Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Everton

The present is very important for us. We are in the middle of a season where every point is important now… we are in a position where we just want to collect points because the pace of the Premier League is dictated by the teams in front of us. And it is a tremendous one.

Wenger has hit the nail on the head there. It’s time to forget about the Champions League and concentrate on the exceptionally competitive Premiership. Arsenal now have six straight League games and these will play a large part in determining the flow for the rest of the season.

So far the Gunners have recovered well after a torrid start and are progressing with minor hiccups. Will the run continue? Will law of averages hamper the progress of Arsenal (or other teams for that matter)? Will injuries take their toll? We will find out before the turn of the year. But it all starts with Everton on Saturday.

David Moyes’ side are currently 10th in the League just above the congested bottom half and only 6 points away from the relegation zone. Over the last few seasons this seems to be the pattern with Everton who finish their season strongly after poor starts.

The visitors are missing Mikel Arteta more than their fans had claimed when the transfer was made. Interestingly, Arteta is still the joint second highest scorer at Everton this season with 2 goals. Only Vellios with 3 has more. The Spaniard has already scored 3 more for Arsenal since his deadline day transfer.

Moyes has, in the past, caused Arsenal some problems with his tactics. I expect the Scot will pull him team back to the halfway line and defend from there with the hopes of catching Arsenal on the counter with Tim Cahill most likely supporting the solitary striker. They might also come ten yards or so into the Arsenal half to press the Arsenal full-backs, well the centre-backs who will be playing as full-backs.

I don’t expect Everton to have two banks of four. Instead they will try to cut out the passing angles and push the play wide where they can double-team the attacking players. Gervinho and Walcott will have to win a number of individual battles in order for Arsenal to create many chances.

I also expect this to be a physically bruising encounter. The Gunners must be ready for a high-contact game and will have to hold the ball under that pressure to make the passing game work. Song whenever he is receiving/bringing the ball out from back, and Ramsey when he drops deeper, will have to be particularly careful about conceding possession.

In attack, Everton are likely to aim a number of high balls towards Tim Cahill. It should make for an interesting tussle with Koscielny and Metesacker. Vermaelen will have to cover for the runs of the striker if Koscielny duels for the aerial balls, the German might not have the pace to track the runs. Alternatively, if Mertesacker drops deep to compensate for speed, Arsenal will have to ensure the defensive line is in sync.

For the visitors this game will be a lot about physical effort with a bit of hit and hope in the attacking areas (long balls, free-kicks, etc). Arsenal should be comfortable if there aren’t sequential mistakes by a number of players.

The team selection is pretty obvious except for the choices at the back. Wenger has to find the right combination of centre backs or gamble on a youngster like Miquel starting at left back.

Preferred starting line-up,

Szczesny – Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen – Song, Ramsey, Arteta – Walcott, RvP, Gervinho.

Vermaelen has the pace and technique to make a meaningful contribution in the attacking areas. He can also play some interesting diagonals from the back if Everton are pressing well. Djourou will have to show better composure and decision making at right back, especially when on the ball. The Swiss defender will also have to do a much better job of tracking the runs in behind if Mertesacker is sucked forward in an aerial duel. That is an area where Moyes will sense a weakness.

There is an option to play Koscielny at right-back but I don’t see Djourou or Squillaci making the right partners for Mertesacker. And Miquel does not seem completely ready for such intensity.

Song, Arteta, and Ramsey must continue the excellent defensive work they have been doing. That can cover for individual errors by the defenders in most cases. The Cameroonian, in particular, should be most vigilant on the right to support the big but somewhat cumbersome defenders.

All-in-all this will be a battle that will be settled by one or two moments at either end of the pitch. Usually, Arsenal have greater consistency and get the better of Everton. Here’s hoping for more of the same.


30 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Everton

  1. Desi.I have no idea how many people read your blog.but however many it is ,it is not enough.
    I am a fanatic ,but you my friend are different gravy.

  2. BarDel says:

    Too bad we dont have proper full backs… Otherwise I’m pretty confident unless Van Persie gets an arrow in the knee.

  3. merkin says:

    A very good preview, especially the rundown on potential Everton tactics. It seems like everyone we play is putting an extra man into the midfield to try to disrupt the passing game.

  4. saintann says:

    please take Dj out play kos at RB,per and tv5 centre, miquel LB,he is better there,,our midlfilder song,ramsey and arteta,forward walcot,Rvp,gervinho,,i can see us keeping clean sheet again arsenal 4 everton 0..arteta have a goal twomorrow

  5. Aussie Jack says:

    With the obvious weakness at right back I had in mind a 4-1-4-1 formation with Song playing deep and making the extra central defender to cover slip ups. What price Vertonghen?

    • Jeremy says:

      Vertonghen is probably leaving during summer.

      Not convince Spurs have what it takes to take him away in January. I would be a little concerned if Manc shows interest.

      Guess we should focus on getting Goetz and RVP’s partner because values may inflate after Euro.

      • James says:

        i wouldn’t worry about man utd coming in for vertonghen. They have Phil Jones, Ferdinand, Smalling and Evans there. I think they will play Jones at the back more and in jan buy a creative midfielder, this may be goetz unfortunately. Hopefully Cleverly will get back from his injury fast so we can have an easier time trying to get him. Also we desperately need a striker Chamakh has no confidence and Park cannot be relied on yet to carry on what RVP is doing. Im desperate for a striker in January.

      • Jeremy. says:

        @James— It’s Man City i am worried about. I think we all knew they will sign all they can to prevent the other clubs from getting their players even though they don’t need them. Their tactic is as dirty as the oil from which their owner gets his money.

      • kakendo says:

        i don’t think wenger is seriously considering a bid for goetz but this would be a big mistake. wenger needs to snap him fast enough be4 Euro

  6. Jeremy says:

    Not keen to see that Djourou though. Not a very strong Everton we going to face so i hope to see youngster instead of someone who like Djourou who is quick to blame others when things happen.

    Looking forward to Jack’s return and Frimpong should go get more experience at Wolves. But the two kids needs to be more disciplined on and off the pitch. The twitter thing is not at all necessary and Frimpong confronting Nasri is so scary because he may behaves like Balotteli if out of control.

    Just watch out for nasty aggressive player like Cahill. Victory with zero casualty today will be the greatest triumph for the day.

  7. Dnt let dzourou play either left or right. He is mission imposible.
    I prefer tiz line up,

    Koscielny, merta, vermaelen, miquel.
    Or,
    Nico yennaris, merta, koscielny, verma. Either one of tiz formation is wat we needed or y dnt we gv a chance 2 our young players like nico on the right kocielny n verma on the center n ignasi on the left. Dzourou n squallici they are suicide. Dnt let them ever play again

  8. Amolecule says:

    Nice stuff Desi. But I am tempted to think we can push song back wid per nd kos at rb aling wid verm at lb. and play either of frimpong or coequlin in d middle. Mainly Coquelin due to his bettr positional sense. Our mid duo of arteta and ramsey will be enough to give d right balance to the mid.

  9. I would lyke manager to start kosci and sacker in the central defensive.

  10. Boycie says:

    I guess Djourou has to play as he’s the best of who’s fit defender wise but he’ll be the weakest link and targeted by Everton. Apart from that it’s a very attack minded team and let’s hope Arteta has a blinder against his old mob.

  11. Qas says:

    Have u realized that if song gets a yellow card in this match he then misses the man-city game? So bad!

  12. Mercy says:

    Good article, Desi!
    Love your blog more and more
    Thank God you have twitter now, and I’ve followed you.

    Greetings from Indonesian gooner here 🙂

  13. Instead 0f djour0 b in da squad it’s beta 4 arsene 2 chnge da whle difenceve bak en my 0pinion is dat 4 da central defence let b per metasaka en thomas vamalain en left bak ignias miquel en rght bak b laurent konciesly i hpe in dis tactis mr wenga cn in flyng colourler.

  14. addy says:

    Hasn’t botelho performed well in the la liga. Also, i read somewhere that he is eligible for his passport, but wenger was reluctant to bring him into the team before he played in the la liga for at least a full season.
    Recall him in january if we don’t buy. He’s supposed to be a good player.

  15. sameep says:

    Off the topic….Desi, sent you an email 2 days back on goonerdesi@gmail, you might not have checked it…

    Great post..

  16. Abhishek Jajodia says:

    Good post Desi.

    I think it will suit us to go ahead with a 4-1-2-3 rather than a 4-3-3.

    We dont have any natural full backs left, thereby meaning no fullback-winger overlap runs. This will cause Wallcot and Gervinho to dribble past and beat defenders on pace.

    We will have incredible defensive strength in Kos + Mert + Verm patrolling our half at all times. So, if we play an Arshavin or Coq along with Ramsey up front, it might help. Even though Arsh is not able to find his mojo in anything he does, I think he might like the playmaker role. One thing we generally dislike about him is that he’s too fancy. He likes attempting difficult dribbles past and impossible through balls. This may cause for us to lose possession, but we have good ball winners in Song + our 3 defenders, so thats not too much of a concern.

  17. Adeniji abdullahi,NIGERIA says:

    Good monin desi,gud & concise preview,hoping 4 a relaxed gunners win,3 -0 wil b nice 4 d three legend statues.

  18. Greetns 2 al arsenal fans al around d world. Luv ur comment al. We shal win

  19. AP says:

    Djourou’s name gives me the jitters..wondering how bad can miquel be compared to the king of suicidal moments 🙂

    Btw, i felt miquel showed intelligent positioning when he has played, not sure how he wud fare at this level and against physical oppn. but he does look like someone who can use his head and follow a plan on the pitch…worth a shot???

  20. Wrenny says:

    Why so much criticism being aimed at Djourou? He was very poor against Olympiacos but has also had some very good games at RB recently when playing with our full strength side. As Desi said in his match analysis our back four was put under constant and intense pressure by Olympiacos because our midfield failed to retain the ball, something any defence would struggle to cope with. Djourou’s job was made even more difficult by having the inexperienced Chamberlain in front of him giving very little protection, he was incredibly isolated at times. Our left flank had the industrious Benayoun offering more support.

    • Jeremy says:

      The problem is his attitude. He looks disinterested throughout and he was spotted blaming others rapidly on the field even though he was at fault. A disruptive influence and disappointing behavior from a player who only play only due to the forced absence of the other regular.

    • AP says:

      Some of that was in jest, but he does have his moments, even when supported or at CB…for a defender such indecision can be suicidal….he has definitely regressed a lot from this time a year ago, could be more with the confidence…so why not try someone who can offer some promise, miquel, anyone…not saying he doesnt deserve a chance, but dont we need to see a couple of mature and calm performances in less important games to keep giving him starts in the premier league where each point is crucial… 🙂

    • Wrenny says:

      @Jeremy
      I can’t say I’ve noticed a poor attitude from Djourou, that hasn’t been my perception at all. Don’t agree with him looking “disinterested”. Today he took a heavy knock against Saha as he came inside to deal with a bouncing ball that he could have left for Mert to deal with, shows good commitment.

      @AP
      I’m not a Djourou fan but on the whole I think he’s acquitted himself well out of position, much better than I imagined a 6’4″ centre-back in such poor form would. In a back-four containing Vermaelen, Koscielny and Mertesacker he is a weak link but, horrible showing in Greece apart, I don’t feel like he’s been a liability. Personally I would rather have Djourou come in at RB than Miquel at LB.

      If this little run helps build his confidence then he’s a pretty good 4th choice CB (and decent RB option) to have in my opinion.

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