Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Sunderland

Firstly, please accept my apologies for this mini-hiatus.  I appreciate the emails and higher expectations. Indeed, I wanted to write a lot more frequently but a couple of factors kept me away. The current run of form has been disheartening to say the least and while I dearly wished to look back and analyze some games and stats, the heart just wasn’t up to it. Furthermore, with my folks visiting us – meeting them after two and a half years – it was easier for me to escape the melancholy in the Arsenalsphere.

I did write a stat based piece for Epl Index. It is mostly an analysis of some passing stats (passes in final third, attacking half, defensive half, and on the wing) and other numbers like final third entries, etc. for the Arsenal midfield along with a comparison with the United counterparts. There aren’t many conclusions to be formed but it offers some interesting insights and food for thought. I have also tried being a bit more active on twitter but haven’t really grasped the nuances of that medium.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s move on to the Arsenal.

As far as I know there weren’t any injuries during this international break. When was the last time that happened?! Those on the lookout for some positive signs should be encouraged by that. Others, no doubt, will argue that losing Sagna just before the break was bad enough.

Vermaelen, Diaby, Wilshere, and Sagna are the only absentees – although the word only doesn’t seem appropriate considering at least three of them would have been first choice players if fit – so Arsene should have a strong enough group to pick his starting eleven.

I don’t expect too many surprises. The right back spot is debatable and perhaps one of the attacking positions can lead to a difference of opinion.

I would like to see the following line-up,

Szczesny – Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs – Song, Ramsey, Arteta – Gervinho, RvP, Arshavin.

Some fans will probably prefer Koscielny or Djourou in place of Sagna as they are more experienced but I believe Jenkinson has the engine, crosses well, is tenacious, and deserves his chance against a team like Sunderland. Former Gunner Seb Larsson might start on the left for the visitors. The Swede is a technically talented player but isn’t the type who would beat his man for pace or by trickery. Jenkinson will benefit from such an outing.

Gibbs or Santos is a coin toss at the moment and is a good problem to have. I would be happy with either of them.

Song should move back into his midfield role alongside Ramsey and Arteta. Rosicky provides a tempting option and would certainly add more flair to the side. But given the relative lack of technical passing coupled with inconsistent tracking on the wings, it is imperative that the three players in midfield work hard for the defence.

Gervinho and Van Persie will probably be unanimous picks. Wenger will have a choice between Benayoun, Arshavin, and Walcott. I would go with the Russian as he offers the most potent creative threat. I am not convinced Theo is very compatible with the Ivorian right now as both have a similar style.

There is an argument for starting another technical passer in the wide areas. This would help the midfield spread the ball better and has worked well last season with Nasri on the flanks. The Israeli skipper provides that option but I haven’t formed an opinion on that as it’s hard to guess how it will work out without actually watching the combination in play. Wenger might have tried that in training and I would be happy to see it on the pitch if Le Boss has been sufficiently impressed. If it works, Gervinho and Van Persie will cause a lot more trouble to the visitors.

Tactically, I expect Steve Bruce to line up five in the midfield with clear instructions to go tight on their man. It will be a hard fought game and with Howard Webb in charge we might see players like Gardner and Cattermole getting away with some crunching tackles. I don’t have a good feeling about this game from the injuries point of view. With a good international break in between, it would be typical of Arsenal’s luck to lose a couple of vital players in games on either side. Fingers crossed.

The Gunners will find it hard to break Sunderland down. At the other end Larsson will test the home defence with his set-pieces.

With due respect, I must say it’s hard to imagine the Black Cats troubling the Gunners defence from open play unless the home side repeat some of their bloopers. At this stage though, given the mistakes we have repeatedly seen, one cannot fault the visiting players or fans for their sense of optimism.

For Arsenal it will be about moving the ball at speed, winning the individual battles against the opponents’ pressing, off-the-ball movement to aid the two, and avoiding, um … avoidable blunders! With that the Gunners will also need greater imagination and purpose in the attacking areas.

Analytically speaking, this should be a comfortable win but the recent events have left me in a state of anxiety. Only a strong run can change that. For now I won’t get my hopes up. Even a scrappy result will do just fine.

27 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Sunderland

  1. OBA says:

    Always on spot. A win, no excuse.

  2. Thorough says:

    I believe your defence quartet is what Wenger will use though I, like many others, would have preffered Coquelin at right back. In midfield I will gladly throw away Ramsey and put any of Arshavin, Benayoun or Rosicky there. And I also think Wenger will go with you here, but will sub Theo for Arshavin (the most under-utilized player in the EPL).

  3. saintann says:

    in my opion wenger should not play ramsey…lets try playing yossi,arteta,song and thomas in the midle..then Rvp and gervinho in front a 4,4,2 the back jerkinson,per,laurent and santos,my preditions for the game 4 0,,with gervinho,Rvp and arteta scoring

  4. Tommo says:

    Szczesny – Santos, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs – Song, Ramsey, Arteta – Gervinho, Arshavin, RvP

    i dont like the look of jenkinson, he gets turned easily and going forward is poor compared to santos. Robin needs to drift around with gervinho with arshavin playing drop centre forward, his creativity is lacking on wings and Rvp needs a role where he is not stuck running the offside line, he is too creative, that can be gervinhos job

  5. Kubla Khan says:

    I have a feeling that Wenger cannot motivate his players any more. Now, I am not privy to any inside information nor do I know anybody connected with the club but this feeling is based on what we have seen, body language of players, results so far and player quotes. A manager needing endorsement from Frimpong must be considered as finished.

    The next few matches are crucial but all games eventually are; Afc have lost verve and not just Fabregas, they have lost belief and not just Nasri. This stems from a long list of failures and this can only be explained by a lack of inspiration from the manager. Wenger has looked defeated since the last three years and it culminated in his nadir with 8-2.

    An isolated victory here and there cannot change anything. A talismanic signing won’t either. Afc, run like a plc has lost it’s soul. The American owner and his lackey Gazidis are destroying the club’s ethos. Wenger has his huge salary and ego till 2014. Even protest banners are not being allowed.

    The only thing that may change things is a new manager in January or next year. However, the most important is change of ownership. Until that happens, Afc are sliding down. I hope my fears prove wrong.

  6. Chinedu uniport says:

    In my opinion,koscienly or couquelin should be used at right back.FORWARDS-RVP,park,walcott.MIDFIELD-arterta,gervinho(AOCsub),frimpong(djourou sub).DEFENCE-Gibbs/santos,mertersacker,song & right back.If djourou is introduced he should play at RB

  7. bonfre says:

    szczeny-santos-per-kosliency-jekinson-benyun-song-arteta jevino-arshavn-rvp- sub welcot-chambaline- park-ramsey

  8. George ibude says:

    Our problem now is a fliud,mobile and an eye for that exquisite pass like cesc,lets try arshavin there as 80 percent of ramsey and arteta passes are either sideways or backward.

    • Santori says:

      Insufficient off ball movement. He leads to a lack of options ahead of the passer and hence the sideway movement.

      Which is where weiss either of Jack or for the matter Diaby both who are more mobile the only 2 in the middle that can effectively carry the ball forward at feet with power.

      Ramsey and Arteta are top similar.

      • Santori says:

        Sorry typed on an over intelligent iPhone. ‘he’ should read it’ and ‘Weiss’ was suppose to be ‘miss’

  9. SPECTRUM says:

    We should win this match quite easily. But in the context of our season, it’s nothing to get excited about. We’ve blown the league ( again ), so what does it matter ? Mid table mediocrity is all we can expect. Until Wenger goes, get used to it.
    ” In Arsene we rust.”

  10. delmein says:

    I’m gna b positive,cause a lot of ppl negative…I picked up arsenal the hated team wen up 4 critics…Give arsene a break plzzzzz…I hate ppl criticizing walcott,he alwas played wit passion at arsenal,we fans keep forgetting wat he has done 4 us…He is still 1 of the most feared wings in world soccer…my team 4 2day(note,I do know about gibbs but believe he wud do a better job on sagna position in his absence)Szczesny – Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Santos -Song, Ramsey, Arteta – Gervinho, RvP,walcott

  11. josh says:

    i will prefer rosicky instead of ramsey and will want arsevin to play from the 7 position to assist jenkinson from the threat of ssesegnon or give jenkinson strict warning not to come forward too much.i dont know what you people think,but i will prefer santos to gibbs.gooners 4 life.

    • Santori says:

      Gibbs hasa slight edge with regards PL experience/ fitness. But Santos is adjusting quickly.

      Don’t expect AA to track back sufficiently in support of Jenkinson. Not out of lack of effort but simply because he has lacked sufficient juice out wide.

      Personally, if Walcott doesn’t feature on RW, I would prefer Benayoun to help cover Jenkinson.

      AA’s best position is through the middle behind the striker where his creativity can be put to optimum effectiveness.

  12. Portable says:

    My owne formatoin to bomb sunderland with goals is to use 4-4-2. My best keper, Szczesnky. Defendsives. Djorou, Matasacker, koscienlny, Gibs, Melfilders. Arshavin Arteta, Song, Rosicky, Walcont, Rvp. I prefer djoruo in that left back to fil d sagna gabs.

    • WafflingWenger says:

      …and again. Sure, it probably worked for you in football manager, but 442 is not arsenal. Period.

      • Santori says:

        We’ve used it before. With the options available in the middle currently (sans Jack and Diaby), it is a viable one.

        however, we should really be able to switch between a 4-4-1-1, 4-2-3-1 or even 4-3-3 within a game when necessary so all this positional dogma is moot.

        what we have not had in recent seasons is sufficient flexibility and tactical nous to go with it.

  13. Kipkoech says:

    All iz ryt provided tat arsenal win bt wenger 2b vigilant

  14. Shaine Shizzle Blessing Bonnie says:

    And where is Park.its high time that he’s gvn a chance to play tommorow!

    • Santori says:

      Don’t know why we bought him if we don’t play him.

      Park and Jenkinson are 2 of our more “iffy” signings this summer.

      we really needed a better signing than Park but since he is signed, how he gets a chance to prove his worth.

      Goes back to the debate about our prions/tactics/formations

      Whilst undoubtedly our best man up top is Robin Reliant, we really haven’t begun to find well oiled option which may necessitate a formation shift.

      As a strike option, I believe Chamakh in tandem with one of either AA, Park or even RVP is a suitable alternative to RVP on speAr point.

      Chamakh is less effective in a 4-3-3 unsupported particularly when he drifts out of the box thereby negating our presence there.

      This is where a 4-4-1-1 switch may be an effective alternate.

  15. Mart says:

    How about a 5-3-2…? Szczesny; Mertesacker – Santos, Djorou, Koscielny, Gibbs; Ramsey, Song, Arteta; Walcott, RVP.
    Gibbs and Santos to provide the wing attacks while Djorou and Kos covers 4 them respectively. RVP to support midfield link-up. Introduce any sub and revert to 4-3-3: Sub: Gervinho, Arshavin, Park.

    • Santori says:

      We rarely have enough Cbacks available at any given time.

      I don’t see the point of Ramsey in the mix with Arteta and Song. He is too similar to Arteta.

      Song and Arteta should hold midfield for us an offer sufficient dominance. What I think we could need is more presence up top to support the lone striker( particularly against teams sitting deep)

      RVP, AA and possibly Park seem the sort of players that could perform the DB10 role behind a CF ( Chamakh) and perform the link hitherto missing with Jack’s absence in the 4-3-3, but it will entail a switch to 4-4-1-1. Ideally, we should be able to revert between the 2 during a game, it’scalled options and flexibility.

  16. Raghugovind says:

    So you are back after international break of your own . Did miss your tactical analysis during this break . I must say the piece you have wirtten in EPLindex is amazing . Very informative . I wanted to know what was your say on Bergkamp suggesting that Van Persie needs an out and out striker in front of him and suggesting most of the midfielders are the same !!!!!

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