Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Norwich

Two games to go. Two wins needed. Fate in own hands. Pressure on. Will the Gunners fire or implode?

Taking it step by step, all the focus at the moment has to be on Norwich. The canaries might not have much to play for, and perhaps that is affecting their form – they’re coming into this game on the back of three successive defeats in which they’ve conceded 11 and scored 1, but anything less than the best from Arsenal will not do. Just ask Spurs.

The Gunners have some worries of their own. With Arteta missing – Arsenal are yet to win in his absence – the midfield does not have the same fluidity to it. Nor does it have the requisite defensive nous. Up front the winger’s are offering very little in terms of creativity, incision, or finishing. Robin van Persie is the only real source of goals at the moment, so much so that even Wenger was forced to acknowledge that.

He has to push us over the line. There are two games to go. We have been a bit over-reliant on him, I concede that. But it is difficult to change that before the end of the season.

In this game there will hardly be any surprises. It’s just a matter of execution. Arsenal will have to be flawless as a draw might not be enough.

Norwich will be organized. Their Keeper is capable of making top-class saves. They’ll put bodies on the line and make it hard for Arsenal to find the goal. But now we’re at the stage of the season where statements like “their Keeper had a MotM performance”, “we hit the post X times”, “They cleared the ball off the line”, and “We should have had a penalty”, will sound like lame excuses rather than valid arguments.

Similarly, at the other end, it doesn’t matter whether the visitors score from a freakish goal, or a deflection, or a wonder strike, or from a set-piece, or via their only shot on target, etc. If Arsenal concede the price could run into tens of millions of pounds.

Koscielny and Vermaelen have to win the physical battles and aerial battles or at least make enough of an impact to keep the goal guarded. An effort as committed as the one at Stoke, and without the error that led to their goal, should help.

The full-backs will have to handle their tricky and quick wingers. Holt or Morrison can be hard to control if they get quality service in the box.

Song, and more importantly Ramsey, will have to be disciplined in front of them. These are the two who have to find the balance between attack and defence. The attack must not be deprived of bodies as it inhibits quick passing, which makes it easier for the defence to remain organized and behind the ball. But they can’t leave the back four exposed as Arsenal will undoubtedly have to fight for the second ball. The roles of the two midfielders are largely unglamorous (apart from the eye-catching through-balls) but these smaller details are just as vital as the decisive moments at either end. Ultimately, it’s the simple things that indirectly govern the odds. Will Arsenal create more chances, will the concede gilt-edged ones, will the team look lethargic or lethal? A lot will depend on the engine of Ramsey and the drive of Song.

And while we’re talking of engines and drive, who can forget the metaphorical handbrake. Many in the Arsenalsphere regard complacency as the evil that’s plagued the Gunners in their quest for sealing third spot. I’m not completely convinced. I think it’s more about inhibition and uncertainty. It’s very hard to believe a team can fight as hard as they did against Stoke and then play as if they don’t have a care in the world in the next game simply due to complacency.

There is no doubt players sometimes give the impression that they’re too relaxed or lazy. But it’s quite possible they’re just anxious and hence repressed. Since Arsenal’s system tends to expose the defence more often than it should when the players go forward, there is a tendency in them to be over cautious when it isn’t clicking. A good example of this was seen against Chelsea when the visitors got in behind on a number of occasions early in the game. After that the Gunners dropped deeper collectively and played with the so-called handbrake on.

This is relevant because Norwich’s ability to play balls over the top and in-behind can trouble the Gunners and trigger this inhibition. The visitors also have strong physical presence up front and could force mistakes which could again make the players drop deeper.

In order to win, it’d be vital for the Gunners to impose their style of play early on and then control the game till the end. A reactive style does not suit Wenger’s side and they could end up looking indifferent or, worse, clueless on the pitch.

In terms of team selection Arsene will probably go with the same back four that’s started the last game. Santos has looked better as a sub but it still seems difficult to trust his match-fitness and concentration. There aren’t many choices in the middle either.

In attack, Le Boss could pick Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of Gervinho but both have been rather ineffective in their last few outings. He could also pick them both if he thinks the balancing contribution of Benayoun is not needed in this game.

We might see,

Szczesny – Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs – Song, Rosicky, Ramsey – AOC, RvP, Benayoun.

Such a line-up would put extra defensive pressure on Sagna as the youngster Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t always defensively aware due to his inexperience. It could also limit the full-back’s attacking contribution as the two players on the right haven’t played together often enough and might struggle to link effectively. Given the fact that the left side is relatively weaker in attack, compromising the right does not seem like a clever idea but, at the moment, Arsene needs some inspiration from certain individuals. Gervinho hasn’t been able to provide that even if his effort can’t be faulted.

Winning this game will put pressure on the chasing pack. Losing, or even drawing, will hand them the momentum. The challenge for Arsenal is to overcome the inhibitions and produce the quality we know they have in them.

DesiGunner on Facebook

16 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Norwich

  1. Aussie Jack says:

    As in past games ,where we have been a little light due to injuries, I`m relying on the `little Mozart` to set the pace.

  2. Focus D.P says:

    This game is a must win game. Arsenal,should remember the slogan “MIND THE GAP” by the spurs fans and their players. Gervinho,should start before the Ox. The back four should be Sagna,Kolcieny,Verminator and Gibbs.

  3. khriezo says:

    Don’t let ramsey play. instead put gervinho, aoc, rosicky, bennayoun ahead of him. ramsey style of play was a joke.

  4. Focus D.P says:

    Todays match is a must win game. Let us mind the Spurs,slogan “MIND THE GAP” i will like Gervinho,to start before the Ox. Then the back four should be Sagna,Kolcieny,Verminator and Gibbs. Let me this question why,is it that at the end of every season we will passing through all this. Nawa o. Arsene should try and end this May visit.

  5. Kolasky says:

    I will go for Gervinho and AOC to provide some width on the pitch as the Mozart takes control of the midfield. This will either free van Persie and enable him to find space behind the defence,or allow TV5 to run into good positions.

  6. jeff says:

    I believe that Rosicky will be arsenal’s key to win. Since the absence of Mikel Arteta,Rosicky have obviously received less balls from our duo Song and Ramsey.. Yet,he’s still our best player on the pitch.. Give him the balls,he will dictate the tempo,and surely will be creating more chances.. I could see that we’re less organized in the midfield since mikel’s absence. No disrespect but ramsey need to be faster in realeasing his passes and be more clever in his positioning..

  7. cupsui loves kozzer says:

    I think the line up should be:
    sagna – kozzer – tv5 – gibbsy
    rosicky – Benayoun
    The ox – Gervinho

    Ramsey can play a big part and i think has been very effective off the bench. I think rosicky is a little more like the arteta role will help as he works hard and is an underrated tackler. But i also feel him and benayoun will exchange positions well and control the middle, key to this game.

    The ox needs a start and i think this is the type of game for him. Norwich really struggled with Zabaletta, Clichy, Aguero, Tevez and Nasri running at wide players and they continually cut them to ribbons so arsenal need high tempo slightly more direct play. Of which The ox and gervinho will provide and don’t forget gervinho has a lot of assists.

    A bit of confidence too from the fans everyone is acting so nervous about this…it rubs off on players. The team can and will win this game. I think 3-0… goals to Rosicky, gervinho and RvP

    Believe like we did all season, don’t get negative like last year and like spurs on their terrible run. Don’t forget the players need our support!!

  8. Alims says:

    In games as this you can only hope that everything falls into place. I think the key to winning this game is the descipline of Song and Ramsey.

  9. Dan says:

    I sujest we shuld use rosicky,benayoun,aoc,instead of using ramsey

  10. Borntobeagunner(btbag) says:

    A home match against norwich, szczesny,sagna,koscielny,vermaelen,gibbs,song,ramsey,rosicky,ox chambo, rvp and gervinho for a start. Bring on santos, diaby 65-70 minutes for oxchambo and ramsey n chamakh 75 munites for gervinho if need be for direct approach, i.e if we are to kill the game. Benayoun will be more suited for west brom match for a start in place of ox chambo. Arsenal wins come what may. Well done Desi.

  11. Atoyebi says:

    Sagna verm kos gibbs
    coql song
    aoc l mozzart gerv

  12. Toye says:

    We will win this match comfortably without ramsey. Start ox and gervho on both side. Song, rosy, and bena or coqlin. I even prefare park in the midfield instead of ramsey. We dont need ramsey and chamark in our remaining matches. Ramsey should ask himself why is arsenal always lose when ever he is feature in our starting eleven. I wonder why wenger refuse to knw this simple truth.

  13. Karthik says:

    I would start Coquelin over Ramsey if he’s fit. Tackles well, disciplined, can pass the ball. Ramsey is low on confidence at the moment and we really don’t want to see him getting scapegoated again.

  14. James says:

    This post was so prophetic, it’s weird.
    As I’ve said, Ramsey is just not it, he’s been defeated by the fans and his previous performances, very long end to the season, Wengrt has been shockingly horrible

  15. Coastalgun says:

    Hey Desi. Van Persie has started scoring again. Do you think that his head was turned (nasri) ? Do you think that now his mind is finally made up especially with the arrival of the prince from Cologne? Do you hear in the grapevine and from hints by the boss that a couple of other signings are nearly in the bag? At least thats the word on the hot n humid Kenyan coast. If true then Song may agree to stay too and then what a season next season promises to be! Cant wait!

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