Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against West Ham

Our old friend, Big Sam, is back. This time it’s with West Ham, a club that has traditionally produced some quality football players. I wonder how their fans would be feeling about supporting a team with Allardyce as the manager. It’d be understandable if getting back to the Premier League and staying up are of greater importance to them.

Anyway, we all know what to expect at Upton Park in Saturday’s late kick-off. A lot of long balls towards Carroll; runners from midfield in the form of Vaz Te, Nolan, and Jarvis; Some intelligent wing play as well, particularly from the former Wolves winger; Crosses, set-pieces, and every attempt to keep the ball in the air that is humanly possible. To this we can add some ‘strong’ tackles; maybe some elbows to the head; a whole lot of time wasting if they’re in front; and clever fouls that break up play.

In fairness, we’ll also see a team that shows fierce commitment and desire to win the duels; has the ability (particularly with players like Noble and Diame in midfield) to play some quality football when they really want to; will remain organized and hard to break down; and offer a constant threat on the break. Let’s not forget the hosts are above Arsenal in the table at the moment albeit with an admittedly easier start to the season.

The midfield battle will once again be vital. Arsenal were a tad slow in moving the ball against Olympiacos at home and will need to do much better at Upton Park as the hosts will take the field with greater belief thanks to their manager’s relative success against Wenger.

The midfield will also have a massive role to play in defending the second ball. Diaby was immense against Stoke as he battled for the first ball and left the defenders with a job of sweeping up. Stoke also had limited quality in their support players. On Saturday, Arsenal do not have the presence of Diaby and the hosts have better, more clinical and creative, attacking players to support their lone striker.

So the choice of the third midfielder could prove decisive but to be honest I’m not completely convinced Arsenal have the right man for the job at the moment. Coquelin is hardly a proven player at this level. Against Olympiacos he didn’t track Machado’s run but got away with it. Against West Ham such an error can cost a goal.

Ramsey has a bit more experienced but to me he seems a little confused when played in a deeper role. It seems he’s constantly trying to produce something fascinating to prove his worth when keeping things simple and quick would serve the purpose. This tends to leave him in a state of indecision at inopportune moments. Again, an opponent that is looking to press hard could capitalize on some such moment of dwelling on the ball.

I’m glad Wenger has to make this choice.

At the back, hopefully Mertesacker will be back. Due to his height it’s sometimes easy to think that the German offers a great presence in the air but I believe Vermaelen attacks the ball better. It will be interesting to see whether Carroll shifts towards the Belgian or the German. Arsenal’s covering play will also be vital and the defenders will have to put in a solid shift even when the midfield provides sufficient support.

In that regard, I think the German reads the game better but also has a tendency to drop back which could keep opponents on-side. Vermaelen is more aggressive with his defending but that can also be risky if there’s an error in judgment as we have seen via the recent fouls and penalty that he’s conceded. Both these players will have to produce impeccable 90 minutes whether attacking the ball or sweeping behind. Of course, Wenger could pick Koscielny again but the point remains valid.

In the recent games the Gunners have tended to defend really deep at times. This could be a dangerous tactic against a team that relies on playing the ball in the air and thrives on crosses and set-pieces. I don’t know if Arsenal will be able to push up the pitch consistently so the defence is likely to face a stern test whenever West Ham produce a spell of pressure. Diaby played a big role in minimizing Stoke chances of having such periods but I’ll be surprised if we don’t see phases where Arsenal are pinned back.

Mannone has also been suspect in the air and his judgment has been up to scratch. Again, I’ll be surprised if the hosts don’t target the goalkeeper at every opportunity.

Unless Allardyce’s team scores an early goal, Wenger’s side should get some chances to break forward into space if they can see off the initial pressure. Arsenal’s style will be the same but having a target man in Giroud, someone who can hold his own in front of a defender and can link better, could be helpful.

Preferred line-up,

Mannone – Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs – Arteta, Cazorla, Coquelin – Gervinho, Giroud, Podolski.

I’d give Podolski and Cazorla a relatively free role when in possession, Gervinho the instructions to stay wide with a license to attack the full-back, Jenkinson to stay deeper as he’s done in most games, and Gibbs the freedom to provide width on the left. Arteta would have to provide cover for Gibbs, if necessary, and Coquelin should shoulder the responsibility of tracking runs through the middle.

This game could be decided by which side or player shows greater desire at a given moment. For the Gunners it will also be about retaining their counsel in the face of some physical challenges with an unflinching determination to impose their style on the game.

It will probably not be a very high quality game or a truly enjoyable one but avoiding basic mistakes could avert frustration at the final whistle.


22 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against West Ham

  1. Kevin Joseph says:

    Put Vermalan as DM .

  2. Adi says:

    Given Big Sam’s proclivity for Route 1 as an only attacking tactic, I think the crucial thing tomorrow is that we have to intercept the knockdowns and win the second headers. Otherwise, we’re in for a “long” afternoon

  3. saliu kazeem says:

    This line up its so nice pleace wenger shuld not shang it we this and it we good. And resolt teem. Foir arsenalfc bay froim kazeem

  4. Foolishgooner says:

    Another Saturday….. Three points needed! Back four picks itself depending on Per’s health, worrying though we can’t trust other defenders. Midfield I like Ramsey’s energy from the bench Arteta is a must and Coquelin deserves to play (if not now then whe? ). Forwards, Theo could be an asset in the game and should start with LK Giroud and Gervinho. Cozorla will score from outside today…. Cheers gooners.

  5. Joe says:

    West ham racked up 8 yellow cards againts QPR last week so it could be a game of rugby hope the ref is on his game or there could be some injuries to proper footballers.

  6. Gerry Lennon says:

    My worry is what hangover this virus leaves? Coquelin may not have been at his sharpest midweek, and if that applies to Mert, then it could be a mistake?
    I don’t quite follow your logic on Arteta and Gibbs either, as the former plays mainly on the right … better suited to covering Jenks? If Poldo is wide(r) of centre, then he is the player to support Gibbs, as has been the case so far, and leave Gerv in the middle? Let both backs have the opportunity to go forwards if the opportunity arises, as that gives balance to our play? If they switch wings quickly enough it can open up defences. If nothing else, it will tire them out for late in the second half. Playing for the full 95 minutes will bring rewards.
    Talking of switching play quickly, this is one area where Coquelin has decent technique, and if fully recovered from his illness, I think he will have a big game today. If Walcott is one sub for the right side forward player, Arshavin for the attacking MF, hopefully, Frimpong for whoever to shore up the defence, and … yes, Kos for a CB, and Martinez for GK. This leaves Ramsey in case of early injury.
    The one flaw in this, is Coquelin’s fitness? He did pull up short late on, and has ‘done’ a calf muscle before now? I would have no hesitation of promoting Yennaris to that DM role, ahead of Ramsey. He is a clean tackler, and very speedy around the pitch, and switch from defence to attack with some nifty through balls.
    So my line up would be more a 4-2-2-2, remembering we do play with two excellent wingbacks (and England’s future WB’s?).
    Mannone
    Jenks – Mert – Verm – Gibbs
    Arteta – Coquelin(Yennaris)
    Cazorla – Poldo
    Giroud – Gerv
    Interchange between the front two, Caz the freedom to roam and find space, and the subs as above, plus Santos probably.

  7. Jeff says:

    agree with desi,giroud should start this time.. not only to offer us some necessary height up front but also to help us defend during set pieces n their popular long throw.. I also agree that coq should retain his place. Probably we could bring on Ramsey if we’re leading by 70 min to maintain our energy level..

  8. A win wil b vital in our gunning 4 de title. Gunner 4 lyf.

  9. jimberee says:

    really good read

  10. Tajudeen says:

    Good

  11. Cvebaba says:

    Mann
    Jek..kosc..Tv..kG
    Coq…Art
    Carz
    Gerv..Podl..Arsa

  12. jam says:

    good team but hw about ox and theo thier need to play.3-2 will be the scoring and hope no injuries,gooday gooners

  13. diremza says:

    Against Chelsea our mistakes cost us, the tactical decision to go with Koz coupled with the loss of Diaby backfired. Not only that but we failed to impose ourselves and also struggled against olympiakos in the cl. What we need is to quickly impose our game and hopefully get an early goal to settle the nerves. We know that West Ham are going to come hard at us, hard tackles and scrappy air duals. I would also go with Giroud centrally and Francis to partner Arteta, the boy is not that bad and will get better with each game.

  14. aaaa says:

    mon
    JEN mer ver gibo

    jd art
    car
    theo gir pod

    i have picked jd as i think it give us more hight and also can hav a player that will not push forward to much i worrie about the long ball counter attack if u have him u got more at the bk even if he isnt great in the air just being there would help us

  15. Jose says:

    Carz,jenk and gibbs shud b rested 4 ramsey,koscy and santos respectively

  16. Nazareth says:

    Expect high balls and a physical game. Expect Big Sam will ask his players to harass the gunners,legally or illegally. Expect a tough fight.
    Hopefully the ref will punish ovr robust tackles. You never know the thugs in the epl are very clever and could challenge in such a way that the ref is inclined to give them the doubt.
    If Arsenal want to fight fot the epl,these are the matches they have to win.

  17. john1603 says:

    Popular throw, you obviously see things hammers fans don’t. Can you please enlighten me and let me know who our long throw specialist is? I think your mistaken us for Stoke

    • Jeff says:

      I’m mistaken! thought it’s stoke! haha.. sorry about that.. but still,I expect many high balls with Carroll as the target man..

  18. Nini Wise says:

    Desi, this is a nice piece of work again, I love the way you analyse your own thought on the game. To the match proper, we all know the threat pose by West Ham tutored by the Big Sam. Arsenal should just focus on how to cope and defend well with set piece bcos it has cost us a lot in recent time. Your starting Eleven is good enough to win this game and I hope we don’t end up with any injury worry.
    I will like to see Giroud and Mert in this game bcos they have to a lot to offer in this game with their heights and positioning. As for Coquelin, I hope he step up his game and do better than what he has been doing.
    I pray we have a good game with the maximum three points in the bag for us.
    I love my Arsenal.

  19. Jeff says:

    can’t wait to see jack,bac,n rosa back btw! I thought we lack a ill bit of technical ability at the moment esp in the midfield n in the wing.. last year we could play yossi or rosicky as an alternative for direct wingers like ox n theo.. can’t wait to see rosicky and cazorla play together.. do u guys think they can play together? considering they play at the same position?

  20. Dianjuh says:

    Am worried about this game…we could win (which is what I expect) but that is not my concern. The question is how many people leave Sam Ally’s pitch fit or uninjured? That could cause points drop in other games….I pray that whatever thuggish intentions Westham have will be unsuccessful!!!!

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