Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Wigan

Wigan have troubled Arsenal in recent seasons. They won at the Emirates last season and derailed the Gunners’ title challenge with a home win in 2009-10 that featured three goals in the last 10 minutes or so. Wenger’s side have also had a couple of comfortable 4-0 wins in both those seasons which highlights the inconsistency we’ve seen from Latics. It’s one of the reasons they are almost always in a relegation dogfight even when the quality of their football is admirable.

Tactically, they offer a different challenge than other teams in the League with their 3 man central defence and the use of wingbacks. Some experts describe their formation as a 3-4-3 but to me it’s more like a 3-5-2 because when they have players like Gomez and Kone in the side, the former almost always plays as a central midfielder and Kone often plays as striker in central areas. Without the ball their shape often resembles a 5-4-1.

Possession battle will be interesting in this game. Wigan have the ability to hold on to the ball unlike Arsenal’s last three opponents, viz.: West Brom, Bradford, and Reading. It won’t be easy for Arsenal to win the ball back as it was in those games. So the Gunners will have to work hard to win the ball back higher up the pitch or take a conscious decision to drop deeper. I’m eager to see what they do. Pressing higher up the pitch hasn’t worked well this season as we’ve discussed on numerous occasions.

Will Arsenal press higher up the pitch and invite pressure on the defence? Counter-attacking has been a big weapon for the Latics in this fixture. In the past they had quick and tricky players like N’Zogbia and Moses who made decisive contributions. This time around the burden will be on Arouna Kone. He is quick, has the ability to get past his defender, and has a good shot in his armoury. The Ivorian can also hold up the ball and bring others into play. A high line without cohesive pressing will give Wigan a good chance of scoring.

We also have to see the tactics Roberto Martinez deploys. Wigan have won only 1 out of their last 7 League games and that was a relegation six-pointer against Reading, probably the only side with form worse than their own. In all those 7 games, the Latics have shipped at least 2 goals. How will the Spaniard tighten up his defence? He could go for the aggressive route and press the Gunners in the central third, or he could drop his team deeper in order to deny Arsenal time and space in the critical areas of their defensive third.

As previously mentioned, Wigan can keep and pass the ball around. They’re seventh best in terms of possession this season with 54.3 percent. At home this rises close to 58 percent and puts them sixth on the list. Last season Wigan conceded the ball to Arsenal and the Gunners had nearly two-thirds of possession in both games. If Martinez prioritizes defending spaces, his team will again yield the ball and rely solely on counter-attacks and set-pieces. This will undoubtedly make it hard for Arsenal as the Gunners haven’t consistently clicked in attack this season.

If Martinez takes the bolder route and pushes his team higher up, the game will be more open and exciting with a number of opportunities arising at both ends. Wigan have the ability to test Szczesny’s goal if they play with purpose. Their problem is that they can’t do so on a consistent basis while keeping Al-Habsi’s goal well-protected.

Speaking of Keepers, Ali Al-Habsi could have a big say on the result. He’s a mercurial custodian who can have a blinder in one game and an absolute stinker in the next. Often he goes from the sublime to the ridiculous and back over the course of 90 minutes. Wenger will hope there are some mistakes in his game but don’t be surprised if he frustrates the Gunners with his excellent reflexes.

I guess the starting line-up will be the same as the one that produced some delightful football at the Madejski on Monday.

Szczesny – Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs – Arteta, Cazorla, Wilshere – Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Podolski.

Wenger could use the likes of Giroud, Koscielny, or even fan favourite Gervinho, but I have a feeling he will stick with a team that produced some high-quality combinations in the previous game.

Wigan’s current form and injury problems make this another eminently winnable game for the Gunners. The fact that they’ve conceded 2 goals or more in each of their last 7 League games means anything less from Arsenal will be a surprise and a disappointment.

That said, in order to win this game, the Gunners will have to do something they haven’t done so far this season, i.e. win three Premier League games in a row. But if Wenger’s side have to climb up the table and build some distance with the mid-table clubs, they have to win such games and win them in a manner that helps strengthen the fragile confidence. A big win is needed and will help the morale and vibes around the club but any win will suffice if a big one doesn’t work out. Dropping points will be a massive disappointment, to put it mildly, but not entirely unforeseeable.

14 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Wigan

  1. abiola says:

    No doubt a good win is on the cards,good work desi,keep it up

  2. Ugolo SN says:

    I can see d same line up dat beat reading 5-2. I also believe we will be winning a 3rd match in a row. Therefore, i will go 4 a 4-1 prediction in favour of d gunners. Lets climb into champions league spot. Gunners 4 life

  3. Chakabelli says:

    I just have an uneasy feeling Wenger might just try d ridiculous and squeeze in Ramsey somewhere in dat ur line up. He seems to think it gives d team more balance. Ramsey is a good player and gives everything but I don’t think Wenger really knows wat to do wit him. I expect a very cautious game from Wigan,anything other than this would be a disaster for them

  4. aryour says:

    Giroud sud just remain on d bench, he could b d perfect replacement 4 yet to b departed Charmak.

  5. Spec says:

    Its time for this team to show some consistency. Here’s hoping we make it 3 out of 3… COYG

  6. Gerry Lennon says:

    Hi Desi, AW was only one player different from your forecast eleven for the last game, which I thought looked good then. I cannot see any major reason why he will change it this time … Except, I think he is very conscious of the injuries to Gibbs and Wilshere who both played at a young age. Therefore it is just possible he may want resist playing AOC in back to back games? That could open the way for Giroud or Arshavin, rather than Ramsey on the right.
    Respecting AW’s concern for not overplaying any of the other prospects, but the wild card could be Cazorla on the right and Eisfeld as the advanced midfielder. He is the eldest of the young guard, and his ability to find space, and score! He might just be the one to alternate with the Ox over this busy period?
    It was interesting that both Gibbs and Poldi call for the team to cut out the mistakes, as both were guilty last time – Gibbs the slack pass, Poldi the offside, both resulting in goals. Outside of those we looked quite solid against a side that tends to score a lot. Wigan will be up for this, so the warnings are timely?
    I think one goal will decide it, but a win is a win.

  7. Salvatore says:

    Fan favourite…gervinho??? O.o

  8. kooledduy says:

    Oh! Inconsistency and lack of self belief. I ban you from the gooner squad playing wigan today. Lest I forget,AW,Ramsey is a midfielder and gervinho a winger.

  9. nico says:

    Gervinho should start instead of alex… Wenger might use him as much as he can before he leaves…

  10. Dianjuh says:

    Hey Desi? Where do we slot Rosicky in all this, Wenger goes on about a ball retaining midfielder on the wings, so now he has Rosicky fit, lets use him. The faster he, Santi and Wilshere blend the quicker we can get consistent… Right?

  11. edu says:

    The results hugely depend on team selection.
    Keep Ramsey away from starting 11 then a positve result will follow.

  12. Nick from Portugal says:

    Keep the winning team together. It will be a tough one, it always is against them. Options from the bench for me are Giroud, Rosicky and, for me, Arshavin.

  13. Ebuka orafu says:

    I think the gunners have what it takes to collect the whole three point from this game, looking at their previous match it seem their is a little bit understanding between them which they were lacking since the begining of the season. For me i predict 0 – 1 in favour of Arsenal

  14. Ebuka orafu says:

    I think the gunners have what it takes to collect the whole three point from this game, looking at their previous match it seem their is a little bit understanding between them which they were lacking since the begining of the season. For me i predict 0 – 1 in favour of Arsenal

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