AC Milan 4 – 0 Arsenal: Outthought And Outplayed

There isn’t much to analyze in such a game. Or you could say there is so much to analyze that one could write a book.

This wasn’t a great Milan side but it was tactically and technically far superior to Arsenal. It isn’t often that one sees a game where the opponent deserves a 4-0 win over Arsenal but in this one there could be few grudges, even if one of the goals was off-side (which I am not sure of anyway).

I’d heard that Milan had relayed the flanks on their pitch but wasn’t really aware of the extent of impact that would have until I actually saw the pitch just before the start of the game. It was clear Arsenal were not going to get much joy down the wings.

Tactically, this gave a massive advantage to the hosts who were happy to sit narrow in defence and midfield. They only used the width of the pitch to spread the play while attacking but most of their runs and counter-attacks came down the middle.

Arsenal, on the other hand, looked completely clueless against this approach. The ball couldn’t be played out wide with the kind of pace that would give them any advantage. It was hard for the players to run with it in the wide areas or to dribble as it kept wobbling. This allowed the defenders to stay deep and narrow, and they only went wide when Arsenal managed to get the ball to their wingers or full-backs in advanced areas.

Milan’s movement, composure on the ball in tight spaces, combination play, and finishing was all top class. Arsenal were structurally poor at the back, there were too many individual mistakes, the side looked nervous from the early moments, and couldn’t generate any kind of speed with their passing which allowed Milan sufficient time to drop back into a solid shape. Individually, the hosts were very strong on the ball when put under pressure whereas the Gunners were often rushed into hoofs or hopeful long passes. Their pressing was a lot more cohesive and the decision making of when to press and when to drop deep was flawless. Arsenal were patchy at best with their pressing and even the usually reliable players struggled with their decision making.

It’s interesting to note that Arsenal had more pace but it was Milan who were able to create more and dangerous counter-attacks. This was an issue with the shape of the team apart from the above mentioned ones like composure, combination play, and movement.

In short, Milan mastered the spaces on the pitch and made the best use of them. Their defending was compact and assured. Their attacks were quick and lethal. Arsenal couldn’t come to terms with the spaces on the pitch. Their attacks were slow and rudderless as they couldn’t use the wide areas and just didn’t have enough quality down the middle. The defending was disorganized, clumsy, and bordering on desperate.

The best way to understand this is by noting that Milan almost always had players in free spaces when they broke forward while they always had sufficient bodies back when defending. Arsenal rarely found spaces in attack, except in areas Milan were happy to concede, and were often stretched at the back when chasing the ball and opposition players.

The first goal was simple enough. Szczesny’s kick was poor as usual. There was no pressure on the ball and no one within yards of the Boateng’s run. His control and strike were superb. In contrast, Arsenal players never got that kind of space in the Milan box. It’s a structural problem that has troubled the Gunners for years now. Wenger has tried different approaches but he hasn’t got the answer to it.

The second goal looked off-side but it was disappointing to see the players switch off. They should have played to the whistle. Ibra or Robinho didn’t even have to try hard. That was a real shame.

The third again came with simple movement and passing on the edge of the box. A slip by Vermaelen opening space for Robinho but he should never have been that free in such a position. The Brazilian’s finish was very well placed and deserves credit.

For the final one Djourou is the obvious culprit for the penalty but again Arsenal had no answer to the movement of the Milan players as they were caught ball watching. Djourou was in a difficult position against Ibra who almost coaxed the foul from the defender.

For the neutrals and those who like to study the game there was a lot to learn from the way Milan played this game. It really did look like Men against Boys for a long while and I don’t say stuff like that lightly or after every defeat.

On a positive note, it was good to see Gibbs coming back and looking fit. He was playing well but I thought it was a good choice to take him off as he hasn’t had many games. Going out early in the Champions League could also work well for Arsenal in the League.

It was sad to see Koscielny hobbling off. Hope his injury isn’t too serious. Arsenal started with Vermaelen and Koscielny in the centre of defence but ended with Song and Djourou. None of the pairings looked solid so it really wasn’t about individuals but the availability of personnel will make a difference against smaller teams in domestic competitions.

I still think Arsenal can win the home game on a better pitch but there is no way they can match or better the goal difference.

Individual Performances:

When a team is outplayed and outthought to such an extent, it’s hard to judge the individual efforts because they’ve come in an inherently deficient system that forces a number of mistakes. It wasn’t a matter of chance that so many of the usually reliable players looked so poor in this game.

Szczesny: Had a poor game. Didn’t come for a number of balls that he should have come for. Looked very nervous on the ball and that seemed to spread to other players. Couldn’t have done much about most of the goals but can be questioned for the first one.

Sagna: Very disappointing. He didn’t have a clear man to mark but struggled against the movement and positioning of their strikers. His decision making and positioning was suspect. Wasn’t able to contribute much in attack, crosses were poor.

Koscielny: Struggled against the physical Ibrahimovic. Another one who couldn’t really deal with the movement of the Milan attackers. Should have been tighter on Boateng for the first goal as Arsenal clearly weren’t looking to put a midfielder to do the tracking.

Vermaelen: Lost a number of individual duels. Also struggled with his positioning as he couldn’t read the movement well. Wasn’t very comfortable on the ball and didn’t always make the right choices in terms of passing.

Gibbs: He was probably the only defender who wasn’t very bad. Was also looking to get forward but Arsenal rarely moved the ball at speed to find him in space.

Djourou: Poor tackle for the penalty but the position Arsenal got into was a right mess. Wasn’t very comfortable in that role but then who was.

Sagna, Szczesny, Vermaelen were all hugely disappointing. Koscielny wasn’t very good either. The defenders were exposed time and again, and the tactical approach left them in a difficult situations, but there were just too many individual mistakes all through the game.

Song: Offered little in terms of protection to the defence. Wasn’t very useful on the ball either.

Ramsey: Had a terrible game. Many of his passes didn’t come off. Didn’t get into good positions from an attacking or defensive point of view.

Arteta: Did ok with his safe passes but couldn’t offer anything more.

Rosicky: He had one or two good moments on the ball but his final pass was almost always over hit. Shooting was woeful. Still probably much better than the others.

Arsenal’s midfield was the biggest problem area. They left the defence exposed and the attack isolated as they ended up in a no man’s land far too often. Off the ball movement was terrible. Passing speed was pedestrian. Creativity non-existent. They didn’t read the game defensively and couldn’t effectively put pressure on the opponents when out of possession. As a result the Gunners were neither good at pressing cohesively, nor did they get into a solid defensive shape. Transitions were too easy for Milan and painstakingly tough for Arsenal.

Walcott: It was as if he wasn’t even on the pitch. Spent a lot of time deep in the Arsenal half when he should have been on the shoulder of the last defender when Milan pushed up. It’s another age old tactical issue that Arsene hasn’t been able to address.

RvP: Probably the only one who can walk away with his head held high. Work rate was excellent. Produced three shots on target of which two drew good saves and one was quite easy. Was never given any space in or around the box.

Henry: Had one flick that led to a chance for RvP and a couple of runs in the wide areas but a very limited effort from the departing legend.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: Came on late in the game when Milan were content with sitting back so he got a lot of time on the ball. But the hosts doubled up on him when he got into dangerous areas and he couldn’t really do much with the ball except one cross to the back post that led to a Van Persie header.

The attacking players were always tightly marked when they got near the Milan box. The hosts gave no space to them and the slow tempo meant the defence was rarely, if ever, stretched. Personally, I don’t blame the attacking players too much as they just didn’t have enough time or space.

Wenger: While some of the individual efforts were awful, Arsene deserves most of the blame as the issues seen here were not new ones. Just a lot of them coming together once the state of the pitch made effective wing play virtually impossible. The Gunners just don’t know how to sit back and absorb pressure. They also don’t know how to use the pace at their disposal in a manner that can consistently cause problems. He deserves credit for trying different combinations and tactical variations but it just wasn’t good enough. I don’t think starting with Oxlade-Chamberlain would have made any difference but a stronger emphasis on keeping the ball and playing a more cohesive defensive system would probably have.


60 Responses to AC Milan 4 – 0 Arsenal: Outthought And Outplayed

  1. Tim says:

    We were outplayed and outfought, and even though we were a bit unlucky with Ibra’s offside, Vermaelen’s slip and then the penalty there can be no question the better team won. Now isn’t the time for vitriol and histrionics. Now is the time for fans to show their support, no matter how unhappy we all are, and for the team to respond in the manner that saw us hammer Blackburn just 11 days ago. There’s still plenty to play for – alas, it will just not be in Europe this season.

    http://thearmchairsportsfan.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/no-excuses-arsenal-ac-milan/

    • Dhruv says:

      Tim you might be right. I am just deeply disgusted by this scoreline. Who played what and what not is a question we can keep arguing about. Right now, the only thing that is true is that Wenger just does not have the tactics if the playing conditions do not suit us. Wenger cannot even ask his team to limit damage control, probably he does not have players to do so. I think some other mid table EPL teams like Fulham and West Brom could have come with better results from Milan. The mismanaging (selling and not buying quality) and miscoaching (defence and midfield all over the place) over the last 3 or 4 years has lead to the heaviest defeat to ManU this year and now this.

      Sure I can support the team without grief but yesterday looked like they were lambs led to slaughter by Wenger, there was no clear strategy to speak of.

      • chris from Cambridge says:

        Yes indeed and it will not improve under the present regime. Whenever the regime does change (ie ownership and management and coaching) it will then take some time to make big changes and resettle. This is going to be a long haul.

  2. Steve Biko says:

    The time for Wenger to leave is now. When you pocket all the profits and do not reinvest this is what happens.

    • santori says:

      I’m not sure if ‘reinvesting’ is the solution.

      Rather we have punched above our weight principally because Wenger has been an astute buyer of talent in the market.

      Where we fall is tactically. We need to relook at the coaching set up/staff,. This has been mentioned before by Wenger himself not two seasons past. But he neglected tackling the issue this last summer due to our problems with Nasri and Fab. And I can understand to some extent the thinking behind it as we simply could not afford that much flux.

      But I believe we have the nuclei of a good team in place now (save one or two strategic bu) so this summer is as good as any in seriously looking at how we could improve our tactics (ala Fergie with Quieroz) + our coaching set up.

      Otherwise, no amount of new players will help us.

  3. Danish Gooner says:

    Wenger is finished,couldnt out think someone with very little experience in the Cl.Players looked liked they had never played together and an insult to the shirt,simply put this is not what Arsenal is about.

    • santori says:

      Tactically, he sits on his hands too long while pat chews his fingers.

      They take far too long to respond to on field tactical threats nor do they half practise contingencies enough or have an effective alternative.

      but that’s all old hat to us isn’t it?:P

      • santori says:

        Hehehe…I meant Pat chewing his own fingers of course, would be an interesting side if Pat was chewing on Wenger’s fingers whilst Wenger was sitting on them.:D

      • Dhruv says:

        I have noticed Wenger sitting motionless during the last few games. Wenger looks like he is all exhausted by this year’s downturn and bad results. He does not have any agression left. At least he used kick a bottle sometime back.

        If Wenger does not have the energy left to deal with the up and down of club football at the highest level, he should probably go.

      • chris from Cambridge says:

        Not they … just Wenger. Poor old Pat Rice is not paid to say anything. Nobody is other than Wenger. Do we think experienced international trophy winning players like Steve Bould and Liam Brady (or Tony Adams or Denis Bergkamp) would not recognise what essential changes should be made ??? Do we imagine any of them would consider Djourou a good enough defender to be given a new contract ? Does one imagine any of them would have kept Arshhavin playing left wing ???

  4. Northbanksy says:

    Mid-table performance from a mid-table team who’re managed by someone who lost the plot a few years ago & who’s supported by a Board that never had the plot & an owner who wouldn’t know the plot if it bit him.

    • shrek2be says:

      I had no idea Arsenal was winning European titles regularly before Wenger came and screwed it all up. If we lost the plot how come we’re 4th in the league and still in the FA cup?

      • Mark says:

        You have to admit though, that our beloved Arse has slowly deteriorated over the past few years. A sale of a good player here, a replacement with a lesser player there. Most of our recent signings would have trouble getting regular football at either Manure, Citeh, Chelski or now god forbid The Spuds) such is the gap in quality that is now becoming evident. I hope that we finish fourth and I hope we win the FA cup. It will take something short of a miracle given the current circumstances. Let’s hope the boys pick themselves up quickly after this sad defeat! They owe it to us!

      • Dhruv says:

        Shrek2be

        No fight shown whatsoever by the team yesterday and you come up with this. I think some of the mid table EPL teams are more versatile than Wenger’s team at the moment.

        As for the 4th place, there are still 13 matches to go, so dont get ahead of yourself. FA cup, well lets see.

    • chris from Cambridge says:

      Right, right, right !!

  5. shrek2be says:

    TBH Desi,Sagna’s crosses and Szczesny’s distribution have always been poor.Ramsey needs to cut out the unnecessary flicks and keep it simple while Rosicky needs to lean how to shoot. Walcott can improve his crossing,timing of his runs and finishing,can’t expect Dribbling out of him. Mikel needs to stop being overawed ,Rvp needs to do some long distance shooting again.

    • santori says:

      I’ve never seen the point of playing both Ramsey and Rosicky in tandem. They seem to exentuate the worse in each other.

      The game for us always seems to bog down and become tediously ponderous when the pair are played together.

      I thought Rosicky was the man to start today with due instruction to work on distributing/switching between flanks quickly (Let Song and Arteta work on the slide rule defnse splitting passes down the middle)

  6. K-TR7 says:

    Zlatan gets alot of grief from the English media but tonight he was immense.his ball control and spatial awareness was as good as i’ve seen all season.he could probably control a chewed gum aimed to his face .the best player we’ve faced this season.

    • santori says:

      He’s quality tonight. To think he could have been an Arsenal player (before he even joined Ajax)!

      • bolo says:

        my friend,if he was at arsenal,with how nuts wenger is,he probably would hav been converted to a defensive mid-fielder or even a goal keeper!!

    • Dhruv says:

      K-TR7 are you a Milan fan? doesnt your team have a blog idiot! Here lets talk about Arsenal or whatever is left of it.

      • K-TR7 says:

        Not a milan fan by any chance.just pointing out he played brilliantly against us.is there anything wrong with that?

  7. chengiskhan says:

    I have to say, there are 2 things that really irk me about this Arsenal team:

    #1 is the tendency for players to watch the ball on defense. It is clear that this is something our coaches do not address in practice. I see this problem as pervasive and pathological. It kills me when 3 defenders chase desperately after the ball handler when at least one if not two of them should be seeking out obvious short passing targets to mark or cut off. You know the practice drill where 1 guy chases after the ball inside of a triangle? That’s what our players look like time and time again on defense! For the second goal by Milan, Koscielny was much too preoccupied with Ibra when he should have been marking Robinho who was flying into the danger zone.

    #2 is the lack of off-the-ball movement on offense, particularly in the midfield and advanced areas. When you watch this team and then you watch Barcelona, the difference in movement is like night and day. I know it is not entirely fair to compare the teams, but this aspect of Arsenal must improve. That is why we are *constantly* passing the ball back to the keeper and putting him under unnecessary pressure. I admit that I groan every time the ball goes back to the keeper.

    • santori says:

      I ahve to say that you are probably right.

      Too much ball watching today. Regardless of Wenger’s tactical blunder/s, some players should have been back to keep an eye on Robinho (twice)!

      And there wasn’t enough urgency or off ball movement for us.

      However, it is symptomatic of the fact that we tried to go toe to toe with a team playing to their strengths instead of ours.

  8. Patrock says:

    We have not arrived at this point overnight. It is not that we have bad players, rather, our problem lies in the fact that we have too many players of the same type. We need some physicality, some bad boys, some tall guys and some strong cookies. The table seems to be full of Bishops at the moment.

    • Mark says:

      I agree. Where are the Ray Parlours, Patrick Vieiras, Steve Boulds or Tony Adams in this side? I don’t see anyone that has any consistent backbone.

    • chris from Cambridge says:

      Wenger only wants technically good players (which most of them are) playing the game his way …. game after game the same way. Nil tactical variation. Every club in the world knows how to prepare to play us. It staggers me that such an obviously intelligent man can be so blind to some things which are obvious to the rest of us.

  9. Shahr says:

    Before the game,Wenger had said the gunners could be kings of EuropeTo be cl kings you have to be the big brother of the epl.Even the red faced /.nosed had found it mission tough /impossible.I held my breath but didn’t want to be condescending. I told myself to wait for the Milan game. The hosts would probably win by at least two clear goals.And so it came to be.
    Wenger has slammed the players but as manager he is responsible 100%.The tactics and personnel are decided by him.To be brutally frank this defeat is not one in isolation but is a malaise deeply affecting the club. Wenger may disagree.
    I have all along maintained the gunners with a dodgy defence aint going to make headway in the football world. They are too predictable. Even berkamp has said so and asked the Fm to make changes.
    Btw after my haircut,the hairdresser,an avid soccer fan,told me he thinks Arsenal would probably lose.He went to say for all the pace down the flanks,AC would use at least two defenders to nullify the Wallcott and OX threats.With the gunners always passing at the edge of the the box,isn’t it ibvious to all,the most blinkered,this tactic is predictable. The gunners maybe weaving beautiful patterns with their passing.But goals win matches..

    • santori says:

      Actually, that is the point.

      With 2 defenders commited to shutting down pace (or guile) down the flanks, the trick for us would be to switch play effectively from one end to the next and catch AC Milan out.

      Rosicky would have done this fairly effectively but we needed a proper threat from BOTH flanks.

      It didn’t have to be pure pace either.

      My pref would have been the guile of Arsharvin and pace of Walcott to start and then Henry on with young Chamberlain later to keep at the Milan fullbacks.

  10. s j little says:

    Whats the point. Everyone except Mr Wenger knows all the problems and Mr Wenger enjoys compounding them.
    He is out to beat all Arsenals worse records before he goes!p

  11. SAM says:

    I have to agree with Patrock.You must have a different mix. Too much passing and a reluctance to shoot makes it easy for defenders. It’s great to watch beautiflully intricate patterns.But football is about goals.
    The gunners take an eternity to shoot . You compare this to other teams. I know I will be crucified for this but where other teams do with three four passes,Wenger opts for the extra pass. That’s why this gives defenders time to anticpate and nullify any goal threat.
    Yeah I know keep the faith. But unless the gunners can beat Sunderlan,try telling that to gooner fans.
    And if the 4th spot is out,you can bet there would be a revolution despite what the cigar man and Ivan say about income from the cl. To be brutally frank,no cl could mean the gunners drift to mid table status to being out of the top ten richest clubs.
    Is that waht the board want?Yeah I know when UEFA FF play kicks in the gunners can buy any one.It would be a case of too late.

  12. critic says:

    Arsenal can go through. I firmly believe that.

    U keep harping about structural issues which arsene is just not able to solve. He refuses to accept any help. What’s the solution?

    I think arsenal should hire stolkovic as arsene assistant till he retires. We need to look forward, that’s our brand afterall.

    P.S : what a major upset!! 😀

    • santori says:

      I’m an optimist but I don’t think it very likely.

      The silver lining as mentioned by desi is that we may now focus on not f@cking up domestically and attaining the more realistic goal of coming in 4th(3rd if poss).

      Still shouldn’t stop us fans from singing lustily ” 5-0 we’re going to win 5-0″ at the return leg.;)

  13. eddie owen says:

    We are just not good enough,this is so clear im fed up saying it week in week out,our maneger is to old and lacks new idea,im soooooooooooooo pissed off.

  14. GbG says:

    Don’t like saying I told you so, but I was probably the only one in the comments who said Arsenal are going to lose this one. Never thought it will be so bad. Don’t think I have seen a worse effort from the Gunners under Wenger.

  15. SAM says:

    This defeat and the dodgy defence did not happen overnight.Wenger has ceased to be a threat to the red nose and that’s why he is so chummy to the FM.Even the red faced sympathised with the FM over the 8-2 muling. He could have twisted the knife in.
    I am very sceptical if not suspicious when my number one enemy tries to be overly friendly. This shows how far Wenger’s stock has fallen since 2004.
    As to him leaving for RM,by all means go. It would be interesting to see if he can achieve much more if the vast transfer funds there can help him win the cl. It’s not a given if doesn’t ditch his all out attacking game.

  16. santori says:

    I’m not sure we can blame the pitch for the defeat. Remember that Milan also used the wide areas and to better effect than us.

    Rather, I felt that this is an issue of Wenger’s tactical limits. Again, not saying he is a mug in this department (far from it) but why strip us of our best assets and fight the way the enemy wants to fight.

    There is a saying in the fighter pilot world that you never fight the way your enemy fights.

    Our best assets were our wingers. They were always going to be the ones to trouble Milan.

    But you have to have threat from both flanks (whereby threat from one flank can lead to an opening of space for the corresponding side, probided the man in the middle- in this case it should have been Rosicky- spreads play across flanks quickly and effectively)

    We had the personnel. Walcott and say Arsharvin (to build upon his excellent assist in the last match) to start. Maybe Henry and Chamberlain later when Milan have been given somewhat of a run along their flanks.

    Instead, we went narrow, attempted to go toe to toe with a very technical team and kept sending slide pass rule balls through the middle which were more than effectively cut out and quite honestly entirely predictable.

    Nor did we ilicit some form of change when our tactics weren’t working. Toward the last 20mins of the first half, Milan were beginning to bypass our ineffective midfield. Nothing was done on the part of our coaching staff to effectively modify to meet the weakness on the pitch.

    Henry may have been sent on to create some inspiration but the effect was to bring down our work rate even more since our tactical shape remained the same.Then Vermalen was pushed out wide (I suppose it was a lost cause by this stage and Wenger was protecting Gibbs) but that shut out any offensive threat for our right wing whatsoever (where as Gibbs was making some good runs up field)

    I think we lost this battle tactically and the issue as Desi has mentioned is deep rooted.

    It is a tactical issue borne by a coaching set up in need of a proper revamp.

    Other issues like our porous defending come to fore especially when our offensive side is blunted and pressure than applied on our backs (as the oponents get the better of our midfield and are able to push forward having effectively contained our game)

    Certainly a lot for Wenger to ponder but I wonder if he comes to the right conclusions.

    If we start mentioning the Milanese trenches on the flanks, we are certainly not doing ourselves any semblance of favour.

  17. jcloud says:

    Years ago, there was a quarter final (if i remember correctly) of the champions league where Milan played Deportivo. Milan won first game 4-1 and crushed out of the competition with 4-0 defeat in the second game. Who knows what might happen…

  18. BarDel says:

    Disgusting performance. The boys looked so lathargic, our midfield was awful, and the keepers distribution was a liability.

    Oh and I miss Fabregas! 😦

  19. Aussie Jack says:

    Like the American commentator said “I can`t think of one Arsenal player that doesn`t deserve criticism”. Szczensny has gone from good and exciting to flippant, over confident, cheeky and losing concentration. The first goal was his mistake, like so many that followed he gave the ball to the opposition. Without a suitable back up Wenger is back to having a goalkeeper problem…but I`ve said that quite a few times before. I know I`ll go in the `neg` column for saying it but it will take a miracle to avert a string of defeats over the coming weeks, Sunderland being the first.

  20. true gooner says:

    Unless in the summer a cb,fb, amf & an out & out striker is bought we are going nowhere fast! I feel Song would have contributed a lot more holding in front of the defence. Coquelin should have played instead of mediocre at best Ramsey. Lookin forward to Gervinho coming back & working with AOC. Im sure Arshavin could have threaded crucial passes through today. If AC were attacked with pace & the team actually worked off the ball we may have had a chance. Napoli turned them over with those tactics.

    Cant really see how we realistically hope to sign the likes of Casemiro, Javi Garcia, Higuain/Benzema/Damaio – why would they want to come. Have to win the FA cup & finish 3rd or we are destined for a long dose of Europa. Very poor & lacklustre performance.

    Sunderland wil b relishing Saturday lets hope we turn up!!!!!!

    Fuckin pissed off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. pacalypse4shizzle@hotmail.com says:

    It probably is time for Wenger to do the honorable thing and resign; I haven’t called for his head all year but I really thought this would be his make-or-break season and not even from just a trophy standpoint but from a performance viewpoint.
    He’s no longer getting to the players; he seems obsessed with proving points to all his critics (many real and some imagined) and chooses his teams using that as a yardstick; he continuously fails players who show that they’re ready to step up for him all because of the aforementioned (Coq and Oxlade shouldn’t have to pay for the bad performances of others when they’re form and focus deserve more); his and the board’s dallying have meant that we have been ill-prepared for games and for probably the last couple of seasons; and above all, he’s starting to leave players as scapegoats for a number of his apparent coaching deficiencies and his lust for complete control of the Arsenal.
    Once a coach loses his dressing room and you see zig-zaged yo-yo results that seem not to depend on personnel, form, injuries etc, it’s probably time to start afresh and Cesc seemed to hint at this problem last year when he said we had decided not to win. For our captain to come out with this and a better captain (RVP) to end up realizing the same thing before this season runs out is a travesty. It’ll take an extremely astute manager to get replace Wenger’s great work even through this sad years (the last 2) but a lot’s better than soiling the image of this once-great coach.
    Adieu Arsene

  22. SAM says:

    The demolition by AC was unexpected but ,imho,it was not helped by the gunners. We can say we have players injured who could have made a difference. Frankly even if they were around,the gunners would still lose probably by two goals.
    I believe Clichy when he said the gunners did not do defence drills. If this is indeed true,it’s no wonder the gunner ‘s defence continues to be a serious problem.
    The cl tie is 90% gone.maritn will look with relish to the cup tie and can’t wait to rub salt.The gunners tactics are predictable not according to fans but by ex players like Petit and Bekamp.
    I wonder what Wenger has to say.He would say when my kids have the experience,blah blah.they would be kings . Frankly T don’t think that happening the next 100 one hundred months.The rot would have set in.

  23. jeff says:

    Wenger should have played rosicky on the centre n not on the left as the only player that I could see finding spaces was only rosicky.. But his shooting let him down.. Still,he’s one of our better players on that match together with kos n rvp.. OTOH,being at the AMC position, I expect ramsey to do much more than just that.. He needs to release walcott for me,also changing his predictable direction.. Btw,talking about djorou,i still wonder about his contract extension?? I don think he’s good enough,to be honest.. What do you think?

    • santori says:

      Exactly the problem. We were unbalanced because for some reason, Wenger decided it best to play with just one winger in Walcott.

      Not the occassion to be trying out new systems.

      There is a knock on affect the moment we blunt ourselves up top. That gives the opponents opportuntiy to get at us at the back and as Desi has rightly pointed out, there are still some outsanding issues that for some inexplicable reason have yet to be reolved.

      NO amount of additions to the squad will help us if we do not tackle the basic issue which is the coacging/tactics need sharpening.

      No need for Wenger out or anything dramatic. Just reshuffle the pack and get someone who can zero in on our key issues at the back for Wenger. Whilst he’s at it, find someone to help him further shharpen our spear tip/develop an laternate set up to break entrenched teams down.

      But what we needed against Milan was pace and guile out wide, stretch them and put them under pressure in those areas (regardless of trenches)

  24. Yang says:

    The towering presence of center-half is so important in cup games so no surprise there. Need more cover for defender’s position. I predict defeat when team is lack of CB in this game.

    Defenders have no answer for Zalatan so dragged all over the shop, slip off etc.

    • santori says:

      There was no lack of CBack. Djourou is 6’4, same height as Zlatan. Vermalen was also available.

      …there may be a lack of quality perhaps.

      I am not concern with Cback. I am more concern with tactics and the midfield moving in concert with the defense when covering breaks.

      Djourou – remember he is 4th choice. We have enough CBacks. Djourou’s spot will rpobably be challenged in coming seasons by Miquel and Bartley so there is no need to press the panic button and go shopping for more CBacks.

      What we need is coaching, getting the team in sync when defending. The sum of all parts is greater than any individual with quality. We have yet to be forged into a fully greased, working unit when defending as a team by the evidence provided

  25. Insyder says:

    I said it & will say it that Le Prof. has lost the Gunners plot.u tell why Coquelin & AOC were on the bench,he has been one of the most impressive players on the team.Ramsey is too overrated but has no skills 2 b putting an arsenal shirt.Yeah many will say that he scored last weekend but as the law of averages state that chances of success r 1 over 100.Guess that was his 100th.This would also have been a game he should have tried the Russian coz of exeperience.Its about time we let Wenger go

    • santori says:

      Ramsey is promising, but to have him soulder the responsibility of ‘taking over from Cesc’ at this age is a bit much (he isn’t Fab)

      Where there is an issue is having both Ramsey and Rosicky on the pitch at one time. What is the point? It slows our game down and deprives us of one wide man.

  26. Tony says:

    The problems arsenal face are 2 do with consistency every season the player turnover is bad and we lose members of the core of the team. Spuds have had the same team 4 a while tweakin it here and there. Secondly the is no real intent the drive, the motive, the why. Nearly all the time the game is mental, the stuff one cannot give at a training session something the player has to develop like confidence. And lastly excessive injuries so many injuries are bad when campaigning 4 silverware

  27. WOLF says:

    The only person that played decent was shockingly Gibbs, RVP was working hard but Gibbs was running everywhere. Really disapointed in Sagna still can’t believe he gave up on that play which led to a goal. Even more disappointed in Vermaelen, after that odd statement saying he’s better in the middle, he did nothing to get the ball forward and gave up way too much space. And honestly, Wenger screwed up with playing Ramsey, Rosicky and Arteta. How many times were they running into the same spaces and making the same movements and passes. Bergkamp hit the nail on the head saying there’s too much of the same.

    In the end, credit to Milan they played great and to their strengths. Again Arsenal should have known that the flanks were in poor shape and should played much more narrow like Milan.

    Let’s prove the doubters wrong with a win at the weekend.

  28. abachaGhana says:

    worst decission ive ever seen nd cant keep quiet.. How can u make such a huge unfamiliar change and expect ur boys to adapt..1) the most inconsistent players were started ie walcot nd ramsey.. I won why wenger cant see that the ox is currently his reliable source of threat..2) u’ve started getting result with a particular line up and u change that against a strong opponents and want to win, how?? Or he was afraid of them which forced him with that line up meanwhile u need chamberlain’s energy right from the beginning.. Please wil someone help me tel wenger that it’s now time for the defender-scaring and lack of skills walcott to vacate the right wing for the strong, quick, technical and man-dribling ox? Ohh arsenal, i wish i can live without you!

  29. chinke chikezie says:

    What a match! What a disappointment! What a system! What a style!
    I wouldn,t say i predicted wrongly even though the score was the other way round because I warned Arsenal on couple of things which were all eluded.

    1. Arsenal should not change their system and style no matter the approach of AC Milan. That is to say that Arsenal should have maintained the 4-3-3 system with their normal wide men, so as to keep their AC Milan’s full backs busy and also making their wing players to always come back and support their full backs. Instead Wenger focused on a system to curb the Milan team thereby given them so much respect, which gave them so much confidence and in return killing Arsenal’s attack.

    2. Arsenal should be attack minded so as to throw caution to the opponents. But what did they do, they tried to be cautious, choked the midfield without close marking the opponents and knocking the ball around without motive.

    3. The players should play close to themselves and pass the ball faster, as Milan players will want to close them up, fast. So the ideas of long balls should be limited, only when necessary. But that was not the case.

    4. Arsenal should always press AC Milan at all times. i.e. close them down always, because AC Milan plays with space at a gradual tempo until they get a break. Instead I saw an Arsenal side that gave Milan all the space they wanted and was retreating at will, instead of close marking the opponents.

    5. I talked about exploiting Milan’s weak link which happens to be their left back but we didn’t take it serious. if you have to beat AC Milan, you will have to beat them through the wings – ask Barcelona. When they met Barca on two legged affair, Milan scored 3 of their 4 goals from their spacious gradual play and interestingly Barca scored 3 of the 5 goals attacking through the wings, after all effort to break through the middle failed, while the own goal was as a result of attack from the wing and the penalty was also caused from an attack through the wing. Making Barca’s 5 goals to come from the wing play.

    What was Wenger thinking, packing all those midfield players in the team and playing without purpose. I don’t really blame the players playing in an unfamiliar way against an experienced side ready to exploit on their errors. I blame Wenger on this experiment, because thats what i call it, for changing a team that has already struck a rythym and a flow, against a team like AC Milan – thats SUICIDAL.

    Well everyone will believe this is over just like i do, but you never can thrust this game of football – things happen. Arsenal should use the second leg wisely, because is one thing to score 5 goals in the return leg and is another thing not to concede 1 goal. I don’t think the field has anything to do with the 4 goals, it all boiled down to the system and style. Lets pray that the Prof. rethinks over this situation.
    Lets all take heart.
    GUNNERS 4 LIFE.

    • santori says:

      I felt Wenger went for caution despite his speech in the press conference extolling the virtues of venture.

      Big mistake.

      yes, the team “did not show up” but when you put the team in an unfamiliar position and deprive them of the strongest tool to do the job with, you should expect mistakes to be compounded.

      Our best form of defense is attack. We need to be pressurising the other team and putting them on the cosh.

      We did not with the set up we had, rather we became overcomplicated aagain and predictably through the middle.

      It was only a matter of time for Milan to start exploiting our weaker areas at the back as our midfield went clueless.

      Back to the old drawing board.

  30. ak47 says:

    personally i know we can beat milan if we tried. but from the off we couldnt be arsed. simple school boy errors were there for the world to see. was i bothered?
    not really. you can hate me for saying it but i wanted to lose. and it seems wenger did to. if we did progress past milan would we make more money than winning the 4th place cup? would we win the champs or tire ourselves out striving for an unrealistic cup. but arsene cant be seen to just throw a game away by playing a weaker team so its like he’s used our own preconceptions about the team to throw a match which lets face it is a hinderance in the bigger scheme of things. just a theory and i guess we’ll see in the next match whether he’s playing mind games or our team is really as bad as we all seem to think.
    with the goal margin so big it even gives license now to play ppl like park and chamack cos who really believes we’l come back really? so instead of that game being a pain in the arse we can now actually use it to give some players game time and even work on new formations and tactics if we want. just a thought.

  31. Sandeep says:

    It really pains to be an Arsenal fan …. spend half of your night to watch CL football and come out with such disappointment. This has been a trend now for last many years in knockout stages, I wonder if we would not have qualified and arsenal would have seen more success at europa league in any of the last few years.

    Arsenal were like India playing tests in australia, they just didn’t prepare themselves to play on such a pitch even after knowing how the conditions are going to be.

    Another year’s wait now for CL :(.

  32. Ade David, a Nigerian Gooner says:

    This is the worst Arsenal that I have ever watched in Europe. It was like I was dreaming. I went to bed yesternight with a serious headache and without saying good night to my wife. I dont like criticizing players but the Arsenal players i watched yesterday played woefully. The bench could not offered any solution. We made average Milan side looked so good as if they were Barcenona. Their pitch did not help matter, so bad but not an excuse anyway. I think we supposed to have a penalty when RVP was pulled down in the 2nd half after their own penalty. Wenger and our boys should pls beat Sunderland for us and also concentrate on epl so that we can qualify for Champion league. Our hope of winning anything this year is FA cup. We must select our strong team coming this Saturday against Sunderland. Up Arsenaaal

  33. cupsui says:

    Not making excuses because this wasn’t a contest but come on Milan this is the San Siro…that was a park football pitch. And now we gotta go back to shite heart lane?! yikes!

    The pitch certainly stiffled any wing play, makes you question a little the timing of such action? but we wouldn’t have won on a good surface, we just didn’t show up!

    The FA cup game is now a huge moment! There must be a massive turn around!

    Come on gunners…we need support not knives! fourth place is ours to lose

  34. Finnish Hit says:

    Good analysis as always, desi, thanks for that.

    It was a terrible night, but we shouldn’t take anything away from Milan. They made us look worse than in a long time. They were shockingly good.

    Our trio in midfield just couldn’t handle the diamond of theirs, and maybe that’s where we lost the game, with us not being able to use the wide areas as usual. Outthought …erm, I just used the word in the title of the blog, so let’s not get there again!

  35. latest online

    AC Milan 4 – 0 Arsenal: Outthought And Outplayed | Desi Gunner

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