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.
TRANSITION FROM DEFENCE TO ATTACK
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)
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