Thoughts On Tactics And Staring Eleven Against Wolves

This Boxing Day was a great one for Arsenal and a fun time for me. Hope you had a joyful Christmas too. Apologies for the lateness of this post but the whole weekend was just so enjoyable and engaging, I couldn’t find any time before now. Well, I did find some time but then Sachin came on to bat and took up the best part of the last two hours. Siddle did finally produced a quality spell and deservedly took the little master’s wicket. I can now forget about this Test, till Tendulkar’s second innings at least.

Wolverhampton Wanderers visit the Emirates in a game delayed by a day. This has given Arsenal the cushion of knowing a win can put them firmly in the top four and a big one (5 goals, or is it 6) will see the Gunners climb up to 3rd, at least temporarily.

Wolves have not won against Arsenal in the Premier League in six attempts. Much like United were against Wigan, Wenger’s side will be odds on favourites for this one. But that doesn’t always work out. On Monday, West Brom did manage to take their first Premier League point off Chelsea on their 12th attempt to present the Gunners an opportunity to move into the Champions League places. And just as we saw against Fulham a bit earlier in the season, a below par performance can prove to be costly at this level.

That said, I will be surprised and disappointed if Arsene does not rotate his squad around during the next three games that will be played in the course of seven days. The injury situation will make that task tougher but Wenger just cannot field his best players in all the games.

At the back I would not like to see any changes for this game. Coquelin deserves another game. Vermaelen should continue at left-back with Mertesacker and Koscielny in defence. I think the young Frenchman will have to bring some versatility to his game in order to make a big career at Arsenal. The current injury woes have given him a chance he’d do well to grab with both hands, or feet.

In the midfield, Song should come back alongside Arteta but I’d like to see Rosicky, if fit, replace Ramsey, who deserves a breather. Up front, either Gervinho or Walcott can be rested with Benayoun coming into the starting eleven.

Preferred line-up,

Szczesny – Coquelin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen – Song, Rosicky, Arteta – Walcott, RvP, Benayoun.

This won’t be Arsenal’s strongest line-up from the players available but the Gunners just have to learn to pick up points consistently even while resting regular starters.

Depending on the performances and result of this game, as well as the fitness levels, Arsene could then rest some of the other players in the next game. Unfortunately, there aren’t many options at the back so it will be hard for the defenders to get many breaks, which of course can then compromise their own long-term fitness. It will be a stroke of genius if Arsene can find a way to give his defenders some time off. Playing Song at the back, an early return for Djourou, a big risk with Squillaci, and another chance for Miquel are all options Le Boss can explore (certainly not all at once) but none of them is particularly exciting at this moment.

Coming to tactics, this game should be routine for Arsenal. Wolves have not kept a clean sheet in 14 League games and I can’t see them keeping the Gunners out unless the tempo drops considerably. For Arsenal it’s just about moving the ball around at their usual high pace, probing, and waiting for opportunities to score. There should be plenty of openings and Van Persie should get good chances to equal Shearer’s record.

Rosicky and Benayoun haven’t played many games this season so the changes suggested, or any that Wenger actually makes, could prove to be risky. Nevertheless, teams vying for top honours need to know how to override such perils without too much of a fuss.

Subtle adjustments might be needed if one of the pacy wingers is not in the starting line-up. The regular wide attacker that starts will have to make a significantly higher number of central runs to get into spaces vacated by Van Persie. Rosicky and Benayoun can both provide the creative ability to thread a ball though and individual technique to get the better of their marker, but neither will have the pace to take on defenders in order to  get in behind on a regular basis.

We might also see more combination play around the box if an extra technical player is picked on the wings. The final ball and finish at the end of all that passing must not lack that fraction of quality that differentiates teams at this level.

In defence, Arsenal will again have the usual threat of wing-play, counter-attacks, and aerial bombardment. The collective defence is strong enough to deal with it but individual mistakes  just have to be cut out. Wolves do press well on occasions but I am not sure they will be able to do that successfully in an away game to Arsenal.

After copping a great deal of flak for their overly physical play at the start of last season, Mick McCarthy’s side has also started playing better with the ball on the ground. That hasn’t worked out so well for them but I like their efforts and wish them well in their bid for Premiership survival. Hopefully, this game won’t see them regress to their earlier approach or boost their chances for avoiding relegation. Here’s to a clean game where Arsenal can show they have the depth needed to capitalize on the points dropped by the big-spending rivals.

In an unrelated matter, in case you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, here is a stat-based analysis/comparison of the performances of Scott Parker and Denilson that I did for Epl Index. I think it’s safe to say the overhyped Englishman is not good enough for Arsenal.

7 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Staring Eleven Against Wolves

  1. Foolishgooner says:

    As always you get the starting eleven right. I also do think Coquelin deserves another opportunity, he is got everything to succeed minus the experience! Offensively i dont think too much pace is required, because we are at home and creativity supercedes raw pace. I would rest Theo mainly because his less technical then Gervinho even though Theo created that Penalty at Astonvilla superbly. I want to see Arshavin in place of Ramsey not Yossi i honestly cant tell you why? I have the feeling Arshavin will do damage against a defense like the Wolves. Yossi Benayoun should sub for the other regular winger. Woj

    Le Coq Per Kolc TV
    Gervinho Rosicky Arshavin

    That line up should put the game to bed. And i would not play Robin if he wasnt chasing history. Yossi, Alex Oxdale, and Park to come in hopefully 65th min and on because the game is won already.
    Hoping for no injuries and 3 points to stay close till we get reinforcements.

    • Ultvic says:

      The reason why our defense has been so reliable is because of the way the wide attackers drop to help the fullbacks!…I mean if I could I will use Walcott every game, I don’t care if he doesn’t score. That guy is a blessing to arsenal’s fullbacks, just watch his game and you will see what am talking about!…gervinho does it pretty well too. So with this in mind am sorry we can’t possibly have arshavin in that squad with the current set-up. His work rate is so poor it leaves a lot to be desired. Check out olympiacos first goal in the 3-1 defeat from the time we lost possession and you will see what am talking about. In other for arshavin to be effective, we need to play him through the middle with two DM behind him

  2. quqker says:

    How did WBA draw with MC?They did it with never say die defending. I am afraid the gunners could be confronted by a resolute side playing for their lives.That is why the pass here and pass there is irrelevant in the epl.But I did see glimpses of this away to MC after Silva had scored.
    Hopefully the gunners will be more direct with OX running at defenders. You never know. A ricochet or mix up could present opportunities to shoot with a goal the result.

    • Ultvic says:

      This is exactly what man u does reason’s why they seem to always win games. They are soo direct that it confuses their opponent. Thank you very much for citing the city game after their goal. I wish we could play like that for the first 60 minutes, we would be atleast the 3 goals up.

  3. 9jagunnerdoc says:

    Hi desi,
    I’ll definately take victory over performance irrespective of who plays. High scoring match and hattrick for Robin Vantastic.

  4. AbachaGhana says:

    AA is a player i hate 2 see him being backlashed but da conf. is not thr anymore as i was upset with his lack ideas with ideas against MC with so many spaces b4 him 2 run into.. I wil go 4 TR7 in that role 2 rest ramsey. R7 is a copy of modric when fit and on fire but we gooners cant see that bcoz we are quick at looking down upon da players we have and kiling the players’ morale 4 just one bad game.. TR7 is gud at picking runs of pacy wingers. Check beginning of last season when cesc was unfit tel me how wel he was linking up with walcot and making him score hatricks from wings which made walcot think he can play cf thanx 2 rosicky’s through balls so we need him back in that role 2 rest AR16… UCL place 4 arsenal by 17.00GMT 4 sure

  5. Zgunner says:

    This is my preferred line-up..


    Koseilny Mertesaker Song Vermaalen

    Arteta Rosicky


    Walcott RVP Gervinho

    Arsenal should start the game strong and try to capitalize early to open up Wolves and the game. RVP should aim to score early, and if he gets a brace should be subbed for Park to give him a feel of playing EPL football. Colquelin can come in for Arteta and give him a breather, and Alex/Andrei could come on either Walcott or Gervinho.

    Yes Arshavin… this is the sort of game that could bring his confidence back.

    I urge Wenger to kill the game as early as possible so he have early wholesale substitutions.

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