From defence to attack and the whole team in view

My first and last article was ‘The fundamentals of Football’ couple of years ago, the journey has been of mixed fortunes, and I must say the nature of my environment hasn’t encourage my consistent participation in blogging. Although, I often pop in and pop out quietly.


It will be surprising to many the fact that the edge of the knife on which the current Arsenal team is balanced is in fact the most overlooked player, not Giroud, not Ramsey, not Ozil, and no not Arteta, it is Per Mertersacker. The Arsenal team’s attack starts with the BFG and a solid proof of this were in the games he had missed this season, most notably the Old Trafford game and the less noticed Capital One cup defeat to Chelsea.

Arsenal’s game has improved so much due to the fact that on careful notice, it seems the team has a principle of setting the ball rolling which is for Szczesny to first, before any other player is considered, attempt a pass to the BFG, unless where impossible should he consider Koscielny and if that’s impossible hoof it to Giroud to hold up play (mostly against high pressing teams a la Dortmund) such that the order of priority of Szczesny’s pass is BFG, Koscielny, Giroud. Having a principle of play makes for harmony particularly where this principle is properly understood both by intelligence and competence

From the BFG, there are two likely outlets in the order of Arteta/Flamini, then Sagna. Supposing the two are marked out, then Koscielny is considered and if he is also marked and Ramsey is not dropping deep (which he mostly does) or he’s also marked, then a longer outlet is picked – this mostly is any of the no 10s further away from the deep lying players (There are at least, of recent, 4 no 10s on display per match, at times 5, rarely 3. The reason for this is discussed further down).

The objective of any of the above is to switch play from defense to attack smoothly. What particularly makes Per the balance of the team is that by technique,

1. He must be so positioned as to on almost all occasions be available for a pass from the Gk or recirculation from the rest of the team when breaking down the opposition seems difficult.

2. Makes certain that transition to attack from the defense is as seamless as much as possible by picking out a pass to Arteta, Flamini, Koscielny, Ramsey or further outfield with priority given to the order in which the names are listed

The successful switch of play from the defense to attack is the foundation of the free flowing game that the ‘Emirate Master Chef’ has been serving the salivating fan of the Arsenal world so far.

THE WHOLE TEAM IN VIEW (Attacking perspective)

It should be noticed from the above that there was mention of ‘from defense to attack’ and not ‘from defense to midfield to attack’ simply because the Arsenal team has more or less reduced the football pitch to two broad vertical segments of defense and attack with five defense minded players and five attacking players respectively on the logical sense (though obvious visually on the division of the football pitch) and three horizontal segments of left flank, middle and right flank also logically. What must be minded however is that to make this work perfectly, certain players of each department must be able to perform the functions of the other department effectively without restraint.

Arteta/Flamini – Ramsey/Wilshere/Ozil/Rosicky/Carzorla*

Technically Arteta is a no 10, but for the purpose of the game Arsenal plays, he is positioned in front of the back four as a member of the defense due to his extremely high positional sense and technicality, he shields the defense and initiates attack, however, he can in the same game find pockets of space in opponent’s defense (it is in this area that Flamini may be lacking). The same can be said of the attacking players who must apart from unlocking the opponent’s defense be able to do the Arteta job when he’s doing theirs.

Gibbs – Carzorla/Ozil/Wilshere/Rosicky/Ramsey/Walcott*

Operating on the left flank, Gibbs shields the defense from marauding wide men, however required to effectively finish the job is the ability to pick a pass to the next player in priority depending on location of dispossess. If in the defense, locate either Koscielny or Arteta or the nearest attacker, if in the half-way line, locate Arteta or the nearest attacker and if in possession of the ball in advance area, he must be able to either get past the opponent’s full back, pick a pass to the nearest or best positioned attacker or wipe in a pin-point cross. While engaged in the latter, the other attackers covering the flank must be able to function in his (Gibbs) position in the order in which he performs. This explanation applies to Sagna – Walcott/Wilshere/Ozil/Carzorla/Rosicky/Ramsey* on the right flank

Basically, the above shows most of the attacking players must be able to function across the horizontal segments without restraints, deputize for the wing backs and some must be able to also function in the space ranging from left to right in front of the defensive four

The revolving/rotational principle is based on the above, and it demands that players be highly intelligent and technical and it explains the fact that a youth player rising into the ranks continues to learn even when he seems obviously talented. In fact, established stars transferred to Arsenal are always want to express their readiness to learn under Arsene simply because there is much to learn to be able to function in this intricate system. It also justifies the World Scouting System developed by Arsene as there are few players that possess the basic requirement and therefore can rise to the pinnacle of this system. Certain players have mastered the system and are now playing on top of their game. Sagna, Gibbs, Monreal, Jenkinson (getting there), Ramsey, Arteta, Flamini (Across the heart of defense) Carzorla, Wilshere (last phase of learning right now at the right flank) are those of the current squared that are excelling in this multitasking scheme. Of the players listed only Ramsey seems to have had a complete education across all departments except the heart of defense, Striker and Goalkeeping, even that of striker can be argued based on current performances. Ozil must develop the remaining part – enduring the stress and maintaining high degree of accuracy which has been exposed by the intensity of the premier league as against that of the la liga.

The result of the above is a distributed goal tally, a proof of this is last season where four (4) Arsenal players scored into double digits each and the trend still continues. The advantage of this is less pressure on Giroud (the striker) to bear the scoring load.

Recently Arsene expressed his displeasure at the Ballon d’or wishing it cancelled simply because football is a team sport. It is principles of play like this that underscores his opinion where the working together of the parts is greater than the summation of the parts (Synergy)

Thank you.

Please note that this article is a partial view of the team when attacking as it does not consider the intricacies of the attack across the face of the opposition’s defense since this is based more on creativity than principle. It also does not consider the team when defending which not surprisingly this time around ironically tilts the knife-edge in favour of Giroud for balance – another article will be needed to cover this extensively.

Timmy (Adeosun Oluwatoba Timothy)


*Names are listed in the priority of consideration for the position

76 Responses to From defence to attack and the whole team in view

  1. Big Raddy says:

    Timmy. Wow. That is quite some stretch for my Sunday Morning head!

    Some fine points raised as well as excellent observation. It feels as though I have been reading a football thesis!

    As you rightly say, BFG is the crux of the transition, his intelligence has become so important to the team.

    And, as you say, the current Arsenal is above all else a Team, as opposed to sides dependent upon one or two players (MU, L’pool and in the past, AFC).

    I will re-read the post and comment further.

  2. Gööner In Exile says:

    Timmy agree wholeheartedly on BFG being the fulcrum of attack he is very good in possession, and more often than not finds feet, when our game starts to struggle is when the opposition put a man on the deepest midfielder (Arteta) and the other midfielders stop providing an outlet for BFG, at one point on Saturday last week BFG had to end up going back to Szczesny and he turned to barrack the midfield immediately as not enough had given him an option to feet.

  3. Norfolk Gooner says:

    ‘morning AAers, Careful Timmy, you don’t want to give too many of our secrets away. 😀

  4. First post Timmy ? Excellent , well done.

  5. evonne says:

    Timmy, I don’t understand how you can live in Nigeria and have such insight into the game? I assume you only get to watch the games on the telly, like me, and therefore are restricted to following the camera’s path. I thought that only those who go to games get a bigger picture and a full understanding of the game.

    You proved me wrong and i don’t like it 🙂 Jokes aside, a very good post and a big thank you for taking time to write it.

    I mentioned before that some radio pundits think that Koscielny is constantly covering up for BFG. I don’t think so, but I must admit that I feel more confident when I see LK and PM on the pitch together. Is Per really the playmaker? I am going to watch out for him tomorrow!

    cheers Timmy

  6. r0blucci says:

    Timmy, Ramsey actually had played as a CB before, against Liverpool. Na$ri’s last game with us.

  7. fatgingergooner says:

    A lot of lazy players in the Spurs team today considering they are playing an away game at one of the hardest working teams in PL. Adebayor, Lamela, Eriksen and Soldado all starting!

    Risky from Sherwood.

  8. r0blucci says:

    Anyway, what a post Timmy.

    It aslo higlight how integral and important Arteta in our system right now, and explain why our midfield was so exposed against City.

    and Wilshere on the wing is the last phase eh? Wow, if the progression of Ramsey is set as a benchmark for him, we will finish this season with the best defence in the league. Why? Because Ramsey interceptions and tackles per game rose incredibly high in the second half of last season. and before his long lay off, Wilshere actually was very impressive as a deep lying midfielder alongside Fabregas.

    I think Wenger tried in preseason to see whether Ramsey and Wilshere pairing in the middle would work. It doesnt work as much as he like. So wilshere, wing!

  9. GunnerN5 says:


    Timmy I rarely salivate over articles but that is the very best article that I’ve read in all my time here on AA.

    You display a depth of knowledge and understanding of Arsenal that is truly amazing, and as Evonne pointed out it’s uncanny that you gained this wisdom from the television.

    Your analysis is superb and should become mandatory
    reading for all Arsenal supporters – and journalists.

    Here in London, Ontario, Canada we are anticipating an ice storm to reek havoc for the next two days but you just added a brilliant ray of sunshine to my day.

    Whatever the reasons are for you being unable to blog on a regular basis – I for one hope that they disappear.

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you………

    Did I say Thank you?

  10. Rasp says:

    Top drawer Timmy, may I echo the comments of others in applauding the quality of your writing and the technical understanding that went into your analysis of our style of play – there is nothing I can disagree with.

    Because your first article for AA was so long ago many have assumed this is your first post, but as a benchmark for your own standard the bar is set very high.

    As regards your analysis; in previous seasons I used to get quite frustrated at the amount of time we would spend passing the ball back to the CB’s – how were we going to score from there? Well often we didn’t because we found it hard to score when the bus was parked.

    Nowadays I have no problem with what many would describe as the ‘slow probing build-up’ because we have players like Ramsey, Cazorla and Ozil who can see a pass or make a run that can (and does) unlock the most obdurate of defences. I don’t believe we have quite solved the best formation for our midfield and paradoxically the return of players just serves to complicate that process. We have missed the pace of Walcott though and I expect him to be the one to propel us forward in the second half of the season.

  11. LB says:

    Ahh, Timmy, now I understand, you are a football man.

    I don’t believe it’s possible to give the BFG too much praise but nice try (picture smiley face here)

  12. Gööner In Exile says:

    So Sherwoodobviously felt AVBs 4-3-3 could be bettered by playing a 4-4-2……going well so far.

    Be funny if AvB tweets a pic of himself enjoying a beer and celebrating the result like Adebarndoor did 😀

  13. Gööner In Exile says:

    Bollix spoke too soon

  14. RockyLives says:

    Fantastic Post Timmy
    I have been banging the drum for the BFG’s importance to our side for quite some time now (I know I’m far from the only one to have spotted it).

    From his first season with us I felt he was the best ‘footballing’ CB we have had for a very long time – probably since David O’Leary.

    Consequently he is there not just to defend, but also – as you have so brilliantly demonstrated – to transition from defence into attack. His pass selection and accuracy are as good as a top midfielder’s.

    Please don’t wait 2 more years before contributing your third Post 😀

  15. RockyLives says:

    There aren’t too many comments (I assume because of pre-Christmas busyness) but you should know that more than 1500 people have looked at your Post so far.

  16. GunnerN5 says:

    Well done Rocky,

    This is an incredible article and deserves 100’s of comments.

  17. RockyLives says:

    How’s the ice storm affecting you Gn5?

    We had a biggish branch down in the back yard and there are some big power outages in Toronto (not in our area, thankfully). A lot of big branches down around the town.

    I stood on my back deck for about 15 minutes and in that time I heard four branches come crashing down around the neighbourhood.

  18. Big Raddy says:

    Rocky. Be Careful Out There

  19. GunnerN5 says:


    So far we have been spared the temperature is +2 at the moment.
    But the threat is still on.

  20. Hi
    Hope u r all ok Swansea lost loll

  21. chas says:

    Having just read this post, I’m left in a state of awe.

    Many thanks, Timmy.

  22. MickyDidIt89 says:


    Absolutely superb article. Thank you very much.

    You certainly drew the short straw with “blog death Sunday”. It’s last big shopping day before Christmas, as well as the lull before the storm ie Chelsea game tomorrow.

    So, all the top teams have won this weekend. Doesn’t bode well for Chelsea 🙂

  23. MickyDidIt89 says:


    What do you look like when in “awe”?

  24. RockyLives says:

    Ice Storm:

  25. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Love the aerial on the car, Rocky.

  26. Kgööner says:

    Timmy, brilliant article and well thought out. Your football wit clearly comes out.
    Deserves 150+ comments.

  27. chas says:

    If you imagine the look on my face when i saw that Wilshere goal against Naarwich, well that’s pretty much it.

  28. chas says:

    This post is a little like Alan Hudson – ahead of its time.

  29. arnie says:

    Lovely post, Timmy. Back to the post later.

    But for us, escaping the snow storm was fantastic, ha ha ha. Sarasota is warm and lovely. But we will be back to the snow and ice on the 30th. 😀 😀

  30. chas says:

    Seasons Greetings, AAers.

  31. chas says:

    Here’s a little Tourettes karaoke tune for a quiet Sunday evening,
    (beware bad language)

  32. chas says:

    Apologies, I didn’t realise he said a banned word.
    Please delete if offended.

  33. chas says:

  34. Gööner In Exile says:

    Chas given title of video I doubt any sensitive types will press play 🙂

  35. Gööner In Exile says:

    I’d really like us to be top on Christmas Day.

    I reckon players would too….I don’t like that a draw gets us there….must play for the win tomorrow!

  36. neamman says:

    Wont we be third after a draw? I thought our GD was inferior.

  37. Your right, neamman !…….GIE`s only an accountant, what do you expect !. No wonder he`s swingometer confuses Hawking !. hahaha

  38. arnie says:

    lovely, absolutely brilliant, analysis, Timmy. Wow!!!!! I am not really a technical person on formation and strategy in footie. But, the way you describe the movement, first from defence to attack, and second, from left frank to middle to right flank is amazing. Even I can feel I understand your argument. And no arguments at all!!!

    Fantastic, fantastic, absolutely fantastic!!!!! 😀 😀 😀

  39. arnie says:

    I hope guys up north in North America are safe and sound. GN5, Rocky, probably others as well? 😀 😀

  40. Gööner In Exile says:

    Lol Cockie …. Neamann is right we can’t go top with a draw, but we could go 2nd as we are currently on same points as Shitty.

    I blame Spuds….who loses 5-0 at home to the Dipoers?

  41. weedonald says:

    Timmy…..absolutely fabulous post….and highlights the complexity of Wenger’s tactical approach while putting paid to those whiners screaming for us to buy another striker. Wenger seems to have developed his players into a well-oiled machine and adding new components to it is not the solution. He will probably work more on integrating those already playing, into a more efficient machine.

  42. arnie says:

    all set for tomorrow, crucial game, Raddy’s pre-match to liven the morning up. Watching the match in Kokonut Bar in Bradenton Beach FL. It is a Chelsea bar, so AA ers, please wish me luck!!! 😀 😀

  43. RockyLives says:

    Just give it large Arnie:

    Whatever the result, you support a REAL team that plays great football and competes with the best without being financially doped.

    Chelsea are Lance Armstrong or Ben Johnson. We are Roy of the Rovers, Billy’s Boots and Bend It Like Beckham.

    They are Communism we are Pluralism. They are Roundheads, we are Cavaliers. They are The Terminator, we are Sarah Connors.

    Even if they beat us 20-nil, you should hold your head high and look on them as the eagles looks on the ant.

    Come On You Gunners!!!

  44. chas says:

    They are John Terry, we are Dennis Bergkamp.

  45. chas says:

    What’s wrong with being a Roundhead?

  46. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Who the ‘king hell is Sarah Connors? 🙂

    Theo Time Tonight.

  47. arnie says:

    ha ha ha, Rocky and Chas. Will do my absolute best. Intend to shout a lot. We will do very well, at least a draw, but we should really get a victory.

    Not sure about the Communism bit. Abramovitch’s team after all. I will put it as: They are Autocracy we are Pluralism. 😀 😀 😀


  48. chas says:

    On this day, 35 years ago (eek)……..

  49. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Whispering here:
    “Arnie. 4am gmt = pub closing Rocky time. Hint hint”

  50. arnie says:

    Micky: Sarah Jeanette Connor is the protagonist in The Terminator series.

    Good fun!!!!!

  51. arnie says:

    ha ha ha, Micky, off to bed now, with dreams of how the Raddy show is going to shape up by morning!!!! 😀 😀 😀

  52. arnie says:

    My god, Micky and Chas, you guys are alive and kicking at this time of the morning!!!!! 😀 😀

  53. chas says:

    Are you saying Rocky has been on the Christmas sauce?

  54. arnie says:

    Before I go, once again, Great work Timmy. You set very high standards. I have to keep your analysis in mind next time I write something on strategy. And I have also to look back to my previous writings, to see whether I have wrongly contradicted any of your analysis. Great stuff!!!! 😀 😀 😀

  55. arnie says:

    Personally, I am not worried about the over-hyped criminals in the Chavs team, but a little bit wary of the Maureen. All said and done, he is a crook but a fine strategist at the same time!!!! 😀 😀

  56. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Sweet dreams Arnie.

    Chas. He hits the Baileys pretty hard at this time of year 🙂

  57. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Do you spend Christmas Day with Ant, because if so, the mind does boggle somewhat 🙂

  58. chas says:

    I don’t actually, Micky.
    I prefer to spend it with some folks who like a drink. 🙂

    This was what we were up to on Saturday night.

  59. MickyDidIt89 says:


    Oh that makes sense, because that Ant bloke is virtually tea total by any reasonable standards 🙂

  60. chas says:

    It’s going to be grandma’s bloomers weather at THOF tonight.
    Extremely wet and windy.

  61. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Well, I for one, think it’s nice that on Christmas Day you allow yourself to let the hair down and enjoy a quiet drink.

    Make a nice change. You deserve it.

  62. chas says:

    Btw, no offence to any grandmas who may be looking in. 🙂

  63. chas says:

    I do take it steady on Christmas day, truth be known.
    Now as for Boxing day…………………………

  64. MickyDidIt89 says:

    100% chance rain. Winds SSW 34mph.
    Could time to be in the East stand. That’ll be LB and 26.

  65. chas says:

    Right must go.
    Finishing work at 3pm for the drive down.
    Should leave enough time for a couple of sherbets. 🙂

  66. Gööner In Exile says:

    What are the chances of postponement given the weather warnings.

  67. evonne says:

    Fair chance GiE, the forecasts are a dismal read, heavy rain all day

    I’d hate it to be postponed, it is our christmas present, no good delivered in March

  68. Gööner In Exile says:

    I think it’s Grandma’s bloomers plus Grandad’s Long Johns then five layers on top of that.

  69. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Fine day for it.

  70. evonne says:

    Raddy – it might be a fine day in Denmark, but that is not relevant to our return to the top

  71. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Well if the game was down West Country, it’d be offski. Forecast say 33 mph winds, Didit say gusting 50.

    Really hope it’s not off, as we’ll never be better prepared ie 9 days rest beforehand 😦

  72. Big Raddy says:

    Lovely morning here but forecast for a storm coming from the south-west. Probably the one you have.

    Please, pretty please, let the game be played tonight

  73. Rasp says:

    Morning all ……

    …….. New post ……..

  74. Enlightening !

    I’d very much like to hear your suggestions about potential new recruits for the team. Who should we buy to fit in this collective minded team ?

  75. Timmy says:

    Hello AAers

    I’m really sorry for not responding on time to all these comments as I’m just reading the post, of course I’ve been flattered by all these positive comments and I can just say I’m pleased to know the post achieved its intended purpose-to explain the Arsenal setup.

    Let me respond to the very last comment before this

    Benjamin Rochet
    If I have to suggest potential new recruits, I’d say we need blend of players that have self motivation to learn and succeed. The obvious department where we seem to need direct impact is a capable subtitute for Giroud. Someone who will effective ball retention too hold up play and fantastic engine to harrass opposition defense off the ball. Those two qualities will require fantastic engine and right now two players come to mind – Robert Lewandowski and Luis Suarez, for now Robert seems to be the gettable that’s if Bayer Munich refuses to show up. However if those two are not available, we have an option in Joel Campbell who is on loan in Greece, he can mature into the role.
    Another option is on the flanks when we want to stretch play using natural wingers. That aspect seems to be covered with the availability of Walcott, Podolski, the Ox, Serge, and that boy on loan Wellington Silva. Ryo still need some level of maturity in wing play

    Actually I cannot say the Tv has not been restrictive coz, I’ve not been privileged to analyse off-the-ball movement of players since the camera only focuses on the ball. I also hope that’s a challenge for many that just always want to maintain a standpoint even when not supported by logic to always consider the factors that applies before making disparaging comment mostly about the Manager and his Team

    Rocky Lives
    I certainly will try as much as possible to cover the defensive aspect of our game, probably sometime before the end of Q1 2014

    That’s really humorous but seriously the more they understand the more they’ll fear us as from that system alone, different strategies of attack can be generated to break down any stubborn defense or worst still wear them down to exhaustion or to distraction. Patience is always key.

    Dear all thanks once again for the open mindedness with which the article was received.

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