Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Liverpool

Liverpool’s 3-5-2 (or 3-4-1-2 if you prefer fancy formation labels) has been quite successful and it will be interesting to see if Rodgers deploys the same system against the Gunners. The strength of their approach lies in two factors – Suarez and Sturridge have been excellent in attack, and the three at the back give them additional defensive security which they’ve used intelligently after taking leads as they absorb pressure and use the space well through their attacking stars.

Wenger’s side will face a massive challenge in stopping the SAS partnership because they’re both extremely mobile and tricky. Mertesacker’s lack of pace will inevitably force the Gunners deeper. It could easily end up sucking the full-backs and defensive midfielders back and Arsenal could have a tough time breaking out of their own half, particularly in the early part of the game if the visitors show urgency with their pressing. Rodgers could use Henderson in place of Moses to help with this.

Liverpool will not be able to sustain high pressing for 90 minutes so their best bet would be to force early mistakes and get a goal or two. This is something they did last season as they took a two goal lead. I’m not convinced this season Arsenal will be able to get back into the game if they go down by a couple of goals. As with every big game, the first goal will have an immense impact on the way the game shapes up.

Arteta is going to have a busy outing. He is the point man for the Gunners if their passing and possession game has to click because he is the only one who can consistently receive the ball from the defenders even under pressure. The Spaniard’s off-the-ball positioning will also be very important when the visitors press high up the pitch or break forward at pace. Flamini will be missed. Hopefully, Ramsey’s energy will make up for his forward-going tendencies. The midfielders will also have to watch out for their cut-backs from the wide areas that often come back and across.

Suarez will move into the channels, particularly down the left, and Liverpool are very good at working one-twos in such areas. So, Sagna too is going to have to be careful with his runs. Bombing forward and standing right next to the attacking midfielders is not a clever approach and could prove costly in this game. He might be better off staying deeper and leaving the right flank for Ozil or Ramsey to overlap.

Liverpool’s back three can be flat at times and that means Arsenal could get overloads in central midfield if the wide players pick and choose their movement wisely. This could allow the team an opportunity to break away from the initial pressing and run at the visiting defence.

We’ll have to see if Liverpool are brave and hold a high line or if they drop back to the edge of their own area. When they drop back their three in defence quicky becomes a five with another layer in front that has a couple of midfielders (Gerrard and Lucas probably) and another of the attacking players chasing back. I expect them to compress the play up the pitch in the first 15-20 minutes, at least.

Wenger doesn’t have too many options to pick from as far as his starting eleven is concerned.

Szczesny – Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs – Ramsey, Ozil, Arteta – Wilshere, Giroud, Cazorla.

In the Frenchman’s position, I’d be tempted to include Rosicky ahead of Wilshere on the right, but I doubt Wenger will go for that unless the youngster is bothered by his injuries.

It’s a shame none of Arsenal’s quick players are available because they would certainly have pushed Liverpool back or troubled their high pressing.

This is the first game this season where the Gunners had dropped point in the corresponding fixture last season. They’d won all the nine played thus far if we compare Crystal Palace with Reading (or any of the other relegated sides). In that sense, Arsenal are -5 when it comes to points from corresponding fixtures and they’ll have to make up the numbers from the games they didn’t win in 2012-13. Will this be the first of those?

Wenger again pointed out that Arsenal didn’t play particularly badly against Chelsea or Dortmund but lost because they gave soft goals away. I agree with that, but the sheer frequency of gifting goals and points has made it very hard to believe these errors will be cut out any time soon. And because of that, I think a draw will be Arsenal’s best hope from this game even though they have the quality to win it.


17 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Liverpool

  1. Abinet. says:

    Nonsense, this post is nonsense, how can’t we win this game? We have a very good record against them and we saw how they struggled against Newcastle and Southhampton. I am really sure we win this game

  2. Antique Gunmen says:

    A bit pesimistic today Desi?
    Where is this come from? Flamini’s absence? I realy hope you don’t think that our tittle season campaign rely on one or two key player. If it does we will be like walking in a single rope.
    Last part of last season we didn’t have Flamini and we didn’t loss againts them (1 win ,1 draw was it?). So,I’m 100 % agree with Abinet, if Southampton can beat those loosers, then why can’t we?. Let’s kick back Looserpool to where they’ve been belong : IN BPL HISTORY BOOK.
    Gooner for life, Gunners forever.

  3. T2T says:

    Your starting line up: Szczesny – Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs – Ramsey, Ozil, Arteta – Wilshere, Giroud, Cazorla.
    Subs: Fabianski/Viviano, Vermaelen, Jenkinson, Monreal, Rosicky, Bendtner, Park, Miyaichi
    Missing: Diaby, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Podolski, Zelalem, Sanogo, Gnabry and possibly Frimpong.
    Basically, we´ve got 29 players in the first team squad and we need have 18 for today´s game. We have 8 or 9 out injured, 2 of them clear starters and another 2 typical subs. We have 1 “spare” GK and AW have only 1 outfield player to juggle in/out of today´s squad… Although we have an important CL game on Wednesday, we need to put our strongest line up out there for both games. I´d start with Rosicky as I feel he does a better job as a wide player than both Ramsey and Wilshere. Having the tenacity of Wilshere on around 60 min would be nice. Ramsey needs to stop making mistakes in vulnerable positions – we´ve conceded quite a few goals because of those mistakes.

  4. Ahmed Gunner says:

    Good analysis of the game coming up later. Bt i blieve we can get the 3 pts if we can contain SAS nd avoid unprofessional mistakes lyk d ones agianst Celski nd dortmund. COYG!

  5. santori says:

    Never seen so much positive energy from Gooners before.

    Desi is correct in his assessment that Arteta is key and will have to have a storming game without Flamini. Thought playing both Arteta and Flamini in recent games was over elaboration on our part but the partnership was designed exactly for this sort of scenario against Liverpool. Particularly against 2 tricky strikers taking turns to drop deep, Arteta will need some help.

    Prefer Jack deeper and close to Arteta which frees Ramsey to do his best work further forward harrying them early. Also allows our attacking midfield 3 of Ozil, Santi and Ramsey more flexibility across the line. Jack to me is better putting in a tenacious shift closer to the defense and driving forward from deep.

    A possible tactical line up which could provide maximum protection around Arteta but offer quick support to Ozil and Santi (switching wide or through the middle) :

    ………………………………….Giroud……………………………………
    …Santi………………………….Ramsey………………..Ozil…………
    ……………………..Jack…………………………………………………..
    Gibbs……………………………..Arteta……………………….Sagna
    ……………………….Koscielny………..Per……………………………
    …………………………………..Szsc…………………………………….

    In this case Jack is slightly closer to Arteta but able to drive through between Santi and Ramsey. Ramsey to drop back toward right of Arteta if need be but afforded opportunity to press them early and pop up all over the place. Ozil and Santi to interchange with Ramsey through the middle.

    Width will be critical for us with Liverpool likely to try and stifle us from penetrating down the middle. Sagna and Gibbs will have to push up but choose their efforts carefully.

    The bigger issue is however our propensity to be caught on the counter. Arteta gave Chamakh too much time at Palace and got his marching orders trying to correct his positioning following a corner (and with Koscielny caught up field)

    We will have to be very careful not to be caught out with a quick break from them and watch out for Suarez making a meal out of challenges. The possibility of a penalty against us on this one is high.

    Hope we prevail and the effort in midweek has not taken the wind out of some of our more crucial players (Jack comes to mind)

  6. dianjuh says:

    The first time I have seen Desi not expecting a win? Desi? Is there something that has changed?

    Tell you what, we will keep the SAS quiet, Cazorla, Ozil and Giroud will silence this pretenders. This is vengeance, for we could very well be having the best premier league striker in our books today…

    I repeat this is vengeance! They asked ‘what are they smoking at the emirates?’ Well, they about to find out!!!

    Home funs…go there and sing your lungs out!!!!

  7. femzo says:

    You believe we have the quality to beat them yet you think our best hope is a draw. God forbid you share your opinion when or if our quality drops a notch.

    Liverpool are the most in form team in the league but don’t forget that so far we have been the most consistent league team. So if I were you I’ll give us a little more credit because trust me Liverpool are not coming for a draw and neither should we.

  8. Wallace says:

    People are fixating on Suarez & Sturridge. We are missing some very good players, but Ozil, Cazorla & Giroud are our three most important attackers and they’re all playing. A draw is probably the most likely outcome, but we’re at home and top of the league. No way Liverpool are favourites.

  9. Gerry Lennon says:

    Sadly Desi, i share your assessment, and yes, for me it is the absence of Flamini.

    His presence allows Ramsey free play up front. Jack, if he plays at all, it will not be out wide. But for us to defend we need 10 men back behind the ball when we lose possession. Giroud will probably leave Ozil as the out lying player?

    It then becomes a question of how quickly we can get out of defence and into attack mode. You note that Arteta will have to make himself ‘availablbe’ for the defenders, and that is where Flamini makes the difference. He covers a lot of ground going side to side, and more importantly, he moves the ball forwards quickly.
    Jack runs with it, Flamini passes it. That is going to be our difficulty, along with lack of natural width without Gnabry and Theo before him.

    They also play with twin strikers. Giroud is on his own. So who is the most likely to score?

    Yes a draw will be a good result. We will be stronger for the return leg I hope?

  10. Bob A says:

    The press have built up this week to a must win game for both sides, I dont see that becausewe are only quater of theway through the season and any of about 5 teams could go on a 6-8 win run and everything would change.
    As of todays game I think we can cut down the supply to S & S by keeping the ball ourselves,with the middle of the park players we have. Yes they are dangerous but then so are we with Giroud,Ozil,Santi,Ramsey. Yes i believeit will be a close game
    but we have the beating of them on our own turf.

  11. Joseph says:

    We’ll definitely beat them guys. GUNNERS 4LIFE

  12. red cannon says:

    Desi, just an opinion you may want to consider…….if you doubt that our team will win a match, any day, just leave the comment out; choose to comment when you see us winning. You see sir, we who come here are almost, to a man/, woman, and to a fault fans (fanatics) of the ARSENAL and find it difficult to contemplate a loss or a draw. We are positive…we always win…..except for when we don’t. Here’s to today’s win!!!!

    • Gerry Lennon says:

      Your comment is a tad offensive, given the title of the blog is Thought on tactics and starting 11?

      If Desi has spent time and effort doing just that, rather than, ‘We win, it’s all fine and dandy’ based on nothing more than blind faith, then perhaps it is you who should refrain from commenting, and move on to another blog that suits?

      I am sure it gives Desi no more pleasure at the end of his analysis to say a draw might not be a bad thing in our current circumstances. That of missing players, opposition in good form, and the way the game is likely to pan out?

      I share that same conclusion. But it will not stop me listening to the match live on the ‘Player, hoping and praying that we get a result that keeps us at the top of the League. I will also watch the match when it is available, whatever the result.

      You are fully entitled to say that you have a positive view on the result, but don’t disrespect one of the best post and pre-match reviewers around, just because he has stated an honest opinion.

  13. arsenal need to be wary of Liverpool attack. i would prefer Rosicky with all that experience to Wilshere. the defense must not be left alone. Liverpool will do everything possible to take the lead and Arsenal must take serious precaution against it else, another disappointment will tow at the emirates today. i expect Ozil to prove his 42 million worth today. such the time, such the condition cause arsenal cannot afford to lost lease a draw.

  14. Nognir says:

    The defenders will also have to be alert to not give Suarez the time and space to dive.

  15. red cannon says:

    Well, the guys did it, didn’t they? And quite emphatically at that! Desi, your comment…..”I think a draw will be Arsenal’s best hope from this game” was obviously not a correct one. We did better than our “best hope”. How is that? Maybe you could say that you think we will draw, or lose, but respectfully, don’t shackle our best hope to a draw against a team like Liverpool !

  16. gunnerCPH says:

    I’m glad this (probably the most pessimistic of any Desi article) has failed to come true. I can’t remember the last time time Liverpool looked better than the Gunners while playing them, and thankfully that trend continues. We managed to take all the concerns listed above and make light of them. With the exception of Henderson’s unimpeded run through the middle, we made virtually 0 mistakes.

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