Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Sunderland

Arsenal have two visits to Sunderland on consecutive Saturdays in different competitions and both have the potential to improve the season but could also make it far worse. The focus for now, obviously, has to be on the more immediate fixture that is the upcoming League meeting.

It would be an understatement to suggest that Martin O’Neill has turned the fortunes of the Black Cats around. His side have picked up 22 points from a possible 30 after the change in manager, which is probably the League’s best current form. Most fixtures are tough but this one is definitely going to be a sterner test than the recent games against Swansea, Fulham, or Bolton where the Gunners dropped vital points.

Tactically, O’Neill is very efficient at creating a cohesive defensive unit. The Sunderland players will be very well organized, they will be very tight with their man-marking and pressing, and will not make many individual mistakes. Arsenal won’t be able to move the ball forward in a manner that we have seen in recent games. The number of chances too will be limited.

In attack the new Sunderland boss will probably revert to type and rely on a lot of wing play that starts with a long ball from the back looking to utilize the pace of players like Campbell and Sessegnon. The Beninese footballer is fairly tricky and can trouble the defenders if he finds space. At the very least he can hold on to it and bring others into play.

The hoof-and-hope tactic will not be their only approach but is likely to be a commonly used one. Sunderland might also get some joy in pinning Arsenal back during patches of the game if they succeed with pressing higher up the pitch. Even in that scenario the main threat will be from balls into the box and set-pieces.

Arsenal will again rely on pace down the wings to create the chances. The quality of finishing will have to match that seen in the previous game or at least come close. I will be surprised if more than one goal separates the sides at full-time.

The duels are likely to be closely contested and the side that does better in those is likely to have a better game in general. I fully expect Sunderland to give their all and go for every ball wholeheartedly. At the end the side that wants it more will probably get the desired result.

Since there was a week’s break after the previous match, and there haven’t been any fresh injury concerns, I’d prefer to see the same side starting in this game but with Sagna taking the place of the impressive Coquelin.

Szczesny – Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen – Song, Rosicky, Arteta – Walcott, RvP, AOC.

Wenger will probably have to make some modifications during the coming week as Arsenal play three games in that period. With that in mind he could rest Song or Arteta in this one and pick Coquelin in midfield instead. He will probably have to use Benayoun at some stage as well. It might be as a substitute in all the games or it could be as a starter in one of the three.

Arsene could also decide that one of the central defenders needs a break and could play both Sagna and Coquelin in full-back positions.

However, I do feel he needs to go with the strongest team in this game and then look at the choices in the coming days depending on the result of this fixture. Arsenal need all the points they can get if 4th place is to be achieved.

Before ending I wanted to share a link to this article I did for EPL Index. Did you know Arsenal have only scored 4 goals from outside the box this season while Sunderland have 10, making them the third best in the League behind United (11) and City (14)! Those and other stats on long range goals and shots are discussed in that article. (The site was down for some reason a short while back, so in case you don’t see the images containing the stats please check back later).

Also, in case you haven’t seen it already, you might want to check out my previous blog post analyzing a couple of Arsenal’s goals against Blackburn. One that was scored in 21 seconds with 10 passes and 15 touches involving 10 players while the other was a long move lasting 50 seconds and close to 40 touches. Hopefully, we see some of the attacking aspects discussed in that post at the Stadium of Light. That would make for an enjoyable game that will end, quite possibly, in a desirable result.

26 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Sunderland

  1. santori says:

    One positive to take to the game with regards Sunderland, they just played 120minutes mid-week.

    We will need to transition quickly and switch plays between flanks efficiently. There is every chance of our wingers catching them at the back.

  2. Chinmay says:

    I’m no psychic, but the day we lost to blackburn, i had woken up abruptly with my first thought being ‘damn, there were 7 goals and we lost!’. Today i woke up abruptly and my first thought was ‘9-1 victory! Wtf?’ hope it goes according to script!

  3. abdiqadir says:

    arsenal win by 3 1 rvp2goals and theo walcott 1

  4. abdiqadir says:

    hi fan of arsenal good morning all of you rvp keep score i want to take three boints every game like rovers

  5. ZGunner says:

    I’m hoping for a great fighting spirit by all the Arsenal players and a good vibration from the Arsenal away fans.. good focus and good appetite for scoring.

    I hope for a PERSUASIVE Arsenal win today.

  6. lukmon says:

    Up gunnars i pray we win by 3 0 in favour of arsenal (arsenal til i stop breathing)

  7. Emmanuel says:

    go on boys my money is on arsenal to take all 3 point.

  8. Sam says:

    Arsenal win if reamsy sit in the bench and play rosicky 3_1 to arsenal

  9. Kunle says:

    I support d tactical linkup,pls mr wenger we need a win,dont play ramsey in d midfield it will be a calamity decision playin him,rosicky will be the best choice to linkup d attack and walcot needs to play along wit d team,nt individual selfish motive on d pitch.if we play as a unit definitely we will take the day.ramsey is d poor link in d midfield,we need a fast ball passer of rosicky calibre in d midfield.

  10. yaw junior says:

    maybe we need torest rvp fr milan. park and arshavin could maybe start and the ox our super sub..just maybe

    • JJ Pittman says:

      Think the best place to play Arshavin would be at the San Siro. Slightly slower and less physical pace of AC Milan would be good for him.

  11. Kunle says:

    We have our own luka modric in rosicky,he plays very similar to can we bench such a play and play ramsey that does nt have thinkin and fast vision to lay passes to d attackers than dancin around and takin unwanted shots when he is to pass.he does nt cover back 4 his mistakes on d pitch,for instance when he loses d ball to d opponent does nt charge back to collect d ball.rosicky is a fast thinker wit d ball.

  12. am foreseen victory against sunderland today,gunners till i die

  13. Ndifreke says:

    Wenger should start rosichy ahand of remsy

  14. peter says:

    rosicky first,remsy substitute pls wenger dont make poor decision in this game again…

  15. Ade David, a Nigerian Gooner says:

    Desi, I go along with your selection for the game and I believe this may likely be Wenger’s too. The chances with be few if only we can take them as we did against Blackburn. I do agree that it wont be easy like last week because Sunderland is in form of her life. In your post match analysis of our match against B/burn, you said out of 8 goals on target, 7 resulted into goals, thats good. If we can take our few chances and be accurate, we can beat them. Although it is on record that we have not beaten them on their soil since 2007, the jinxt will be broken 2day.
    As u said their tactics will be, tight defence, set-pieces, man to man marking and long balls into our 18 yards box. Our boys are not strange to all these. We must have our own ways of curtailing them. No individual or group error. Full concentration for the duration of the match. We need the points badly if we are to make Champion League slot.

  16. Mharv says:

    Wenger, pls drop Ramshit all through the game. He’s not matured yet to play our kinda pattern. He always kills d game with naive decisions….

  17. Kunle says:

    I like d comments on ramsey,he is nt yet matured enough to handle d heart of d midfield.rosicky is already a matured playmaker during fabpass time at arsenal,just d injury dat brought back is progress bt still he is better than ramsey in d midfield.ramsey should be a substitute rather been played.we hardly score when he is playin bcos he doesnt linkup wit d attackers.

  18. Ade David, a Nigerian Gooner says:

    Kunle & others, Ramsey is not as bad as u people want us to believe. It is true that Rosicky is in form now likewise Ramsey too. We need all our players bcos the task ahead wont be easy and the coach needs to rotate. I dont believe that Ramsey is a shit. When it comes to work rate, he is the better of the two. That’s my opinion.

  19. Lizzie says:

    Ramsey is a great player he is not as bad as all of you think he is, he just hasnt reached his full potential yet most players start playing their best when they are about 23 ramsey is only 21 so guys cut him some slack

  20. Alagba says:

    Ramsey should start from bench sagna also to play as sub szczseny couqelin per .Konseny vermelin song Rosciky arteta wacolt Rorbin AOX this is alagba list

  21. Chinke Chikezie says:

    Well right now i’m more interested in the game against Sunderland, it’s time for Arsenal to prove that the game against Blackburn was not a fluke, which i believe was not. If they can maintain the structure, the style (fast short passes, players playing close to each other, wing players running behind defenders often and always pressing the opponents), confidence and concentration level, i will beat my heart there will not be much difference between Blackburn and Sunderland – a sure victory.

    I pray that Arsenal can learn from their past mistakes of leading in a game and at the end of the day loose the game or even draw the game after so much pressure as in the case of Swansea, Fulham or even New Castle last season. That attitude has to stop. I’m a strong believer of attacking football. If you are better than a team, no matter the situation, you should always show that you are better and should be in control, thats what makes Barcelona thick. I don’t believe a man down is an excuse to loose a game or even draw it, if by all standard you are a better team. Take for a example the 4-4 draw against New castle, every finger pointed to Diaby’s red card. That’s a cheap excuse for a flop. That same game, after the equaliser, Arsenal immediately took the game to New castle and scored a goal by RVP which was judged to be an offside. Whether a wrong judgement or not the issue is that they had the ability to score goals even with a man down, but they chose to sit back and soak the pressure which back fired. That was not the case when a ten man Man. U coming from behind beat a full strenght Arsenal side in Highbury 4 – 2 on 1st February 2005 – now thats character.
    That is what i expect from Arsenal, confidence, concentration, believe, discipline and purpose – thats what makes CHARACTER.

    I wish the team the best of luck.

  22. Chinke Chikezie says:

    To talk of Ramsey and Rosicky in terms of form, both players are in top form, the only difference is their style of play.

    Rosicky – A mobile player that likes quick passing with good vision, but has lost his trade mark shooting technique.

    Ramsey – A mobile player that loves caressing the ball with an eye for goal, but needs to be composed in front of goal.

    Both players are vital for the team, the only thing is to know when to use them. My best bet will always be to start Rosicky and get the game going, if by second half the goals are not coming or the opponents are being desperate, bring in Ramsey to probably create some chances with his trickery or slow down the opponents tempo and kill off the game.

  23. Tom says:

    Rosicky ahead of Ramsey.. no doubt about it.. the better player should be the starter.. not the other way round..

  24. Jeffry says:

    To me the match against Sunderland is more important than milan game.. and we need more of Rosicky than Ramsey..


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