Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Stoke

After two steps forward, the next one should not go backwards. That is the mantra for Arsene and his players this Sunday as they welcome, perhaps reluctantly, Stoke City to the Emirates.

At home the Gunners have generally done well against the Potters. But Arsene probably played his best eleven against Marseille while Stoke were able to rest a number of players for their European adventure. It could work against the Gunners in a game that will have high intensity and demand a lot physically.

Tactically, the two sides couldn’t be more apart. Under normal circumstances, Stoke would get bodies behind and sit back. Crouch would be their target man with Walters making runs in support along with one of the wingers. They’d try to score on the break or win a throw/free-kick, which is their bread and butter as far as attacking goes. It also happens to be Arsenal’s Achilles heel that has been having the kind of setbacks that Vermaelen did. While the last couple of games have been good from a defensive point of view, I am not taking anything for granted. Szczesny and Mertesacker will have something to prove in this game, as will Koscielny.

Interestingly, I have a feeling Pulis could be more adventurous in this game and push his players further forward to press the Gunners. Marseille, Dortmund, and other teams have shown they could trouble the Gunners with such a tactic. It would be risky but a lot more positive. Or the Stoke manager might just look at Arsenal’s visit to Blackburn and think there is a better chance of getting a result by playing on the counter. In any case, as with most teams recently, Stoke will feel this is their best chance of getting something out of a game away to Arsenal.

For the Gunners, I feel the current period is a bit similar to a part of the 08-09 season where the side played four 0-0 draws after a poor start. The current form and group of players is not the same as that season but the rebuilding phase is consistent. I won’t be surprised if this isn’t an extravagant display. In fact, I hope it isn’t because the risk of taking that backwards step would be too high if the Gunners go gung-ho in attack.

The midfield has to stay deeper even if Arsenal lack bodies in the box. The balance between midfielders arriving in the box or getting into advanced positions with the players providing defensive cover has not been achieved and in such cases a cautious approach is pragmatic. The front three should be able to fashion some good chances even with a patient approach.

If I am not mistaken, Stoke did have a relatively weaker record at defending set-pieces last season. It would be delightfully ironical if the Gunners were to nick this one via a solitary goal from a free-kick or a corner, which seems long overdue anyway.

Wenger has an unenviable task of picking the starting line-up after two gruelling encounters in the past week. As Le Boss said, he often thinks of resting Van Persie on a Monday but ends up picking him by the end of the week. Frankly, I can’t make up my mind about this one.

Stoke are always a dangerous opponent as far as physical injuries go although they aren’t quite as bad away from home where the referees are less lenient towards their thuggish ways. Should Van Persie be risked against such a side at a time when the Dutchman seems like the only real world class player in the side? What would happen to the recovery and the season if De Kapitein is knocked out for a few weeks, if not more?

On the other hand, without Van Persie, will this team have enough confidence to score? What will happen to the recovery if the side doesn’t even create a few good chances?

As I said, not an easy choice, and in such cases I’d support the manager in whatever decision he makes.

The back five should be the same that finished the game at Marseille. Djourou should show his recent shaky form is behind him. The Swiss internationals height and physical presence can be very useful in such a game but it will come to naught if mistakes aren’t cut out.

Song and Arteta should start in the middle but will Rosicky be able to handle three games in a week? Benayoun or Ramsey could come in for Little Mozart. One of them might even start on the wing if Wenger wants better technical quality on the pitch.

Wenger will probably have to pick two from Arshavin, Walcott, and Gervinho. The Russian didn’t have a particularly great outing against Marseille but deserves another chance alongside the Ivorian who impressed after coming on for Walcott. Theo might not be that effective against a team that is sitting back.

Preferred starting line-up,

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

I expect this to be a tougher game than the previous two and Stoke will certainly offer a bigger challenge than Sunderland did. In that context, even another hard fought win will be a sign of progress.

Limiting the number of set-pieces and throws conceded along with a better defensive performances in such situations will be a confidence booster not only for the squad but also for the fans. Needless to say it could just as easily go the other way if things don’t turn out as desired.

The most important part however, is that the players not make any silly mistakes due to carelessness or a lack of focus. That will be hard to take and will set the recovery back to square one.

I want to end by wishing Le Boss a happy birthday and many, many happy returns of the day at the Emirates.

33 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Stoke

  1. OBA says:

    What else can be better prio tommorrow?
    This is 100% the best. 3 points Arsenal!

  2. Gomih says:

    They need to work harder to secure their place.

  3. Yose Walcott says:

    i would love to see park plying tommorow

  4. AK47 GooneR says:

    Why do we constantly depend or Arshavin? We should look @ this type of game and give some of our players a rest and put in some Quality, for example Miyaichi and Alex Chamberlain, I am not saying that we should undermine Stoke, because they are a good time and are not to be undermined, but maybe that would be a smart road, and later maybe substitute them? We could also start with Park and later sub him

    Preferred lineup


    Ox. Miyaichi


    • PratyakshArsenal says:

      nevr ! nd nevr!… this wood be a squad without experience….!!

    • T2T says:

      Starting with only 10 players… I’s at least add Song in front of the defenders. I’ve never seen Miyaichi play other than short video clips and I’m not sure I’d want the 3 front players all to be inexperienced.
      Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Santos
      Rosicky, Song, Arteta
      Oxlade-Chamberlain, Park, Gervinho

      Having Walcott and van Persie as subs to come in after 60 min or so should terrify most teams. We know Park can score goals at the highest level from all his goals in international games, the Ox has proved he can work wonders also.

  5. Mike kabin says:

    The gunners wud get early chances,if dey can utilise dem,fyn.if not,themore d game progresses dmore frustratin it wud bcome,d players shud cut out execcesive passing in dbox, put deir boot into anytin dat rolls across stokes penalty area.dat way we wud b fyn!i hope per has learn som communicating skils at d 7 here we come.

  6. AK47 GooneR says:

    Why do we constantly depend or Arshavin? We should look @ this type of game and give some of our players a rest and put in some Quality, for example Miyaichi and Alex Chamberlain, I am not saying that we should undermine Stoke, because they are a good time and are not to be undermined, but maybe that would be a smart road, and later maybe substitute them? We could also start with Park and later sub him

    Preferred lineup



    Ox. Miyaichi


  7. sam says:

    arsenal will go nowhere starting games with arshavin
    we have players who can do better

  8. PeeWee says:


    I would prefer a team of 11 players myself

  9. John says:

    If Arshivan gets a game on his performances this season it goes along way to explaining why we are in the mess we are in.

    Good teams need competition for places if you dont perform you warm the bench maybe some players need some love but that f**k has taken it beyond a joke.

    He has not played a decent game since last year and when you do play him its like playing with ten men…. he gives the ball away cheaply every time and doesnt contribute which can only have a neagative effect on the other players.

    I really hope he is dropped to the reserves and shipped out in December he has been a terrible buy and is one fo teh worest professional I have ever see!!!!

  10. Jonas says:

    Let Park en Oxlade-C play!!!!!

  11. Ezekiel says:

    4 me i wil prefer dis formation.
    gervinho arshavin

  12. AK47 GooneR says:

    @ Ezekiel, please do me a favour and answer me this, why did you personally choose Arshavin over Walcott?

  13. NepaliGunner says:

    I think we have to play RVP this game. Even with a bad injury record, we cannot rest a player simply because we think he may get injured. This game is vital, as a win will take us to 7th place, and keep us well within reach of the 4th spot for now.

    Also, Arshavin should not get a game. I would start Benayoun on the right simply because he has creativity, but also defends well. This will be a physical tussle, and we will need creative but strong players up front. Theo and Arshavin are best suited as second half substitutes.

    Djourou Koscielny Mertesacker Santos
    Arteta Song
    Benayoun Ramsey Gervinho

    • scorcher says:

      in my opinion this is the best starting line up for tomorrow if everybody is fit hopefully will can get into a good position early enough so RVP can be substituted for rest and protection from any Stoke induced injuries

  14. NepaliGunner says:

    Also, after this RVP gets some rest as he won’t be needed in the mid week game.

  15. Chinedu uniport says:

    Happy birthday wenger,coincedentaly,I was born in october as well.I will prefer couqelin or park start tomorrow but arshavin was poor in d last outing against stoke,so better reserved.Defend well,play well,utilize chances & we will win

  16. wenger should stop using Arshavin…his only killing the team spirit..his too lazy on the pitch…That guy Park should be given a chance to prove his worth 4 once..

  17. Gerry Lennon says:

    I think everyone is agreed on the back 4 and GK?
    So midfield needs to be strong, and quick, to counter the long balls and support the backs.
    I’d go with: Arteta, Song , Coquelin – right, middle, and left respectively.
    Ramsey – more forward, behind the strikers.
    Chamakh, Gerviho.- sub both on the hour mark!
    Yes, this is an important match, but so is Chelsea. I would rather RVP will be fresh for that. As has been said before, defend well, and we should get a few chances to nick a couple?
    Subs, if the defence is sound, then Walcott and Park up front, then Benayoun for whoever is on a yellow card, or Arteta.

  18. Uthman says:

    Using Rvp is a risk as we all knw our recent form & only hope we have now is Rvp, we have chelsea game ahead & everybody knws stoke play aggressive game, i wil suggest dis formatn against stoke. Scyzesny, juan, per, koscienly, rosicky, arteta, frimpong, arshavin, park, gervinho. 4 5 1

  19. Respect Wenger says:

    I dont think Ramsey, RVP, and Rosicky will start in this game. RVP and Rosicky are tired. If we start them, it would be a huge bonus for Stoke. I think we need to have Frimpong, Chamakh and Ox in the starting line up. Your analysis also suggested that there will be some changes. Your conclusion is we will have the same team that we have been watching for the last two months. I think the manager will have this team.

    Szczesny – Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Santos – Song, Frimpong, Arteta – Gervinho, Park (Ox, Walcott), Chamakh.

  20. cupsui says:

    i like the idea of le coq in midfield…but i am also still pushing for arsharvin to get a run in the attacking mid position, yes he would have to work his ass off but he can and he is our most creative player!
    back 5 as mentioned picks itself…
    song or song
    coq arteta
    arteta arsharvin

    benayoun gervinho

    the attack is very well balanced between direct play (gervinho) and creativity in RvP and Benny. The midfield is tough, i like both and having le coq in gives a little more stability, but i really think arshavin needs a chance in the middle and could show his worth and the creativity we lack, also mikael has been amazing defensively and helps a lot in that respect. Wenger though will prob give the start to ramsey (i think rosicky will get a rest) and i’ll support that, hopefully the goal will boost his confidence, although i still think he could be used well off the bench in this game along with theo, and maybe the ox.

    RvP must start this game, we need him and he will get the whole next week off, maybe sub him after 60 if things go well.

    i think 2-0 here will another solid building performance; i look forward to this one!!

  21. Alex says:

    Desi, Arsenal won 1-0 thanks to a Squilacci header from a corner. With the heading ability of Djourou, Mertesacker and Koscielny perhaps we will see a repeat.

  22. santori says:

    Better pick this week Desi. This match is crucial.

    Following this one, we will have the Carling Cuup agst Bolton to rotate some of the senior players before the big one against Chelsea.

    I would think playing our backline as intact as possible is crucial. Ditto RVP.

    What we do need to discover however is an alternative to 4-3-3 with RVP.

    Seems to me some sort of 4-4-1-1 with either Arsharvin or Park tucked behind RVP or Chamakh coule be feasible or for that matter Chamakh/RVP.

    Arteta/Song are good enough to wrestle midfield from most second tier teams.

    But this won’t be the sort of game to experiment with it.

    Third man in midfield should be Ramsey. My problem with Arteta and Ramsey is that they are quite similar and a bit static. Rambo will have to better the off ball movement for us going forward behind the main striker.

  23. santori says:

    Not sure if Djourou should start wide or as CBack. Koscielny should have better speed to play in the RB berth.

    Other thing is we desperately need another striker.

    Chamakh continues his poor form and Park does not look like a viable one on one solution if we persist with 4-3-3

    Leandro Damiao at Internacional is a very underated player who could give us great utility. He is quick, strong, direct and technical. And we need a bit of unpredictability up top.

  24. I think chamberlain, park and ryo deserve a chance. I shud say they r better player than theo and arshavin. So this three gunner deserve 2 play in my openion.
    N u guys thnk djourou is gud enough huh? I dnt blv in djourou, we’l concede goals bcoz der is no confidence in him n so his teamate 2 him! so instead
    I’l go4, Coquelin. He s quick, tuf n he knws d right time wen 2 challenge the ball. So i’l prefere tiz players.


    Coquelin, per, kosc, santos

    Song arteta

    Chamberlain Gervinho

  25. NOEL D Peak of Emirate. says:

    I dont know y wenger is not giv J.y Park a chance to play, on my own opinion i tink park should start against stoke and as for asharvin he needs to wake up 4now he’s a bunch of empty banana…

  26. Bryte says:

    I prefere, Sczney, miguel, kos, per, santos, song, arteta, benayoun, chamberlain, RVP and Gervinho…. No chance for Walcott, Arshavin or the Lazy Djouro….. Sub: Miyachi, Roscky, Park.

  27. NOEL D Peak of Emirate. says:

    Scezny….mertesecka,koscieny,coquelin,santos…. Arteta,song,yossi ben……gervinoh,Park,RVP.. Then wallcot n ramsey as sub after 60min…. Arshavin n djorou should b out for stock.

  28. NOEL D Peak of Emirate. says:

    For me… Scezney, per, santos, kos,coquelin, arteta,song, yossi ben, gervinoh, Park, RVP… Then wall & ramsey as sub afta 60min, djorou n ashavin out 4 stock.

  29. nikkogunners says:

    Time to try out something different. Stroke are a physical side and a quick paced Arsenal can cause them to back pedal and allow quick goals that will unsettle them.

    I would do a 4.2.2 at them.
    Djourou, Matsacker, Konsienly, Santos
    Alex-Cham, Song, Gervinho, Walcott
    ————Park —-Chamakh

    Gervinho can do a good creative Midfield. He a tough customer and will unravel a team that wants to sit back especially if flanked by speed ticket holders AOC and Walcott. Park and Chamakh first show of unity in front of goal. They are both good with the head and park is a poacher. Sub – Bring Arshavin for Walcott, Benayoun or Arteta for Gervinho, Ramsey for either Park or AOC. In this match, give Song or Matsecker the arm band.

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