Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Aston Villa

Four games in the next 13 days should give Arsenal sufficient opportunity to bounce back from the recent disheartening defeat against the League leaders. Given the state of injuries in defence though, Arsene will have to take things game by game. There isn’t much room left for tinkering, particularly at the back. And without his strongest defence the manager might not feel too confident about giving some of the fringe players a game during the holiday period.

At Villa Park, at least two changes will be forced as Djourou and Song will miss out due to injury and suspension. This means either Squillaci or Miquel will have to start in defence. Neither is an ideal option but if the team has to accommodate likely errors, it’d be better to invest in the future and give the youngster a chance to improve.

In the midfield, Song’s absence could open the door for Frimpong or Coquelin. I can’t see the likes of Benayoun or Rosicky perform the Cameroonian’s role effectively. But Wenger could go for one of the experienced players if he feels confident that Arteta and Ramsey can share the defensive burden.

Preferred starting line-up,

Szczesny – Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Miquel – Coquelin, Ramsey, Arteta – Walcott, RvP, Gervinho.

I have gone for Coquelin as he seems to have better technical abilities. So far he hasn’t really had a chance with most of the first team and I want to see how he does with some quality players around him. Arsene could pick Frimpong if he thinks the side is losing some physicality with the loss of Djourou and Song.

With Heskey joining Bent on the sidelines, Villa’s attack should be about the pace of Agbonlahor and N’Zogbia. Coquelin’s game intelligence can also come in handy to thwart counter-attacking opportunities. Watch out for a number of long balls down the channels. But the Frenchman might not be that useful in defending set-pieces, the hosts’ other major attacking threat.

McLeish created a very strong defensive unit at Birmingham that was tough to beat at their home. So far he hasn’t been able to recreate the same at Villa. Dunne and Collins are what I consider typical British style defenders – big, lumbering, slow, and heavily reliant on tackling and physicality. Along with Hutton and Warnock, this is not a defence that should keep Arsenal out. I believe this game is tailor-made for Gervinho to shine but the Ivorian will have to do much better with his final ball and finishing.

If the Scottish manager does revert to type, I am worried Arsenal could return from this trip further depleted by injuries. His Birmingham side wasn’t shy of kicking players on and off the ball, and with the likes of Hutton at his disposal, McLeish could set his side up to beat Arsenal, literally.

The tempo of this game will have an impact on the result. Arsenal will win it with relative ease if they can move the ball at the speed we saw in the previous game. But if we get one of those “lacked sharpness” days, Villa will be able to control the game defensively and get more bodies forward in attack. It will make the game a more even contest, in which case the hosts can steal a point or three.

A lot of fans believe this particular Arsenal side is mentally stronger and will bounce back from the defeat instead of getting caught up in a negative spiral as some of the recent units have done. They don’t really have much room for slip-ups as a couple of bad results during the Christmas period could see the Gunners drop down to sixth or seventh, if not worse. On the other hand, a strong run could put Arsenal back in the top four if Chelsea don’t get a grip on their erratic form. Let’s see which Arsenal side turns up at Villa Park.

24 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Aston Villa

  1. Satish says:

    Desi,interesting observations there.Well i am sincerely getting worried the way the defensive players are starting to crumble cause of injuries.Arsene is concerned too and he said he might dip into the market for a full-back.I am really not sure which player should we go for.Taiwo probably,but Bridge is a definite no-no.Any players on your mind Desi?

  2. adi says:

    Its surprising that we have 5 defenders out in december. Its a testament to the squad depth that we can still field a competent back 4. However, i reckon we need to recall a few of our loanees. Bartley would be handy, he plays at cb, rb and dm. Also, if possible i’d like to see botelho come in. Maybe even lansbury for full-back cover. He played at rb for west ham this week.

    • Alex says:

      agreed. even with so many injuries our defence is considerably better than it was this time last year, especially the CB partnership!

    • bambang subentley says:

      maybe we can try barca or 3-4-3, without our real fullback we can use 2 defensive midfielder.. for villa’s battle..






      walcot……………….van the man……………gervinho……..

  3. Gooner_Kevin says:

    who dares misses your tactics articles before every game? Nice tactics approach on the Aston Villa match. All in all, I can’t see why we shouldn’t take the 3 pts.. Up the Gunners 🙂

  4. zaragooner says:

    A win is a must to uplift the player’s spirit. I can see 3 points will be collected today. Come on you Gunners..oh, can we play Squilaci as a LB instead of that bridge?

  5. George says:

    Where the fuck is Eastmond, kid did great at RB v Liverpool in the Carling Cup a year or two back., and Hoyte Jr needs a run out or be run out.

  6. Ismail says:

    It’s a tough game tonite, and one we have to play with mind of reserving energy for the traffic of games ahead. I imagine if Arsene employs counter attack tactics tonite we may be on the business side of collecting easy points. Allow the team to sit a little more in our half which benefits us in defending as a unit (with our depleted defence) and have Theo, Gervinhio and Van bust at full speed to collect 2 goals by Half time. Villa’s defence will not be allowed enough time to acclimatise to the game and am certain mistakes will pop here and there for us to take advantage

  7. Satish says:

    Squillaci has been woeful for us but he is one of the CB’s we have and he did well against Man City in the CC.Kyle Bartley is someone i want back in January.Miquel,Mertesacker,Koscielny,Vermaelen can do a fantastic job for us.It is really pleasing to see our defence being really strong and solid no matter which back 4 we put out.Squillaci can play if necessary or on a rotational basis and Song could be an emergency cover at CB too if really required at some stage.Just worried about the physical state of our defense during this busy Xmas schedule.I am sure we would be alright but who knows Arsene could surprise us if he feels he need a full-back.

  8. Gman says:

    Like your thoughts on having coquelin in the team but I’d rather see him in the right keeping the cb pairing of kos and per with verm on the Left.. Frimpong comes in for song cos that’s what he’s there for.. Rest Walcott and give ox a run..

  9. FoolishgooNer says:

    As usual you said it all Desi. I really hope nomore injuries. We have lost 5 games so far , makes our margin for error extremely thin. I believe that our home form will determine wether we go to participate CL next season. For the game at hand…. Miguel will have to do. The pace of LK and the positional awareness of Per make the eight side strong. The experience and hard work of TV should ease the pain of Miguel’s inexperience and new position. Ramsey dies not deserve a start now. Play Arshavin in his role and lets see how he performs. Ramsey can come in 70th minute for Arshavin the spuds do it with Vander Vaart…. Free role for Arshavin can be the difference of this game and the season. I’m afriad other starters will have to suck up and play if fit! Everytime Theo plays against a sitting, aware LB like (zabaleta) he strugles. Because Zabaleta did enough until he got help from his Mids and Wingers. Let us go get them 3 points. Cheers gooners.
    Back five Miguel on the left. I will give Frances the start over Frimpong he will get booked easly. Arshavin for the Ramsey role.. Lets rock and role

    • ManBearPig says:

      Not sure about Arshavin… On one hand, would like to see him in the free role, however, his general lack of effort off the ball is shocking.
      Ramsey, unfortunately will never be Cesc. Can’t question his effort & fight however, It’s painfully obvious that he does not have the ability to consistently produce Cesc quality… I hope he makes me eat my words but Cesc was an enigma & I feel Ramsey will be better suited to the Arteta role. Wilshere will be our new, improved Cesc with no traces of Barca DNA.

  10. afa-hide says:

    Go gooners go for their spines! You’ve what it takes! Gooners-for-life!

  11. Aussie Jack says:

    I`m getting tired of the sound of my own voice. We needed Vertonghen and Baines in the summer. Accidents will happen and they have. Gibbs was always doubtful, Santos (whilst quite good) was not the answer nor was Mertesacker, he`s too slow. To me they were panic buys and no one will convince me otherwise.

    • fred says:

      i hope you get convinced otherwise. Remember these “panic buys” are the ones that have made us be in our current 5th position.

  12. Useing couqiue is a gud idea,d gud is vry gud, all we need is 3 point.

  13. Santori says:

    I’ll go with your line up. We need to put our foot back down on the pedal.

    Although bit concern with fatique levels. Wonder if we will get a chance to see either Of Benayoun or Ox.

  14. kay says:

    I want to believe we will be able to cope with Djourou and Song absence. One of the reasons we have been stable defensively is because of Song’s ability to help the full backs when the opponents are attacking. He doubles up with the fullbacks on the attacking player and this comes with high level of fitness. Whosoever comes in for him today must be able to do this.
    The goal we conceded against Man city would have been prevented if Kolscieny had joined him in shielding off Balotelli. When we are defending in our half, at least two players must be on the opponent to choke him out. My line up
    Kol. Per. Vem. Miq
    Coq. Arte
    Wal. Ram. Ger
    V. P

  15. jarell says:

    To me Olxade Chamberlain played better against Zabaleta better than Walcot did last Sunday. I want to see that dude play upfront with Van Persie and Gervinho

  16. max says:

    spot on with line up, desi.
    miquel at lb, kos as rb.
    imagine how we will do when our full backs are back. playing cb’s out wide affects our build up a little.

    i too would love to see the coq but i wouldn’t be disappointed with frimpong. both played well recently and deserve a go in the first team.

    hopefully aoc gets a chance in the second half.


  17. ManBearPig says:

    I think this is Miguels big chance. Reminds me a bit of Barselona’s Pique…. hopefully he doesn’t have Barca dna.
    As long as Wenger’s impact substitution is not Arshavin…. He’s had plenty of opportunities to pull out an Arse-saving performance but has been found wanting. I can understand a player having a bad spell however not putting the ‘work’ in… chasing back when u loose the ball as opposed to standing there looking like santas dumbfounded elf is cancerous to the team…. ffs at least Chamakh looks interested.
    Me thinks we should give these opportunities to someone else… Preferably the Ox however even Bennyyooon puts in a way more effort than Arshavin.

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