Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Fulham

There are stats that could make Fulham’s visit to the Emirates look like a walk in the park for Arsenal. The Cottagers haven’t won away against Arsenal in any competition, losing 22 of the 25 games played. They are currently just 2 points above the relegation zone and have won only 2 of their 12 league games. In six away games, the visitors have scored only 3 goals.

But football isn’t a funny old game for nothing. Any team with players like Dembele, Dempsey, Zamora, and Murphy, among others, has to be taken seriously. Don’t forget Fulham are the only side to take points off of Man City this season.

Tactically, this game should not be very different from the Dortmund one from an attacking point of view. Fulham will probably form their first line of defence around the halfway line and make the game compact in the central areas in their half. I expect the wide players to again play a vital role in creating chances as Ramsey and the other midfielders will not get much time or space.

Offensively, on the break, the Cottagers will not move the ball around as well as the Germans did but will look to get in behind with balls over the top and diagonals for the striker to run on to. Danny Murphy has the skill to make such passes regularly. Zamora can be a big player for the visitors as he can hold the ball under pressure and isn’t afraid of creating shooting angles. In a way the next visitors could prove to be more dangerous than the previous ones as they will move the ball faster and over longer distances due to their relatively direct style. Fulham will also be a bigger threat down the channels and wide areas.

Dembele should be their most creative player on the ball in the attacking areas but I am not convinced Jol has made the best use of his talents. Song will nevertheless have to put in another tireless defensive shift in front of the back four to cut out the through-balls and disguised square passes.

This game presents another tough selection headache for Arsene. Should he rest some of his key players with an eye on the upcoming hectic period or does he start with his first eleven to have the best chance of sustaining this strong run.

There are two ways of looking at it. One could point to the next two midweek fixtures, City at home in the Carling Cup and Olympiacos away in the Champions League with top spot guaranteed, and suggest that the main protagonists of the Arsenal revival can be rested in these games. It’s a fair point and one that might fit Wenger’s modus operandi.

I would however, love to see Le Boss resting two or three main players in this game and then rotate the others over the next few games. Based on my observations over the last few years, I am not convinced Wenger gets the most out of his fringe (second choice) players and hasn’t been very comfortable with rotations. Last season’s debacle of sorts in the Champions League group phase highlighted the issues with wholesale changes. Starting 8 or 9 fringe players in a game does not suit Arsenal’s style as they lack the right level of understanding and focus after a long time on the sidelines.

With that in mind, resting the majority of players against City’s strong second string in the League Cup will not be a wise move unless a poor result is deemed acceptable. Arsenal would be better off playing a few regulars to give the kids a foundation of experience.

Furthermore, involving a couple of fringe players in an important League game is better for their confidence/motivation than introducing someone only when the first choice player in injured or in lower priority Cup ties.

Such rotations though, while interesting in theory, are hard to execute as finding the right balance is nowhere near as easy as writing about it on a blog. A disappointing result in this game followed by another one in the League Cup could undo the momentum generated by weeks of hard work.

I honestly don’t know Wenger is going to do. Most of his past decisions indicate the same side will be retained but every once in a while Arsene does try something different. Hopefully, this will be one of those days and the manager will succeed in resting players; in getting the best out of second choice ones; and consequently, in getting a result.

Injuries or physical state will also be an issue. For instance, Koscielny was reportedly taken off for fatigue in the previous game but it could be more than that.

I’d prefer one rotation in each of the three areas – defence, midfield, and attack. There are countless permutations possible but here are my suggestions,

Preferred starting line-up,

Szczesny – Djourou, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos – Song, Frimpong, Ramsey – Walcott, RvP, Arshavin.

Song is on fire and should be able to provide cover for the relatively slower giants on the right. Vermaelen can hold fort with support from Santos and Frimpong on the left. Arshavin could benefit with some minutes alongside the red hot Van Persie.

For the Carling Cup game I’d retain the likes of Djourou, Frimpong, and Arshavin. This will give them some continuity. Koscielny could play in the centre of defence against a strong City attack. Others like AOC, and Park could also come in for that game ensuring a rest for Theo and RvP. Similarly, other changes can be made. This way there won’t be 9-10 changes at once.

There can also be a debate about the players coming in. Many would prefer Benayoun to Arshavin and/or Coquelin to Frimpong. I find it hard to pick one over the other in both cases.

Having said that, I doubt Arsene will make many, if any, changes to the side that beat Dortmund. In that case a solid defensive performance and a momentum-enhancing win will suffice. Other bridges can be crossed when they are reached. Six successive wins in the League will be an achievement in itself.


23 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Fulham

  1. saintann says:

    for now we need to win every game in Epl..but during carling cup i know the boss will rest many players..i dont see the treath from man city to the arsenal team..my selection 4 the carling game fabianski,johua d,kos,vaminator,miquel,frimpong,yossi,Arshavin,Ox,park

  2. chrisz says:

    wenger we dont want any gamble in city match

  3. Chinedu says:

    Honestly,d only change I see is arshavin starting(he is got history against fulham).Ur right,game is gonna be compact @ middle,so it depends on d fluidity of d widemen(try d german system a little here).I think park can come in later for 1 of d wide men,but please arterta must play.

  4. Chinedu says:

    My team for city – Forward-park,chamakh(got history),arshavin;Middleman-ozykyup,AOC (& thats why we need another experienced DM),song(frimpong can play against olympiacos).Defence-vermaleen,kossy,yennaris & I suggest a strong under- 18 CB or LB.Really afc needs 2 sign more 15-18 year old CBs -think Bould will be a nice coach for them?!

  5. feygooner says:

    Definitely Coquelin over Frimpong.

  6. FoolishgooNer says:

    Tricky indeed. I like your suggestions and feel like LK should be rested, Arshavin should play for Gervinho who really needs a game off and Arteta for Frimpong is not a suicideat home against anybody! Looking ahead which in itself is a crime… Per should not face Man C and should be rested with LK coming in, The mad Russian should run rings around city depending form! Same as Frimpong/Francis…. Plus the six subs (both games) should give Robin, theo, TV, Song, and Ramsey some needed rest one way or another. Also Diaby, Park, Chamakh, Fab, Francis, And the OX should get a needed playing time and confidence booster… We are in form, on the up and at home.. We shall enjoy it while others sweat it. Cheers Gooners..
    Both sticking to the same line up or whole sale changes will not be wise… Balance is the key plus availability I worry about Santos…. Gibbs get well soon mate.

  7. Blaq naija says:

    Good analysis, Desi i think Rosicky should come in for Ramsey.. Yosi Bena ‘ll b a beta optn to AA23…. 2:1 in favour of d Gunnerz..

  8. addy says:

    If fit, rosicky should start. There’s a lot of players in the first team who need a break: Ramsey, RVP, Gerv, Theo, Kos, Song played in the international break and risk injury if they play 3 times a week. Santos, Arteta and Vermaelen have also played a lot of games. Fortunately, the bench looks very strong now: Diaby, Arshavin, Benayoun, Park, Chamakh, AOC, Frimpong, Coquelin and Djourou can all aid rotation.

  9. Charlie says:

    Why not replace Ramsey instead of Arteta if you’re convinced about our greatest chance coming from the flanks ? Arteta is the metronome in the centre, he is excellent at maintaining possession under pressure and distributing to the flanks but plays deeper than Ramsey. Also Frimpong is a defensive selection at home, i would go for Benayoun in place of Ramsey (rested) who can be asked to drift into wider areas when the team attacks but will work hard in the centre when we don’t have it. It would be fantastic if the team can go in at half time with a cushion of two goals and take RvP off early. Earlier in the season that thought would’ve sent a shiver down my spine but (touch-wood) I think the team now knows how to hold on to a lead.

  10. Timmy says:

    Defense: Djourou – Kozza -TV5 -Santos
    Midfield: Rosicky – Song – Diaby
    Attack: Benayoun – Robin – Arshavin

    As much as we need to rotate, the spine of each department must be retained. Diaby needs to be brought in slowly into the rhythm of the team. Unless Rosicky is not fit from his thigh strain, then Ramsey plays. The two changes in the attack also needs playing fitness from top games like this

  11. kay says:

    In the next one week, we have three important games and we cannot afford to lose any of them. At the same time we also need to rest and rotate the team. The mid-week game against City is going to be difficult because City’s second eleven is as good as their first. My preferrred line for this game against Fulham will be
    Szersny
    Djourou Mertesacker Vernalaen Santos
    Coquelin Song
    Benayoun Arshavin AOC
    Van Persie
    This formation will allow some rest for Ramsay, Theo, Gervinho,Kolsceiny and Arteta ahead of the City game.

  12. Charlie says:

    It’s all very well to say go for every competition but put out a first choice team against City in the CC, either pull off a great win and still have 2 rounds to get through or lose so playing the first XI was of no benefit. I think logic would point to playing a weakened team against City. They might get thrashed but that’s what everyone would expect if a team plays their reserves against City isn’t it and if they win it’ll be a wonderful embarassment to City. It won’t be like last year, to win the CC this year will probably mean beating City, United and Chelsea or Liverpool. Do we really need the distraction while the squad is depleted by injuries ?

  13. VanTheManPersie says:

    Rosicky must play if fit. DIaby can maybe get a look in as well.
    Very rarely do premier league teams get rolled over int eh first half so its a tricky thing if he wants to start with van persie him and walcott almost played for 90 min of both the games. Ok theo got taken of a min or 2 earlier but you know what i mean. Arteta might play since he didnt play the internationals. I have feeling two from Song,Theo and Van persie might be on the bench. Gervinho will definitely be rested. I have a feeling Arsene will start with mayeb Benayoun and Arshavin both. But as you say 8 or 9 changes might not work. So maybe Benayoun to start with Theo. Kozzer will be rested. It means Santos and Vermaelen will have to play 3 games along with Song. Van Persie would be a risk wenger might have to take. lets hope we go 2-0 up and we can bring him off early.

    Frankly i dont care about the city game as long as we dont get beat badly. We will loose the likes of Van Persie,Theo and Song if we dont come in 4th and thats my trophy for this year. With Liverpool beating chelsea it really is going to be crucial that we win games like these and not worry too much about the mickey mouse cup. Yes we are at home and it would be disappointing, but risking injury to key players with Jack and Sagna already out might not be a good ploy.

    Just goes to show how tough Arsene’s job really is if we cant make up our minds on a blog which should be way easier

  14. Shafiu says:

    Up Gunners. No mercy this time around.

  15. nicky says:

    @Timmy,
    I agree with you. This is just the sort of game to ease Diaby into the side, once again. My Gran (who cleans at the Emirates) says she told Arsene to pencil in Diaby as the first name on his team sheet
    and he said he would.

  16. Davi says:

    If he plays, Mertesacker had better be more aware of the physical threat of strikers in the PL. I thought the Norwich goal should have been disallowed for a foul, but it could easily happen again, or someone like zamora could do essentially the same thing without actually fouling him. I’m positive Mertesacker does not lack the required strength, but he must be more prepared for the threat of a physical battle with a centre forward.
    Also, I’d much prefer Coquelin to Frimpong as a replacement for Arteta because he is more comfortable in possession, less likely to give it away in front of the defence, and more positionally aware. Frimpong is more like Song in playing style, and may be a better replacement for Alex, if we wanted to rest him.

  17. AbachaGhana says:

    Rest key players in this game for the shitty match or we get more injury and get trashed by city with ur teamB cant u think the fuck of this simple decission

    • Charlie says:

      Who cares about the Carling Cup which we probably won’t win anyway with City, United and Chelsea or Liverpool to beat and even if we do nobody will care. I couldn’t disagree more.

  18. nahashon , eldoret kenya says:

    i will prefer wenger to rest vanpersie n use park .laurent 4 per.walcot 4 aoc

  19. T2T says:

    We need to win every League Game; 26 Nov Fulham H, 3 Dec Wigan A, 10 Dec Everton H, 18 Dec ManC A
    CC 29 Dec ManC H and CL 6 Dec Olympiacos A are less of a concern for me, especially CL.

    If any of Arsenal’s main players needs a rest after playing B Dortmund on Wednesday and Norwich on last Saturday, give them a rest today, else – keep going with the strongest team available and rotate players in second half if things go according to plan.

    Against ManC in CC, let the fringe players do the job, we have too many players in MF and up front who doesn’t get any games anyway. Arshavin as attacking MF and Park as main striker looked really good against Bolton in CC.
    GK: Fabianski/Mannone
    Djourou, Miquel, Vermaelen, Santos
    Coquelin, Arshavin, Diaby
    Rosicky, Park, Oxlade-Chamberlain
    Subs: Fabianski/Mannone, Squillaci, Frimpong, Chamakh, Benayoun, + 2 from either the main players or from the reserve team

  20. cupsui says:

    Desi…awesome as always…
    the only difference for me is keeping the midfield in tact and playing arteta here, its a bigger game than mancs.
    Although that means wholesale changes to the midfield against mancs…but its worth it. Arteta has been immense and is really needed against a hard working fulham.
    But kozzer needs a rest i start JD here and Koz @CB against city
    team v fulham:
    woj
    JD Merte Verme Santos
    song
    arteta
    Rambo
    Walcott Arsharvin
    RvP

    Team v mancs
    Fabs
    JD Miquel Kozzer Verme
    Frimpong
    Le Coq
    Benayoun
    Ox Arsharvin
    Park

    That 2nd side is both experienced, determined and the valour of youth and could easily knock off mancity and i think they’ll be cocky and we’ll do them
    3-0 against fulham
    2-1 against mancs
    its an exciting time!!

    • cupsui says:

      oh i forgot diaby…he’s back…get him in for the 2nd game maybe for arshavin…but get him in he will start against man city…he’ll score too!!

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