Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Shrewsbury Town

When it was first announced, not many would have thought an Arsenal V Shrewsbury tie in the third round of the Carling Cup will take on such significance.  I shudder at the thought of elimination but given the recent form, and with the team finding new ways of gifting goals, it’s not too hard to imagine. Certainly, from the oppositions point of view, this is the best time to play Arsenal.

Many, including this blogger, believe domestic cups are the only realistic title hope for this season and Wenger should focus on them more than the main competitions. At the very least he should use this game as an opportunity to provide the new players a better chance to gel together. Some people have said that Arsenal are only now having a proper pre-season. It’s an unfortunate situation but can anyone really claim the Gunners are playing like a side that is on top of its game?

Le Boss faces the unenviable task of finding the right balance in this game. He is likely to give a chance to youngsters like Ryo and AOC. He also has to give a start to Chamakh, probably Frimpong, Djourou, Jenkinson, and Fabianski as well.

That leaves four places up for grabs, a couple on the left side of defence and a couple in midfield.

Arsene might prefer Gibbs, Coquelin, Benayoun, and Miquel for these roles but, to be honest, I am not in favour of starting too many youngsters in this game.

Koscielny has been inconsistent and should start to get his rhythm right. He didn’t play much in the international break so fatigue should not be that big an issue. Moreover, Vermaelen is likely to return in a few weeks so the Frenchman will get another chance to rest.

I’d also pick Santos in this game as he needs a lot more game time to adapt to the system that Arsene is using. He, too, hasn’t played much so tiredness should not be a factor.

Frimpong and Coquelin, despite their age and inexperience, should make a strong midfield duo if they are not too adventurous. If the defence behind them is strong they will be able to play with confidence. These young guns have an important part to play this season and starting in such games will be an immense help.

Up front I’d pick Park ahead of Ryo on the left. Or Benayoun can play on the left and Park can be in the hole. Miyaichi is an exciting talent but the two experienced players will be involved a lot more with the first team and both need time on the pitch. The Japanese youngster can come on later in the game if things go according to plan.

Preferred line-up,

Fabianski – Jenkinson, Djourou, Koscielny, Santos – Frimpong, Benayoun, Coquelin – AOC, Chamakh, Park.

I’d also have a strong bench to avoid further embarrassment.

Arsenal should have technically superior players and they will have to make their quality count in individual tussles. That means the players should be able to keep the ball on the ground and bring it out from the back through the midfielders even if the opponents are pressing them higher up the pitch. In some games this season it hasn’t worked quite so well but there can be no excuses in this fixture.

Shrewsbury Town will try to use width and pace to score on the break. It’s a simple enough tactic but has worked for some teams against the Gunners, especially when the defensive players are in a generous mood. There aren’t many tactical surprises in such matches but one cannot always account for outright bloopers or lack of concentration at key moments.

In the above mentioned starting eleven, I’d like to see Park given a free role to drop in behind Chamakh or take his position when the striker moves in to deeper areas. Santos should get the left wing all to himself. The Brazilian has the speed and skills to dazzle on the wing. Coquelin or Frimpong, whoever is on the left side of midfield, should cover for the attacking full-back.

I’d also like to see Jenkinson playing a conservative game instead of pushing forward at every opportunity. Of late I have felt that the full-backs, especially on the right, tend to get in the way of the wide attacker. They should move forward only when the winger makes a run on the inside.

A good result will not change the mood overnight or instil confidence in a deflated squad. Far too many errors have crept in and only a long, strong run can bring the belief back. But this game can at least be a start. It’s a chance to prevent things from getting worse and to take another step forward. That is the only option right now. Everything else will come later.

Pick a strong line-up to give new players more playing time. Get a result. Keep a clean sheet. Then go back to the training ground and focus on the next game. Sounds simple enough but …

26 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Shrewsbury Town

  1. BarDel says:

    Its amazing that we’ve reached the point where we have to worry about teams like this. I’m not sure if a change in coaching personnel will make a significant difference, but something needs to change.

    I agree that we can use this match as an opportunity to at least get back on the right track, and Wenger should focus on the domestic cups this season, and finishing in the top four… although the later seems like a bit of an ask right now…

    My perferred line up is:

    Fabianski – Jenkinson, Djourou, Koscielny, Santos – Frimpong, Benayoun, Arteta – AOC, Chamakh, Park.

    I’d like to see some leaders on the field for at least the start of the game, and I think Arteta should fill that role. Once (or if) we secure a rather confident lead I think we have to bring on Coquelin and Ryo.

  2. HmmGunner says:


    Jenkinson – Djourou – Mertesacker – Santos

    AOC – Coquelin – Frimpong – Miyachi

    Chamakh – Park

    Park, AOC and Miyachi will most probably start so hopefully a 4-4-2 is likely. In terms of new signings, Arteta and Benayoun have enough Prem experience, and this opportunity should be used to give the others further chance to acclimatise. Djourou should get a chance to rediscover any sort of form, and seeing as our two wingers are hardly defensive minded, our middle two should be the defensive duo of Coquelin and Pong. Coquelin must get as much experience as possible, as I suspect Arsene will use him when our other two DMs leave for the ACoN. Mystery surrounds Sagna’s injury, so it will be interesting to see if Jenkinson is risked anyway, as there isn’t much coming out of the academy as full-backs.

    • sam says:

      you are thinking as i am thinking.
      time for arsene to stop playing walcott and arshavin in the wings.
      he should find them place in the middle or not start with them at all.

    • terry says:

      like this formation however i’ll play miquel insted to Mertesacker adn gibbs insted of santos.
      probably even give afobe and anke some game time after we take a big lead which we definately are gona take. 🙂 !!!!

  3. sam says:

    the same 4-3-3 again?
    it seems like no one actually identified arsenal problem. the current system of playing players out of positions with non wingers on the wing who dont have desire to track back and leave the defence vulnerable.
    arsenal squad is very strong but arsene selection and tactics are wrong.
    maybe he should try this attack:
    miyaichi and chamberlain in the wings, they might be young but unlike arshavin, they have stamina and energy to run, can go pass defenders and have better final ball than walcott.park and chamakh in the middle.

    • AJ says:

      Agreed. No use playing Arshavin on the wing. What sense does it make to buy a player who impressed you when playing behind the striker, and then pushing him wide?

  4. Puke felix says:

    All we need 4 Arsenal rite now… Is fasting & prayers 4our dear club…cos even at loss..we still play beautifully…mother luck wl always stand against us…we need prayers…folks

  5. noobpro says:

    something is seriously wrong with this arsenal team. I’m guessing that something is inconsistency and a serious lack of self belief and confidence.
    When the team creates chances and they do not go in, the team starts to panic. Then cracks, holes, start to appear and before long the team presses the self destruct button.
    We need a major miracle and huge amounts of luck to turn this season around.

    • santori says:

      The system is wrong and with every set back, it preys on the players. NOw, we have an added issue of lack of confidence.

      eg. Wenger decides to go zonal to cure our common failings at set pieces (reminescent of Liverpool pre-Dalglish)

      yet the only real aerial threat to our backline that Blackburn possessed was Samba. All he needed to do to remain a threat was stay out of the zone defended by Metersecker.

      In essence, we were not properly using our best asset.

      Would it have been so difficult to have had Metersecker track Samba wherever he pops up in and around the box leaving the rest of Blackburn to the rest of Arsenal?

      Conversely I’ve been harping on about how ineffective our use of Chamakh has been. Wenger threw him on against Dortmund to defend a lead and we came under immediate and unwanted pressure.

      Chamakh is more useful when we are chasing a game and need to bang the door down.

      But he needs to play in and around the box preferably with bodies closer to him.

      Against Blackburn, he was more effective played directly. That Santos managed several very decent deliveries that were a bit above Sagna knee height helped.

      Wenger needs to get his tactics right. Nnot saying he is poor but he can be found wanting. It will do us no harm to get in better tactical assistance to Arsene and the sooner he realises this the better.

      No amount of new additons or Cahills will help us otherwise.

  6. Nii-Akwei says:

    Can someone tell me what happened to Almunia?? whether on loan, injury or whatever…. Is sad to see players leave… whether they are on top form or not…

    • chris from Cambridge says:

      What happened was that in summer 2010 Arsenal had a lot of PR about buying an experienced goalkeeper but did not buy one. Either Wenger or the Board would not pay £4m for a 37/38 year old keeper … despite the fact that we are prepared to buy a (very skilful) 29 year old midfielder and amortise (say) £2m per year off his value. And something similar with Squillaci.

      Anyway while deciding not to pay the money we effectively told Almunia (who has played very well for us in phases) that he was only selected because we had bought nobody else. Result … he xxxxed early 2010/11 and cost us a few points eg. Vs. WBA..

      This summer 2011 we tried to off load him without success :

      > Probably because he is paid so much by Arsenal (under the egalitarian wage structure) that no other club will match it and

      > He has had his confidence so shattered that no other club wants him anyway.

      N.B. Another bulls eye by Arsenal FC PLC. !!!!

  7. mahesa says:


    Jenkinson – Djourou – Mertesacker – Santos

    Frimpong – Rosicky

    AOC – Park – Miyaichi


  8. Vanditha says:

    why don’t choose Miyachi to play in the squad ?i really one to see how everybody call him as the new Ronaldo?

  9. unspkn says:

    Don’t understand how you play AOC but not Miyachi plus playing Koscielny with different partners doesn’t help continuity..

  10. FoolishgooNer says:

    I will tell you what is wrong! Even though I won’t be the last to make this claim. I like the team you present Desi. Per is painfully slow and needs the awareness and pace of the other three defenders to cover for him so he can cover for them with his hight, intellegence and experience. Thomas was out Santos first game and Sagna’ early exit was the deesaster at Blackburn. I think JD And Miguel will do find. Lukas Fab is more than capable to give Golden boy Woj run for his money. I mean common even Almunia would could do better than 12 concededgoals target practice in two games. Fulll backs Carl Jenkinson needs to get back to basics of defending, space awareness, Keeping the danger infront of him, covering for CDs and not arguing on the pitch. Gibbs must play. No Santos although he cancross… May be sub. Frimpong to sweep, the OX and Miyaichi on the wings, Ramsey/Arteta to start plus Park and Chamakh. 4-1-3-2. Francis C, Santos, and squalachi (spelling) to sub in. We will get a great result sharpen Park,chamakh and Gibbs. Reward The OX and Ryo. Plus I have a feeling that we are going to need Squilachi soon because 12 goals on two games could not be his fault either and injuries are part of the game.

  11. Tee Song says:

    Wenger named most of his starting squad on the dot com. Ryo, Ox, Frimpong, Coquelin, Park, and Jenkinson. He did say the team would mix youth and experience and other than Park, who will be making his debut so that means he’s not experienced as an Arsenal player, that’s a young team. I agree that our defenders need game time so I would like to see Mertesacker, Koz and Santos as the remaining defenders and Fabianski in goal.

    Park, I think will play behind Chamakh in a very attack oriented 4-2-3-1 with Coquelin and Frimpong tasked to sit deeper. I’ve never seen Coquelin play but by most accounts, he’s more technical than Frimpong so I’m interested in seeing what his distribution is like. With two definitely defensively minded central midfielders and Park really a forward, I don’t expect to see much interchange in the midfield.

    • santori says:

      Agree with Metersecker and Koscielny. They need to have more time on the ball together.

      Also agree with Park behind Chamakh. It’s high time we exploit a 4-4-1-1. For that matter RVP behind Chamakh or AA behind RVP or Walcott behind RVP.

  12. bolz_odet says:

    Ryo has to start

  13. Thomas Gallas Okine says:

    Am so Glad about that…..Hoping they make it to the Finals…..Oh Wenger Please help us and stay Glo to your Information am on your Side for this talented Youth i mean Us…………..Gallas 10

  14. santori says:

    Santos put some really good balls into the box for Chamakh and Per during the Blackburn defeat. OTOH he still needs match practise going the other way. Would be very useful playing him.

    Like to see how Park may function in the middle behind Chamakh.

    I expect if Benayoun plays that these two could(will) switch during the game.

    Agree with Djourou and Koscielny playing or preferably even Per and Koscielny for the matter. They simply need more playing time together.

    Like to see Ryo on at some stage. Agree that he should come on later (second half)

    but it will be good to set our priorities right again after last season and put due value to blooding new talent in this cup. We placed over-value on the Carling last season and IMO paid duely for it with our other competitions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s