When Arsene brought in the bald-headed rock as his number 2, Arsenal fans’ cheers could be heard around the world! We had been crying out for a defensive coach for a few seasons after watching our creaky defence ship goal after goal, non more embarrassing than the 8 we let in at Old Trafford.
Since his arrival, we have looked a lot more solid as a defensive unit, and at the time of writing this we have the best defensive record in the league after 10 games. So surely its been a blessing rather than a curse?
Well, no! because obvious improvement in defence have come at a massive cost to our attack.
Our attacking play has suffered immeasurably since the arrival of Wengers new right hand man. Some will put this down to the fact we have sold not only our leading marksman from last year, RvP, but also our leading assist maker, in Alex Song. However, i believe that with the arrival of the creative Cazorla, the return of Wilshire, and the signings of 2 International, goal-hungry strikers,surely we should still have enough in the locker to be creating a whole lot more than we have seen in the opening third of the season?
The problem seems to lie with the defensive work that is now being put on our 2 wide attacking players. Podolski and Ramsey have been the 2 filling the positions recently, and they are being asked to do a lot of work tracking attacking full backs and providing extra bodies in midfield. Whilst this has worked excellently against the big guns away from home like Liverpool and City, it has been a failure to switch back to a more attacking mind set against lesser teams like QPR, Norwich and Sunderland that has seen us produce limp attacking displays of late. Also, the inability to switch mind set during a game after going behind like we did against United and Chelsea, has given the impression that players don’t really care.
The clash of styles between Wengers free-flowing ‘Wengerball’ (apparently mooted as a possible title for the next James Bond film) and Steve Bould’s hard working approach seems to have confused some of our players who are showing less urgency to make attacking movements which has resulted in us looking uncharacteristically static as a forward unit. If rumours are to be believed that Wenger and Bould themselves have had heated exchanges about the teams tactics, then you can understand why the players are struggling with it so much.
Personally, I believe there is a place for both styles in the current Arsenal team, but not at the same time.
Against the bigger teams away from home, the merits of playing Boulds more defensive, counter attacking style is there to see and has already produced some excellent results away at Liverpool and City, but the players must learn to switch mind sets when falling behind so as not to produce lacklustre performances like the one we saw at United.
As for Wengerball, the team must get back to quick tempo, short passing and direct running if they are to produce the Arsenal play of old. We have a lot more creativity in the team this year, espescially in midfield, but this is no good to anyone if our wide players are too negative or deep to make the penetrating, attack minded runs. Wenger must find a way to take the shackles off against weaker sides, whilst also making sure we are not fully open to the counter attack, something he mastered for the first 10 years of his tenure.
The problem seems to be with trying to play both ways at once, and it is confusing the players. It’s time for Wenger to lift the curse of Steve Bould and make sure that the players know who’s in charge, and make sure that the players know exactly which game-plan he wants them to execute before they walk on the field.
Written by slimgingergooner