arshavin and Bendtner. Shows what both managers wanted to achieve.
  • Let’s not forget no visiting team has scored three at WHL this season. Nor the fact that United, Chelsea, and City have all drawn here. Arsenal might have played a more cautious game and come up with a 1-1 or a 0-0. People would have found other reasons to criticize the team then. But the simple fact is that it’s no longer an easy ground to get results at.

Individual Performances:

Szczesny: Made some good saves. Could have done better for the first and second goals. Should have done better for the third.

Sagna: Good game on the right, especially against Bale. But made a big blunder for the third goal. Put in a couple of good crosses.

Djourou: Had a few shaky moments. Didn’t look like he was prepared to attack the second ball after Crouch won the first, instead he was watching the ball.

Koscielny: Lost almost everything against Crouch in the air. Can’t really blame him but he needs to learn how to make an impact using his body to put the striker off.

Clichy: Did quite well given the fact that even with Nasri on the left he often had to deal with two attackers on his own. Could have done more in attack as Van der Vaart would not have tracked him that well. No one at Arsenal seemed alert to this option.

It was disappointing to see crucial mistakes from reliable players like Szczesny and Sagna. The back five did as well as they could considering how often the team lost its shape.

Song: Had to do a lot of chasing as the ball moved from flank to flank. Was a bit clumsy in the first half, lost his footing and control of the ball on occasions, needs to do a better job of holding his position in the defensive areas.

Cesc: Surprisingly poor touch in and around the opposition box. Tried some shots from distance late in the game that should satisfy some fans who keep demanding it. Was one of the players who was caught in a no man’s land quite often.

Diaby: Had a decent game but made some mistakes. Was lucky not to be punished for his tackle on Modric. Should have done a better job on Van der Vaart for the first goal.

In the second half, the midfield didn’t control the game as well as they could have done against a two-man opposition. I also thought the midfielders should have been closer to the back five. Only Song was staying deeper and that sucked Walcott back whenever the ball was kicked long to Arsenal’s right. It also left Clichy in difficult situations.

Walcott: Put in some amazing crosses. Excellent finish. Good assist for RvP. Did more than his share of defensive tracking as well.

RvP: Excellent movement, good goal, should have done better on certain occasions when he was in possession in dangerous areas.

Nasri: Opportunistic goal. Didn’t offer enough in attack or defence. Another player who was caught in a limbo quite often. Struggles on the left so it’s a bit of a sacrifice to play him there but that’s the best balance this squad can achieve right now.

The attacking players were incredible in the first half and extremely clinical. Struggled in the second half when the game was stretched. I would like to see Nasri and Walcott swapping positions during the game.

Wenger: This is the best team available to the manager, often called the first-team by some fans. Can’t criticize the team selection. Don’t know why Diaby was taken off so no comment on that. Wasn’t able to instruct the players to control the shape or the pace of the game. Individual mistakes came from usually reliable players so again tough to blame the manager for that. On the positive side his system was the only one that opened up this opposition so often in their own backyard. If you don’t believe me watch the opening day Spuds-City game to get some perspective.


44 Responses to Tiny Totts 3 – 3 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. Kushagra India says:

    If the players keep making the same mistake again and again and many of them are internationals then who is to blame sorry we again through a two goal lead just like in so may previous occasions in different ways and for different reasons thats for sure but when manure gave us another chance which we didnt take it tells us that this team has psychic issues …..

    • Arsenalisto says:

      Definitely agree with you but disagree with Desi, if the team couldn’t keep a 2-goal lead yet again why can’t you call that bottling it? Yes the game was open with end-to-end stuff but that’s not what we wanted, we wanted 3 pts and we didn’t get them, simple as that, this team shatters to pieces under pressure.

      • santori says:

        Yes there is no excuse for us letting our lead slip.

        I think we need to be more concrete when we are ahead.

        There just doesn’t seem to be proper ochestration during crucial periods.

        This stems from our current inability to approach the game with more than one system and a lack of leadership on the pitch.

        Along with that, the coaching set up is quite obviously not catching some very common and recurring errors.

    • Finnish Hit says:

      I read today (I think on Football365) that ManU have lost 14 points this season from leading positions, and Arsenal have lost 13.

      An interesting stat, that.

      Of course, our turnarounds have been much much more dramatic. And yes, I agree that the team sometimes goes numb, sometimes panics. But let’s try to remain rational here, even if the boys can’t. 😉

      • Kushagra India says:

        Most of them at the start of the season .1 win in 7 things going awry after Carling cup paints a different picture.Deja Vu just like last year,and I still believe Manure would be poorest BPL champions of the last decade…We have an interesting summer ahead….

  2. Greencard USA says:

    Disappointed we did not get the 3 points; but, this game reminded me why I love Arsenal. When their legs were there they produced the excitement and joy of watching top level football. Wish they had as much time between games as the toons had. But despite the urgent league situation, I somehow do not feel as bad about this loss as I felt about recent others. Perhaps, because Arsenal played as Arsenal can – barr a few unfortunate errors.

    • Finnish Hit says:

      but, this game reminded me why I love Arsenal

      There are so many fantastic games we’ve seen to love Arsenal more! What excitement again last night… and a big hand to Spurs and van der Vaart and Modic and ‘Arry for their performance last night. Beautiful football, great spirit, great team tactics on both sides. Thanks to Desi for this reasonable blog.

  3. Kushagra India says:

    Song goes lot of hot and cold for me….especially against quality opposition he under performs more often then not .My first priority in summer will be a versatile defensive player who can substitute at the back as well in the time of crisis….and a leader….the managers who are winning things always talk about that and we forget our captain is still 23 with burden of world on his shoulders and he has got no one to look to in the time of crisis …..The transition between the invincibles and today’s team has been abrupt with all the crop gone in one go and we are still paying the price…Giggs Scholes are not in the slightest performing at their topmost levels but still give a lot to manure and certainly know all tricks of the trade….Smalling looks good when playing with Vidic ….while Koscielny and Squillaci are in their 1st seasons in England…get my drift …..and the style we play we need a highly athletic and gr8 reader of the game sort of Defensive midfielder …..

    • Arsenalisto says:

      “the style we play we need a highly athletic and gr8 reader of the game sort of Defensive midfielder”… Flamini type although I think Song can do that especially the game-reading part, and that’s what made him shine last season after all but this season he has faded out a little bit and I highly believe that the attitude of these stars off the pitch affect them greatly on the pitch, and since he started changing his hair he hasn’t been the same lol, it go to his head that he started scoring goals…etc that he’s become untouchable as team selection is concerned and that’s why you see him generally slow when reading the play and therefor always misplaces a pass or late to a challenge, and that’s how he played yesterday.

      • Kushagra India says:

        But against the big guns he rarely performs a flat track bully perhaps Flamini was perfect for Arsenal system…..Vertonghen???

      • Kushagra India says:

        The art of winning , no one has learned this at Arsenal we need to buy a leader as it has been proved we are unable to create one…

      • Arsenalisto says:

        I don’t know if Vertoghnen can play DM but the problem is that Song is tried and tested and there is chance that he could perform much better. I think Dixon said this, he said that if this Arsenal team don’t win the Carling cup then they’ll never know what they’re playing for and this turned out to be spot on, and unfortunately like always we turned up with the wrong attitude and lost.

      • Kushagra India says:

        Song needs competition for the reasons u stated above….

      • Kushagra India says:

        Vertonghen has played at CDM

      • santori says:

        We could well do with a complete midfielder. Our current composition dictates two midfielders ‘holding’

        BUT I do think we have a lot of competition for Song. Diaby is (touch wood) showing some signs of improvement, Frimpong may still be a little roughround the edges but should muscle a spot next season. Then there is KOscielny. If TV and Djourou partner up, there is a case for considering playing Kos further forward where is interceptions will be crucial and his lack of physique/height less of an issue.

        I’m not sure if we will see much change in this area. We have been performing well enough when Song and Jack have been on point.

        It isn’t enough to blame this particular area in recent months. I think the malaise is rife throughout the team and the individual errors come from all areas.

        After all, if we speak about experience, it is one of our most experienced players (Eboue) who gave away a needless penalty on Sunday.

  4. Kushagra India says:

    If we observe how many times we start crumbling in the season every year in these months they will suggest a pattern …….look at faces of Wenger and Cesc and his teammates …if we want a hold of them in coming years and keep attracting massive names in future we need a huge cheering up in summer not football manager but an overhaul selling of deadwood or underperformers who may become good in future .There must be a limit to amount of chances that can be a given to a particular individual in his field of choice…

    • santori says:

      Disagree.

      I don’t think we need a massive clear out.

      the fact that we have come so close this season but were unable to cross the finish line despite being saddled with this much ‘maligned’ squad would suggest we are doing somethings right.

      For a start, I think there is genuine talent in this team but that we need focus and leadership.

      There are some underperforming/or older players who should be let go (Denilson, Rosicky, Vela) and a couple who may leave (Fabregas Bendtner)

      But who we get in should be dictated by what we want to achieve tactically and what kind of flexibility we can achieve on the pitch next season.

      Along with that we need the right tactics/coaching to compliment what we have. No amount of purchasing will help us otherwise.

    • Arsenalisto says:

      We do lack a true leader for sure, but Vermaelen would’ve helped a lot with that and he could have grown into the leader of this team as he was for some part last season til we were mauled by Chelsea when he scored the own goal.

  5. Gooner92 says:

    I’m I really the only one that thought fabregas was great last night?

    • Arsenalisto says:

      You’re not the only one and I’m so surprised like you that a lot of people did not mention it instead said he was poor lmao, the one that was poor was RVP in 2nd half.

      • Kushagra India says:

        exactly he looked much nearer to his best Song Diaby and our Wing backs(Clichy has lost it) were the main villains imo

    • santori says:

      I didn’t think Fabregas was anywhere near his best. First assist aside, he lost out a lot in midfield and was not convicted enough going forward.

      After all the things he said recently, I for one was expecting him to step it up.

      Sorry I was dissapointed with him.

  6. Kushagra India says:

    Nasri scored from long distance thats …..he got a bit of pace and nailed it which we have been guilty of not doing hitting when space is available…

    • santori says:

      And we still need to do a better job at drumming it into the lads to shoot when possible.

      Walcott was a prime example. He was away and into the box but elected to pivot and find an off side Fabregas instead of having a good go at it.

      Fabregas’s shooting has been without conviction this season.

  7. MSL says:

    You can say individual mistakes but they are a symptom of a systemic problem of incoherent defensive formations. The communication is bad and the panic is quite pathetic (no other adjective would do justice!).

    a) Sagna and Djourou collide going for the same ball inside the box late into the game. Shows that they were not communicating right.

    b) Kos again almost headed one back towards GK not kknowing where he was.

    c) Arsenal are impatient and failed to control tempo of the game. It led to an interesting match but again two good DMs should have done better. Wilshere was a bad gamble but its okay we had to take chances.

    d) FFS, can RvP drop and play second striker when Chamakh or Benny come on as subs. It was frustrating in earlier games as well when RvP would come in to head crosses when Chamakh was right behind. Shows we don’t really practice plan B.We have one but we don’t work on it enough.

    e)People keep talking about how Arsenal have conceded fewer goals than expected but the defensive fragility remains. I guess with a decent defensive drill we could have let in even less goals. Some of the goals we have let in are shambolic. I don’t understand how AW expects the defense to work when they have no organization or method to deal with high balls. I am beginning to think that an experienced defender ( Squillaci is not cutting it)who can organize the back four would be invaluable. I hope we can find TV to be upto task but if he cannot do it then someone has to come in.

    End Rant.

  8. Tim says:

    Wenger is 61.I do not think he can change his ways.

    • santori says:

      SAF recognised some deficiencies in his approach when he was that age and sought help with Carlos Quieroz aboard.

      • santori says:

        Question is, can Wenger be more ruthless or will he keep people around for the sake of old times?

  9. critic says:

    weirdly weird article….ur not being realistic here, just a tad optimistic.

    But i have to agree nothing cud have been done for 2 goals that tiny scored.

    • critic says:

      There was an improvement…shooting from the distance.

    • Arsenalisto says:

      “But i have to agree nothing cud have been done for 2 goals that tiny scored.”

      So you mean that Sagna could not play safe and not try to play Lennon offside, if he stayed with him then Sczeszny wouldn’t have to go out or even better the pass might not have reached Lennon or even if it reached him Sagna would be there to cancel out the danger. For the 2nd goal, it was a poor goal to concede, if our team didn’t bottle under pressure then at least someone would’ve ran out of the box to try and block the shot or put Huddlestone off a bit, even more Cesc would not have cleared it out like that straight back to the player, instead he would’ve kicked out further and as you could see he was really disappointed with his clearance after the goal was scored.

      • santori says:

        He’s being weirdly weird.

        We could have done much better defending particularly for their second which I thought was a pivotal goal for them with 5 minutes left before the half.

        Again, it comes down to focus during crucial moments when you know you have to simply exercise more attention.

        And I think it does help if we have a voice on the pitch to rally the lads during this moment and keep discipline. Hopefully, that would be Vermaelen who is in a good position to organise from the back.

        BUT we also need to work on these details outside of the game in practise.

        If we simply call for a purchase of experience into the team from market, well neither Chelsea nor City have fared any better with their approach so our current ethos is fundamentally strong 9strong enough to defy the pundits and not be struggling for 4th at least) 😀

        The team is talented enough and has punched above their weight this season. It ‘s a matter of coaching/enforcement IMO and something’s got to change.

  10. metalhead says:

    Dare I say, that is the last nail in Arsenal’s title hopes. I know it was a great game and all but I feel gutted because it’s 2 points dropped.

    Desi, I don’t know what you think about this but I feel we don’t press hard enough in midfield. In the drawn El-Classico, Real Madrid completely nullified Barca’s attacking threat even with 10 men by pressing hard in the midfield. I think our defense is alright at the back but the midfield are not organized when they don’t have possession of the ball ( you may have even touched on this point). I think spurs exploited this very well.

    Another interesting stat for you Desi. Michael Dawson had more successful tackles in the game than Clichy, DJ, Kos and Sagna combined. And most of his tackles were high up the pitch.

    • santori says:

      I’m really worried for the mentality of the team.

      All these blows may get to their head at some point and deep inside, they may doubt their ability to cross the line (which is part of what I think might be happening too)

      You can only say so much to the lads but, in the end, they must possess that self believe to close games out. That seems to have evaporated since Barca’s return leg (not to mention the Carling Cup)

      I don’t think our chances are quite over but they are preciously slim at best.

      but you never know.

  11. Rashel Miah says:

    Great Game But In Need Of Changes For Sure!

  12. Nick says:

    Regarding Koscielny, I think you should look at resuts: you are right, he could not outjump a man 5 or more inches taller than he. Anyone familiar with basketball knows this is impossible.

    On the other hand, how many goals, assists and hard efforts did “Crouchy” produce? None that I can remember — that says it all about Koscielny.

  13. eggs kormas says:

    If Everton can manage to draw against ManUre – then game on! BUT AFC will end up drawing vs Bolton to mess things up again! If, however, they beat Bolton..then the game vs ManUre will be of monumental proportions! I thnk we may see a few red cards…And a Manure win, alas.

    About wenger….What a manager..loyal and dedicated. If the baord sack him then WE are all mugs….Nobody on earth can touch wenger. He will deliver…as long as we all keep faith and the players get more savvy!

    N W

  14. santori says:

    Agree with most of the analysis.

    I think Wenger alluded to us being a little leg weary from the Liverpool match which could also account for our lack of bodies going forward in the second half (and lack of off ball movement in general)

    Once again miffed with Wenger’s tactical changes. I didn’t think Diaby was doing too bad either and Bendtner out wide is just beuond me.

    BTW, RVP could have had a second. That goal was not offside.

    Don’t think you can fault Szcezny for the penalty. Sagan left him high and dry and he had to take a chance coming out.he did keep us in the game several times and was positive coming out against Bale earlier in the match.

    I do think though it is not harsh to criticise the team for a lack of focus. Honestly, if we want to be crowned champions, we should be able to close these sorts of games more effectively and cut out individual errors.

    Problem is we only play one system and are unable of recent vintage to switch tactically in a game.

    Again, I know desi doesn’t subscribe to it but I do feel we need a strong voice (captain) out there to organise us in particular during crucial moments (eg after we score, set pieces or after the half when we know they will come at us hammer and tongs)

    But it’s fundamentally more than that. It really is rooted in our coaching and tactical choices (in some ways what’s available in team composition dictates this).

    Personally I really think Wenger does a good job at seeing the woods (and not saying he is a poor tactician ) but the game is more technical now in england and has evolved to such point that he misses the trees. It is these specific areas in defense or attack (the minute detials) that need to be addressed.

    I hope we get a coaching staff revamp this summer. We are so close to success which is what is so vexing. I don’t think any amount of purchase from market will help us otherwise.

  15. Ash says:

    My take on this may sound harsh, i think Sagna gave the game away. Now before everyone gets on my back hear me out. Sagna had a solid game (till the goal of course). The real problem with sagna is his over lapping runs (with thoe) and his timings (at times). Firstly theo likes to dribble his way out rather than pass and sometimes lack the technical/mental ability pull off a through ball to sagna at tight encounters. Even if sagna does overlap and offer an outlet for theo when he gets pressurized, he seems to take it on his own and TRY dribble him self out and eventually looses out. When taht happens, theo is on the floor and sagna is wayyy out of position which leaves the huge gap on the right. Unless a defender KOS or Song covers we get caught out and this happened quite a few times. For the third goal, sagna pushed up where he shouldnt have. for a player with such experience and quality he really should have timed his pushing up, ESPECIALLY with lennon on his wing.. Thats my take on the game. Third goal obviously killed OUR game as we were mentally drained after. I believe we would have won if it wasnt for this mistake!

  16. AP says:

    Wenger holding his head and being exasperated with 15-20 mins left is the image that strikes me most. It seems to point to a gulf between what the plan might be and what is getting executed on field. This exasperation is now happening in almost every tight game and Wenger seems to be preparing prematurely for bad news i.e. even with time left and score equal. Definitely doesnt strike me as a picture of faith and confidence.
    I did notice 3-4 incidents where theo and rvp just seemed to ignore each other’s presence in the box, lets hope that it was just incidental.

  17. Thawwab says:

    Instead of many new players i think the ideal thing we need in the summer is a new defence coach. Someone like Tony Adams(although it would be a step down for him) or maybe Martin Keown(anyone know where he is?) would be idea. They were rugged, no nonsense, top class defenders in their day and i think the entire team would learn a lot from them if they were appointed as staff. And i think that lehmann should stay on as goalkeeping coach as well. He has a lot he can pass on to the two poles in terms of the technical aspect of the game as well as how to give the players beans when they make mistakes… What do you folks think?

  18. Greencard usa says:

    I have been wondering about the fragility that sets in at the final moments and especially when arsenal are pressured as a result of errors by individual players; somehow this seems to lead to a wider uncertainty and tension. Much has been said about leadership and communication on the field among players. But, I wonder how much of this tension builds up and flows from the stadium onto the field. Unfortunately, I have never had the privilege of watching Arsenal from within the stadium, but if tv panning are anything to go by, it seems that the fans contribute much to the growing tension and mental fragility of the players. I do understand it is difficult to hide our own apprehensions but is there anything positive that we can do to help our team on the field, at precise moments? When we see things falling away and danger rises ominously can we do something other than bite our nails or hold our collective breath? Can we do something collectively that can settle and raise our players? Does Arsenal have a chant or song for example for just these moments to raise individual players or the whole team? If we don’t here is a modest attempt; perhaps someone can put a tune to it and pass it on to the supporters club?

    Rise up Arsenal (or players name)
    Stay and Play
    We’re behind you
    All the way!

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