Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Udinese

Here we are; first home game of the new season and the second of the five massive fixtures this month.

The start wasn’t as good as one would have liked but it wasn’t as bad as many had feared either. Things could be a lot worse than a hard fought draw in the opening game away from home which included a strong defensive performance.

I will be thrilled if the Gunners can repeat that defensive performance against the Italians. A clean sheet would be the best thing to take to Udinese for the return leg but something tells me it’s not going to happen.

Tactically, I expect this to be a lot more open and exciting game. The Italian side have a notable quality in the final third and will trouble Szczesny a whole lot more than the Barcodes did on the weekend.

Di Natale is a world class striker and I expect Vermaelen to struggle against him. The top scorer in Serie A for consecutive seasons has the technique to run rings around the Belgian. Even Koscielny might pay the price for his inexperience. I hope the central defenders have been prepared for his movement, turns, and finishing abilities. Their decision making, anticipation, and technique will be tested to the hilt. It will be fascinating to see when and how tight they get on Di Natale. Better support will make their job relatively manageable.

Udinese, as a team, will also pose a threat through their superior technique, better crossing abilities, intelligent set-plays, counter-attacking threat, and a nothing to lose mentality in a tie that could be the high point of their season.

Arsenal can easily lose this tie in the first leg itself if the back four don’t get better protection. Unfortunately, Wenger does not have that many options and I don’t expect sudden tactical changes anymore.

On a positive note, I expect Arsenal to be better prepared for this as the Italians are yet to play a competitive fixture. Of course, that can easily translate into tiredness if the result doesn’t meet expectations.

Moreover, Udinese have also lost three key players and will probably lose some edge in the attacking and defensive areas.

Strangely enough, I don’t expect the Italians to be as efficient in their marking as Newcastle were on Saturday. But in order to take advantage of that, the Gunners will have to move the ball much faster than they did at St. James’ Park.

In a way, both sides are in a rebuilding phase and have a lot riding on this fixture. It’s hard to say whether that will result in diffident performances or not but I have a feeling the side that makes a mistake or two will pay a heavy price.

With Van Persie missing due to suspension, Chamakh is likely to lead the line. His movement can provide Gervinho some excellent opportunities but those wondering where the creativity will come from have some valid concerns.

Quality service for Chamakh can help him get on the score-sheet and get his confidence back. If Arsenal do play high up the pitch and push the opponents back into their defensive third, the final ball into the box will have to be much more purposeful and accurate. Hopeful lobs into the box won’t cut it. Gibbs is the best hope in this regard but Sagna, Arshavin, Rosicky, and Ramsey can all deliver.

Arsenal also have to learn to use Chamakh’s aerial talents to create lay-offs for the other attackers but I don’t expect that to materialize out of thin air in this game. The Moroccan, for his part, has to contribute better than his pre-season performances.

I expect to see the same back five. Rosicky has a fitness test and if he misses the game we might see Frimpong making a start as there are precious few options. Up front Chamakh should come in for Van Persie in the only change.

Expected line-up,

Szczesny – Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs – Song, Frimpong/Rosicky, Ramsey – Gervinho, Chamakh, Arshavin.

I have a feeling there will be mistakes at both ends and this will be a scoring draw.

It can get worse if the fans help the opposition but it’s a burden the players will have to deal with. The spirit in the opening game was spot-on and more of that will be needed, especially if disaster strikes early. I will be a lot more confident about the season if the Gunners show they can turn a game around.

46 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Udinese

  1. AdeGooner says:

    A midfield of Frimpong (If TR7 is out), Song and Ramsey is a tough one to imagine. I will prefer Lansbury to start instead of Frimmy.

    • Unbeatengooner says:

      Lansbury? Hmmm not so much in a central role. How about Walcott instead of Arshavin? Italian sides usually don’t prefer pace too much.

  2. Unbeatengooner says:

    1 nil to the Arsenal

  3. Paki Gunner says:

    arsenal will serve a ligue 1 connection goal >>> gervinho to chamakh.

  4. andersonaa07 says:

    I think a Frimpong Song midfield will be best and let Ramsey stay up a bit more, would actually prefer it right now to Rosicky

  5. Rohit says:

    never thought i would type the following words and slightly off topic…..’Gary Neville talks sense’….

  6. craig says:

    Ouch Desi,
    No love for Vermaelen, eh? Di Natale is quality, but he still plays in Italy. Remember what Bale did to “best right back in the world” Maicon last year.

    Quality in Italy is tough to judge, because the standard of competition has fallen so far the past few seasons.

    If anything, I’d say Kos and Vermaelen are at their strongest against exactly Di Natale’s agile, skillful type of threat. They struggle more with “big, strong, and fast” types – like Carrol and Drogba.

    I think Arsenal are in for a struggle because of all the absentees, but I think Vermaelen and Kos will be far from the weakest links.

    Anyway, even more than I think I’m right, I hope I’m right, because a clean sheet would be a big help.

  7. RedandDread says:

    Vermaelen & Koscielny should be able to handle the trickery & guile of Di Natale-they are quick and aggressive but must be aware 100% of the time as a striker of that note could snatch a goal out of nowhere. I hope Rosicky makes the game as a midfield of Frimpong/Song/Ramsey doesn’t really offer a ton of creativity.

    Jack is definitely out?

    Whatever team is out there will not have a lot less creative players on show than we are used to. Arshavin will need to play and maybe if Tomas is injured we might see Andrei in the middle with Gervinho & Theo out wide.

  8. all good things come to end! says:


    Wenger and yourself needs to correct one misconception.

    Fans are not booing players these days, they are booing the manager. The promising thing in this whole situation is that these booing fans don’t want the change in manager (at the moment at least) however they want manager to change. Something which you admitted yoursef. If he thinks that we can achieve success without replacing quality players we have lost (and going to lose), I pity him. He knows this however he is clever and he is turning into players that fans are booing you, and fans should support the players etc I am not going to repeat the list of problems you highlighted yourself in the analysis but he should think twice before criticising fans who have supported the club paying the most expensive ticket price in the world. These fans deserve better not lies and false hopes of busy summer and rectifying defensive frailaties etc and doing nothing.

    It’s beginning of a end, i hope not but I fear in my heart. The young team has been almost dismantled, ony RVP and may be Theo from that generation left, and if nothing is done, we will in the same situation next year with players itching to leave with less than year on their contract.

    • critic says:

      if you want to boo manager do it outside the stadium. You are saying ” i was not hitting a 5 year old, i was just manhandling his father”. How does it sound huh?!


      • Losers find excuses, winner look ahead says:

        Typical of internet fan. Have you ever been to the Emirates to watch a live game? If yes, you must be one of those who sit there watch silently while Away fans make all the noise.

        How do you suggest you boo the manager outside ground? Players and manager have no connection with fans at Emirates any more, they just arrive in the coach, go directly to the tunnel and then on the pitch.

        If you pay for something in the shop to get top quality stuff, and you get rubbish, you go to the shop and tell them in their face, not start making noise outside coz that wont you get anywhere. Having no contact with reality is your problem however I dont expect anything better from someone with mental age of 10. I hope you grow up with time, for your own sake, otherwise good luck, as you need it the most!

      • critic says:

        ohk hotshot, do whatever you want but the “product” that you have bought won’t be changed by the owner and booing, on the face/ off the face certainly won’t improve your “product”. The only thing it does is make you look like stupid 7 year old cunt who complains about the chocolate which he just got after hours of crying to his father.

        By the way, by outside the stadium i meant on internet or in AST meetings not literally out of the stadium. Just goes to show your age. 17 at max i guess.

  9. WOLF says:

    The reason why the fans attitude in the first match was good was cause it was away, where the real fans go to support the arsenal. Home games are the problem where that noisy little section of cry babies cant tell the difference between preseason and actual league matches. And they are to stupid to realize that we are not going to win every match.

  10. Kirk says:

    Such a negative article! Why all the abuse to vermaelan? Hes a top draw centre back so I dont think he will have a problem with do natalie. I’m expecting an arsenal win and quite possibly a big win. If we keep a clean sheet we will progress definitely. 3-0 to the arsenal

  11. George_D says:

    this team is far better:

    Sagna Vermaelen/Djourou Koscielny Traore
    Song Frimpong
    Walcott/Chamberlain Arshavin Chamberlain/Vela

  12. critic says:

    It’s high time to start playing arshavin in the middle in fabregase position.

  13. bc says:

    Walcott arshavi gervinho behind chamakh frimmy and song protecting the back 4.

  14. cupsui says:

    midfield of song ramsey and arsharvin (…jack still not back?)

    walcott on the right gervinho on the left chamakh up front

  15. Itopa Okene says:

    Even me as a fan i saw it coming that fabregas won’t be playn 4 us this season while this myopic coach kept on playn d ostrich. D first game arsenal played wit newcastled lackd creativity in absences of fab,nas,jack not to even mention rvp who is not gonna feature in d next game so shall arsenal gonna lack in d udinese game on n on xcept d right be done and d right is 2 replace wenger wit ambitions coach.

  16. nasri says:

    where is walcott ??????????????
    3-0 for arsenal

  17. TH14 says:

    Worst article so far… NEGATIVE

  18. Gooner 82 says:

    I would love to see Arshavin playing in the cesc role this season, with the wide players being Gervinho, Walcott / Ryo M when his work permit sorted. This would defo bring the best out of the little Russian!!!!
    And all the negativity i keep reading about the Verminator wtf he is one of the best centre backs in the world and had he been fit last season we would of won the prem!!!!

  19. Paki Gunner says:

    Arsha in cesc role is the replacement for cesc. arsha was never allowed to be himself in prior times. now is the time. he has too much vision for him to be put on them wings.

    • Zgunner says:

      Been saying this forever Thank you Paki Gunner..

      People also forget that Arshavin ALSO has a terrific terrific… terrific terrific… lovely lovely lovely SHOT.

      You never know when he says shhh….

      He can find a pass.. and I’m sure no one forgot he’s delicious pass to RVP at Newcastle last game.


      Sagna—Kosceilny——Vermaelen—–Gibbs/ Eboue




      Subs: Bendtner for Chamakh
      Nasri for Walcott/Gervinho
      Ramsey for Arshavin

      • nikkogunners says:

        I like you line up but i would have Walcott as Centre Forward Behind Chamakh and Ashervin Left wing. I would have Ramsey other than Fringpong. Nasri is out of this match suspended so may be Afobe and Chamberlain can get their first team call ups…

  20. Waleed says:

    You’re really underrating our defenders. Koscielny faced Messi and Villa last season and performed admirably. I think he is an even better defender than Vermaelen but Vermaelen too can be trusted to do well.
    And it wasn’t just the centerbacks who did well against Newcastle. The whole team pressed really well and restricted the opponents passing options.

    • Zgunner says:

      I also agree that Kosceilny is the best CB we have. Not many people rate him over Vermaalen it seems. They are both solid though no doubt and each has a different approach to defending that give the team much strength in the back.

      • Phil23 says:

        I would also agree that Koscielny is a great player. Although I think both he and Vermaelen are on par at the moment. That is mostly because both have only had one year playing for Arsenal and both with different partners. This is obviously the partnership Wenger envisioned as they have all the qualities needed to complement our style of play, which results in our high back line. Vermaelen has taken to the role of organiser seamlessly as shown against Newcastle. There are bigger tests coming with games coming up against Liverpool and harder still, United away. This will be made an even harder test with Song banned for 3 matches. It does however lead to an opportunity…

  21. Phil23 says:

    I agree with Desi that De Natale is a great player. In saying this I think if any centre backs in the world were equipped to deal with small technical strikers it would be our pairing. My line up would be:
    Szczesny, Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs, Song Frimpong Arshavin, Walcott Chamakh Gervinho although only if Walcott was fully fit. If not, Ramsey or Rosciky in the middle. (wouldn’t be surprised to see Wilshere start instead of Frimpong)

  22. el bizarron says:

    Without Fabregas, do we still keep a 3 man midfield system? That formation was made for him and I don’t think anyone can really replace what he did for the team. I always thought Arshavin was best used in the hole just behind the strikers.

  23. Ndifreke says:

    I thing kos and vomalin can do it but ramsy should come in from beach.

  24. Ndifreke says:

    Wenger should hurry up and bring new players to repleace fabricas and samba to support kos and vermalen he will even help us in any order possition, posibly mata or eden hazard b/4 he lead us to early crave.

  25. Gary Murray says:

    How bout a straight swap DeJong for Nasri Supposedly hes not happy at City (surprise, surprise) Take the Cesc money and bring in Hazard or Gourcruff, Gives us steel and cover in the midfield and creativity with either the Frenchmen or Belgian

  26. BobbyP says:

    I keep hearing people calling for Gourcuff as direct replacement to Cesc… Seriously has any of you seen him play for the past year and a half. The guy played a decent 5 months of football 2 years ago, got overhyped because he is pure french (same as british players in the EPL) and got sold for a ridiculous amount to Lyon. He has been regressing ever since and got demoted from the national side. This just shows how bloggers are calling for irresponsible spending on players they don’t even watch, how can your opinions be taken seriously then

  27. santori says:

    Very very nervous about this one. Anyone-else?

  28. nikkogunners says:

    My team

    Sagna, Konsienly, Vermaleen, Gibbs
    ————–Ramsey Song

    subs Eboue for Ramsey/Gibbs, Asharvin for Chamberlain, Bentner for Chamakh, Fringpong

    Gervinho in the centre of things assisted Ramsey and The game speeded up by Chamberlain and Walcott. The Italians will wish they had a chance to field a Lambogini cause the pace they will facing will be frightening. Gervinho is a good creative spark.

  29. Phil23 says:

    With the news of Song’s ban I was gutted. I did expect it but just as with Fabregas, expecting it doesn’t make it any better. This however leaves me with a hope. That against Liverpool and United the fan majority could look at the squad in a completely different way. Coming into the game Arsene may or may not have added to the midfield. Ignore me if he does, but I think there is a chance we may come out with the line up of Frimpong Wilshere and Ramsey as the midfield three.
    This is exciting for me because this is what many fans see as being the future of Arsenal. I believe that on the day the line up will be given a positive reaction from the Arsenal faithful especially if they start well. These players have all played together at youth level and are all good friends as they have all broken into the squad together. So although they only have 2 years of experience between them, they have played together at youth level a lot too.
    The FWR combination may just turn out to be ready to declare their presence as the biggest midfield force in the Premier League. The hardest part to believe for many may be Frimpong. I was surprised by the words of Riquelme: “[Frimpong] was the most important player for Arsenal… him and Wilshere were our toughest opponents.”
    With his manager saying:”a power and technique that is very impressive. He could be a great player”.
    This led me to watch over his pre season again and I started to see why Frimpong might just be ready right now. He is very fast, very strong and although he suffered from pre season lack of sharpness, he has good technique and passing. Here’s his match against Boca:

  30. Twoleftfeet says:

    It seems likely that Rosicky will not be fit to start even though he has been included in the squad. There is no Lansbury either (where the hell is that guy anyway?). That leaves us looking extremely light in midfield with Song, Frimpong and Ramsey being the only central midfield players left in the squad for Udinese. I would expect Walcott to start over Arshavin after his cameo last weekend with Frimpong for Rosicky and Chamakh for RVP being the only other changes.
    I can’t see anyone coming in and doing what Cesc did for Arsenal which necessiates a slight change in the system if we are to remain successful. As much as I love Arsha, I do not believe he has the work rate necessary for that role. What may perhaps work is if Wenger plays two CDMs with Arshavin/Ramsey playing higher up the pitch behind the striker – a 4-2-1-3 if you like.

  31. jcloud says:

    2-0 to Arsenal

  32. JB212 says:

    My preferred line up:


    Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs

    Song Frimpong


    Gervinho Walcott


    I believe that’s our strongest possible line up for tonight. Ramsey and Rosicky aren’t as penetrative as Arshavin; although he doesn’t offer as much defensive help as the Ramsey and Rosicky. That’s where Frimpong comes into it. Frimpong will be the more defensive midfield in the double pivot with Song taking on the more box to box / deep lying playmaker (he can do a job here, his passings improved vastly).

    On the wings we have two pacey runners with Gervinho and Walcott who should constantly be moving and making darting runs during our build up play. Arshavin should be able to pick these runs out. Chamakh’s movement and anticipation in the box has to be spot on, he’ll undoubtedly get ground and aerial service from Arshavin, Gervinho, Walcott and Gibbs. It’s about time he comes into form, him in form would do wonders for our team.

    If Chamakh’s on form and firing on full cylinders that would allow van Persie to play in the attacking mid role behind him (which would help void the gap left by Fabregas). With van Persie’s long shots from the edge of the box and his superb passing, Chamakh’s knock down capabilities and ability to attack the ball with his head, Gervinho, Walcott, Arshavin (possibly Miyaichi and Chamberlain’s) darting runs behind defences or runs inwards to the box our attack shouldn’t be as bad as people think once the players find their feet.

    Am not saying we don’t need reinforcements but am saying it’s not as bad as everyone makes out to be. I say we need a striker that can hold the ball up on his own, have a presence in the box and still take part in our fancy passing in and around the box. Someone like Benzema, although I’d gladly settle with Moussa Sow, Falcao, Hulk.

    If I were Wenger I’d ENSURE the team goes into the Premiership, Champions league, FA Cup and Carling Cup with a squad like this:

    Szczesny, Fabianski, Mannone

    Sagna Cahill Vermaelen Gibbs
    Jenkinson Koscielny Djourou Traore

    Song Wilshere
    Frimpong Ramsey
    Diaby Lansbury

    van Persie

    Walcott Gervinho
    Arshavin Hazard
    Chamberlain Miyaichi

    van Persie

    That’s a team with enough depth to challenge on every front this season !!

    Chamberlain, Miyaichi, Lansbury, Hazard, Chamakh, Vela, Diaby, Frimpong, Traore, Djourou, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Fabianski allowed to run riot in the FA and Carling Cup.

    When it comes to the harder opposition Szczesny, Sagna, Cahill, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs, Song, Wilshere, Ramsey, Diaby, van Persie, Walcott, Arshavin, Rosicky, Gervinho, Hulk, Chamakh being set free to cause trouble. Heavy rotation and better pressing from the defence onwards and we’re a set team !!

    With the sales of Fabregas, (Hopefully) Nasri, Eboue, Almunia, Bendtner (sadly), I believe we would have enough money to buy Hulk (£20 mill), Hazard (£20 mill), Cahill (£17 mill).

    • JB212 says:

      ——————-Szczesny, Fabianski, Mannone———————–

      ———————————Squillaci 😦 ———————————-


      ——————————–van Persie————————————


      ——————————–van Persie————————————

      That’s the squad set up for a successful season in my opinion with 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th option stated in order !

  33. Prabal Rakshit says:

    Off the topic here. Did you hear about Theo’s autobiography? He has made some rather unflattering comments on Capello and his style of management. His playing time in a three lions shirt would surely be impacted. Not sure how true it is, or just a time tested way of selling more copies.
    But I really wonder why on earth would a 22 year old worry about an autobiography? He should be thinking about this only after his retirement and only after he has a glittering career worth writing anything about.:-)

  34. Manama says:

    Must say u r a bit pessimistic 2day.however i realy dont c us losing or i dare say drawin 2 udinese 2nait, IF we do our jobs right.dnt agree wt TV5 or Kosc strugling IF d midfield n wingbacks deny Di natalie service.think they’ll sit n wait 2 get us on d break.if we’r disciplined,hardworkin, organized n INCISIVE,cud runaway 3 0 winners 2nait.LOV D GUNNERS.

  35. Manama says:

    My ideal line up 2nait wud b: scz sagna kosc vem gibbs song ramsey(frimpong) rosicky(ramsey) walcot chamakh of wishes 2 d weaknd as we r i think dat only barca,madrid,manu,chelsea,b munich can beat us over 2 legs.

  36. Manama says:

    By d way,wer r all of K.Gibbs accusers.waiting 4 his 1st mistake or injury.ur concerns may hav bin genuine,bt sometimes one shd shut up a while n watch.think he’l b 1 big thing that’l happen at arsenal this season.mark my word.

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