Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Bolton

This will be a short preview as I’m quite busy over the weekend.

As far as the team goes I expect only one change, Wilshere to come in for the injured Diaby.

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

Both teams undoubtedly have a lot of goals in them. This game could turn into another cliff-hanger as the Wanderers have a good record at home. They have also shown considerable improvement in their playing style under Owen Coyle but in this game I expect to see them revert to their tactics of yore.

Kevin Davies will receive a lot of long balls and once again winning the second ball will be the key. The same can be said about set-pieces. Not only do Arsenal have to win the first header, they also have to get men out to block a shot on goal or a cross from the clearance. Those two are going to be Bolton’s main goal threats. The hosts can also play football on the ground these days but I don’t expect serious threats on that front unless Song or Wilshere make major mistakes.

The front three should get plenty of chances to score. Bolton will try to push forward and there will be space behind their defence for Van Persie or Walcott to make a run. I’m not sure who is playing at left back these days at Bolton but if it is Paul Robinson, Walcott will have a great chance of going past him. At the same time the Englishman will have to be wary of some X-rated tackles.

Nasri will be most effective when he gets a chance to drift in. It will be hard to find the right balance between coming in and offering width.

Depending on the number of attacking player’s Bolton start, at least one full-back might have a man who won’t track him well. In such a case I’d like to see the wide attacker moving in often and the full-back overlapping at opportune moments. Arsenal haven’t quite worked out the timing of the runs by the full-backs so this might not actually happen.

Song and Wilshere will have to provide better cover and mistakes like the one by Diaby for the first Spuds goal have to be eliminated. They will also have to handle the pressure of the home side and bring the ball out for Cesc and the forward players.

Cesc has to offer more than his recent performances. It’s difficult to blame him but his work rate doesn’t seem to be at the level we see when Fabregas is fit and enjoying his game.

This is another game where I expect at least three goals. Both goalkeepers will have to make some saves and Szczesny will get chances to show that he is a quick learner.

Djourou will have to do better in the air and in one-v-one situations where he seems to get turned more often than I’d like.

Most importantly the players must play positively for ninety minutes. Self-doubt, hesitations, or nerves will only make Bolton stronger.

50 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Bolton

  1. Dark Prince says:

    An early goal by Arsenal will be very crucial to open up Bolton.

  2. Phv says:

    Oh why Distin had to make that stupid mistake gifting Man Utd the three points.I also think chicharito was offside in that winner

  3. sameep says:

    Little off the topic but I feel, if Theo can stay fit all season, he will score more than 20 goals a season. I mean, he is reaching the level we were hoping for. His crossing, which is very difficult to control at his speed, has improved a lot. I realized this today while watching Chelsea cross.

    Fitness of the players has been a major spoiling factor for Wenger in these 5 trophyless years.

  4. Aussie Jack says:

    Time for me to be cheeky. Five nil (5-0) at half time and see if we can hold on to it. lol

  5. peter parker says:


    I love to say “I told you so” and I will say that again what I said repeatedly before, this team will not anything under the current manager unless he is willing to learn and start looking to himself and his team instead of blaming outside forces. Same goes for the fans like yourself.

    Before I start, I would like to say thank you to the blog you wrote a month or so ago with some thing like “Disappointed and Dispondent” in it. In that blog you advised fans like me to stop spending money and attending games if we don’t like the way club is being run. I went further than that, stop spending time on club as well in addition to money.
    I would love to see my words come true and no worries they will. This team is not capable of winning and when I said that before, you came up and criticized my lack of football knowledge. When I said that this team does not have winning mentality, you said that I am criticising people who know more than me, but lets face it, your club captain said the same thing and he is regarded as one of the best midfield players in the world and has played under this manager since 2004.
    People come here and blame lack of funds while forgetting that Arsenal are spending more than 114 million on wages, untill recently only 2 clubs were ahead of Arsenal and now 3rd one in the form of ManCity. Next closest rival is Liverpool who spend around 80 million. This is not lack of financial power, it is gross mismanagement of finances which are wasted on mediocre players who are not willing to learn, underperforming and/or permanently injured such as Almunia, Eboue, Denilson, Rosicky, Squallaci Diaby and Bentdner among others. More importantly, there is a manager who is one trick pony and can’t get his tactics right and get beaten by tactically better teams times and again, FA cup defeat against second string Man U, anyone?

    You said,there is lack of perspective from fans who criticise the team as we are blaming one player after another. Yes, there are always emotions involved however looking at all of my previous posts, I have criticised only one person, the manager not the players as individual mistakes are part and parcel of the game however repeated mistakes as a unit are only one person’s fault.

    You criticized ref for Liverpool “bonus minute” goal, however fans like you fail to see the favour to arsenal by the ref such as at least two balatant penalties to blackpool which should have been given did not get a mention in the same language as decisions against arsenal do?

    You talk about Arsenal losing points from winning points being less than those by ManU however you fail to mention how many points ManU rescued from losing positions and how many games they won while drawing till 75-80 minutes? Yes I understand, fans are one eyed and passionate about their club, however while criticizing others for that, you repeatedly commit the same mistake. I can capture some screen shots and write a blog like this or that to show my football knowledge however if I don’t do that, does not mean that I am ignorant compared to few enlightend ones.

    Any how, I love to remind you that I told you so and it is inevitable now. I will not waste a minute or penny more on this team as long as current liar is at the helm who has lied to millions of fans repeatedly. Good luck loosers who carry on spending time and money, as you need that good luck aplenty even then it will not be enough

    • alphie says:

      you either support arsenal or you dont….there are no conditions…if arsenal get relegated i’d still support them….get a new team…so what if ur frustrated…sack wenger on fifa11 or fm11…whatever rocks ur day but this blog is too much class for crap like yours

      • JM says:

        If my club got relegated, I would still support it to the end. But while at it, I will personally strangle with my bare hands those who are responsible of its demise.

        The difference between winners and losers is that, losers accept losing as a matter of course or bad luck, and carry on their lives with it. Whereas winners never accept it.

  6. alphie says:


    i have a funny intelligent quote from wenger(i love this kind of answers by the way)

    “But look at the reality,” he told journalists. “If you are the second-best selling newspaper in the country you do not shut your office.

    “We live in a world where you are the second best by a little and everybody says you are rubbish. It is not true. That is the modern world but it is not the reality.”


    ONTO OTHER STUFF….could you please help me understand why we play bendtner wide while arsharvin tries to head the ball….i partly understand the tactic….if arsharvin plays he assumes playmaking and crossing responsibilities whenever bendtner is subbed for whoever is attacking on the right side….englighten me or buffle me…hehehe

  7. Wolfgang says:

    I will be very surprised if Arsenal win the title. The frailties have been there the last five years and yet nothing was done to correct them.By that I don’t mean getting cheap imports/kids . These players need time and time is of the essence.One writer wrote thet the red faced cunt aint going to use the OT pitch as the finishing school. That,imho, is the crucial difference between winning and losing.
    Btw the current incumbent asks fans to be patient. How to be patient when repeated failures are repeated all the time.I am afarid a time will come when the gunners will finish fifth and that my fellow gooner fans is considered a success as the gunners will be competing in Europe. Of course it will be the EuropaCup.

  8. Dan McEachran says:

    Peter parker,everything u said is right.for example,an average arsenal fan will tell u dat bendtner is beta than drogba,too bias.

  9. […] Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Bolton This will be a short preview as I’m quite busy over the weekend. […]

  10. kc says:

    I’m not confident we will beat this Bolton side. Let’s face it any team that can play as a team has at least a chance to draw with the “mighty” Arsenal these days. And until theo can correct his horrendous first touch he will forever be average. Fast but still average. Can anyone explain why the guy shoots from the top of the box on 1 v 1 break-aways?! I think its becuz he is scared to screw up a chance yet again without at least a shot, but you can’t play that way. This team has no unity. Wenger has really made us a mediocre side.

  11. FoolishgooNer says:

    Well even the most blind gooners know that this season is over! I don’t blame the manager because he doesn’t have money friends in The FA, English press, and injuries handicapped his plans. We all moan about lack of spending! But I’m actually glad to have a manager who cares about the big picture. We were short defensively because Les Proff convinces young players that they will have a legit chance to proof their skills and play.. So he couldn’t buy out of respect for his youngsters. Miscalculated TV injury etc. We drawn and dropped points so many winnable games because our most experienced players are not defenders or defensive minded. If we only retained Willy (Gallas) we would be pushing Manures to the limit now. JD Kol Woj are relatively inexperienced but extremely talented so the future is bright dispite the obvious dispointement. Man it is frustrating to score and concede a minute later. It is unforgivable to be up 2 nil against the most hated enemy (spuds) and lose at home. Unfortutane to throw away 4 goals lead to any team! My axe to grind is Inexperience at the back! Les proffesor expected TV to lead and was sorely missed. Chin up Gooners lets enjoy next four games for better and Worse and live to fight another day! Cheers

  12. Raghugovind says:

    I feel Ramsay should start instead of Wilshere !!! Just give him a chance !!!

  13. T2T says:

    How anyone can claim we’re mediocre when we’re in 3rd with still a slim chance for the title is beyond me. Are there many disappointed fans out there – sure, but get some perspective.

    I get physically sick when I watch some of our games – it’s frustrating but I still support OUR team. Over the years I have defended players such as Flamini and Song while “everyone” else wanted to get rid of them. I believe the manager who sees them every day knows their capacity.

    This season so far has been a good one; frustrating yes but last July/August most pundits talked about Arsenal dropping out of top 4.

    We most of all need a Winner; someone like Patrick Vieira. If that happens to be a clinical finisher – great. I thought AW had done his magic when Chamakh kept us in the top early on but he has disappeared after a very promising start. We score quite a lot, we don’t concede too many (contrary to what people believe) but we seem unable to finish teams off. When we’re 2 goals up against Spurs and manage to lose 5 points in those two games, when we’re 4 goals up against Newcastle and manage to concede 4! goals in 40 minutes, when we’re ahead in extra time and concede a penalty – those are the things we need to do something about. That’s why we need a Winner. We’re young but we’re not an inexperienced team. We have Sagna, Clichy, Eboue, Vermaelen, Fabregas, Arshavin, van Persie and some; they’re all experienced players. We have international players in every position, usually 2. We need a Winner.

    AW has never been a strong tactician. I’ve said that before but he is extremely good at developing players and seeing the big picture. José Mouhrinho would have won EPL with this team with many games left. Does AW need someone to help with tactics?

    If ManU lose against Chelsea and us, we can have a table with 3 teams on e.g. 79 points… Every goal can make a difference.

    Whatever happens, I’ve supported Arsenal for many decades and the last 15 years have been the longest consistent positive performance I’ve seen. The disgruntled fans is a proof of the expectations we had 2 months ago when we were fighting for 4 titles. Keep supporting the team and all the players – that’s what a supporter does. Be the 12th player for Arsenal also when the team struggles; that’s when the players need it the most.

  14. Mahesh_deGunner says:

    first up… i dont understand the non sense about Arsenal not having winning mentality, wenger has lost it…blah blah…. the problem began because of occurence of certain events at crucial times… the key point here is “crucial times”….the events include leg breaking tackles(eduardo and ramsey), refs decision(i dont need to mention it), injuries(ditto as before), bad luck(ditto), players leaving the club(flamini,hleb,adebayor,toure,gallas)…. when these events occur at crucial times, the confidence of the team goes down.. add to this the media non-sense which start making up stories,declaring opinion and on and on… plus the fans start criticizing the team, dont provide the 12th man support, they begin to doubt their own players… this media and particularly fans further melt down the confidence of the team… The team not only have to prove to the opposition they are good but also to their fans… tats a very worrying factor… Thus the only one who supports the team are Wenger, his staff and their players themselves…

    Another major reason for the current situation is because the opponents were allowed to play extra rough and physical against Arsenal… the ref thinks this make the game fair… thats just ridiculous…. i simply cannot understand the logic…

    Apart from all these, the players and manager have also made mistakes… i dont deny that….

    Wat i want to say is that we need to support our team at all situations… remember we hav beaten the best, we can score goals at will, we can defend well… only thing we have to be consistent..

    Yes we hav been trophyless for 6 years… but this attitude from our fans will not help us to get a trophy…

    when the fans start supporting at tough times, start encouraging the players, the players will automatically start to perform way above their limit…. They ll play their heart out and ensure they dont let the fans….

    Gunner 4 life….

    • jp says:

      it’s the fans fault !!!! Delusional !!! Wenger says blame him. I do. He bought the players. They are not world class. I long for the days of Thiery Henry and Co.

  15. Kushagra India says:

    Desi doesn’t it remind you of last season we are failing to win a game since march barring against Blackpool,Koscielny ,Djourou are extraordinarily talented defenders and have been a relevation but sadly they dont have the experience to carry us through…….Arsenal concede so many goals from set pieces we say it every year, year after year whenever we are fighting for the title we crumble in spring.But you will find some statistics to belie these evidences…

  16. Kushagra India says:

    Desi you said manure conceded leads more often then Arsenal this season but how many since January and every year who comes out stronger after Christmas if you get into stats i.e……who weakens after Christmas ……ur excuses wont wash up friend….

    • desigunner says:

      The end of the season issues are a valid observation. But that has to be followed up with a proper analysis and a meaningful solution. Saying buy a couple of experienced players is the laziest opinion in that regard. Gallas had won a lot and had plenty of experience. So did Campbell. You find ways of criticizing them and I’m sure you will find ways of criticizing others when they fail. All of that is because the right problem hasn’t been identified and solved.

  17. Kushagra India says:

    How many years you would give Clichy to learn crossing ,brought in for Cashley Cole, how many assists he has had for a team who relies so much on fullbacks whenever they attack ,yeah they will learn next year ……you must be having a larf….

  18. Kushagra India says:

    You compared us with corporate world wont the CEO(manager) be sacked by now after failing to show growth (league positions) in the last 6 years especially when the company(club) is one of the most valuable in the world .Charges the highest ticket prices in the world couldn’t find an analogy lolz…but that really sends ur argument down the flush…..and I will still give Arsene one more summer…

    • desigunner says:

      Well according to you the CEO won’t be doing his job unless he was sacking his employees left, right and centre!

      And as far as the CEO goes, there is a long list of suitors including most of the top clubs around the world. So one has to wonder whether such a person would be sacked in the corporate world.

      You can oversimplfy things all you want but it doesn’t change the facts.

    • desigunner says:

      Not surprisingly, you also don’t realize that growth in the corporate world is not measured by coming first. No CEO goes to the top of sales just like that and they don’t get sacked for not being top of the sales numbers. There are different ways of judging growth and if people actually put in some effort it’s not hard to see improvements at Arsenal.

      You also missed the key point that sacking employees is not done because it’s a pointless exercise and can never be the sole or main cause of success. Companies grow by getting to the root of the issues not by hiring or sacking employees. Same applies to football clubs.

  19. Kushagra India says:

  20. mike in africa says:

    in arsene we trust!

  21. SoCal_Gun says:

    in arsene we trust….

    but a 90th minute goal to blow the game; seriously? Who didn’t see that one coming?

    even the Desi probably knew what was coming next….

  22. SoCal_Gun says:

    I have another ESPNsoccernet quote….

    this time from Richard Jolly though,

    “At times, it can feel like there is checklist of Arsenal’s failings, real or imagined. Game by game, they are ticked off: the susceptibility to set-pieces; the habit of conceding late goals; the need for a dominant central defender; the profligacy in attack; the lack of leadership; the psychological frailty.”

    tell me with a straight face that you don’t agree with this. I dare you

  23. JP says:

    Richard jolly is right.

  24. johnQ says:

    I don’t!

  25. Kushagra India says:

    Desi I once said Chamakh would have won us the title last year also a fit RVP would have won us many titles I am proved wrong in clutch situations they all go missing..

  26. Kushagra India says:

    Off facebook……

    Arsenal need to win their first 25 games next year so they have enough points to spare before’the easy run in’.

  27. Kushagra India says:

    We never played to Chamakh’s strength and now he looks shot…..

    • alphie says:

      at least someone with a sensible head….

      at around the 60th minute we switched tactics. RVP came deeper and we were playing balls over the top to be finished. which then begs the question why was chamakh put if crosses and the long ball werent going to be played. if that was wengers idea it didnt work properly. i believe withdrawing VP and playing balls over the top didnt suit his strengths at all…bar to chances nasri one on one and the chamakh flick that nasri again went to sleep.

      i’d have done the same thing as wenger except in chamakh’s place i’d have walcott so the team would look something like this



      wilshire/ramsey and fab


      and for those who didnt notice we didnt concede the second goal lightly the initial save by the keeper was because we didnt have a defensive midfielder thus djourou was left in limbo and that sort of thing isnt were the last man should be.

      football mistakes happen. i’m more interested now in what will happen in the summer. it will tell us what has gone wrong this season for sure.

      under this circumstances i wouldnt be surprised if nasri didnt sign.

  28. Kushagra India says:

    and seeing Arsene on the touchline he seems to have lost it mentally its reflecting on the team’s performance …..a proper nutter..

  29. Kushagra India says:

    Arsenal’s points per game by season
    Aug-Feb Mar-May
    2006-07 1.88 1.58
    2007-08 2.37 1.73
    2008-09 1.70 2.36
    2009-10 2.07 1.70
    2010-11 2.07 1.14

    Courtesy of

  30. Kushagra India says:

    in the second half how they suddenly become poor …..and if you can search compare it with Manure

  31. alphie says:


    it is quite obvious apart from eboue and maybe rarely gibbs do the full backs do anything more than just stretching the play and that makes us predictable just like smart observers know barca cross the ball into the penalty area less than 5 times in a whole match.

    if our full backs decide to be more EBOUE ADVENTEROUS i can forsee us causing much more trouble.its only eboue that attacks,attempts dribbles,

    i know u’ll suggest we’ll be vulnerable to counter attacks but my idea is such that while one full back causes havock the other should be around the half way line such that if we want to switch play he can run up the field…

    this summer will tell it all….cant wait to see what will happen

    IN ARSENE WE TRUST WITH BROKEN HEARTS…his pose squating yesterday is among the sadest i have seen in years

    • Kushagra India says:

      That we are trying to do since ages but lack of communication or positional awareness proves to be the undoing and most importantly our full backs especially Clichy can’t cross for a toffee…

    • desigunner says:

      Clichy had a lot of assists and impact in 07-08. After that since the change in formation to 4-3-3 in the next season and the arrival of Arshavin, he has struggled on the left.

      I agree it is a failure by the manager to find the right balance and make good use of the full-backs.

      Clichy can offer a lot more but we can see he plays within himself all the time and hardly takes a risk. I guess it can only be improved if the midfielders learn to offer better cover when the full-backs venture forward. United do this well and so do Chelsea.

      It’s also related to some of the weaknesses of Wilshere that I have discussed. He isn’t able to read the game that well defensively. In effect Clichy has two players in front of him who don’t do a good job defensively.

      • alphie says:

        neither do we play to arshavin’s strength.which is playing off the main striker so

        in past game for the first time walcott was on the left temporarily.i’d like to see him play there as i believe walcott cutting in at pace plus he’s dribble and shooting will be on his stronger foot.

        this system-433 or 4123 or 4213 seems to favour our midfielders more than wide attackers.

        still i believe the summer and pre-season will tell what is on wenger’s mind.

        clichy is definetly better and maybe he’s frustrated as sagna has better cover than him ALWAYS…the penalty conceded against tottenham is typically what clichy faces all a huge admirer and something people dont realise is clichy high crosses are poor but more importantly he has very quality crosses on him. bendtner and adebayor were huge benefactors and eduardo too

  32. Kushagra India says:

    The league is pretty average and IMO Asenal Chelsea Shitty and dare I say Spuds have a better squad than Manure and most of the neutral pundits didn’t even predict Manure to finish in top 2 no matter how you put the league has been garbage and the European performances,points gained by top teams reflect the same,even Mourinho agrees…..expect a massive improvement in the squads of top 5 this summer…Arsenal need rejuvenating..

    • desigunner says:

      If this league is pretty average… how do you explain the fifth placed team beating the top team in Italy with so much ease? Add to it the weakness in the German league and the fact that Spain is a two team league. So which league is good and tough?

      It reminds me of the time when Arsenal and United dominated the English league but both didn’t offer much in Europe because the dominant teams and big players were in Italy and Spain.

      This is the best and hardest Premier League since I have been watching. Problem with you seems to be that you don’t really talk about what goes on on the pitch but more about what everyone else is saying. I can’t really discuss anything when someone is offering out of context secondary or tertiary opinions.

  33. Kushagra India says:

    You have to hand it to SAF …..scraped throughout the season without doing anything extraordinary while Chelsea Arsenal shot themselves in the foot…….PFA award given to player who has scored 7 goals and 1 assists speaks a lot about the quality of play this season but I know Desi you will equivocate this to support LORD Arsene..

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