Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Man City

It’s not often that we see a big game where neither side is really on top of their game. Arsenal have started the season grinding out a few results on the basis of hard work, mentality, and the likes, qualities that should never be the primary strengths of a team. Wenger doesn’t know his best starting eleven at the moment as he tries to find a place for Jack. The Gunners have been ponderous in possession, ineffective in front of goal, and error prone at the back.

The win against City in the Charity Shield game has been the high point of the new season. Pellegrini’s side never came close to their best in that game and have gone through the opening fixtures without quite finding their top gear. The win against Liverpool in the title race six-pointer was useful in terms of points and showcased glimpses of their quality. There were enough moments though, when you could see their defence barely hanging on. And the most prolific attack from last season doesn’t look quite as menacing at the moment.

Pellegrini hasn’t tweaked the system around in any noteworthy manner. Their current problems are mainly down to individual form, injuries, and player availability. Yaya Toure, irrespective of the reason one may want to ascribe, just doesn’t seem like the beast that he was last season. Aguero is just coming back to full fitness and was rendered ineffective by a deep-lying Stoke defence. With Jovetic and Fernando injured, Negredo sold, and three big games within a week, the Chilean will have a tough task rotating his squad while maintaining the balance between attack and defence.

Both teams would be justified in thinking this game is there for the taking. On the other hand, neither would want to lose and thus could focus on keeping things tight. The games between these sides at the Emirates in the last few years have tended to be of the latter type. Only 5 goals have been scored in the last five meetings between the clubs at Arsenal’s new stadium. Three of those battles ended in a stalemate.

Since both sides are primarily attack minded and possess excellent offensive potential, the battle for midfield control will be very important. It’ll be vital to minimize the number of times the attacking players can run at the defensive line or play in the spaces between the lines. Slowing down transitions by applying pressure at the point of loss of possession, low-risk passing in the centre of the pitch, and carefully controlled spacing between the players will help protect the goal, and help the high defensive lines get back into more secure deeper positions before they are called into action.

Debuchy’s aggressive positioning and Mertesacker’s lack of speed will give the visitors some opportunities to build attacks down Arsenal’s right. It’s hard to imagine space won’t exist so the next best option is to limit passing into and from that space. If Kolarov and Demichelis start, Arsenal should also have some interesting attacking opportunities on that flank. Silva won’t track Debuchy consistently either. City usually make up for that by limiting quick passing options. I recommend keeping an eye on how often spaces appear on that flank and the frequency with which either team is able to exploit them purposefully.

Welbeck’s pace and movement should also pose a tough challenge to the City defence if they try to stay high up the pitch.

It’ll be interesting to see if Pellegrini sticks to his two-striker approach. City are visiting Bayern in midweek and have another Premier League six-pointer against Chelsea next weekend. Will he risk both Aguero and Dzeko given the paucity (!) of alternatives. It’d be a bold move, and would also show great trust in his midfield and system of play as they’ll be a man short. Does the Chilean trust his tactics and the players’ ability to sustain a tempo to such a degree that he’d risk exposing his defence. It’s a gamble worth taking based on Arsenal’s current form in my opinion.

Wenger has some decisions of his own to make. I would really like to see Özil moved back to the centre. This line-up seems the most natural one at the moment –

Szczesny – Debuchy, Mertsacker, Koscielny, Gibbs – Arteta, Özil, Ramsey – Alexis, Welbeck, Cazorla

Moving Sanchez to the left and bringing Wilshere in on the right is an interesting option as discussed before the previous game. I’m not sure Wenger is even considering that at the moment.

There are a few other tweaks to the starting eleven available and the manager’s current favourite – Wilshere and Ramsey in the centre – add to the possibilities.

Both teams have an opportunity to kick start their season, albeit belatedly. I find it hard to assess how teams will come out and perform this early in a new campaign, particularly after an international break. The one that can raise it’s level by a couple of notches should end the day on a happier note.

19 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Man City

  1. Cotonou says:

    Sczesney debu per kosc gibbs ramsey arteta ox sanchez cazorla welbeck

  2. Aussie Jack says:

    Arsenal will never be able to challenge for any serious trophies until they sort out their defense. Debuchy is French that`s about all. Mertesacker is German, and a slow one. Monreal tries his best when Gibbs is not injured so, that leaves Koscielny a bit like a shag on a rock. Yes! I am critical of Wenger, he did not pay enough attention to his defense during the summer and he will pay for it because his strike force won`t have faith in the boy`s at the back.

  3. Gerry says:

    Desi, I know your are away, and this is only a brief comment.
    Conflicting reports on Ramsey, I think he’ll be saved for the Dortmund game, as might Szczesny? Ozil is more likely to be on the bench too, with that game in mind?
    So Santi in the middle, Ox on the left, Wilshere and Flamini in the match up with the Man C pair?

  4. Okachioma says:

    Considering that trio of Arteta, Ramsey and Özil had an injury concern over the week and their not too impressive performances so far this season, i think it will be better if they are all dropped to the bench.

    I will keep faith in the line-up below:


    SUBS: Ospina, Chambers, Monreal, Özil, Ramsey, Charmberlain, Rosicky, Podolski, Arteta

    SCORES: Arsenal 3-1 Man City FT


  5. yilma says:

    Arsenal will well challenging man city because the club add in the attacking pitch but at defensive midfielder there is a great crack so Wenger should take high care at that place ,in any case Arsenal can win Man city today

  6. Induct says:

    Nice post Desi,thought you’d move back to India as you intimated before. Thanks for these breakdown always

  7. Gbangu says:

    What about starting Ox and Sanchez at wings ?

  8. nikkogunners says:

    I’m in crusade to get us to see how best to utilize our squad. Right now what we have is 6 senior defenders, We would be best served by this players if we used three per match. That means we train Gibbs and Debuchy to defend from the 3 man CB positions so that we deploy a 3 man CB set up. As apposed to the 4 we deploy, with the fullback going forward to help in attack and may a time we end up with two defenders facing a quick break from the opposition and thereby we end up conceding in that manner, a three CB set up will enable the three men to stay back and rarely venture forward (Except for set pieces and gold laden chances) ensuring that an opposing team must do an extra-ordinary move to get us to concede. My team would today have been Chambers, Konsienly and Mertesacker just because they are the CBs we have now as Gibbs and Debuchy train to be deployed next week. The second reason is that right now our squad is a pretty mobile one. So with the three CBs today i would have had Podolski and Ox in the wingback roles. Wingback are concealed attackers who help out in defense when needed. Ox has the pace to track back but i think podolski has the sense to implement a wonderful left side wingback. In the centre i would have had Flamini/Arteta and Ramsey, In Central attack midfield i would have Sanchez and Ozil. these two from the centre would wreck any defense. Central Forward i would have had Welbeck. The speed of the side would scare the Citizens, and the fact that the wingbacks are a key element of transition from defense to attack, makes this set-up one of the best on the transition without compromising the defense. it is the other elements we need to take advantage of from the current player unit. But what worked in the shield win curtain raiser was the midfield superiority – in this set up We have six midfielders deployed! Finally, Sanchez just next to Ozil, with both these technicians having Ox and Podolski(Carzola) to aim at and Welbeck to feed…and Ramsey appearing to pick up the left overs of an attack, Wow…The Citizens would just be stifled of anything called the ball in the final third. Of course i do not see the 3 CB happening with Wenger… So i will go with the team to selected. i see a 2-1 win for us this afternoon.

  9. Laudgunner says:

    It is a big game,so Rosicky MUST start along side OX… We need workers in the midfield cos that Citeh strongest position… Ozil,Ramsey shd be benched

  10. Tomiwa says:

    Desi! Where are you? We need new posts!

  11. Mickey Finn says:

    Long time no blog. Really hope you’ll find the time to write something soon, Desi Gunner.

  12. SB says:

    Hope everything is alright with you Desi

  13. dieuvan says:

    What happen with you Desi, we’re looking to reading your blog!

  14. Mickey Finn says:

    Hope everything is well with you and yours, Desi Gunner. Would have hoped to read your take on the Sunderland game. Maybe a couple of lines about Burnley?

  15. LOLpundit says:

    Hello Desi friends, Have you ever noticed the similarity with our Boss.


  16. phill23 says:

    I miss your articles Desigunner. Nothing else compares..

    • Killak says:

      I too miss your articles…I still check back here every now and again in the hope you’ve created a new one. With so may new things happening in the arsenal world right now it would be good to hear your opinion!

      Hope you’re well what ever you are doing now!

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