Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Swansea

Perhaps I should call this post guesses about the tactics and starting eleven against Swansea! After the recent overhaul of the squad it is hard to figure out exactly who is going to play or the tactical approach that will be used.

By and large, I don’t expect a big change in the style of play. Many fans want to see a change and it is likely to come, but in subtle, hard to notice installments. In this game we are likely see the same 4-3-3 formation with a single defensive midfielder in Frimpong.

I am keen to see the role Arteta gets. My preference would be deeper on the left, in the position Wilshere mastered last season. Arteta can cause serious damage if he gets a chance to arrive late at the edge of the box or if the movement of the forward players creates a pocket of space in front of the Swansea central defence.

Great players have the ability to help their teammates perform a notch or two higher than their usual level. Fabregas excelled at this and I believe the new Spaniard can replicate his predecessor to a fair extent in this regard. Ramsey, Walcott, and Van Persie will all benefit if Arteta can handle the pressure and bring the ball out from defence. Often for great passing teams, harmless looking simple turns and touches in the middle of the park can lead to gilt-edged chances in the blink of an eye. One must not put too high an expectation on a player who will need time to settle in a new system but this will be one of the key benchmarks to measure Arteta’s contribution.

Set-pieces will be another and I hope RvP does not pull rank on the newbie. There is no rational basis for this but I have a feeling the new No. 8 will score from a direct free-kick tomorrow.

At the back, Wenger’s choices are a bit more complicated. Vermaelen’s injury means Mertesacker can make his Arsenal debut just after returning from international duty. The German hasn’t had enough time to train with his teammates and that could hurt if the Gunners want to play a high line with an off-side trap. Given the fact that relative lack of speed is probably his only real weakness, playing him before he gets a chance to fully grasp the tactics seems like a risky move. Wenger will take that chance I think because the understanding between the other defenders hasn’t been that great so far this season. In a way, Mertesacker will be part of the work in progress.

The big German should find this a comfortable game as the Swans have a playing style befitting their nickname and do play at a slightly lower tempo with comparatively lower quality in the final third, which would probably be very similar to some of the teams in Bundesliga. Their wide players are fairly quick but their impact will depend more on the positioning of the Arsenal full-backs.

That brings me to the dilemma of choosing between Gibbs, who is just returning from another injury, or Santos, who hasn’t had genuine match practice for a while. I’d go with the Englishman. Playing two new defenders who haven’t had the chance to settle could be perilous.

Szczesny should be in good form after his heroics for the national team and hopefully the Frenchmen will have fully recovered from illness and a back spasm.

Up front, RvP and Theo should be automatic choices. Benayoun and Arshavin are the two main options for the left. While the Russian is not a fan favourite at this time, I’d go with Arshavin. Again the idea is to minimize the number of changes. Moreover, since the opponents are a good ball-playing team, Arshavin can get time and space to work his magic, which could magically work for his form.

Preferred starting line-up,

Szczesny – Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs – Frimpong, Ramsey, Arteta – Walcott, RvP, Arshavin.

Santos, Benayoun, and Park (assuming his visa is sorted out) can come on later in the game if it’s going well.

Wenger might, off course, have other ideas and we could see more than two new signings in action and in unexpected positions. I want to watch this game with a fresh and open mindset.

The result is undoubtedly important, especially with a three game handicap that the Gunners now have, but quickly redeveloping the playing style or integrating the arrivals into the system will prove decisive in the long run. Swansea, with respect and admiration, are ideal opponents from that perspective.

Now that the suspense and the drama is behind us, and even though the transfer window wasn’t ideal, I sense a feel-good factor is returning. Hopefully those at the Emirates will pass it on to the players and this will be the start of a shortened (by forgetting the first three games) but high impact season.

25 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Swansea

  1. Kaycee sunshine says:

    Nice one as usual Desi, this is my favourite site and am a big fan of ur blogs, holic is another great guy i like to follow. usually i just read and enjoy the comment section but today am forced to share my thoughts for the first time on this site and i hope am not too bad.

    That said, ur starting line up looks cool, i think thats what we’ll likely see tomoro, but if i were Arsene i’ll opt for the attacking trio of Benayoun VP de Walcott, d midfield combination of arteta, ramsey and ‘frimpstrong’, i’ll rest santos for UCL and play gibbs and sagna at full backs and koscienly to partner ‘massacre’ at full back. Wow, thank God am not Arsene. 5:0 anyone?

  2. Kaycee sunshine says:

    Koscienly and ‘massacre’ at “centre back” i told u! pls pardon inexperience!

    • Alex says:

      you, sir, are an idiot. Why write off Mertesacker before he’s even kicked a ball for Arsenal?!

      Do you have nothing better to do than to criticise people whilst hidden behind a computer screen? Saddo.

      • ak47 says:

        quick to jump on someones back arent you, i didnt interpret it that way, first thing i thought of was he is responsible for the massacre as he’s german. poor taste maybe but the oppo of critz. lighten up geez, if we lose today make sure u put the razor down.

  3. Kaycee sunshine says:

    Koscienly and ‘massacre’ at “centre back” i told u! pls pardon my inexperience!

  4. ak47 says:

    i hope santos has been impressive in training cos id like to see him play.

    plus id like arsene to give arshavin summit to think about by starting ben30

    seeing a new formation would be nice.

  5. RedKris says:

    Gibbs – Verm – Mert – Gibbs

    Frimp – Rambo

    O.C Arsh


    This would be my line up! but no doubt Walcott will start and Arteta will play alongside Song but I feel Ramseys calm footwork would be better to control the midfield and Arteta has more creative flair (for now!) than Ramsey!

    I feel Chamberlains performance in the under 21s deserves credit…..cant argue with 4 assists and pace that would scare a twitchy Enzo!

    Also I am thinking that Gibbs should push on under a bit of pressure as Santos is a great player! probably one of the most skilfull defenders in brazils great history and will light up arsenal this season (although I worry about a LB being too tricky in the prem!)

    Just thoughts and drunken ones at that…..what am I doing at this time in the morning!!!!!!!!

  6. RedKris says:

    …..Sagna at RB…..sorry!!! Also my formation waqs much neater than that when I prepared it! but a 4-2-1-3 please Bob!!!

  7. ak47 says:


    SAGAT— MASSACRE(nice one k)— KOSH— SANTA(a bag of goals and assists)

    man on…….. its PONG, man on man on its pong(10/9/11ak47)



  8. ak49 says:

    wenger should go with this formation :
    sagna – kos – mertesacker – santos

    rosicky – frimpong – arteta



    this way rvp can get a free role , and we should rest ramsey , i think he’s getting tired.

  9. Adebomi Dayo, Ekiti State says:

    l will prefer if wenger could use this formation. szczesney sagna merte koscie santos fripong ramsay arteta theo van persie benayoun

  10. venky says:



  11. santori says:

    Sensible choices Desi. I’d like to see AOC have a go at some stage.

  12. bolo says:

    absolutely agree with your probable starting line up. unsure about the bench though, we are short of centre midfield options. i think it will be something like fabianski, djourou, jenkinson, santos, benayoun, chamberlain, park (or chamakh if park’s visa isn’t sorted). although i wouldn’t be surprised if we saw someone like coquelin instead of jenkinson or santos. looking forward to a good win, i predict 5-1 to the arsenal

    • bolo says:

      apologies, just realised jenkinson is suspended. in that case i think we will definitely see coquelin, or more hopefully ebecilio on the bench

  13. Me says:

    kieran koscien matesaka sagna frimpy rambo arteta walkot persie bena (arsha has lost it completely)

  14. farouque says:

    thanks desi… Am very pretty conviced mertesacker won’t manage the high line defence style.. Unless otherwise, i expect a draw of 1-1. With no hard feelings though a defeat of 1 against arsenal is stil possible..

  15. AK47 GooneR says:

    Great blog as usual!! But this is my take on the squad which I would love to see…

    “Massacre” koscielny
    Sagna. Gibbs

    Frimpong Ramsey

    OxO. Arteta. Walcott


  16. Amayo osas says:

    Anyhow,all we need now is winning not formation but to win.

  17. Charlie. says:

    Sagna Kos Per Gibbs
    Ramsey Arteta
    Walcott Arshavin

    With Benayoun coming on for Frimpong after 60mins if the team is either comfortably ahead or in need of a goal.

    I like that the players bought play in a number of positions. Arteta and Benayoun can play wide or centrally, so can Park, Gervinho and A-O-C. This leads to a very fluid formation when everyone is available and i can see many teams finding it impossible to cope with the players switching positions and the movement. I was tempted to start with Benayoun instead of Frimpong but it is probably wise to start cautiously and avoid conceeding early rather than go out gung-ho with many players who haven’t trained with the team for a week yet.

  18. banta says:

    i wud like 2 c scezny sagna kon mertseker santos frimpong rosicky arteta wallcot vp arshavin

  19. irish gooner says:

    id start benayoun instead of arshavin

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