Is it time for round pegs in round holes?

I started to write this post after Alexis started up top against Everton, before we decided to bring Welbeck into the fold, and before we knew the extent of Giroud’s injury.

This is probably Arsene’s biggest weakness as a coach, I am not sure if it is due to pressure from above, the players or maybe even the fans but I feel that he is guilty on occasion of playing players because of their status rather than because they are best suited to the position, I’m not sure this was the case at Everton definitely more to do with a well holidayed Olivier Giroud, but far too often we see square pegs in round holes to get the best 11 names available on to the pitch rather than the best team on the pitch.

Before the Everton game I was convinced that Alexis wasn’t the answer to the centre forward conundrum but also that playing him there for any length of time would result in the team suffering overall.

Let me clarify I think Alexis can play up top he proved as much in his performance against Besiktas, but in our current style of play and because of his other attributes I do not see that position as being the best utilisation of his skillset. He is fast, he is hungry to win back possession and can score goals from wide, these three ingredients make him ideal to play on the wing. When he loses possession the defenders are not given time to clear their lines, he often wins the ball back and his presence on the pitch stops opposing fullbacks pushing on as much as they normally would. (Have you ever seen Kolarov so deep before?)

With Giroud now out until the new year there is a vacancy up top, I hope this is filled by Welbeck rather than anyone else, mainly because he is a centre forward and unlike Sanchez does not offer much more to the team than an end point for fast attacking moves. And if Welbeck isn’t fit? Then I’d rather play Sanogo or Podolski.

In my view our best attacking front three all fit would be Theo, Giroud, Alexis. The centre backs never push on, but the pace of Theo and Sanchez wide would be a constant question in the full backs mind and prevent them helping their wingers regularly. However Welbeck has a chance to stake a claim for the shirt with Olivier out but he needs to show the ability to assist link up play and to be better than Oli use his pace to get on the end of the return pass.

Theo is probably not the best at winning the ball back but if it becomes a new ethos in the team I can see Campbell giving him a run for his money before long if he does not add this to his game.

Santi and Ozil are not wingers, again they should be utilised where their attributes are used to greatest effect, unfortunately for them that means they compete for the same spot in the side, and if Welbeck is out I don’t want to see Theo or Alexis moved central to use one of Santi or Ozil out wide, if Theo or Alexis get injured I want to see real like for like replacements so Campbell or Ox.

Then we have the box to box midfielder that’s Aaron or Jack, and holding midfield well that’s Arteta or Flamini.

At the back we have three centre backs, although another body in there would have completed a capable defence, should an injury befall Debuchy I think i’d rather Bellerin be used than Chambers keeping him fresh for when he is needed in the more key central position.

So please Arsene let’s stick to players in their positions rather than finding a spot for them in the team.

This is how I see first and second choices from the current squad.







That leaves Martinez, Hayden, Coquelin, Rosicky, Podolski, Sanogo to make up the squad numbers when absolutely necessary.

It is not an easy task keeping players happy, but squads need rotation in the modern game, so Santi will not be sitting on the bench for weeks on end, to play him ahead of a more natural and pacy winger is appeasement of the player rather than for the benefit of the team and the system. And I’m sure at this point many will be saying “but x is too good to be a squad player”, well Petr Cech is too good to be a no 2 keeper, Sagna too good to be a no 2 right back, or BSR too good to be no 2 striker, they all probably are, but what City have shown in the last few seasons is that ready replacements playing in their natural position in the attacking half of the pitch is much more important than like for like defensive cover.

What say you?

Gooner in Exile

120 Responses to Is it time for round pegs in round holes?

  1. Thanks for the post Exile, I’m a Knot Ear today but the gist of my answer were I here is that injuries/suspensions will mean that rarely will a player be left out for a spell of time.

    We play too many games and pick up too many injuries for the “how do we keep all the players happy”issue to occur,

  2. LB says:

    There’s enough material up there for about 46 posts, I am not sure where to start.

  3. LB says:

    Good thought provoking read though.

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi to all AAers 🙂

    GiE, great post and many will agree with you. The notion that a footballer can only have one ‘best position’ is very popular, but I reckon this is not what Wenger wants. Versatility is important. FBs that can play as CBs, CFs that can defend and do hold up play as well as score, midfielders who can do defending, dribbling, killer passes, intricate triangle passing, the whole lot….etc.

    Ozil and Sanchez are destined for the ‘wings’ because Wenger is not looking for the classical winger anymore – and wing play needs to come from the full/wing backs now. We need players on the wing who can launch the FBs, hold on to the ball and participate with integrate passing, make it themselves to the byline occasionally, and also defend and support the FBs, and score goals of course.

    Many see Ozil or Santi in the hole, but in our system we need somebody who is a mixture of an attacking midfielder ala Cesc and a nr.10 ala DB10. Somebody who owns the area, bosses it and connects seamlessly midfield with attack. I am still hoping Ozil will claim it, and I reckon it will be Jack’s eventually, but if it was up to me Alexis would be the man in the hole all day long. However, and coming back a bit to your excellent post, Alexis can play anywhere upfront and more players can play in the hole and be effective, and this is exactly as it should be. We don’t want carpenters, bricklayers and roofers…. We want multi-disciplined, top quality craftsmen.

    Wenger ain’t finished yet. 🙂

  5. LB says:

    Good to read one of your comments again TA and one I certainly agree with as well.

  6. Norfolk Gooner says:

    ‘morning all,

    That’s a great post GiE, it will take me some time to digest it so my comments will come later.

    From earlier this morning…Thank you Arnie for excluding the good folk of Norfolk from the “Southern Numpties” description. On the vexed question of independence for Sconny Botland, I can fully understand the purely nationalist sentiments but in financial terms it will be a disaster of catastrophic proportions for the Scottish people.

  7. Gööner In Exile says:

    Nice to see you TA, even if you have come here with your fanciful total football dutch ways 😀

    Its not that i disagree entirely with the total football methodology, but i do believe that players should be played where the team gets the most from them, so Ozil out on the wing means two things, our full back will be dealing with two players whenever we are defending, and we will be limiting his influence to one side of the pitch.

    Whenever Santi starts out wide he drifts in to the middle, as does Ozil, and even TR7.

    Also having pace on both flanks would avoid our attacks becoming lop sided and the defence knowing that the threat will be the side Sanchez is on. As good as Santi and Ozil are their threat from out wide is in one direction only.

    Have them in the middle and pace out wide the defence will have threats in all directions to worry about when they have ball at feet.

  8. stevepalmer1 says:

    Morning all.
    Now that is a sensible post, my compliments Exile.
    I see things slightly different with your view of Chamber’s Only in the sense that you say round pegs in square holes or vica versa. C hambers was brought as a Right Back that is his position and you have him as centre half. Now i don’t see that as drastic as Chamber’s i feel could and would play anywhere just to get a game.

    I agree with most of what you say though, horses for courses i think is always the best way. You speak of Wengers weak spots and although i am an admirer of Wenger, i feel he has a lot more weak spots.

    We went years with a bad defence, we needed players badly, Cahill and Samba who were playing well for their clubs at the time would have been a steal at the price at the time, But wenger ignored them and went for cheapies who were not good. We also have gone a long time after losing Henry and Van Persie again we went for, or settled for inadequate strikers, Now i understand how money has been short and i accepted that we were strapped for cash. but even so, those positions were crucial at the time.

    Now things seems to have changed and money seems freely available, but last year when we needed a holding midfielder and a better striker, he buys another midfielder in Ozil, Now i don’t doubt Ozils ability he is or will be outstanding but he wasn’t what was needed at the time.

    Again in this window Holding Midfielder and a Striker. This time we get a replacement right back. a replacement Goalkeeper a bit of a kid from Southampton and another attacking midfielder in Sanchez where is the holding Mid, and i was going to say a centre forward.

    Giroud gets injured and we are forced in the last seconds to buy Welbeck but only under duress. Of course all these acquisitions will all help this team, whether Wenger plans this way or not could be a master stroke but in my opinion it was left to fate.

    Yes what you have stated is like a sane man would i can understand your thinking and agree mostly with it, But Arsene has always confused me, i cannot Knock him as results and top fours are blinding results but when i see a weakness i feel it should be filled now, not in a couple of seasons.

  9. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers LB, good to see you writing and commenting with the same verve as ever. Always enjoy your posts. 🙂

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi GiE,

    Congrats on the happy birth of your second mini-Exile! 🙂

    Agreed on a lot there. Have not got much time now but will get back later.

  11. RA says:

    A super Post, GIE, and up to the high standard you set yourself. 😉

    Arsene has historically seemed to have a notion for trying out players if positions they were not originally noted for.

    As an example, Thierry was seen as a winger before he joined Arsenal, and indeed in the WC he played as a winger for France.
    When he came to us, and after a pretty goalless start, it was not long before he switched to CF and we all know what happened next.

    I instinctively agree with most of what you have said, because the opposite has also happened in that Podolski, who by any standards has had a tremendous career in Germany internationals, was tried out at CF by Arsene, because of injuries, and really did not cut it.
    The consequence is that he has sat out too many games on the bench.

    You said that Welbeck is a natural CF and I happen to agree with you, and yet at 23 he has spent most of his professional career playing as a winger. If Arsene switches him to CF he may become another Henry.

    You know I admire your grasp over many of the footie technical matters including formations and tactics etc, and I have never really gotten into some of it, perhaps because I am stupid, but there is also another reason, and I will tell you why.

    With the advent of technology to go with so many games on TV, the pundits, mainly ex-players, put up schematics on the screen showing 4, 4, 2 or 4, 3, 3 etc to explain this or that, and inevitably then match those positions with the ‘relevant’ players, and suddenly most of us have come to believe that ‘X’ is a ‘wide-man’, ‘Z’ is an attacking midfielder and so on, because they have told us so.

    Actually, I do not think AW sees players in that light, and puts them where he thinks they will best suit the needs of the team, without the players being labelled as a defensive this or an attacking that.

    Over they years many other managers have played people out of ‘position’, with wingers being ‘converted’ to left back or right back, or moving an acknowledged back further forward.

    An example of that is Gareth Bale. For his formative years and up to and including his first season at Spurs, he was labelled ‘a left back’, and a not particularly good one, in my opinion.
    He was then moved to midfield before becoming a ‘roving attacker’ and he ended up being the most expensive player in the world.

    But back to why I think you have a very good point, in that we should not stick square pegs (players) into round holes.

    There are two reasons why moving a player from one position to another can go wrong, and that is more frequently than not, it just does not work, and contiguous with that, it often takes the manager too long to realise that sticking with the idea is not going to make it work.

    The conservative but pragmatic solution is for a manager to keep players in positions where they are at least capable of performing at a decent, and in Sanchez’s case an exceptional level, and not risk the being abject in their new roles.

    That said we should all be capable of flexibility of mind and not stuck in some rigid view of where a player must play.

    Finally, two contrasting example of showing the above points with two players currently at Arsenal.

    First is Monreal. He is a left back. Yes that is right – in my opinion – he most definitely is a left back. He is not and never will be an adequate Centre Back. Square pegs and round holes!!!

    Secondly there is Chambers. He is a right back – or so we were all told and that is where he mainly played in his formative years. (Shades of Bale). But Arsene moved him in a needs must kind of way because of injury, and he seems to be even better as a Centre Back, and might become an Arsenal great there.

    In addition, many of us would like to see him tried out in a central midfield role, and he might be even better still.

    So, there we have it – pragmatism in the case of Monreal and flexibility of thought in the case of chambers.

    Thank you for allowing me to expound on that GIE. 😀

  12. RA says:

    Hi TA, you rascal. Great to see you! 😀

  13. Gööner In Exile says:

    Only you RA could write a more verbose response than the post itself 😀

  14. Gööner In Exile says:

    Just read an interview with Chambers where it appears he actually invoked his move from midfield to right back.

  15. RA says:


    Well that GoonerB Good was challenging for the longest comment! 😀

  16. Gööner In Exile says:

    RA, Hopefully GoonerB will come to put you to the sword later.

    Tend to find youngsters are always more flexible in positions, as I said yesterday Ox’s versatility could be a stumbling block for the lad.

    Remember when Toure first played for Arsenal and he would be running all over the pitch, normally coming on at right midfield, had no idea he was actually a centre back.

    Which I guess is in line with TAs theory about the type of player Arsene likes, good on the ball, which then makes them able to play in a multitude of positions. The total football type players made sense when we had a tighter wage budget, but now with increasing funds available I think we can limit ourselves to players who are more expert in given roles, which may not provide value for money but like City gives us the ability not to have to change style depending on players available instead slotting men in and out as needed.

  17. RA says:

    You are perhaps correct there too, Exile, but in the final analysis we will never be able to match Citeh, Chavs or Manure on specialist direct spend.

    Youth and multi-task players ( I won’t say Jacks of all trades) have got to continue being the way forward for us.

  18. LB says:

    Very interesting interview with Chambers; I am surprised to find out that he was the one who wanted to move from the midfield to right back.

  19. mickydidit89 says:

    Hooray for Exile
    100% agree, which is bad news for Arsene, because I keep telling him that I’m getting a bit sick of our midfielders and attackers all running about willy nilly like headless chickens. Shape and structure is what they need Arsene.
    Still he keeps telling me I’m an effing idiot and I’ve got no qualifications.
    “Ah ha, Arsene, but I know that all round footballing brainbox Exile, and he’s got badges and shit, so just because you’ve got a side parting, floppy hair and suit with sharp edges means diddly squat to me. Listen to Exile”.
    Mesut starts in the middle, or it’s black scarf time for me 🙂

  20. wally says:

    Good post. And we do play a lot of people out of position. At the end of the day we have only one naturally wide player, Theo. Everyone else is more naturally a central player. And it’s reflected in the way the team plays. They all drift inside don’t they which leads to us playing too narrow and slowing the pace of play down.
    As to our fb’s getting forward my response is so what. They’re no threat offensively. They obviously can’t attack the defender and they haven’t been able to put in a decent cross in years (nor do we have people in the box to attack a cross).
    I think Sanchez might be best utilized with someone else up top. Someone to play off of or play to. If they have welbeck play off the defenders shoulder instead of as a post that might rejuvenate the speed of our attack. It revives the threat of someone moving beyond the defender and could create more space between the defence and the midfield.
    I’m very keen to see how welbeck is used. And i’ll be very disappointed if we simply see more of the same.

  21. RC78 says:

    I am more of a believer that good defense win you trophies…If you can play attractive and high-scoring football, it is great but that will only win you trophies if you have defensive solidity…Our Invincibles were invincibles mainly due to our amazing defensive displays and all our most EPL titles before that were the result of strong defenses coupled with creative attacking football. We have lost a few leagues due to our defensive frailty and I feel like that this will cost us the league again this year because we do not have a proper DM nor do we have enough and adequate cover at the back…

    Goalies – Szecesny + Ospona = Very good
    RB – Debuchy + Bellerin = Very good first choice / unproven back-up
    CB – BFG, Kos, Chambers = Great but what if BFG is injured and Kos suspended…we desperately need a 4th CB, ideally a proven one in the EPL…
    LB – Gibbs + Monreal = Good first choice but unreliable back-up
    DM – Arteta, Flamini + Coquelin = Good but not against the big teams + Coquelin is not really an asset to the team

    If I were AW, I would have tried to lure Fernandinho, Lucas Leiva, Luiz Gustavo or Xabi Alonso or Bender or Willian Carvalho or Khedira or even Barry as DM and I would let Coquelin go…

    Similarly, I would have loaned out Bellerin & Jenkinson to get Abate or Coleman on top of Debuchy and I would have sold Monreal to get De Sciglio or Nagatomo.

    Finally, I would have gone in the market for a 4th CB – Manolas was available but we could have gone for a player like D. Agger or J. Lescott or A. Williams or even B. Hangelaand. They would have really pushed BFG and Kos to be better and would have been able to partner up with Chambers in Cup Games…

    What do you say about this squad now?

    Szecesny (Ospina) –
    Debuchy (Abate), BFG (Chambers), Kos (Agger), Nagatomo (Gibbs) –
    Ramsey (Wilshere), Xabi Alonso (Arteta)
    – Ozil (Cazorla) –
    Walcott (Ox), Welbeck (Giroud), Sanchez (Campbell)

    + Martinez, Flamini, Diaby, Hayden, Rosicky, Gnabry, Podolski, Sanogo

  22. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi RA, a typically robust follow up comment and all agreed. I reckon if Nacho does not make it as sub-CB he will be replaced by a FB who can, as per your example of chambers.

  23. TotalArsenal says:

    GiE, no double Dutch intended. 🙂

    Arsene doesn’t really do TF IMO, but he does like to get the best out of our players and is always looking to reinvent things, despite what many think.

    I believe Ozil is free to roam when he is played on the left, to add value where he can. If we play him centrally he also goes everywhere he believes he can help our attack. He is a free agent who likes to move and Wenger wants him to do so. I agree with the risk re supporting the FB,but I still think it is worth it. Terry reckons he needs to study videos of Pires and that is by far the smartest thing he has ever said! 😆

    Agreed re the benefits of pace on the flanks. The problem is pace is badly hampered by lack of space, especially during the 25 or so PL matches we play the PTB teams. Pace alone is not enough, and the FBs are better positioned to get behind the busses anyway, with the help of clever, intricate attacking play from our mid-wings and others.

    Let’s see what happens. Do I want to see Alexis – OG/Welbeck – Theo with Ozil behind them? Yes, certainly against the teams who don’t PTB. The good thing is we have options, but Wenger will stick to his plan until it will come to full fruition and players will be moved about and made to learn to play in a different ways and roles. One day we’ll see OG in defence and the BFG as our CF! 😉

  24. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Football as a game is constantly evolving, of that there can be no doubt.

    Formations are invented, used for a while and discarded.

    Playing positions are equally subject to change.

    As an instance, during the World Cup England mainly used a 4-2-3-1 formation, against Norway a 4-4-2 and against Switzerland a 4-1-2-1-2. All using basically the same squad of players, with the notable exception of one or two.

    Go back a few years and all teams operated with a ‘keeper, a left and right back, a centre half, two half-backs, a left and right winger, a left and right inside forward and a centre forward.

    Latterly we’ve had sweepers, wing-backs. Twin centre-backs. Holding mid-fielders, attacking mid-fielders, defensive mid-fielders and box to box midfielders. We have central strikers, withdrawn number nines, false number nines, number tens who play “in the hole”. Wingers and wingers who tuck in.

    I’m sure you can all name more, but you get my point.

    At Arsenal we have had for many years a manager who has been determined to use players who are capable of filling more than one role, one example was that of Nacho Monreal who suddenly, and much to my amazement, featured at centre back.

    An up to date example of Wenger’s liking for multi-positional players is Callum Chambers. He started out as a midfielder (choose any one of the above categories) but asked to play at right-back. Wenger bought him and immediately played him as a centre-back whilst commenting that he thought he would eventually play in mid-field.

    Today’s player must be adaptable, he must be able to change with the system being played and be able to change his own role within that system.

    In conclusion I don’t think it’s any longer a case of square pegs in round holes or round pegs in square holes or indeed pegs and holes of any shape. Football isn’t a game of chess where the pieces have a pre-ordained position and function, modern football is far too fluid for any such rigidity.

    Sorry folks that turned out to be a longer comment than I intended.

  25. Gööner In Exile says:

    Wally the point about fullbacks was more theirs than ours, i.e. attacking wide men with pace will prevent their fullbacks from attacking.

    RC78 I think Alonso did not want to go back to the PL, he is looking to make his next step in coaching, so a CV showing he has played in three big leagues under three or four top coaches would give him a bigger advantage going forward than just having played in 2 leagues.

    i think also if you add up your other signings you would be pushing us to the brink of the home grown rule.

    TA I look at those park the bus teams and you have to wonder why they can, and i think it is the lack of pace in our attack, the slow sideways pulling around just doesn’t work, but a threaded ball onto a sideman like Theo or Alexis darting through the lines will start to open up the opposition and make them close down the man on the ball more than they currently do. It is more incisive than 1-2’s at slow pace.

  26. Norfolk Gooner says:

    GiE, I completely agree, pace is the thing missing particularly in the build-up.

    Typically an Arsenal attack goes something like this:- Szczesny gathers the ball rolls it out to Kos, Kos squares it to Merts, Merts forward to Debuchy, Debuchy back to Merts, Merts forward to Arteta, Arteta square to Gibbs, Gibbs back to Kos. (all the opposing team back in their defensive positions). Kos to Merts, Merts up-field to Cazorla, Cazorla over the full-back’s head for Gibbs to run onto, Gibbs in-field to Cazorla, pass picked off by defender and hoofed up-field for Szczesny to gather.

    By the end of the game the stats will show an Arsenal pass success rate of 87% of 523 pass attempts, 70% possession and a one all scoreline.

  27. RA says:


    A very good comment which married up with much that has gone before, so all seem to be in broad agreement.

    Your tactical set up variations were also fine except you missed out the old 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1 which is by far my preferred choice.

    I read a broken-back coaching book (no connection to the film of a similar name) about 10 years ago, and the book was printed circa 1950.

    In it they talked about the sort of line up you mentioned with a goal-keeper, 2 full backs, 2 half backs and a centre half, and 2 wingers, 2 inside forwards and a centre forward.

    That would be a 1, 2, 3, 5 formation that would be dismissed as crazy nowadays.

    As I recall, the author was looking back at a revolutionary formation adopted by Arsenal in the 1940s the W formation (?? Not sure) and comparing the two.

    Even the names of the positions have changed.

  28. RA says:

    It might have been the 1930s??? Memory is going! 🙂

  29. chas says:

  30. RA says:

    Chas, I was about to ask you who the little fella standing to Chesney’s left was. Then the penny dropped.

    He will never oust TPIG or even Martinez — strange World Cup transfer and they never work out. 🙂

  31. RA says:

    The formation I mentioned above was the WM and was introduced in the 1930s by Herbert Chapman (where are you, Herb) and was revolutionary at the time.

  32. chas says:

    Cheers, GIE.
    What a smashing post.
    It’s all a bit above me unfortunately, this tactical blix stuff.
    So Jack and Rambo should not be on the pitch at the same time. Likewise Santi and Mesut.

    The only thing I would question is that I think we have 4 right wingers (or whatever that position is called these days). Even Joel Campbell plays there for his country despite being a Catholic…… sorry left-footer.

  33. Norfolk Gooner says:

    RA, I like your 1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2,1. formation but it might be a touch narrow. 😀

    The W formation would now be called a 3-2-2-3, I suppose, revolutionary in it’s time no doubt but probably dismissed by the die-hards as “tactical bollix”.

  34. RA says:

    FGG, mentioned earlier that the Arsenal v Villa U21s game is on Sky Sports 2 tonight at 6:45 p.m.

    It looks like the U21 league games might be shown regularly from now on. Yaay.

  35. Eddie says:

    I just sat down to read the post; thanks for the warning chas, if it is too technical for you, then I won’t even understand the title 😦

    thanks all the same GiE, I am sure it is great 🙂

  36. RA says:


    Are you calling Chas the Beau a ‘die-hard, tactical bollix’ man? 🙂

  37. RA says:


    Read it. It is straight forward and very clear as Exile Posts always are.

    You will enjoy it. 🙂

  38. chas says:

    Wasn’t the WM formation simply pushing the middle of the three in the 2-3-5 back into a centre back position i.e the centre half became a centre back?

    I’m definitely a tactical bollix man, but die-hard, nah.

  39. Norfolk Gooner says:

    RA, Moi? 😀

  40. chas says:

    “The WM system was created in the mid-1920s by Herbert Chapman of Arsenal to counter a change in the offside law in 1925. The change had reduced the number of opposition players that attackers needed between themselves and the goal-line from three to two. This led to the introduction of a centre-back to stop the opposing centre-forward….”

    Jeez, can you imagine the ‘lino’s trying to handle having to count to 3 instead of two. Chaos would ensue. 🙂

  41. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Chas has just proved it, RA. He’s resorted to his Cigarette Card collection.. And that’s only No. 41 in the Tactical Bollix set, there are 217 in the complete set so stand by for for a veritable deluge to come 😀

  42. GunnerN5 says:

    Chapman’s W M system had the W at the top and the M at the bottom, creating a 3, 4, 3 formation.

  43. RA says:


    There you have me regarding what the ‘W’ means.

    It looks like a 2, 3 to me, with the Centre Half lining up with the two midfielders (half backs) which by deduction means the CH used to be between the midfield and the wingers, inside forwards and CF.

    In which case the ‘W’ looks pretty modern.

    The ‘M’ looks like 2 Central attackers and 2 wingers and a ‘hole’ man.

    I do not know, which is why I said to Exile that I am a complete klutz on these things, and is why I am a tactical bollix man myself! 😉

  44. RA says:

    By the way, Chas, that pic looks very like the old footie book I was referring too, and obviously baffled me! 🙂

  45. chas says:

    Sickened and disgusted!

  46. Eddie says:

    RA – I read it. Don’t understand. How can Sanogo/Podolski be our best option when we have Ozil, Sanchez and Theo. I am sure GiE knows what he’s talking about, but Im in Wenger’s camp and play out of positions

  47. chas says:


    What was it like watching the game when they first changed that offside rule? 🙂

  48. chas says:

    Hahahaha, nice one, Evonne.

  49. chas says:

    The biggest tactical bollix statement of today is that we need more pace when playing against a bus parking side. All that means is that you hit the side of the bus quicker! 😆

  50. chas says:

  51. RA says:

    Crikey, GN5, and welcome, the ‘M’ being at the ‘bottom’ or defence does make sense.
    So, the 3 dots of the M are first, the 2 dots at the top are clear, and the 2 dots of the M overlap and the 3 dots of the W are the forwards, i.e. 3, 4, 3.

    That would mean the CH dropping back with the 2 full backs, the 2 half backs and the 2 wingers would line up together, leaving the CF shadowed by the 2 inside forwards.

    I told you I was dopey! 🙂

    Oddly enough when setting out formations such as 3, 4, 3 the convention is that the representation puts the defense as the first number, so ‘WM’ implied that the W represented the defence, when you have pointed out it should really be MW.

    Chas and I are right — it’s all smoke and mirrors or tactical bollix. 🙂

  52. chas says:

    I love GIE’s footballing knowledge gathered from years of battering centre forwards over the head when coming for corners. 🙂

    But when you watch a game with him, he still only uses two words repeated three times…………………..
    “Pass, Pass, Pass”
    when we have the ball and
    “Press Press Press”
    when they have the ball.
    It really is that simple. 🙂

  53. Eddie says:

    are those little poofs doing yoga 🙂 how can anyone not love Alex, he is so gorgeous

    can’t remember who, but one of the technical experts here talked about close ball control, and that convinced me. If you don’t lose the ball, you can sail through the bus windows

  54. chas says:

    It was the inside forwards like Alex James who became the new midfielders.

    The wingers were the kids who’d forgotten their boots and only brought plimsolls meaning they couldn’t stand up so were shoved out on the wing where they couldn’t do any damage. That’s how I remember it back in the 50’s anyway.

  55. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi Chas,

    Frankly I’d forgotten the last time that the offside rule was changed so I did some research and here is what I found.


    The offside rule originated in 1863. A player was considered offside unless three players of the opposing side are in front of him (includes goalkeeper). So in the above diagram, the player with the ball is considered offside because only two players are in front of him.

    The Offside Rule – 1925

    The offside rule was changed in 1925. A player was considered offside unless two players of the opposing team are in front of him (includes goalkeeper). So in the above diagram, the player with the ball is NOT considered offside because two players are in front of him.

    The Offside Rule – 1990

    The offside rule was changed again in 1990. A player is onside if he is level with the second-to-last player of the opposing team (includes goalkeeper). So in the above diagram, the player with the ball is NOT considered offside because he is level with the second-to-last player.


    So in answer to your question I was born after the 1925 rule change so I only have experience pertaining to the 1990 change – and that change (IMHO) causes a great deal of confusion and dispute.

  56. chas says:

    Hi GN5

    I was only kidding about you being about when Chapman was responding to the rule change in 1925. 🙂

    I just looked up when our Herbert became Arsenal manager (1925) and am horrified to find out that he spent a couple of years playing for Totteringham making 42 appearances and scoring 16 goals.

  57. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. Thanks for a fine post which resulted in some excellent comments.

    I agree with RA’s lengthy 11.07. Much good sense written.

    TA. Good to see you remain insightful and passionate. It is a pleasure to see your gravatar on AA.

    R78. Given our signing of 6 players in the window do you really expect us to sign more than one in January?

  58. kelsey says:

    This is a very interesting post GIE as usual but just slightly going off topic it is a fact that we don’t score enough goals based on any formation you chose.The philosophy of AW has always been attacking fluid football.

    Allowing for injuries and being a sub the fact is Podolski was third best PL scorer last season with 8.Then Theo and Ozil with 5, Santi 4, Jack 3, and the Ox 2.

    To me this is the most important factor that all these players when fit should be scoring more. Obviously we have to now bring in Welbeck and Sanchez into the equation,so even with rotation I really would like to see more clinical finishing. We need at least 20 more goals than last season.

    Score more and concede less especially against the top teams.

  59. Big Raddy says:

    AN example of BBC bias.

    “Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he would not have signed striker Danny Welbeck on transfer deadline day had he been in the country.
    The 23-year-old left boyhood club Manchester United in a £16m switch to the Gunners while Wenger was away in Rome for a charity game.
    Wenger said: “If I’d stayed at home he wouldn’t be here now.”

    here is what he said according to another site ….

    “I was happy to take a permanent transfer with Danny Welbeck,” Wenger told reporters. “He is ideal because when you analyse his game he can play through the middle — I think his best position — but as well on the flanks.”

    I haven’t heard AW’s press conference and as such do not know if either are true but it gives a perfect example of how the media can fit quotes according to their bias

  60. LB says:

    What, Chapman was a spud?

    Whatever next, Charlie George secretly supported Tottenham?

    Some things are better not known. 🙂

  61. chas says:


    I’ve watched this below and the BBC are just stirring it up.
    The relevant bits are early on and then clarified after about 10 minutes.

  62. chas says:

    The last question about whether Sir Alex would have let us buy Welbeck at the end is priceless!

  63. GunnerN5 says:

    I’ve just had a chance to read your fine post GIE,

    My belief is that AW simply does not think of his players as being restricted to playing in a fixed position. He advocates that his players need to have positional flexibility which if exercised to it’s fullest would create confusion for the opposition and success for Arsenal.

    The group of players he has today are perhaps the most well suited to his philosophy in that they are gifted with both high technical ability and football skill sets.

    Although I enjoy watching us play in AW’s preferred style I must say that it can also be very frustrating. It seems that we never evolve from the potential stage.

  64. chas says:

    By the way, it’s already come out that Arsene made an early morning phone call on TD day to get the Welbeck signing done.

    The implication from what he said in the press conference was that he was only up and about that early because he was travelling to Rome. Hence if he hadn’t have been travelling, we may have missed out.

  65. chas says:

    More on the Scotland debate……..

  66. chas says:

  67. Big Raddy says:

    chas. Thanks for the link. As usual the Beeb show their bias.

    The BBC do not need the hits so why create a story from nothing? Anyone watching the press conference can see that AW wanted and got his man.

  68. mickydidit89 says:


    Ormonde-Ottewill and Maitland-Niles have to be off The Arsenal Gentleman’s Playing Cards surely?

    By the way, “sickened and disgusted” is certainly what I was.

  69. mickydidit89 says:

    I’d love a match report on the U-21’s tomorrow with clips and shit

  70. Eddie says:

    and Pistorious will walk free. The law is not about being guilty or not guilty but about how good is your lawyer

  71. arnie says:

    Lovely stuff, GiE, and sorry knot ear all day. 🙂 🙂 Great analysis, and I know where you are coming from, but personally I prefer total football bollix to fixed position bollix. 😛

    In other words, I have no problems with the best 11 players on the pitch. Even if that means Giroud plays in goal! 😛 Well, not quite that far, but you get the idea. The best players should have not only good legs (and other loose appendages) but also good brains. So they should be able to figure out a way to play with each other. In principle.

    Having said that, there are certain skill sets that need to be covered by the team: crossing ability, shooting ability, ability to snatch balls away in midfield, ability to use one’s hands to stop a ball, ability to organise a wall, ability to run backwards, and so on.

    Bollix? so what? 🙂

  72. Gööner In Exile says:

    Maybe Arsene saw Falcao coming through the airport with United officials and realised he had a chance.

  73. arnie says:

    will return later to read all the comments, but for the moment.

    A 🙂 for Chas for his 5:59

  74. mickydidit89 says:

    Lads Lads Lads

    U–21’s on Iplayer live
    Akbomb 1-0
    I missed the goal 😦

  75. RA says:

    Akpom is terrific.

    Diaby is playing well, but very rusty. I wince every time he goes into a tackle or is tackled.

    It’s a good team we have put out.

  76. RA says:


    You are too young to remember the ’50s. 🙂

  77. fatgingergooner says:

    U21’s playing really well. Crowley running the game. Hayden, Bellerin and Diaby doing well.

  78. RA says:

    Nearly all those players are going to have good professional careers even tho’, sadly, most of them won’t be at Arsenal, especially now the purse strings have been cut.

  79. Big Raddy says:

    Diaby easily the best player on the pitch. Must be really enjoying himself.

  80. RA says:

    A very enjoyable game but failure to take our chances could cost us.

    I am really struck all over again by the skill of these young Arsenal players.

  81. RA says:

    Akpom again. 0:2

  82. chas says:

  83. mickydidit89 says:

    Enjoyed what I saw of that. About 20 mins of first half, and 10 of second.
    Crowley looks fantastic.

  84. mickydidit89 says:

    Love those cards 🙂

  85. Big Raddy says:

    So much to be impressed by.

    Best thing. Diaby playing 90 mins.

    Hayden was very good as were the whole team. Very impressed by Zelalem’s energy levels – he was as strong at 90 mins as at the start.

    Akpom looks the dogs but then so have many of our youth CF’s before finding it much harder against men – excited to see his development

  86. arnie says:

    missed the game. 😦 Is Diaby U-21? 😛

  87. arnie says:

    Norfolk. Just saw your comment regarding Botland. Personally I am finding it very stressful sitting as I were on the fence.

    In case it is YES, it will be a struggle, but personally I am not convinced it will be catastrophic. Why should one expect “independence” to come cheap? I think the biggest disaster will be for England. I cannot elaborate on this theme here, but it is not about the oil. There are far more important strategic issues at stake here.

    But, the question that really bothers me is: why? This was completely unnecessary. Appropriate constitutional reforms in time would have nullified even a suggestion of such a vote.

    Consider, however, the case of a NO verdict. All indications are 85% exercising their franchise, a narrow verdict therefore means 40% of the population voting YES. Does this not set us at a point of no return? Maybe I am wrong, as Botland could be like Quebec, but somehow I doubt it!

    Apols for discussing politics here. But, as you might imagine, it matters immensely to those of us who happen to be exiled in Botland.

  88. arnie says:

    wow, fantastic discussion today. well done, GiE! 🙂

  89. Gööner In Exile says:

    Chas all the tactical bollix is done on the training ground, in match situations those two instructions suffice……and the fact I’ve realised trying to get Theo to run where I want him to from Row 35 doesn’t work.

    Arnie, my only problem with the debate on Scottish independence is it appears confused.

    In my view one side is talking policy and the other about what De unification actually means. I hear the Yes campaign carry on about getting rid of trident promoting green energy etc, but those are policy statements of political parties not of whether independence is right.

    Will Salmond have a job once independence is achieved? His party hasn’t exactly been helping the Scottish population, some could argue that he has worsened the position and laid the blame at the door of Westminster to help his campaign. But more than likely Labour will be voted in to any new government and stay in forever.

    I’ve not seen enough questions about things like Lottery funding, will Camelot be allowed to run a lottery across the Union or will Scotland have to have its own lottery, should that happen could it raise a similar level of income to help the good causes it does (including sport).

    Perhaps the biggest question is what happens to National debt, it will be a long, and costly process to unravel and who stomachs that cost?

    A yes vote does not bother me either way but like most political debate in this country it becomes a question of personality and class snobbery (both ways) and that is what turns most of the younger generation off.

    Churchill was a public schoolboy privileged upbringing etc etc etc, but to most he is the epitome of British courage and strength.

  90. chas says:

    Haha, i was only kidding, GIE.
    I love your tactical stuff as I agree with most of it. 🙂

  91. chas says:

    Diaby’s legs are a peculiar shape and he’s a big old unit.
    Hope he can stay fit for a bit.

    If you’re forced to change shorts, then go with the red and white socks perhaps.

    Though why they couldn’t wear the yellow shirts is anybody’s guess.

  92. chas says:

    Last comment is in moderation.
    Too many links, I suppose.

  93. chas says:

  94. chas says:

  95. chas says:

    A spokesman for Archway Sheet Metals says the company has been receiving threats and abusive calls from “animalistic” Spurs fans.

    The business is challenging the government’s recent decision to allow Haringey Council to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order on their property.

    Tottenham Hotspur Football Club cannot start work on the new stadium until the metal business is relocated.

    The spokesman, who said he was concerned the football club has released the business’ address and owners’ names, said: “It’s getting rather nasty now. Some fans have taken it on themselves to phone us up and abuse us, and abuse our staff. It’s not nice. It’s horrible.

    “Some of the behaviour of Spurs fans towards us is animalistic, when we’re just exercising our rights. Some of them are fanatical. They say they love their club more than life.”

    He added: “It’s irrelevant whether we’re Spurs fans or not now. This is our business. It’s where we make our money.

    “Everybody keeps going on about whether we’re Spurs fans or Arsenal fans. We’ve got nothing against the football team. This business is our family’s future.”

    “People have been threatening us, we’ve had bomb threats, we’ve had people saying they’ll come and get us at night. We’ve had people calling us greedy, and saying they hope my children are visiting food banks and starving.

    “The police are dealing with it. Nobody has yet come and said it to my face but it’s a matter of time. Someone has threatened to burn down our building.

    “If you get a few idiots who want to be heroes – why should we have to go through that? It’s just nuts how people take a football club so seriously.

    “It’s an emotional time for us. We’ve got children and grandchildren. My Dad has 14 grandchildren. We’re a big family and we live off the company. When people threaten our family, it’s not nice.”

  96. chas says:

  97. Gööner In Exile says:

    That Archway guy must be having a laugh.

    Most Spuds have known it has been him stalling it for a while now, a client of mine named him to me a long while back.

    The fact is most other businesses took the money and ran, he just held out. He hoped the offer would go up and up and up, the compulsory purchase order meant the value will probably not be as high as he was first offered.

    Fair play to him I guess anything that puts Spuds expansion plans back is a good thing, and now their cunning plan of building some of the stadium while the old is still used is scuppered and they will more than likely have some extra costs having to ground share.

  98. Gööner In Exile says:

    Van Gaal says Welbeck not good enough for United. This guy appears to have a bigger ego than Maureen!

  99. mickydidit89 says:

    Esspecially busy in the pic library this morning.

    Some nice pics, and some awful ones 🙂

  100. chas says:

    Ah, I thought the article was about being threatened by spuds fans rather than being about the club releasing his company’s name.

  101. chas says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if Danny’s career took off like bsr’s but without the injuries?

  102. chas says:

    Sorry about all the pics. I was bored here on my own.

  103. LB says:

    Good pics Chas

    Always entertaining, please keep them coming.

  104. LB says:

    I would write a match report on last nights game but I have to take my youngest to school and then meet the guys in Regents Park for a few laps on the bike (glorified coffee morning)

  105. RA says:

    Hi Chas,

    Has the Mincky abandoned you in favour of a trip to the Library to research surfing? 😉

  106. RA says:

    Ooops — Mincky = Micky

  107. Eddie says:

    LB – a glorified coffee is a Frappuccino, few laps on a bike is an endurance trip 🙂

    Glad about Akpom, excellent!
    gosh that van Gaal is ugly, but at least his tie is the right colour now

  108. Eddie says:

    GiE – call me an old romantic,but for me there is not enough about Scotts having their own country, as opposed to a golden cage and too much about politics and finances. If I was Scottish I would most definitely vote Yes

  109. Big Raddy says:

    I had forgotten how much I hate the Smiths. Thanks chas.

    And the chain vid is mesmerising after a “herbal cigarette”

  110. stevepalmer1 says:

    Morning all,
    Watched the under 21s last night, I see many are saying they thought we did well, and Chuba Ackpon was the bee’s knee’s.

    Well i must have been watching a different game, Yes the result went our way and Ackpon did score 2, but my impression was that Aston Villa played the better team football, Had i been the Manager of Villa last night i would have been very pleased with the teamwork, their passing was crisp and the chasing back which put Arsenal under pressure was a very hardworking night for the youngster’s.

    As for Ackpon, i believe he thinks he is the top dog out there, an empty stadium just a handful of club related people and Ackpon slides on his knees and holds his arms up to the almighty. Certainly believes he has landed thats for sure.

    Take nothing away from his goals i felt he took them well, but he runs with the ball and only passes when his options have run out, and not very good passes.

    He doesn’t strike me as a team man, more of i am here and will make it. He seemed like taking a shot early is not spectacular enough for him he wants to round the keeper and tap in all by himself.

    I may be wrong but i don’t see him as the next top striker in the first team but of course i am usually wrong.

    Martinez looked very capable in my mind safe handling and looked very safe in the air . Arsenals distribution i felt was poor passing to a man that is covered seems an Arsenal thing but never to a man in space.

    Diaby at 28 looked strange with a lot of youngsters and i know he is rusty but he didn’t impress me, Arsenal footballers do not like physical contact must be a club thing, i dont like that. But a wins a win and i suppose that is the main thing.

  111. arnie says:

    Motning all, nice banter, lovely pics Chas. 🙂

    GiE. I suppose you and I share the same frustration, perhaps slightly different takes. However, remember the prediction is 85% exercising franchise, young people being drawn to the polls not giving up on politics. There was a genuine demand for greater devolution, particularly fiscal, which Westminister misunderstood or ignored. What a pity! 🙂

    Not defence, not foreign policy, only greater fiscal powers. Still that could not be negotiated. Instead we are into a referendum. What a pity!

    Anyway, I will not discuss this topic any more.

  112. arnie says:

    Did I kill the blog? 😦

  113. arnie says:

    Diaby did not play that much in the recent past, so he has not aged that much. His mental age is about 21, still. 😛

  114. LB says:

    Well Arnie seeing as you completely killed the blog I thought I had better change the post.

    Only kidding.

    Hope no one minds

    New post.

  115. Eddie says:

    don’t worry arnie, I kill it regularly. When there is no footy people get bored. It is going to be busy tomorrow!!

    As usual I will be hiding behind a large sofa during the game, and you?

  116. Dani says:

    Hi, all is going perfectly here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that’s in fact good, keep up writing.

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