The Arsenal-Milan Hybrid – a new tweaked strategy next season?

Written by Sagar Tarkhadkar

The recent signings of Monsieur Giroud and Herr Podolski has excited Gooners all over the globe. Providing we keep our Captain Vantastic , we will have a fearsome attack consisting of 3 strikers who contributed to approximately 114 goals in the 2011-12 season. Add to that the pace and directness of Walcott, the dribbling, mesmerizing feet of Gervinho and the technique and youthful exuberance of the Ox, and we have a versatile front three providing an array of attacking options suitable for any kind of opposition on any given day.

However, a lot has been discussed about our midfield options ever since Fabregas and that ‘chinless guy who sits on the bench’ departed last season, in addition to the Wilshere injury. Honestly, Arteta, Song, Rosicky, Ramsey have done admirably well to steer our boat through the dark, muddy waters and get us to that 3rd place finish. But it is a known fact that to compete for the title and CL, we need an additional midfielder in the middle of the park, and as such we have been linked to defensive as well as attacking midfielders in the past couple of months. I won’t certainly speculate as to which specific player we should sign and we shouldn’t, because I feel that Wenger has a better idea than all of us as far as benefit of the team is concerned. But I would certainly like to contribute an idea, which I feel Wenger might implement next season, given his affinity for versatility he likes in his midfielders. I give you the Arsenal-Milan hybrid:

Arsenal for the past few seasons have played with a 4-2-3-1 formation, which can double up into a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1 whenever needed. Most of the attacking play goes through a central advanced playmaker, and two wingers who dash into the box, along with overlapping wingbacks. This attacking formation is generally supported by two central midfielders, one who is a box to box type, while the other who is more like a destroyer or a pivot as some like to call it. The main idea is to keep possession for as long as the playmaker finds a chink in the armor and provides a defense splitting pass to the strikers. The pivot shields the defence whenever the fullbacks bomb forward.  The evolution of Song, from a destroyer to a more complete rounded midfielder has opened up a plethora of possibilities that Wenger can exploit next season. Given the rumour that Wenger is in the market in search for a defensive midfielder so as to exploit Song’s attacking instincts, and the fact that Wilshere is well on his way to fitness next season, we certainly seem to have an embarrassment of riches in the middle as we have them upfront.

Ac Milan generally play with a 4-3-1-2 formation in which the advanced playmaker/centre forward is shielded by 3 defensive midfielders, one of which doubles up as a deep lying playmaker(regista or the Pirlo role). This provides more stability in the middle, but somehow it lacks the width which can be exploited more in the English game.

In case we do sign a proper defensive midfielder as rumored, we can see Song/Arteta , the new CDM and Wilshere/Arteta lined up in the middle next season, which can offer us more stability in the middle of the park and help us boss the midfield . This is also favorable for the defence which leaked in 49 goals, most of them on the counterattack, due to Song’s and Vermaelen’s adventurous forays forward. As far as the playmaking role goes, instead of playing a proper trequartista, we can play two deep lying box to box playmakers who will share duties of both attack and defence, while the pivot maintains balance in the middle. We already have 4 apt midfielders of that box-to-box quality in Jack, Song, Arteta and Coquelin. In addition, we are fortunate enough to have someone of RVP’s caliber, who can mostly double up as a false 9, fall back and provide assists for Podolski and Walcott who can cut in. Giroud’s addition on the bench allows us to switch to a more attacking 4-4-2 in case we need to chase a game, as well as it provides RVP some rest. It also allows us to switch to our original 4-2-3-1 with Giroud as a target man against a few lesser teams.

On the attack, both the box to box players can playmake, keeping possession with the pivot. The wingbacks can bomb forward and switch with the wingers who can cut inside. On defence, all three midfielders can clog the centre thus cutting off all channels of the opposition attack, and then on the counterattack, RVP can fall back, thus temporarily switching to the Milan formation and allowing Podolski/Walcott to be temporary strikers in the box. The main idea is to always keep the pivot available to shield the defence and gather possession, forcing the opposition to make turnovers and avoid any counterattacks. Also, I feel that if we have a single playmaker as we do now, opposition can crowd him out thus making our attack impotent(as they did with Fabregas).

What I am suggesting is that we do not need to change our formation altogether but just tweak it a bit. Wenger likes playing to our strengths and as I mentioned earlier, we are fortunate enough to have many players who are versatile enough to play in more than one position admirably (RVP,Song, Arteta,Wilshere,Oxlade) Our already fearsome attack, but with a sprinkling of the Milan solidity will certainly help us win a few titles and put a smile on all Gooners’ faces. This is my first attempt at writing a post about the team that I love and I hope you all will certainly share your views on it.

150 Responses to The Arsenal-Milan Hybrid – a new tweaked strategy next season?

  1. […] The Arsenal-Milan Hybrid – a new tweaked strategy next season? […]

  2. GobiLux says:

    HaHa, “the pace and directness of Walcott”-part got me real good!

  3. Martyn Wood-Bevan says:

    Excellent, well thought out article – pleasure to read and very accessible! Much better than most very short contributions that say very little, in truth!

  4. Jim Gordon says:

    I have to agree that with wilshere back and a new dm and a bit of tweaking we have the players to do the job. Wenger needs to show a bit more versatility tho. Use the squad more. But I have a good feeling about them providing rvp stays and maybe two more players in.. Coyg !!

  5. Tom says:

    Good article! Carry on writing – its refreshing not to read another blog post about who we should sign or how we will DEFINITELY win the title next year. I’m excited about the possibilities we will have tactically next year and I hope Le Prof will be clever in his approach – I’m sure he will be. I think Rosicky did a great job as our attacking playmaker near the end of last year and so thats another option there too. I, personally, think we need one defensive midfielder “destroyer” and maybe some cover at right back because Sagna seems to be having some unlucky injuries at the moment and I’m still unsure if Jenko is quite ready for prolonged first team football yet. I don’t know who these signings should be but I’m sure Wenger and the scouting team have got a load of targets.

  6. Rasp says:

    Excellent debut post Sagar. I agree our midfield options are many and varied. I read with interest your analysis of our midfield formations and find myself thinking that at times last season we didn’t look anywhere near that organised.

    With the players at our disposal, we should be able to structure our midfield to suit the opposition – but that is not the way AW works. When Wengerball is in full flow it is unstoppable and relies on complete fluidity between the midfielders. Our problemns mainly lie in our movement when we don’t have possession and this is an area I’m hoping Steve Bould will improve.

  7. Aj says:

    It’s interesting that you exclude Ramsey altogether. I know that many (including me at times) had a down on him towards the end of the season but the stats show that he got the second highest number of assists for the team last season.

  8. MickyDidIt89 says:

    You say “this is my first attempt at writing a post”, well, I for one, bloody well hope its your last. I like to think I know one or two things about tactics, and occasionally scribble down the odd thought, but your post is brilliantly well written, well thought out, tactically astute, positive and and at no point walks into the tactical blunders for which I am forced into many a DidIt U-turn.
    It is with great regret that I have to hand over my tiarra.
    This hurts, but very well done.

  9. Aj says:

    Rasp makes a good point. We play the “Pass and Move” game but more often than not, it is the move part which is missing. It is one thing to try to play out from the back but it needs the other players to move into spaces, something that seemed to vanish last season.

  10. Big Raddy says:

    Sagar. That is a fantastic post. Well informed and interesting.

    With the strengths and fluidity of your team formations we are assured silverware next season.

    Let it be so.

  11. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. Say it ain’t so.

    Sagar may have shot his bolt with this excellent post. Perhaps his next will hand back the tactical tiarra.

  12. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Money saved. One of our feline friends buggered off. Nowhere to be found, so we didn’t go. Her Majesty (that’ll be ‘err indoors) will be fuming when she gets back, so I think Oscar and I are about to clear off for the day. Let her simmer down.

  13. Femi olooto says:

    I agree wit u, with the signin of a dm, d team wil only need a little bit of tweaking

  14. MickyDidIt89 says:

    One thing AW needs to consider is how we play to the strengths of Giroud when he rocks up. Let’s face it, the crossed ball is not a strenth of any of our wide boys, which is where I see a 3-5-2 ‘ish being deployed.

  15. Big Raddy says:

    AJ. It is difficult to create space to move into when the opposition play such a compressed game. How many times have we seen teams retreat to within 35 yds of their goal to stop AFC’s passing game?

    That said, those who were brave enough to attack had much success (Swansea, Norwich etc).

  16. MickyDidIt89 says:

    “trequartista” is such a brilliant word.

  17. Rasp says:

    Hi Micky, you make an interesting point. Will Arsène try to make Giroud and Pod play like the Arsenal of old (tippy tappy 😆 ) or will he adapt the team to play to their strenghts … this is a subject for a whole new post

  18. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp. Get writing ……

  19. Rasp says:

    Wish I had the time Raddy, its all I can do to sort and publish the posts these days 😦

  20. GunnerN5 says:

    Well done Sagar, a fine first post, arguably the best post we’ve had on tactics. When I coached tactics were always my weak point, I was far better at creating a good team spirit and a winning attitude – but then again I coached 10-15 year olds who could have cared less about tactics.

    You make no mention of Ramsey, Diaby, Frimpong or Rosicky is that because you don’t rate them too highly or simply that we have an abundance of mid-fielders.

    I share Rasp’s concern that our new players will be “compressed” into the AW way and will lose the individuality that makes them special.

  21. Shevo says:

    Beautiful positive and well thought out post. Makes a change from all the negative who we should or shouldn’t buy/sell drivel we read on some of the other sites.
    Great job.

  22. silentstan says:

    dribbling, mesmerizing feet of Gervinho !!!!!!!!!!!! thanks for the laugh

  23. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Fear not Rasp,
    I have the solution and it lies in something way more cunning than the traditional 3-5-2 🙂

  24. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Brilliantly constructive Silent. Are you a Buddhist by any chance?

  25. Aamir says:

    Wow, this is very good for your first ever post. Carry on.

  26. I hope gunners we win trophy this season,am a gunners 4 life.

  27. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp. Surely AW bought the new boys to bring something new. The fact they are both strong physical men mark them out from the rest of our attackers .

  28. james hardeygbolarhan says:

    The greatest of d problem we are faced with at all times is lack of players that can stand the test of time,players that can withstand pressure. We still need a two defensive nd one central midfielder dat can complement our injury woe.

  29. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Very true Raddy,
    Just look at the forearms on the pair of them. Just too different from Gerv, Theo and Cham to be anything other than a shift in thinking.
    Either could squeeze the juice out of a coconut.

  30. MickyDidIt89 says:

    We’re off to hide in the woods. Later.

  31. oz gunner says:

    great debut sagar, look out TA someone else around here knows a thing or two about tactics. You make it sound all to easy…which sounds good because next season will be all to easy when we walk away with the title!

  32. oz gunner says:

    Gavin Hoyte released

    A real shame that one, a few seasons again he was tipped to be our next great CB. I suppose that honour can go to Miquel and Bartley

  33. Awe Imoleayo Peter says:

    nice article, but what I seem not to understand is how we are going to utilise 3strikers who are left footed players.

  34. Big Raddy says:

    Awe. We have often used 3 right footed forwards – what is the difference? And more to the point, RvP is superb with both his feet.

  35. Rasp says:

    OK folks, I’m off to play cicket – catch up later

  36. Tayo says:

    For a debut, you really delivered, well thought article and most of your suggestions are doable, bit refreshing when a blogger comes from another angle. Keep it Up

  37. Rasp says:

    Sagar, just before I go, thanks again for the article – it has already received in excess of 3,000 hits, well done. Unfortunately Saturday is always a quiet day as everyone is out doing stuff.

  38. kelsey says:


    Well done i give you a Cliff Richard.

    In theory a very good write up,though with me there is always a but.

    Has Wenger ever truly wavered from the way his sets his team out regardless of the opposition ?. He is attack minded and the key to not getting caught on the counter attack(the very thing the Invinsibles were good at) has been our achilles heel last season and to an extent for the last few seasons .
    There now could be a further imbalance with the emphasis to attack even more and we need coaching to make sure the holding midfield and not both full backs get caught out.

    Santos to me is a fine player but definitely more attack minded.Mertesacker may feature more as a steadying ship but he has very litte pace.
    IMO we still need cover for Wilshere, who won’t be ready for quite a while and the media expectation on someone so young is immense. We need a senior keeper as well as it looks like Fabianski is off.
    Is Jenkinson fit or even ready to fill in for the great Sagna, who according to Yogi (ACLF) will not return until the Autumn)
    Yossi has now left and was very humble towards the fans,IMO another year on loan wouldn’t have been bad, but hey ho.
    The RVP and Walcott contracts will go one way or another and maybe Ramsey will be loaned out.
    I suspect still a lot of activity to come but am hesitant to think AW will change his ways.I don’t want to see Podolski play, as he did the other night for germany as then we get another bedtner experience.
    Anyway positive signings already and all we an do is hope for the best and that the team gel quickly from the start of the season.

  39. JM says:

    Formation 1 (4-2-3-1):
    Sagna(recovery fr. injury)/Coquelin-Koscielny-Vermaelen-Gibbs

    Formation 2 (3-4-1-2 or the variation of 3-5-2):

    Mertesacker, Coquelin, Gibbs/Santos, Wilshere, Rosicky, Ramsey, AoC/Walcott, Gervinho/Podolski as rotating squad players.

    Key players in both formation: Szczesny, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Song, Arteta, RvP, Giroud (i.e. spine of team)

    For any new additional signings required(suggestions/linked):

    Backup GK (if Fabianksi & Mannone leaves) – with EPL exp.
    (reason: – there is little need for acclimatisation unlike GKs from foreign leagues)
    (1) Brad Guzan, 27yrs (American/Polish)(available on free transfer)
    (2) Craig Gordon, 29yrs (Scottish)(available on free transfer)
    (3) Steve Harper, 37yrs (English)(available on free transfer)

    (1) Yann M’Vila, 22yrs (French)(Rennes) – we are linked with him
    (2) Étienne Capoue, 23yrs (French)(Toulouse) – he was remarked as an alternate option
    (3) Maxime Gonalons, 23yrs (French)(Lyonnais) – Lyonnais are in debt (their players Cissokho, Kallstrom, Lloris, Lovren, Gourcuff have been linked with moves away).

    OM (Offensive Midfielder):
    (1) Lewis Holtby, 21yrs (German)(Schalke) – Youth
    (2) Ander Herrera, 22yrs (Spanish)(A.Bilbao) – Youth
    (3) Matias Fernandez, 26yrs(Chilean)(Sporting) – Experienced

  40. Big Raddy says:

    JM. That is a top comment to add to a top post.

    kelsey.You rarely disappoint but more questions than answers!

  41. Lapidarij says:

    “Honestly, Arteta, Song, Rosicky, Ramsey have done admirably well to steer our boat through the dark, muddy waters and get us to that 3rd place finish.”
    Are you blind man? Ramsey?!!! What was his contribution in the second half of the season please? Yes he was playing, but just cos we had people injured and Wenger was pushing him on all fronts… but ramsey played very very badly.

  42. ChaosGun says:

    First. 🙂

  43. I apologize for the late replies guys, found it difficult to get up early on a Saturday morning here in the US. 🙂
    I am very happy and honored to have my article posted up on AA and more importantly, it has been a pleasure to see fellow lovers of the beautiful game, share their views on it. And once again I thank the admins and the commentors for giving me this wonderful opportunity.

    Aj, GunnerN5,

    I excluded Frimpong and Diaby , because I think injuries might hinder them next season. There have been talks of Ramsey and Frimpong going out on loan to accomodate the rumored new midfield signing, the return of Jack and I just have a feeling one of our young guns(reserves) will be given a chance too especially in the cup games. Hence, I decided to go for players who are certain to be playing next season…as N5 noted it was just because of an abundance of midfield options. Rosicky I feel will rotate with Wilshere given he’s fit as well. My personal opinion was always that Rambo develop into a fine,world class midfielder…and I rate him highly, but on a practical level of thinking as far as next season is concerned, and if the first choice midfield options are available , sadly I do not see him getting much of a chance.
    The case of Ramsey is indeed a curious one, but I assume a lot of articles have already been written dissecting it . 🙂

  44. Ayotunde Giwa says:

    Good optin lest just hop and pray for RVP to remain
    Get a very good defensive midfielder, and to full back and a keeper
    And its all good to go

  45. @Rasp
    You certainly make a very valid point about ‘movement’. The ‘Pass and Move’ as AJ mentions it, requires high level of stamina and concentration , and I believe Wenger and the new coaching staff to work on it as early as possible. Hence, I assume we are making our signings early so as to allow the team to gel and get used to the Arsenal way of playing : direct,counterattacking footie.
    Speaking of ‘Pass and Move’ , Brendan Rodgers is trying to implement it at Liverpool, I wish him luck with that when they have players like Caroll, Downing, Spearing, Henderson,Adam etc. 😀

    A 3-5-2 formation is certainly worth to be thought about, however, knowing Wenger’s stubbornness, I don’t think he will make such a drastic change. Also, we have 3 class CBs, if one is injured, the back suddenly becomes shaky.
    However in the hybrid I have suggested, you can notice that when we are on the attack, the two box to box mids and the full backs will be ahead, allowing the pivot to fall back, thus making him kind of a quasi-CB… will be more of a 3-5-2 then, albeit temporarily.

    Thanks for reading.

  46. @Micky
    The use of the words ‘trequartista’ and ‘regista’ can be attributed to my affinity for footballing jargon. 🙂
    And no, I am not a Buddhist, I am a Hindu…but my God is Dennis Bergkamp 😀

  47. Sam says:

    It looks good on the attacking front,but the defence must be more solid otherwise for all the goals scored,the gunners are unable to plug the gaps in the defence.49 goals conceded is criminal. If arsenal want to challenge the defence must not concede more than 30 goals for the season.

  48. @Lapidarij
    My friend, you have yourself answered the question in your comment. Certainly, Rambo didnt contribute much during the ‘2nd half of the season’, and that was due to fatigue and the loss of a father figure in Speed.
    But during the first half, he was certainly sharp and peformed a great job…given that he was under the tremendous pressure of performing in the absence of Jack, Nasri,Wilshere and even ROsicky at some point, and so I thought he deserved a mention.

    Thanks for reading.

  49. Gooner In Exile says:

    Sagar for a debut post that is a great read.

    I liked the way AC Milan played against us last year. Attackers attacked the box full backs provided width and they kept a very strong centre. Yes please sign me up.

  50. Gooner In Exile says:

    My only bone of contention is the “false 9” simply because it appears to be born from the Spanish formation. I’ve never heard Song called a “false DM” but I’m starting now 🙂

  51. GIE,
    I feel that Robin van Persie can be the best “false 9” in the world, other than Messi. Such is his superb movement around the box and the ability to hit a sweet one from both feet(that right footed goal vs germany was a pleasure). More reason as to why he must stay.

    Thanks for reading.

  52. chas says:

    Brilliant post, Sagar.

    I quite like the 4-3-1-2 option to blast a way through the centre of the opposition’s defence. Who knows what Wenger has in mind? I really can’t see him trying to squeeze Giroud and Podolski into a 4-3-3.

    Sagna and Jenkinson could both play in a back three adding pace and covering ability.

    Personally I’d like a return to 2-3-5 with proper inside rights and lefts and right and left halfs. Go back to the WM formation and scare the life out of our opponents, though I doubt it would ease our defensive worries! 🙂

  53. jnyc says:

    Sagar,i Cant believe its your first post. Its my favorite in a long time! i will enjoy re reading it, because such good details and ideas. You need to do posts like this regularly, tactics and such.

  54. Gooner In Exile says:

    Sagar I have no doubt he can be I just don’t like the phrase…..I think the two games against Chelsea showed that Messi should not be a false 9 in my opinion they suffered from lack of movement that Villa normally provides and the space he opens up in the defence with those runs that Messi and others make use of.

  55. Thanks jnyc, chas,

    I will certainly write another article on tactics in the near future, I am just waiting for Wenger to make all his signings after which we will have a better idea of what he intends to do.

  56. LB says:

    I started skim reading this post when I suddenly realised what I was reading and went back and read it slowly from the start.

    We have another tactician in our midst and a very good one at that. It is a shame you made your comparison with Milan which is not so fresh in my mind rather than the present Italy team which everyone could relate to, still, hey ho.
    The only difference I have in what I think is your over all view is that with Frimpong and Coquelin waiting in the wings I do not think the club are looking for a new DM.

    Good first post I hope I get to read more.

  57. Gooner In Exile says:

    LB do you think Frimpong will go out on loan next season?

    Having had his spell cut short this year I would like to think he will go out in first half of season, not sure how practical that is with his injury. Coquelin I agree is someone who needs to see more game time this coming season.

  58. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Sagar, WOW! What a superb maiden post. Very well written and structured: a real tour de force! I had to read it twice to get the full value out of it, and I really like your thinking. 🙂

    I have been reading up on the big game tomorrow and my head is full with tactical analysis and possibilities – then I read your post, and now my head is in a spin. 🙄

    I would like to see 4-1-2-3, which I believe you are suggesting. I don’t think it will happen though, as Wenger is likely to build further on the phenomenal partnership between Song and Arteta in front of the back four. It’s just a gut feeling, but I think it is either 4-2-1-3 or 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 next season.

    The duo of Song and Arteta has been fantastic and can get even better next season. Coquelin, Ramsey and Wilshere are all ready to compete with Song and Arteta for those two positions. If we are to get another DM type of player it will be to add extra quality/cover for Song/(Coquelin) imo.

    Our biggest problem last season was the lack of quality in the hole position. Rosicky and Ramsey both just did not properly claim that pivotal position.

    I think Wenger loves his playmaker to roam freely all over the pitch, and especially between the middle of the pitch and the opposition’s ‘D’. If RvP is to stay, I reckon he will play in the nr10/hole position and Arsene will adjust his team accordingly. RvP is not a typical playmaker ala Cesc or Pirlo, but he will move play on well and will allow either the players on the wing or Song/Arteta/Jack/Ramsey to get involved and deliver through balls when possible. The extra goal tread that RvP will offer in that position is also very appealing.

    If RvP does leave, I reckon Wenger will play Wilshere or Rosicky as the playmaker and we will have a similar formation as last year (4-2-1-3). In that case, Arsene might buy another quality playmaker type of player.

    You made a good point about Cesc sometimes having been eliminated by the opposition in the past. I think next season we’ll see that if and when our man in the hole gets targeted in such a way, one of the two DM’s will step up to compensate for this. Both Arteta and Song can do this, and Wilshere would especially be very good at this (if it’s RvP in the hole).

    The same is happening with Italy: if Pirlo is being isolated, the likes of Montelivo or De Rossi can also deliver a deadly through-ball or simply move play on. It is almost impossible to defend against.

    Anyway good stuff and plenty to think about. 🙂

  59. jnyc says:

    Hey Sagar, where are you located?

  60. foxy says:

    4-4-2 at home alwys. 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 away . Perhaps 3-5-2 for EUROPEAN nights coz we have fast wingers and can move the ball fast enough. The existing players plus the new 2 exciting forwards can play these modes

  61. @jnyc: Atlanta

    @TA: Thanks for reading 🙂 .
    Yes, I very much agree Wenger likes to give full freedom to his playmaker (‘in the hole’ position). However, we have tried that formation for the past 3-4 years ever since Fabregas blossomed fully in to that position, and yet it hasn’t turned out to be as fruitful as we wanted it to be. Also, I fully believe that Fabregas is one of the best , if not the best in that position and even he struggled sometimes, maybe due to our injuries or lack of a solid base to support him(just like that fantastic Pirlo example you gave). Hence, if Wenger persists on using the same strategy, I do not know who is capable enough to fill that position as it becomes the focus of our attack.
    All in all, I am pretty much excited about our chances next season, there is something of a positive feel to this summer that was lacking in the previous 3-4 seasons.

  62. RockyLives says:

    Fantastic debut. What a good week this has been on AA.
    I think you have really hit on something with the Milan/Arsenal hybrid idea.

    The emergence of Pirlo in the Euros feels like a bit of a throwback to an era when the creative MF playmaker was more deep-lying than is normal today. I’m thinking of players like Hoddle, Giles, Hagi etc. Defences are less used to dealing with it, as has been shown in the tournament with Pirlo.

    I know that’s not exactly what you’re suggesting, but I like your idea of having more than one player with the responsibility to be the “quarterback”. You are absolutely right that Cesc could be neutralised on occasion by a well marshalled defence.

    With Song/Arteta/Wilshere and the new attacking players we are starting to get the kind of interchangeable options that might well allow us to do what you suggest.

  63. Big Raddy says:


    Thanks for your input but please be polite and ask before posting links for your website.

    As you can see Arsenal Arsenal has no adverts and only puts up links which have been accepted by admin.

  64. LB says:

    I know this may make a lot of people sigh but we should not forget Diaby. As much as he frustrates many a fan if you put yourself in Wenger’s shoes for a moment I think you will see that from his point of view there is no reason why Diaby won’t start a fresh from the beginning of next season and where would he play?

    In the same hole that everyone has been talking about above.

  65. LB says:


    To answer your question: yes I do expect Frimpong to go out on loan or at least I hope he does as I believe the only way for him to take the next step up is through more game time.

  66. Timmy says:

    First and foremost, a very warm kudos to Sagar for a well written, well thought out maiden post. You are really one for the future.

    Let me chip with this.

    To be able to utilize Three proven Centre forwards, adept with the Left foot, well capable with the right, and probably not the types you want to keep on the bench as they are not used to it, we will have to consider the following facts

    1. Arsenal football club is a club with the philosophy of playing Highly tactical, technical, free-flowing, fluid, attack-minded, entertaining football.

    2. To play to the above point, there is the need to be absolutely balanced on all departments on the pitch.

    Against the backdrop of the points above we want to formulate a formation. Therefore, if the three players mentioned above must be used together, we have to consider their strongest side.

    1. Robin Van Persie – The Strongest position for him is the Supporting striker role. What happened last season may never repeat itself again as far as Van Persie remains an Arsenal Striker (Playing as an out and out striker). So we should expect Van Persie to play behind the Main Striker.

    2. Lukas Podolski – The Strongest Position for Lukas is an out and out striker, but unfortunately since he moved to Bayern Munich he has not played in that position, not even at Cologne. So we can by now assume he may be better as a left mid-field player which qualifies him for that position as the only left-footed mid-field player Arsenal can claim to have, barring Van Persie playing in that role.

    3. Oliver Giroud. – Oliver has played his entire career as an out and out striker, showing his ability in the position in all clubs he’s played for, with last season the best. Arsenal will have in Oliver, a Natural Striker, with a knack for Goal.

    Considering the above and with all other positions will taken with the best available, I think Wenger may try to revert to the traditional 4-4-2 that won him titles, or still continue with the 4-3-3, he’s been using for the past trophy-less seasons, but making a slight change: Maintain balance across all positions

  67. LB says:

    Timmy, I notice that you are giving yourself plenty of wiggle room there: Wenger may revert to a 4.4.2 or he may stay with a 4.3.3.

    By the way, and this is not meant to be confrontational, how did you arrive at this statement?

    “Lukas Podolski – The Strongest Position for Lukas is an out and out striker.”

  68. glic says:

    An interesting post, by reading it you`ld think a Trophy is in the bag, If only it worked that way. With all these tactical combinations, “false`s”, “hole`s”, etc`, is it complicating what is basically a simple game ?.
    I will say that as a piece of writing it is very good and would think I was reading something written by the coach of the Indian National Team !.
    I will disagree with your first sentence though, I`m not excited by Giro and Pod and if the global gooners are that easily excited then they`re easily pleased !. 🙂
    The day we sign another Dennis, someone as good as Cesc, an Iniesta, a Hazard or a Ozil, someone ” Super Quality “, then I`ll get excited !.
    You will please the technical gods who love a technical post, better than anything I could attempt !. 🙂
    A very good first attempt.

  69. @glic
    I appreciate your opinion about gooners jumping the gun on signing Giroud and Poldi….and certainly a player of the Dennis or Cesc class will be awesome for the club.But when we actually signed them up, did we know that they will be ever so good?Dennis was a flop in Italy and Cesc was a kid. The general thinking of a Gooner, thus, is that whenever Arsene buys a player, especially paying 11-14 mil for them(Giroud being Arsene’s 4th most expensive signing), they will turn out to be world class, proficiently moulded by Arsene, and hence, the general excitement.
    Thanks for reading 🙂

    If Ramsey and Frimpong are indeed sent on loan as rumored, and no playmaker is bought in….then it certainly means that Wenger is expecting Diaby to be fit and play an important role next season, maybe in cup competitions or as rotation.
    Thanks for reading 🙂

  70. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Sagar, I am excited about next season too, and that’s all that matters! 🙂

    To imagine Wenger putting a team together without a gem in the hole, is like imagining Paris without the Eifel Tower. Wenger went for plan B last season as both Jack and Diaby remained injured throughout the season, and Ramsey did not work out in that position. Rosicky did ok at times, but not more than that.

    I think it is back to plan A this season with either RvP or JW in the free role in the hole.

    However, if Wenger would go all out with a classic DM in front of the back four and two ‘Iniesta – Xavi – like’ midfielders in front of him, I would jump for joy. Whatever way it will go, it will be very exciting. 🙂

  71. kelsey says:

    How come I didn’t get a reply, Sagar 🙂

  72. glic says:

    Hi Sagar
    I for one was estatic when we bought Bergkamp however ” floppy ” he may have been, but as long as it didn`t affect his football who cares ! 🙂
    I dont want a kid Cesc, I`d like someone as good as he is now !. 🙂
    I should say that even though I`m not on tranquillisers to calm myself down with the two new signing`s, I`m very excited for the new season with the possibility of an “exciting” player ( I always live in hope ! ) being signed and RVP staying.
    I would also say, that If Jack wasn`t a gooner and we were going to sign him then I would need Rhino Tranquillisers with a Elephant sat on my head to stop me bouncing off the walls !. 🙂

  73. Ketch says:

    Big Raddy I apologize, didn’t realise it would be so offensive

  74. glic says:

    If Bale can sign an extended contract at a shite club and on probably less money than RVP is on now and without CL football then why would RVP want to leave ?. Nothing has changed my mind, he is staying !.
    Bale must be incredibly loyal or incredibly deluded or both !.

  75. @kelsey
    Sorry that I did not reply , maybe I missed it in the morning while I was drowsy, but I just had a look at your comment and I really appreciate the points you made.
    The points you made open up a whole new bunch of topics which themselves deserve individual articles. Thanks for giving authors like myself many more ideas to pen down 🙂

    I just had to make a small comment on us ‘not getting caught on the counterattack’ as you mentioned…me and Rasp had a small discussion a couple of days ago on another article about defensive discipline. It doesnt matter even if we sign all the best CBs or wingbacks in the world as long as there is no defensive communication between the players. The whole team has to defend as a unit, which starts from the striker itself. Our 3 CBs including Mertesacker are class enough to lead us to a title, but without communication,a specific plan of action and the willingness to adhere to it (Song and Vermaelen’s adventurous runs and losing possession comes to my mind), we will continue to leak goals. In the end its all about finding the right players and the right balance, and it helped us during the Invincibles, because our players back then had a GPS system in their minds, they knew where their teammates were and they knew when to attack or defend AS A TEAM.
    I believe we have the right set of players, its just that we need to put in a lot of effort on the training ground to achieve the level of communication the Invincibles had.

    Thanks for reading 🙂

  76. Hi all

    Great maiden post Sagar, it’s been read by over 4,000 people, well done 🙂

    Anyone got any ideas for a post for tomorrow please ………….


    Excellent post Sagar. Its going to be very interesting next season to see what happens in terms of formation but my feelings are that it will be more of the same in terms of approach.

    Who ever plays the more advanced midfield role will have to get up and down, just like Cesc and Ramsey do. In my mind, the 3 midfield players are exactly that, midfield players. I say this because Arsene likes to flood the midfield and he also regards our 2 wingers as strikers.

    My own personal feelings are that the tinkering of the formation will occur by happy accident. Players will be given a chance to prove themselves within Wengers framework and the most effective 11 will emerge. All managers, in what ever field they operate, understand the need of flexibility and a certain level of risk taking in order to achieve the final result. Wenger is no different.

    What ever the system we employ i will abandon my usual caution and state categorily that we will win the Title next season. Our time has come, its no longer tomorrow its now. Everything has gone to plan and the reaping of benefits has arrived.


    Cornwall. Bales contract has only added one year to his contract, so simian man hasnt exactly locked himself in. You make a good point though. There is not a lot of money flying about for bale to get his dream move. This lack of money in the market is another reason why its all falling in to place. Our time has come, we will be Champions next season.

  79. TotalArsenal says:

    “What ever the system we employ i will abandon my usual caution and state categorily that we will win the Title next season” HAHAHAHA 🙂

    Hi Peaches, if nobody else comes forward, I am happy to do a quick and dirty pre match for tomorrow’s game – I have an idea of how to take an Arsenal angle to it all.

  80. I was thinking how Arsene would have loved to send out a team without a striker a la Spain when I remembered he did ………….. if only he’d told us that, when he played Arshavin up front. He was really advocating 4-6-0 – eat your heart out del Bosque.we did it first 🙂

  81. Hi TA – quick and dirty huh, come on lets have it 😉

    By the way I’m very pleased you came out of self imposed sabbatical 😆

  82. kelsey says:


    are you watching miserable murray ,as the umpire has got a lovely syrup on 🙂


    hahahaha, yes Kelsey. It is a rather delightful looking Rug.

  84. HI kelsey – how are you?

  85. Shard says:

    Fine post Sagar. JM stole my thunder because I was planning a post along the lines of the different formations we could play or switch to as the situation demands. It’s for the best. I probably couldn’t have done as good a job anyway, especially considering that I just got back from celebrating my birthday. A very good read, and wish I could contribute more..but aaarrggghhh.. need to stop my head spinning first.

  86. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Peaches, am on my way! 😉

    Let’s wait and see whether anybody else comes forward with wanting to do a post till 10pm tonight. If not, I will start writing it then.

  87. TotalArsenal says:

    Happy birthday Shard! 🙂

  88. Red Arse says:

    Hi Sagar, 🙂

    You have certainly stirred up a lot of interest in your very good Post.

    I know nothing about tactics — in fact, I know very little about anything, except I do know what I like, and your Post has come into that category.

    Given my admitted limitations, forgive me if I say that, often, I am bored when talk turns to tactics, because they always seem, paradoxically, to be both over-simplified and over-complicated.

    What do I mean? Well, “tactics” usually refers to the set up of the whole team, and which players are the best fit to play in a 4:4:2 or a 4:5:1 without considering other optional tactics within the game itself, in certain situations such as, for example, free kicks or corners, and whether the team are winning or losing.

    I am a mathematician, which counts for little, but I am also a reasonable chess player, and I would never play that game in a one dimensional way, and see no reason for football to be any different.

    I read, somewhere, some years ago, a treatise on tactics which I think came from a translation of a Brazilian coaching manual, (I am not sure) I did make some notes, altho they are probably incomplete) but, as I remember it, the notes indicate it was a template for various tactical and strategic circumstances effecting both the team and individual players withinn the team, and it went something like this.

    The Why’s and Wherefores for tactical consideration:

    1) Tactics: Help players (fans) to understand the 4 – 4 – 2 Formation.
    2) Tactics: Help players (fans) to understand their roles and responsibilities in a 4 – 4 – 3 Formation.
    3) Tactics: Help grass root coaches to understand why a 4 – 5 – 1 formation is favoured by many professional clubs.
    4) Tactics: Help coaches to explain and to develop the roles of wingers/backs in a flexible 3 – 5 – 2 formation.
    5) Tactics: Explain the role of the defensive midfielder in 4 – 1 – 4 – 1 formation.
    6) Demonstrate the organisational structure and explain the roles and functions of each player in a range of attacking and defending set plays, including:-

    a) Tactics: Explain formations for defending corners and free kicks.
    b) Tactics: Explain the roles of players in attacking corners.
    c) Tactics: Explain how to build a defensive wall.
    d) Tactics: Explain the need for innovative attacking free kicks.
    e) Tactics: Explain tactics at throw-ins, and demonstrate that they are much more than just a way to get the ball back on the pitch.

    Now, if one of our excellent tactical geniuses, (TA?), cared to develop this template and offer an explanation for each of these categories, THAT would attract my attention!! 🙂 Maybe!! 🙂

  89. Shard says:


    Thanks TA 🙂

  90. Happy Birthday Shard 🙂

    I’ve got the pug and he’s making watching the tennis impossible – he’s barking at every shot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  91. Fall River Gooner says:

    Extremely well thought out & contructed post, as well as good reading. One thing I would like see implemented is the one thing from Barfa that we could emulate: the immediate attempt to win the ball back (as a team) after lossing it! That is one of the key “secrets” of their success and we are rather poor at it.

  92. Shard says:

    Fall River Gooner

    Agreed..We can be much better at it. But I don’t think we can play the way Barca do. Pressing as a tactic, I think first evolved in the 70s under Maslov in USSR. And that was only made possible by advancements in knowledge about nutrition, training etc. It takes a lot out of the players to do that consistently. Barcelona’s opponents, as a rule, are much less able to compete with them in terms of quality (and I put that down to there being huge financial disparity) In fact, Barcelona could not do that against us for 90 minutes. In England the game is played at a higher intensity, and even though we could probably pull off 90 minutes, doing it week in week out, with no winter break as well, I think would be impossible. We can defend better as a team, we can pick our moments to press together as a team. I just don’t think we can do it the same way as Barca does.

  93. I thought tactics was …..

    Offensive – you get the ball and play it to him as quickly as possible because he is going to find the one that puts it in the back of the net 🙂

    Defensive – you make sure you don’t lose possession but if you do he will be there to make sure the others can’t play and as a last resort the centre-backs will be there to clear the ball 🙂

    Clearly the problem is when we lose possession.

  94. Fall River Gooner – exactly 🙂

  95. Shard says:

    P.S. Barcelona also have the advantage of their B team playing competitive football together in the Spanish Segunda.. If we had our Reserves playing in the Championship every year, we’d probably have better coordination.

  96. Barca Schmarca – we’ve managed to learn how to do the tippy tappy, what’s so hard in working more at the pressing. I remember we managed it very well away to the chavs last season when we ripped them a new one – so to speak 😳

    Forgetting I’m a lady there 🙂

    Yes, it involves more tenacity, more drive, more wanting the ball but surely if you want to win the game you’re going to try your hardest.

  97. Shard says:

    Thanks peaches 🙂

  98. VCC says:

    TMHT……11:35 Yesterday. Arsenal at 12-1.
    The best I can find is 11-1 with Paddy Power.

  99. You see, he’s not only yummy, he has a great attitude 🙂

  100. VCC – they’ve just shortened to 11/1, they were 12/1 an hour ago 😦

    Must be Giroud, I think we should keep quiet about him now, I’m not going to mention how yummy he is again until I’ve seen him in the flesh 😉

  101. chas – how did you know about Peaches Pad?

  102. VCC says:

    Cheers Peaches. I was going to put fifty on them tomorrow.
    Fingers crossed our two new boys can set the premiership on fire next season. I can’t wait for it to begin.

  103. Big Raddy says:

    Shard. Happy birthday.

  104. chas says:

    I didn’t, peaches.
    Well not until LB mentioned it at 5.34pm yesterday. Then I just googled it.

  105. LB says:

    The thing that surprised me from the Peaches Pad post that chas put up yesterday was how long TA has been around……..hmmmm I didn’t realise.

  106. LB says:

    Woops didn’t look at the date properly, doh, ignore that.

  107. chas says:

    Hah, was just about to say that, LB.

  108. Oh no, we’ve been exposed ……….. sometimes we try things out on Peaches Pad, to see what they look like or whether they work 🙂

  109. It didn’t really exist as a blog, it was just a place to meet while we were sorting the new blog although I think we did talk Arsenal a bit.

  110. chas says:

    All good I.T. companies have test environments so that their live environment isn’t ruined. It’s excellent, professional practice. 🙂

  111. Avenell Rd was a great site though too..

  112. Rasp says:

    Evening all, what a fantastic day’s blogging. 5,600 hits and still going – top work Sagar.

    I’d like to see us ‘selectively swarming’ when not in possession. We should try to regain possession high up the pitch by doubling/trebling up on players but this will only work if the other midfielders work hard and cut out passing options at the same time.

    I’m sorry but its true that our midfielders sometimes don’t make enough effort to get back and cover. Defending is a job for the whole team. Watch Messi or even Drogba (in the CL final) – those guys score bucket loads of goals but still manage to help the defence.

  113. TotalArsenal says:

    Right then, I am not post duty.

  114. Rasp says:

    Hi TA, I was led to believe you were providing a post for tomorrow?

  115. oz gunner says:

    great clips chas, loved the Super Gooner one.

  116. TotalArsenal says:

    Rasp, that was a typo: I am ON post duty 😆

  117. kelsey says:

    Morning all, sorry I missed you peaches last night.
    IMO we tend to over analyse tactics, formations, stats etc.
    All players are just like us, human beings and footballers need a certain skill at a certain level and if they are Arsenal players the expectancy by the coach and fans alike is high.
    As I said yesterday getting the balance right and playing as a team comes first and foremost and though I doubt we will win a title for a few seasons yet, all most of us ask for is that players give 100% all the time, and even if they do that doesn’t mean that everything will go right for them on the day.
    I look at the Euros and we have hardly seen giroud and not much of podolski so it is impossible to know how they will pan out in the Arsenal strip,but my gut feeling is that they will both be good acquisitions regardless if RVP stays or not.
    Some seem to overlook the point that Jack will not feature for some time,nor will Sagna and as of today we only have one keeper who appears to be staying..
    Wenger is not going to rush out and buy a replacemet for every player that gets injured but we still need to strengthen.
    Reading newsnow and alike is totally confusing but the fact there is still some uncertainty if several players out on loan will actually be sold or not, mainly Arshavin,Bendtner,Denilson and Vela.
    Others muted to be going on loan or leaving are Squillacci,FabianskiChamakh and even Ramsey.
    Then AW will have considered the Diaby injury record and to an extent Rosicky’s reoccurrence injury and age though he was a star player last season but can he do it again next season, and again a back up keeper is a must..
    Too few or too many changes are not a good game plan and it will be interesting to see who eventually is in the squad by the end of August.Personally i haven’t got a clue.

    As an aside it is hitting 40 degrees here every day and first thing in the morning is about the only time in the day when it is comfortable to put a few thoughts down.

  118. chas says:

    Seaman, Seaman,Seaman.

  119. chas says:

    Last one then I’ll stop. Promise.

  120. oz gunner says:

    god he was a ripper chas!

  121. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Morning all.
    I was at a dinner party last night. The brother of someone there has a holdiday let in Scotland, and amongst his many rules is that certain breeds of dogs are barred. One is, nothing German!

  122. MickyDidIt89 says:

    One type of Terrier…banned
    Any dog with any German ancestry…banned
    All children under 14…banned
    All cooking of curries…banned

  123. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Do we have a common consensus for tonight ie pasta all round?

  124. Big Raddy says:

    I ban anyone with a moustache entering my Italian home, sadly that precludes most Italian women over 40.

    Forza Italia Forza Azzurri …

  125. Big Raddy says:

    The vids are superb. We really are an International family.

    The Seamo vid reminds us that TPIG has great potential but needs to learn grace under pressure.

    The Song vid is a great reminder that Mr Wenger knows much more about football than supporters ever will. It is but a few seasons ago that the majority wanted Song out and thought he was totally out of his depth, AW said what and see – he was right.

  126. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Perfectly reasonable Raddy 🙂
    Now I am thinking about my own “to ban” list and realise what a reactionary pig I really am, and I haven’t got any further than Western Buddhists, Overweight people and anyone who owns an article of “leisure wear”!

  127. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Cripes there’s still a long long time until the first game.

  128. kelsey says:

    I will be supporting Spain, I have to as I have lived here for a considerable time and I feel duly obliged even though most are lazy bastards and the manana syndrome is a way of life.

    By the way were is 26th May ?

  129. Seven weeks until the first game 😦

    Hi Kelsey – 26th May offered to write a few posts for the summer and then disappeared, wait until I get my hands on him …….. 😉

  130. Big Raddy says:

    26 has been awol since he took his trip to Mandalay (or wherever it was). I am sure he will return when the season starts.

    Micky. I have the same rules regarding “leisurewear.” outside the home Seems perfectly reasonable

  131. nah kelsey, I reckon you need an Italia flag outside your house 😀

  132. Big Raddy says:

    Not having Becks in Team GB says all about Stuart Pearce who is the definition of an “angry” man, it is a churlish decision. Becks is the perfect impact sub and would be an inspiration to the kids and to all the fans who recognise him, though as with all high profile stars there are those who detest him. Age cannot be the reason with Giggs in the squad.

    Still … in all honesty I cannot give a monkey’s uncle (whatever that means) about Team GB

  133. New Post ……………….

  134. Kevin says:

    All I’d like to say is:


  135. Kevin says:

    With RVP leaving most probably, I think we can play 4-3-3.

    For the 1st few months, with Jack coming back from injury, we can start of with a midfield combining Coquelin-Song-Arteta or Song-Arteta-Rosicky. But our best team should look like this.

    ..Wilshere (Playing in the hole)…..

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