Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Wigan

I like Roberto Martinez as a manager and Wigan Athletic as a football club. If someone told me Arsenal would lose to Wigan on Monday but win the remaining four and secure third spot I’d take it, especially if it helped the visitors stay up. But the simple fact of the matter is that no one is offering such a deal. The Gunners don’t know what the future holds so they must focus their energies on obtaining the desired result from this game.

As always, it won’t be easy. In their last four games, the Latics have won away to Liverpool and at home against Stoke and United. They also deserved more from the game at Stamford Bridge. Martinez, while showing great respect to Arsenal, must surely believe his side can get a point or three at the Emirates.

The visitors will come with a relatively settled line-up that is clicking at the right time as far as their battle against relegation is concerned. Boyce – Alcaraz – Caldwell – Figueroa is not the world’s greatest back four but they’ve found some solidity of late. McCarthy and McArthur do a good job of sitting in front of the defence while Beausejour provides cover on the left flank and width in attack. Moses and Maloney have the X-factor while Di Santo does a good job of holding and linking play in attack.

Overall Wigan have found a nice balance, which has been vital to the results they’ve been getting recently. As a part of that balance, Wigan have found goals from all over the pitch and that mean Arsenal’s defence will be tested in this game. Moses will provide the direct running threat, Maloney and others can shoot from distance, Caldwell and Alcaraz have been a threat on set-pieces, while the visitors can also play some combinations around the box if they get enough bodies forward.

Defensively, it will be interesting to see how they shape up. Beausejour and Figueroa can defend their left, which also happens to be the flank where a number of Arsenal’s attacks originate. This could frustrate the Gunners and they could need greater incision down their left.

More than the flanks though, I want to see where Wigan set up their defensive block. Recently, teams have troubled Arsenal when they’ve pushed up and pressed hard but few have sustained it without suffering knock-out blows. It will depend on the kind of confidence and belief that Martinez has. Anything higher than the halfway line will be a sign that Wigan back themselves to get something from the game and it will certainly make this an absorbing contest.

Dropping deeper will indicate a willingness to absorb pressure while waiting for counter-attacking opportunities. The Latics have the ability to hold the ball under pressure and this could help them break at pace as they won’t hoof it forward hopefully as often as some of the other teams at the wrong end of the table do. In the past N’Zogbia has troubled Arsenal and Moses could do the same if he gets the chance to run at the defenders.

This will also make Arsene’s selection at left-back very interesting. Gibbs is rated as 50-50 by the manager but Santos, even though his raw stats are very impressive, could be caught out by a quick dribbler like Victor Moses. Will Gibbs be rushed back? Can Santos shrug off the apparent slackness and raise his game? We will find out.

A related factor will be the choice of the attacking player on the same side. Benayoun has done well in a conservative role but Arsenal, as discussed earlier, could need greater creativity/incision from the left. Will Arsene bring Gervinho back into the line-up? His pace can certainly trouble Boyce.

Having had a break against Wolves, Rosicky could also be restored to the starting eleven with Ramsey moving back to the bench.

We might see,

Szczesny – Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Gibbs – Song, Rosicky, Arteta – Walcott, RvP, Gervinho.

Don’t be surprised if Arsene keeps Ramsey in the line-up, either in the centre or on the left. The season is coming to an end and the manager might want to take a longer look at some players before he makes up his mind about the summer. I am not suggesting this is make or break for the young Welshman, just that some of the boss’ choices could be forward looking.

Following a similar line of thought, one might say a number of games for Benayoun before the season ends could hint at a more permanent relationship after the summer.

All-in-all a win could put Arsenal 8 clear of fourth, albeit with an extra game played, and put pressure on the chasing pack. On the other hand a draw or a loss could give them hope and renewed belief. I’m taking nothing for granted.

Before ending I want to link to a couple of new blogs that I like. Arsenal Depot is an effort from a fellow Desi based in Dubai. It provides some balanced and thoughtfully constructed opinions. He Blogs When He Wants To is just, umm, different – in a pleasantly fresh and funny way. Check them out.

17 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Wigan

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  2. bobotoh gunners says:

    for me..




  3. Vinod.P.K says:

    Santos is a far better playet than Gibbs.He has the confidence and that makes the difference. My greatest worry is playing Djourou. Why wenger still keeps him in.stead of developing Miguel and others. Last season we had the same situation towards the end.Gervinjo is a great player and don’t forget his contribution at the start. . I n fact Barton injected red card for him caused severe blows to us including the humiliation at Olf Trafford.

  4. Damnit says:

    honestly djourou isnt bad for a 4th choice. we cant have 4 world class defenders.

  5. Franktommy says:

    Yes,the battle for todays game starts from the left side of our defence,if victor moses can be kept silence to night,then we should be celebrating another victory to night,and i believe prof is also aware,and knows what to do.

  6. Alexgunner says:

    Z boss will give a chance on z home game to rambo. Yes he trying to see z summer purchasing list.

  7. Alexgunner says:

    Z boss will not give a chance on z home game to rambo. Yes he trying to see z summer purchasing list.

  8. We want nothing less than winning.And having RVP increase his goal as Rooney is quite closing on him.Poor wigan,I like them too,its sad to see dem off epl

  9. Gerry Lennon says:

    I tend to agree that our left side is where the decisions need to be made, particularly as you have made a good point about their defence on (their) left is pretty strong.
    I would go with Gibbs as a starter. I think he will link better with Gervinho than Santos, and is quicker. If he restricts his overlaps he should be okay for the 90 minutes. So many were quick to say ‘Oh, injured again!’ when really he came off to prevent an injury. Those same people forget, he too, is yet have a full season and so has still plenty to improve upon, but what he shows right now has been part of the revival since January.
    The conundrum of Ramsey continues, but I cannot altogether think AW will play him to assess his future? I take the view that this was a bad season for anybody to return, given the pressures, so would think it folly to subject him to anything more than a bench role for the time being.
    However, AW could surprise everyone and rest Walcott?
    My preference would be: SZCZ

    I have no problem with Djourou playing either, as he does okay when the team are playing well … as they are now.
    Tricky game, but it may be one top team too many for Wigan, but I too, hope they stay up.

  10. Charles says:

    The game is vital to Arsenal&we’re winning these game tonight.

  11. Timmy says:

    Beautiful post Desi,

    How come your first paragraph mirrored my thoughts to letter, from what I saw Wigan play against Man. U, I began feeling he may not be a bad successor to Wenger all the same. (just musing)

    Beautiful post once again. Thank you.

  12. boyo says:

    Wow this article may have been written about my thoughts! I love wigan and hope they stay up but hopefully not at our expense. I think at home Wenger likes to attack and we will see Gervinho and Gibbs down the left.

    I am in favour of the ox down the right and then a switch to Walcott or if we do manage to get a decent lead then play Walcott as a Striker with Chamack and the bring benayoun on for Gervinho and play 4-4-2. I want to see how we go in 4-4-2 as for a change we have “wingers” who can play as traditional wide mid-Fielders(Ox and Benny) . I also think Chamack holds the ball up well and could work great with Walcott as a strike partner.

  13. ak47 says:

    nice one thanx.

  14. Jayanth says:

    Wigan play with a 3-4-3 formation and not a flat back 4… Figueroa, Alcaraz and Caldwell as a back 3 and Beasujeour, McCarthy, MacArthur and Boyce in front of them and MAloney, Di Santo and Moses as the front three…. The formation has the potential to trouble Arsenal but Walcott’s pace might just b the key today…

  15. Borntobeagunner(btbag) says:

    Whenever Desi dwell on the threat of our opponent like this of recent, we tend to be on the points gained but not possession like everton n liverpool match, though d too was an away game. Now that we are at home n barring our home form i think wigan will be another victim of defeat. Just wish RVP can be d goal scorer. A nigerian arsenal fan.

  16. Bayonne Jean says:

    Don’t forget that Benayoun can’t suit up against Chelsea, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him start on the left, and if not, should see him on the pitch for a decent run.

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