Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Montpellier

Arsenal face a must-win game in the Champions League when French champions Montpellier visit the Emirates for the 5th game of the group phase. Qualification to the knock out stages hangs in the balance for the Gunners apart from the fact that confidence among the players and fans alike will take another massive dent if the result is not along expected lines.

Rene Girard’s team have looked like a shadow of their Ligue 1 winning unit but they are regaining some measure of respectability after going 4 games unbeaten including draws against PSG and Valenciennes, sides that are within 3 points of leaders Lyon.

The visitors have already been eliminated from the competition and it remains to be seen whether this affects their game. On one hand you could argue they’ll play with a nothing-to-lose mentality and can pose serious a challenge to Arsenal. On the other hand, they could make some changes to the squad with their League campaign in mind and some of the players might take it easy. We won’t know till we see their performance and the Gunners can only assume they’ll be up against a committed side that has a point to prove.

Tactically, this tie will again hinge on the battle in midfield, as is the case with almost every Arsenal game. Montpellier have to find a way to prevent Arsenal from bringing the ball out of defence. In the reverse fixture they were able to hold possession for large spells and the Gunners showed the tendency to drop really deep, particularly in the second half. This resulted in a relatively easier game for the Montpellier defence but they still lost that game due to a brief three minute spell in which Arsenal scored two goals. Girard’s team could concede more in this game if they can’t stop Arteta and Wilshere from dictating the tempo.

At the same time, Arsenal must be wary of the talents of Belhanda and Cabella who were a constant menace when the sides met in the first game of the group phase. Montpellier as a unit have commendable technical qualities and could put Szczesny’s goal under pressure if Arsenal don’t get their defensive approach sorted.

We’ve seen the Gunners struggle when they back off from the opposition players and we’ve also seen goals and opportunities conceded when the players try to press higher up the pitch but without cohesion. Wenger’s team are at their best when they dominate the ball and push the opponents deep in their own half but European teams generally have the quality to keep the ball on the ground and create some passing combinations. We have to hope for better coordination among the Gunner ranks and a uniform approach when possession is lost.

Wenger has the chance to rest a  couple of players but he is also in desperate need of a win. Walcott is out of the game due to an injury while Gibbs and Gervinho are back in the squad. They should both come straight into the starting line-up if deemed fit. Oxlade-Chamberlain could come in for Theo and Vermaelen might continue to fill in at left-back if Arsene thinks the returning players have to be eased back in.

I’d like to see,

Szczesny – Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs – Arteta, Cazorla, Wilshere – Gervinho, Giroud, Podolski.

I doubt Wenger will leave Mertesacker out but I feel going with two aggressive central defenders and playing a really high line could suit the Gunners in this game. Of course, that depends on Gibbs being fit enough to start, which is not a given.

Wenger might also consider the option of having Ramsey on the right flank. It’d be a highly unpopular choice but I can see the reasoning given the technical qualities that Montpellier have.

Gervinho hasn’t been as effective on the right but he did get a goal against these opponents in the reverse fixture and will be coming in fresh. There is also an option to shift him on to the left and give Podolski or Giroud a breather. Again, I’m not convinced Wenger will disrupt the system where key players are beginning to find some rhythm.

Giroud is on a good run and he could thrive on quality balls into the box as the visitors have shown some weaknesses aerially. With Walcott missing, Sagna will probably have extra responsibility for delivering such crosses from the right although AOC, if he starts, could also provide useful service. Gervinho, in contrast, is more likely to go to the by-line and cut balls back or drift across the penalty box and play shorter passes. If Gibbs starts, the Frenchman could also expect a fair amount creative contributions from the left.

Cazorla’s movement and involvement will also be worth observing as he’s shown a tendency to drift into wider areas to make greater impact in attack. Montpellier’s relatively inexperienced team could also struggle against Wilshere’s driving runs.

All-in-all this appears to be a game that Arsenal should dominate and win but in recent past the Gunners have found a way of complicating things almost every time I’ve had that feeling. Whether it’s elementary mistakes in defence, playing with the handbrake on, or a lack of incision in attack, there are many ways in which Wenger’s team could make this a tougher game than it should be. Fingers crossed…

P.S. Thanks everyone for the kind wishes


22 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Montpellier

  1. Adeniji ademola abdulahi,nigeria says:

    First here,nice and brief,happy birthday bro,hopin ur birthday gift frm gunners continues wit another win.

  2. Grande says:

    Lets wait & see; I have had a couple of disappointments in previous fixtures where expectation for wins were too high. Prepared to accept anything that comes our way if its not a defeat.

  3. Spec says:

    Desi here’s hoping the boys turn up today with the right mentality and grab all 3 points. I’d love to see AOC on that right flank as he’ll provide those crosses for OG.

  4. Jeilloz says:

    Will be good buh mi can rule dat

  5. Redcore says:

    Good read Desi. Montpelllier were very good on the ball in the away match, so I too think Ramsey may start on the flank. It is time for him to have a good game for a change. Whatever the lineup I have a feeling that we will win this one comfortably.

    • Gerry Lennon says:

      I think the Ramsey call is a bit like the X-Factor, in that he is picking up the sympathy votes, rather than any real conviction that he will do any better next time? The brutal truth is that he does not have a position in the side that isn’t much better served by someone else … and the difference exposes his weaknesses. I said at the end of last season he should have a loan spell, possibly abroad, so he can develop HIS game, and not try and squeeze into a role that doesn’t suit with the current Arsenal squad? Sorry, but that is my honest opinion.

      • Englishmik says:

        Please, Please, Please not Fucking Ramsey. Bring him on late to shore things up late, but not from the start unless our whole midfield is injured. If need be lets give Eisfeld a go.

  6. Ado Idriss says:

    Let Wenger not used the two agressive dependers since the option. And also missing of Theo formation of Gervinho Podolski and Giroud will be good with Wilshe Arteta and Cazorla in the mid field.

  7. Ayub says:

    Arsenal problem is injury!!! If is not injury ‘arsenal’ will have be in good position in ‘Europe’

  8. Chibueze says:

    If u see a girl dat is fine 4 road nd u ar a guy wht wil u due

  9. jeff says:

    I believe it’s Ox who will start instead of Gervinho.. unpopular choice ‘Ramsey’ might also start if we look at wenger’s habbit,but i do expect less crossings for giroud if he does start..

  10. Kcosby snr. says:

    I only want to see ramsey when the game is remainin 15mins to go,for defensive contributions,my team; scsz,
    Sagna kos verm gibbs
    Arteta
    Carzola wilshere
    Oxlade giroud podolski

    Second half bring in gervinho,then ramsey for wilshere&arshavin for podolski.arsenal will win 4-1

  11. Dianjuh says:

    Hey Desi? What age did you clock again? And how many of those years have been spent supporting Arsenal? Wel, this is a must win game, thus I wouldnt tamper with the winning team from Saturday. With AOC direct swap for Walcott, changes should be made when the game is safe. Rest Cazorla, Vermalaen and Podolski in the 2nd half by bringing in Arshavin, Gibbs and Gervinho respectively. But you are so right, Arsenal does have a way of making thngs difficult for themselves sometimes, hope not today!

  12. Gerry Lennon says:

    Hi Desi, here’s hoping your birthday fortunes continue. You give positives and negatives for both sides, and list our possible changes.
    This time I think changes will be minimal. Theo is out, so AOC comes in. I doubt very much that Gibbs will start, much as that would be desirable, so TV5 stays at LB.
    I grant you there is a possibility of Gervinho starting, on the left though, his better position, and to have the Gibbs/Podolski pairing on the bench for a timely boost in the second half?
    I doubt if Montpelier will want to go out without putting up some sort of show for their qualification, but an early goal might kill that ambition off. So in the second half they may start saving players for their league campaign? A positive, backs to the wall, Milan from last season, type start will do us nicely. Confidence and concentration. Job done!

  13. Pat Rice says:

    How can you possibly even consider Ramsey out wide, it defies belief. Not only did it cost us dearly against the mancs norwich shalke you think against the weakest team in the group we could play Ramsey out wide to counter there attacking potential. It is the worst tactical decision that Wenger has made since playing Denilson out wide. Dont get me wrong I haven’t given up on Ramsey but the only chance he has at making it arsenal is in the middle and he is a long way from being a starter.

  14. Harji says:

    i reckon ox will start because he came on a sub against spurs and looked sharp. Gervinho’s been out for 2 weeks so won’t be 100% physically

  15. james says:

    Why why why!!!! Leaving matesaker you know is good player please he is needed in this squad and we need to win.come guners 3-1 wiil be better,Gooner for life and in Arsene we trust!!

  16. stevepalmer1 says:

    Many happy Returns,
    Another possibility that could be used is Jenkinson on the right wing and Santos on the left both these players have shown they can cross and go forwards Jenkinson would probably help Sagna more than Santos would help Gibbs but they both know the positions. But of course it will never happen. have a good day mate.

  17. Foolishgooner says:

    I think we should play Per and The Boss at Center back. Jenkinson and Gibbs if fit enough so to rest Vermealen and Sagna mentally and physically respectively. Arteta should captain and make way Ramsey (70 min Sub Le prof rule). Wilshere, Coq and Ashavin for Cozorla (he needs rest). Gervinho Giroud and Podolski. Subs: Vito, TV, Cozorla, Sagna, Chamakh, Ramsey and a youngsters

  18. Niranjan says:

    Giroud playing with Gervinho is a mistake, Giroud needs a supply line. They lack understanding too, big risk for a huge game. Play Ox on the Right or else Play Santi on the Flank and Bring Arshavin in Santi’s Role (CAM).
    Rosicky is severely missed and hope he returns soon coz in these kinda games he can play CAM and we can have a technical player like santi on wings so that the switching is seemless. With TR7 the Thrust and Burst thru midfield will come back..

  19. Nick from Portugal says:

    Arsene picked a good team who played ok in snatches. Must be getting time to rest Mert, Cazorla and Arteta. The boys did the job tonight and both goals were excellent. Koscileny can be a twat when he has too much time to think but he is 110% in terms of effort. Impressed by Mertsacker tonight and Woyzeck S. The Villa game will be tough but there is beginning to be some rhythm in the side and I’d only change Ox for Walcott if he is fit on Saturday, Ramsey really added something when he came on this time. Good job boys, well done all,

    • Scott (USA) says:

      Agree. Very good game from Arsenal. Fun to see Jack score and what a goal from Pod. Good play building up to Pods volley. He sure made that look easy. Not a Ramsey fan but he certainly did his job tonight coming off the bench. Good selection from Wenger I thought.

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