Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Man City

This is a tough one to call. Arsenal are very strong at home in the Carling Cup – the last eight games ending in wins with a cumulative score of 23-3. On the other hand, City are probably the only club that can put out a second-string side that would not look far out of place in the Premiership.

For the visitors, Dzeko, Adam Johnson, Nigel De Jong, Kolo Toure, Kolarov, Zabaleta, Savic, and even Hargreaves might get a start. That would give them a decent back four but one that I wouldn’t find daunting if I were an Arsenal attacker. Still the spine will be quite strong and most importantly, Mancini’s men will have excellent quality in front of goal.

Wenger will have to pick a strong defence but with so many injured full-backs the manager has his work cut out. I didn’t see any of the defenders that played against Fulham in the training pictures. That would imply a centre back pairing of Squillaci and Koscielny with a couple of youngsters, quite possibly Miquel and Yennaris, on the flanks. I am not convinced that defence can keep City out, with due respect to their efforts against Bolton, so this could be another goal glut like the visit to Stamford Bridge.

The back five are likely to be shielded by the dynamic yet inexperienced duo of Frimpong and Coquelin. The choice of the four attacking players will determine Arsenal’s ability to compete in this game.

Interestingly, Arshavin was conspicuous by his absence from the training pictures and could be replaced by Gervinho. Chamakh and Park were both in training but I will be surprised if one of the two is not picked as the lone striker. The Korean is likely to pip the Moroccan to that post.

Probable starting eleven,

Fabianski – Yennaris, Squillaci, Koscielny, Miquel – Coquelin, Benayoun, Frimpong – AOC, Park, Gervinho.

Despite the bigger names in the City side, I won’t be surprised if Arsenal match the higher-rated opponents in terms of passing and possession. But that will also depend on Mancini’s midfield. The Italian will have to pick a couple of youngsters if he chooses to leave out the likes of Silva, Yaya Toure, and Nasri. Even Aguero might be on the bench or completely rested along with the suspended duo, Barry and Balotelli.

Such a City side will rely on Adam Johnson for creativity. Dzeko will be a threat in the box and his shooting from distance could test Fabianksi.

For the Gunners, Frimpong and Coquelin will have to produce absolute blinders. Their job description will include helping the full-backs, bringing the ball out from defence under pressure, sweeping in front of the centre of the penalty box, and tracking runs. It’s vital that they keep things simple, avoid mistakes, and not get caught upfield or out of position.

In attack, much is expected of Gervinho. The Ivorian has been in dazzling form, at least as long as he has been running towards the opposition penalty area. He now needs to add an end product to that. Oxlade-Chamberlain will probably find this his toughest start yet in an Arsenal shirt. The youngster will have to link-up with Gervinho and Park while also providing cover against the forward bursts of Kolarov.

Benayoun will have the unenviable task of guiding the youngsters and feeding the attack. It will demand a tireless effort and an impeccable sense of positioning. I’d prefer if he stayed deeper and let one of the wider players cut in from the wings.

Park must ensure he doesn’t cede possession by straying off-side and will have to show a greater understanding with the other attackers. One would also expect a lot of thankless runs from the striker to create space for the others.

When the Gunners do lose the ball in attacking areas they will have to prevent players like Johnson from running into space. Once a winger like Johnson get’s past the full-back, he can stretch the whole defence out of shape. That means the full-back(s), mostly Miquel, will have to limit their attacking runs and take up positions to intercept passes or close the run down. That’s a very tough ask against a quality player and even many seasoned defenders might struggle at it. Another option is to show him the channel and match him for pace while hoping for cover from a midfielder. I am not sure Miquel can do that right now so his best bet is to be intelligent with his positioning and decision making. It should be a fascinating battle.

I expect the result to be determined by Arsenal’s approach to the game. The visitors will have greater bench strength and will be very hard to beat if they take the lead. It could be a high-scoring encounter, and possibly and embarrassing score for the Gunners if Arsene is very adventurous in his tactics. But we could also see a tight game settled by the odd piece of individual skill if Le Boss matches Mancini’s pragmatism.

52 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Man City

  1. NepaliGunner says:

    This competition maybe ending tomorrow for us I’m afraid. We are resting all our quality players, and our defence is going to be very raw. I’m hoping for the best, but to expect all the youngsters tomorrow doing exceptionally well to keep City out is probably too much to ask. As you mention Desi, the only way I can see us winning is if we play very defensively and play on the counter.

    I am interested to see how Park does though. I hope he starts because he will have a very important role to play in the next few months. He has been protected by Wenger so far, and rightly so. but now his time is coming, and hopefully he can shine. He certainly has the skill set to make a huge impact.

    Also, I would have liked to see Arshavin in this game, and Gervinho off the bench. I know Wenger probably won’t do this, but I would play Arshavin centrally with Park for this game and have Benayoun and AOC play more defensively on the wings. I think we would still have a very creative team that would threaten City, but have much more defensive stability. Alas, it probably won’t happen.

    Won’t be able to watch the game, but I hope to see a positive result. However, I am not the most optimistic gunner for this game.

    • u want arshavin to play r u mad did u watch the fulham match arshavin was a complete disaster

      • mauritian kavish says:

        do u knw hw to watch football?arsh was ok throughout…

      • Santori says:

        Sustaining aneffort is an issue for Andrei the giant, however I thought he was fairly creative first half.

        He should be even more effective playing behind a striker and through the middle where space is slightly more compressed rather than out wide. Remember, he is older and does not possess the world’s longest legs.;)

      • terry says:

        i think u are mad he is right arshavin should l=play and he should play behind the striker and not on the wings like he was made to play against fulham… park cannot play as a targetman in 433 as he cannot hold the ball upfront like robin or chamak.
        4411 is the way 2 go against city :
        alex frimpong coquellen yossi
        park can ran across the defence and make space for arsahvin who is one of the best in the world even today to play behind the striker.

  2. caligunna16 says:

    you were right when you said that coquelin/frimpong will need to have huge games, we can win this…but being defensively sound is the most important key…AOC with a rocket for a goal fingers crossed haha. the last time arshavin was at his most effective was when he was playing behind the striker.


    chamakh/ger/rvp for the subs

  3. Gman says:

    Starting line-up..
    Fanianski keeper
    Miguel right back
    Djourou center back
    center back
    Coquelin left back
    Frimpong def mid
    Diaby center mid
    Arshavin att mid
    Ox right Wing
    Gervinho left wing
    Park center forward

  4. Cupsui says:

    @caligunna…i agree with your starting line-up 99%…i just think it will be arsharvin on the wing…although i think he deserves a go in the middle…his work rate is still in question and may be the reason wenger hasn’t given him a go there because he hasn’t showed he will work hard enough. Please wenger play JD in central defence not squillaci, i would be happy if he never played another game for arsenal ever again…NOT GOOD ENOUGH

    there is the possibility of playing TV5 at LB? but we’ll see…

    • Cupsui says:

      oh i forgot diaby like the other day…hmmm he deserves a start and would be very handy…guess that means frimpong or le coq not starting or playing FB…too tough…arsene you decide!

      • caligunna16 says:

        yea I would have played diaby, but apparently he is slightly injured after his last game, so he mite make an appearance from the bench.

  5. Emmy says:

    We are having a serious problem with wenger y resting player 4 city.

  6. Charlie. says:

    I’m in China and the game starts at 4am here so i’m planning to wake up at 6am to see a rerun. Only problem is that last time I tried, for the Fulham game they showed the score before the match started. Any suggestions ? I expect Gervinho to start because he didn’t on Saturday and it’ll be very interesting to see how Park and AOC are developing. Arsene obviously wanted to give them training time before putting them into such a tough game but this will be like a half-term exam for them and a tricky one so let’s see how they do. I’m not happy about Frimpong and Coqueline protecting our back 4, that could play into Citys’ hands and lead to plenty of goals conceded, especially if Squillaci plays. I expect Diaby to play because it’s a great opportunity for him to get match practise.

    • Vishal says:

      Easy – Wake up at 4:00AM. Sleep early and set an alarm!

    • cupsui says:

      try myfootballtv its on facebook…all replays of games with big teams (and some others) from most big leagues are on there. But sometimes you need to put your hand over the screen to cover the score before you click the link to the download sites. Way better quality than streaming too!!
      Frimpong and le coq will be great in midfield i expect we’ll see a big game from them both and a goal from one of them. I think we’ll win this…i’m more confident than i was against fulham (although i did say 3-0…it was a bit optimistic…more out of hope) 2-1 here!!

  7. Kaycee sunshine says:

    Don’t know where this confidence is coming from but despite sheety’s flattery result against top teams this season, i have never been sacred of them. We are the Arsenal, we can beat any team! Right now i feel exactly dsame way i felt last season before our trip 2d lanes. Go fuck d sheet money mongers!

  8. Seye says:

    We can do it .carling cup coming to the emirate.

  9. Arsenal30 says:

    I`d go with the `probable` team with one particular adjustment. It`s too late now to alter AW`s game plan but I would have preferred Santos as LDM. In the Vargars` role his defensive capability might lack Frim`s bite but his forays into the attack would add something unexpected and for which ManC would be unprepared. On the bench we must have RvP and Theo. If, late in the game we are in front, they may continue their rest. Similarly, if – GF – we are losing: if the game is balanced however, we should trot out our Fast Guns. With AA in his correct position, we should be in with a shout.

  10. El tel says:

    So you trot out the satr names for Citeh and how they are going to do us. I wonder how they feel about having to play at our place.

    Seem to remember them parking the bus before.

    The young uns don’t get scared and will be determined to show whet they can do.

    Is Ryo Miyachi fit. He could do a job on them.

    Maybe you’d over rating of Adam Johnson will be just that. Could be that he

    has to do plenty of chasing back.


    Coqelin Squid JD Kosser

    AOC Frimpong Diaby

    Park Chamackh yossi

    Subs. Arshavin Ryo keeper Ozzy Yennaris miguel

  11. Aussie Jack says:

    It`s a lottery, pick whoever you like so I`m going for Gervinho, Park and Ox-Chamberlain up front with Asharvin in `the hole`.
    Beneyoun, Diaby and Rosicky . I won`t even try at the defence.

  12. Mike kanvi says:

    Wit so many young gunners in d startin line-up,i xpect tireless runnin,rash tackles,cards,penalty calls n extratime.we can avoid most of these if we can score an earlygoal.
    yossi wud b our most experience player on d field n shud shepard d boys well.wish rosiky is available 4dis.

  13. It might not be easy to beat this great side of city with their qualities.Why dont Arsene introduce the like of song and Varmaelin so that the mildfeed and the defence could get stronger.It will be a great encounter this evnin but I’m still a Gooner with a support to my team.

  14. Valentineobi says:

    I.m afarid of dis match b.cos city is not a smal team so wenger play var. . . Wacott song varmal. . Pls

  15. mark says:

    probable hahaha. thats rubbish.
    he wont play miquel or yennaris at fullback unless he wants to torture them.
    im thinking:
    koscielny djourou vermaelen santos
    frimpong 1.arteta/2. coquelin
    oxlade 1.rosicky/2.arshavin/3.diaby benayoun

    • cupsui says:

      santos seriously needs a rest tho…he has played every minute since the last carling cup game. TV5 could play LB…might be handy and he could be rested against wigan if tired…but he won’t be cause…
      Arteta needs a rest and there are players that can come in for him…benny or sharvs. Ryo is still injured right?
      Play the other of benny or sharvs on the left wing, the ox on the right and the chu chu train up top!!

      • Santori says:

        If we punt on inexperience covering either flank, I’d personally be more comfortable with Djourou/Koscielny.

        Squillaci, no thanks.

  16. Terry Matthias says:

    Wenger should please do his best n make sure that Arsenal win tonight

  17. Greg says:

    Agree with other posters that Diaby will probably start. Too good an opportunity for Wenger to miss. He’ll play the Ramsey box-to-box role instead of Coquelin.

    I would also like to see Arshavin in the hole behind Park, and Benayoun on the left.

    Whatever Wenger comes up with will be interesting, that’s for sure.

    • Santori says:

      Diaby should start but I’m just not convinced with him playing in a trio along with Le Coq and Dench. Just don’t see him as the creative force at the apex of midfield where his better attributes lie in carrying the ball from deep and providing cover.

      Would still prefer our misfiring Russian whom I think is better through the middle. Let’s also not forget that he seemed to be quote effective in concert with the Korean Mensa member up to last time round.;)

  18. isaac boateng says:

    come what may,the young gunner are going to beat the citizens if wenger employ the right tactis with these young but entertaining lads.go arsenal go gooners!

  19. Sammy says:

    Excellent piece as usual. Wat would be the headlines if we beat City tomorrow? Feels good being underdogs for this one.

  20. muhammed daz says:

    pls let wenger should use his first eleven bcos man city is now big team in the word.

  21. Santori says:

    I won’t be surprised if we are knocked out tomorrow with that line up.

    OTOH, good to see Wenger prioritising appropriately. He put too much emphasis on it last season which in part resulted in the squad stretched thin.

    I would still prefer one more ‘experienced’ first team defender. Djourou for me should start ahead of Squillaci.

    And rather than 2 inexperienced mids in Coquelin/Dench, I would prefer Diaby with Coquelin.

    Up top’s tricky. Not sure if Benny is ideal in a central mid role (maybeish), would still refer Andrei ( who is effective for 45 mins at least and to me better centrally), then Benny on the flank. But AA’s absence from pics may suggest otherwise I suppose.

    At spear point, it’s a toss up between the untested Park (relatively) and the misfiring Chamakh. I suppose either will do at the start and if not performing, then a sub of the other in for the second half.

    Ox should start but wouldn’t mind seeing Rio given time against quality opposition so long as the likes of a Gervinho or Benny are kept on on the opposite flank.

    Tough call as you say. I am prepared for worse case but of course hoping for an Atsenal destruction of City.

    Still being that they are one foot out of Europe, surely it will suit our strategic purpose to keep them spending sone energy in this one no?NAH… Let’s just beat them anyway.:D

  22. i pray 4 arsenal 2 win 2 day in jesus name amen

  23. ayo says:

    Keeper, fabiaski. Centre back I want, koscielny,djorou,miquel, and yannaris. midfield I want, coquelin,benayoun,diaby and forward gerviho,aoc,perk

  24. Gomih says:

    Gunners should play hard game if they realy need victory.

  25. Uthman says:

    I wil be happy if AW can play this players. ……….fabianski………. Juan,miquel,kos,santo Aoc, coqueln,yossi,gervinho …..park, chamak…… Sub for coqueln should be frimpong, sub for chamak should be arshavin & any play he think he should replace. I stand to be corrected.

  26. Arsenal4 says:

    One of the few game that I wouldnt have much expectation. If we go through great, if not, oh well.
    I think Wenger has no choice to get Fringe player in. I think if we pass City, we’ll have a chance to go to final. Aside Liverpool, Chelsea or Man U are not taking this cup seriously. A 1-0 or 2-1 wi’ll be appreciated. Otherwise we have bigger fish to fry in PL & UCL.

  27. Arsenal30 says:

    PS to the pearls I cast earlier. Beneyoun must bench in case AA is bushed controlling the game. Arsenal14 is spot on – win this and it`s `Katey Bar The Door` to the final.

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