Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Aston Villa

So, the BSM weekend is upon us. I hope the protesters don’t get carried away. Such a ‘walk’ can be a healthy and respectful demonstration of one’s point but it could easily turn into a complete mess. I don’t want to pass any comment on the event before seeing how it turns out so will leave it for the time being.

More interestingly and importantly (although some might disagree with the importance), we have a game at home against Aston Villa. In terms of Arsenal news and stories this week has been tiresome and felt like a year. I, for one, can’t wait for the game where a result is needed because a place in the top 3 carries more value than the fourth spot. From a psychological point as well, it would feel good to finish above City.

Tactically, Houllier’s Villa are different from that of O’Neill. This side tries to move the ball better and doesn’t rely as much on hoofs. That said, I won’t be surprised if they regress into old habits when the going gets tough. Unfortunately, that fallback to the primitive style could trouble us a lot more than their attempts to play ball.

Bent is a largely harmless striker who specializes in the sucker punch. The central defenders will have to be alert to his movement but more importantly they need to maintain their focus. The former Sunderland man thrives on lapses in concentration by defenders.

Ashley Young will be a threat but I expect Song to keep him in check.

Apart from that it is the usual set-piece vulnerability that will have many of us biting our nails every time Villa get a chance to float one into the Arsenal box.

In attack, I expect the Gunners to find spaces in the opposition half and the final third. This visiting side is not as well drilled in the dark arts of defending as the one managed by MoN. However, if the midfield is as laborious as it was against Stoke we might as well gift the opponents a clean sheet.

Wilshere is clearly exhausted after a marathon season. A while back Wenger mentioned this when he said that the youngster had hit a wall and the internal statistics showed that.

With that in mind, I’d love to see Vermaelen given the job of playing alongside Song in midfield but it won’t happen so I’m not spending too much time on discussing the benefits of such a move.

Wilshere will start so let’s keep the focus on that. I don’t expect a big game from the youngster but would prefer if he is given the simple task of staying back and spreading the ball. If he tries going forward with the ball it will crowd the attacking areas and slow things down.

Ramsey is the man who should take charge of creating in the final third along with RvP.

I’d also like to see Gibbs getting a game on the left in an attacking role in front of Clichy. The youngster has the pace to attack the back post when Theo gets the ball on the right. He can also put in some crosses for RvP and Walcott. This is not an ideal choice but it’s a move that should be tried just to see how it pans out. It could help in developing some flexibility next season.

Once again, I don’t really expect to see Gibbs in that role. Arshavin will be the most likely starter.

Preferred starting eleven

Szczesny – Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy – Song, Ramsey, Vermaelen – Walcott, RvP, Gibbs.

Expected starting line-up,

Szczesny – Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Clichy – Song, Ramsey, Wilshere – Walcott, RvP, Arshavin.

Ideally this game should have been a straightforward win. Given the recent form I don’t know what to expect. We could get some good football and a few goals. It could just as easily turn into an embarrassment after some bloopers at the back. At least it will be football.

Before I end, I wanted to share a few links. There were a couple of intelligent and humorous pieces on ArsenalArsenal in the last week. This one is about St. Totteringham’s day (some comments are brilliant) while this one makes an excellent point in a tongue-in-cheek manner.  Do check them out if you haven’t already done so.

I also wanted to share this video of a stand-up act that I discovered recently in the course of random surfing. It’s not related to game of football per se, but talks about Liverpool, City, and United. I particularly liked the guy’s take on the Manchester clubs.

29 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Aston Villa

  1. G4L says:

    LOL! His wife must be a Gooner

    • santori says:

      I suppose, there must have been more than some creative means to work “The Arse-nal” into the gag. Perhaps a bit too obvious? Comedians.

  2. scully says:

    Can’t believe you’d prefer Squillaci to Vermaelen in the back line. What’s the odds that Bent score one of them goals you mentioned.

    • BergkampHenry says:

      it all comes down to match fitness.

    • critic says:

      squillaci is decent enough defender…

      • santori says:

        I’d prefer Vermaelen. There should be no question of match fitness, if anything, TV should represent a fresh pair of legs/and lungs.

        And if I were to try a defender in front of the back 4, I would prefer to see Koscielny given a go in Song’s position.

        I would also like to see Arsharvin played in field just behind Chamakh or Bentnder.

        if it doesn’t work out, revert to RVP up front and Andrei back out left.

        next to Song, then maybe Ramsey in a deeper role (or indeed Rosicky)

  3. gooner123456789 says:

    ^^^^^^^ guy above me that was funny hahahahaahahahahahah or maybe she is a hockey fan haha

  4. cupsui says:

    you want squilla in the backs…you’re crazy. Koscienly has been the best since feb he must be in the TV alongside unless chlichy don’t make it then play him LB and Djourou centre. Fabregas in if fit

  5. bc says:

    Suprised ARSEnal never got a mention in that gag.

    Its so depressing to see our team nearing its full potential just as the season is over. I mean if you picked our first choice x1 and bench it would probably look this

    Sczcesney, Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Clichy, Fabregas, Song, Wilshire, Walcott, Nasri, RVP. subs Fabianski, Koscielny, Gibbs, Ramsey, Arshavin, Bendtner, Chamakh.

    I would say that only Fabianski and Kos are likely to be missing on Sunday

  6. Aussie Jack says:

    Are we saying that it`s possible Fabregas has played his last game at Emirates?

  7. RockyLives says:

    Nice one Desi.
    It’s nice to see someone actually focussing on the game!
    After last weekend I was quite depressed about our chances of getting any points from the last two games, but I’ve cheered up a bit now.
    Verm in a DM role has been mentioned by quite a few people so I’m not surprised to see you suggest it. For me he’s best as a CB, but I would like to see Kozzer tried in that role.

    • desigunner says:

      Indeed both possibilities have been mentioned. I think you will have a lot of support for the Koscielny in DM role idea.

      Personally, I prefer Vermaelen because he is better on the ball and can contribute a lot in advanced areas with his shooting/technique. Can’t say the same about Koscielny.

      In defence, I think Vermaelen doesn’t read the game as well as Koscielny. For instance, at Liverpool earlier this year when we gave the ball away near our box, Vermaelen was jogging forward without noticing the run N’gog was making. Koscielny is the kind who reads those situations really well. So I’d prefer him as the central defender.

      I think the other way around can also be made to work but to me this one seems a more natural fit.

      • RockyLives says:

        That’s a good point about Verm getting caught upfield on a fairly regular basis.

        Am I right in thinking you wrote a post about this issue some time ago?

      • santori says:

        For that reason, it would be better for Vermaelen to play in defense and not up field. + You want to play the best defender in his natural position where he can organise.

        Koscielny is a better bet playing as a make shift to Song, where his spead and general reading/intercepts could help.

        Having said that, I see he is out with a knock anyway.

        TV/Djourou. We need to see how he does with Johanne. I don’t think we need to have 2 defenders holding midfield.

        Rosicky should sit next to Song (or maybe Ramsey deep with Andrei tucked in behind RVP with license to roam)

        Nasri and Walcott out wide (Is Nas available?)

      • desigunner says:


        Sorry for the delay, I try to avoid the computer on weekends 🙂

        I did cover this topic earlier but I have a feeling the article you have in mind was done by Zonal Marking.

    • santori says:

      I see Rosicky is out and Nasri is facing a late test.

      I don’t like it. Too many walking wounded at the end of the season.

      It’s as if the have mentally folded (or in fact they have before our season was even offically over.

      I know a knock is a knock but I suspect some of the knocks may also be exaccerbated by negative attitudes within the players psyche.

      I hope young Gibbs gets a run out like Desi says. At very least we should give some of the younger(and hungrier) players a run out.

      Wonder if frimpong is ready.

  8. xx says:

    The season is over. Let’s talk about how we right the ship that has been off course for six years. We need a new manager. Wenger should leave now!

  9. RockyLives says:

    No xx, the season is not over. Third (and an automatic CL place) makes our pre-season much more ordered and organised than having to fight through a pre-qualifier.

    And we’ll need that well-ordered pre-season to bed in all the new signings, right?

    • desigunner says:

      Next year the pre-season will be interesting if the China/Malaysia trip goes ahead.

    • santori says:

      Not to mention there is that thing they call “Pride”, the way the team has collapsed toward the end (de javu), We should only expect they pull their socks up (and more) for the last two games and come in with big performances.

      If anything, Wenger should really put it to them that hhow they play will affect his decision to buy and let go for next season (If not already)

      Put the fear of god in them. That’s what Sir Alex has done terribly well over the years. Wenger needs a airdryer other than his portable mini one.:D

  10. salman says:

    le bob returns 🙂

  11. alphie says:

    curious to see which arsenal turn up at aston villa in terms of attitude and creativity

  12. santori says:

    I’ve said this before and will say it again.

    Wenger was suckered into this whole ‘cups’ debate.

    Particularly the Carling which I thought he should have stuck to his guns and used it as a proccess for blooding the younger players/reserves.

    In particular, he should have played Chamakh more instead of reverting to RVP for the more minor tournaments.

    We made too big a deal out of winning that Carling Cup. Expectations should have been better managed (particularly within the team)and we should have been smarter in prioritising some of the other competitions above it.

    • santori says:

      What’s worrying is that he has no plans to change his approach towards these competitions.

      Whilst I agree that we should go for them, I think he’ll have to better manage our resources if we are again facing 4 competitions in a congested Jan/Feb.

      FA over Carling by priority. Let the Carling continue to be our arean to blood young players mixed in with some of the reserve players.

      In particular, keeping Chamakh on the sharp end was crucial for us but we let him get rusty and did not continue our proccess of finding maximum utility out of his strengths.(We were just about getting the range right with our crosses before RVP came back in)

  13. Hong_gunner says:

    i’m so pumped up for the BSM today. I hope the ticket prices are sorted out for next season. Why not just increase it for the away stands? We’ll see what happens.
    And yes, lets not call every team that defends as a ‘dark art’. It is that vital part of the game which has been our undoing, our inability to defend as a team.

  14. SoCal_Gun says:

    so much for playing for pride…..

    Squillaci looked like shit too

    no team spirit out there. they were walking zombies

    and I think we just saw Cesc in his last game at the Emirates

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