Many things in life are cyclical, and as Arsenal are life, I went looking for some cycles (calm down LB 🙂 )
Cycles are recurring patterns, and while the most important pattern is the recent winning run, there are deeper more subtle ones. Like the fact that we perform better after oranges.
I’m getting bored of repeating the same old mantra during the first half. That being, our play is lopsided. Towards the left. A couple of tweaks usually take place at the break, as we saw against Watford when Auba came out on the right, however it’s not until the substitutions that balance is fully restored.
Both goals on Saturday came from the right, and both substitutes (Danny and Alex) played parts.
Now I don’t want to labour the Ramsey imbalance thing as I’ve been doing it for years, but, whether Mesut is shunted out right, or on occasion Ramsey, the result is the same. Both drift central, pushing the one who should be central further over to the left resulting in the aforementioned left side congestion and imbalance.
The obvious question is whether this is part of some clever containment strategy, to somehow drain the opposition of the will to live before thumping them with fresh, fast feet to wallop their left flank late on.
I don’t think it is, and it is time we set off from the whistle with this issue addressed. We are winning, but it’s only just, and we need these next fixtures to settle team selection and strategy that sorts this out. The last gasp winning is fun but it will come a cropper as we’re leaving the opposition with way too much hope for way too long. 2-0 by half time is the goal, not at 80 minutes.
Inevitably this leads to questions about selection and formations.
However good Watford were, and I was impressed, we gave them far too many good chances. I know, heck we all know, the central defensive pairing still wobbles, but it will get sorted out I’m sure, and we know Unai will stick with four at the back
Ahead, I think we can now all agree Torreira starts. This now becomes an exercise in filling in the blanks. Before discussing the midfield, I will base my suggestions around my belief that Auba and Laca need to play closer together and that Mesut needs to provide the ammo from just behind. Bingo, the answer therefore has to be a midfield three (3-5-2 can achieve the same thing at the sharp end, but I feel we would have seen Unai play this card at some point by now).
Sooo, in short, with the front three, and Torreira, Unai can alter both his offensive/defensive strategy as well as addressing the right/left balance issue, through the selection of the players either side of Torreira, and he has some great options:
Stay solid: Xhaka and Guendouzi
5-0 by half time: Mhki and Iwobi
Their jobs are to connect midfield to attack, create width on occasion while assisting Lucas in his defensive duties. Both must possess speed as will have to cover back when the wingfenders make their forward surges.
Funnily enough, one of the players richest in all these attributes is Maitland-Niles.
I’m liking the idea of draining the opposition of the will to live, though I suspect you’re really talking about someone else! 🙂
I’ve seen a couple of articles recently about how we’re winning by the skin of our teeth and completely agree that it’s a trend that’s not sustainable. Heck, we can even play well and not get the right result sometimes.
Let’s hope that the balance is coming soon. Unai must stop trying to squeeze players into the starting eleven at the expense of a decent team structure. After all, he’s seeing what we’re seeing.
Like your last sentence especially.
Difficulty with your “stay strong” is both Xhaka and Ouzi are both left sided and, as previous heat maps have shown, drift left. This is likely to pull Terrier to the right, esp with Hector’s galavanting.
I personally don’t believe Dick is a 352 man, but agree wholeheartedly with your request for Auba and Lacs to play much closer/off each other, with Mesut behind.
So, I am left with the same conundrum. But I believe the future MF should be AMN, Terrier and Ouzi.
Going to spend the day talking tactics and football and the effing midfield? Fair enough, I will give it a go.
The 4 at the back is restrictive and given our personnel not assisting the team. That said, it is misleading as PradaBoy is rarely seen in our half unless he is jockeying a defender inside.
As such we are forced to decide whether we play attacking football or with defensive turgidity, by which I mean playing with two DM’s. It does work and many quality teams (including MC) use this method. Unfortunately we do not have players with enough positional discipline to operate such a system. Douzi and Xhaka both run about like headless chicken (though Curly is improving) and Ramsey is certainly not a DM. This leaves Elneny, who is at best a good squad player.
AMN could be the answer but could is the operative word. He has become like Wilshire, brilliant until on the pitch. Perhaps he will be the D’s B’s but there is no real evidence.
Mesut central with two upfront, and the FB’s providing width? Works if we are playing Ironworks Young Boys of Minsk but less likely against Liverpool.
Given our personnel the answer has to be Iwobi, Mhiki or Welbeck taking Ramsey or Douzi’s place.
Or better still, adopting Micky’s proposal of a 3-5-2.
What about a 3-4-1-2 with:
Mustafi, Sokratis,Monreal – Bellerin, Xhaka, LT, Koli – Ozil – Laca, Auba
I am going to spend the day out in the sunshine building a pergola. Cheer up, you could be a Manure supporter!
For me however and knowing Emery, he will stick to 4 at the back so the hopes of 3 are very slim.
Now with 4 at the back, you still need to stratch defenses, which means your FB and Mids can play wide but as we discussed before, we are short of Wingers. Most of our players will drift back to the center but there is still a way to make defense stretching happen:
1. Vertically, which requires Auba and Laca to play off each other with one always making a run behind the defender. This also requires the midfielders to shoot from outside the box on a more regular basis.
2. Horizontally, which requires us to play different midfielders. We all agree that LT is a starter. We all agree that Xhaka and Ramsey could add to the team through their passing for one and through their run for the other BUT we can only play one of them. Some agree that Ozil is a starter but he needs to focus mostly on creating chances, which leaves us with a few option tactically:
4-3-2-1 or 4-3-1-2
Here are the line ups to keep balance:
Lichten, Mus, Kos, Mon – Xhaka, LT, AMN – Ozil, Auba – Laca
Bellerin, Mus, Kos, Mon – Ramsey, LT, Guen – Ozil – Auba, Laca
Looks like Hector is preparing for a life in politics when his career is over – climate, veganism, plastic pollution, mental health…….and even if some say “stick to football” for the moment, he can quote from the 400 letters he received from school children as a consequence of his comments. JC in waiting.
Thanks for great images Chas.
I ruled out the 3-5-2 as I can’t see Unai adopting it, although RC will know his track record with regards to that and he says Unai will . stick to 4 at the back
So, given the 4-3-1-2 I like The Pergola Builder’s AMN, Terrier and Ouzi best so far 🙂
What, who, where, when, why with the Bell comments on global stuff?
Apparently Mourinho may not see his contract out at Utd BUT I don”t believe the rumours. Wth their squad, they can do really well. It s about creating a momentum – they have such quality. If Mourinho can bring good performances over the next 4-5 games, he stays. If not, he may be asked to leave…
The squad is very strong except at Full-Back. I am sure it can come together quickly. If not, Zidane may soon join the EPL…Zidane’s tacttics are based on 4-1-2-3 so Utd would play:
Valencia, Jones, Bailly, Shaw – Matic – Fred, Pogba – Lingard (or Martial), Lukaku, Sanchez
Back up option from mid upwards would be
Herrerra – Fellaini, Perreira (or McTominay) – Mata, Rashord, Martial (or Lingard)
Zidane builds his team with a strong midfield and players that can play wide so this would be his set-up. However, he will ask for upgrades at FB
Hasn’t Mourinho fielded that exact 11 several times?
Gotta feel sorry for Sanchez though. Dragging his heels when substituted with his team still at 0-0. Booed and encouraged to get off as quick as possible. Poor thing.
Here you go, Micky……………
One of the comments under the video on youtube….. 🙂
“I wish crossing was an issue close to his heart”
Quality words from a quality wingfender who also understands that attack is more important to the planet than defence 🙂
Bollocks. 3-5-2 it is. Free The Wingfenders 🙂
Leave Sok, Kos and Licht to mop up at the blunt end 🙂
Thanks Chas for assisting Micky with his request.
Makes you laugh! Avid Sports and Entertainment, Ramsey’s agency, confirm “Arsenal have made a decision, there is nothing we can do, he didn’t want to leave”.
You mean he didn’t want to sign without a contract to match Mesut, and Arsenal are not offering that.
As one fan said “Sanchez has proved life isn’t always greener”. We will watch with interest Aaron, but don’t kid us it isn’t about money and good luck if you think you will be first choice at either Liverpool or Real Madrid.
Thanks Micky. This kind of negates my intended Dick Emery and Arsenal early season report post, so will have to do a different one for you at some point Chas.
In a nutshell my report would have given a thumbs up to areas like energy, pressing, attacking quickly and in numbers, and paying more attention to providing instructions and understanding to players.
I would have said the defence is a work in progress that cannot be overly criticised right now, even if it looks dodgy at times. Not only is UE trying to coach a new style into our defence, he is also doing it with defenders he inherited who didn’t look (independently or as a unit) that well coached.
My hope is that the younger defenders are still malleable enough to become better independent defenders and perform the way that UE wants them to play. My worry is with defenders like Mustaffi who has some worrying faults but is not as young as others.
My main concern in the early season report would have been exactly what you have said in the post Micky and what Chas @7.38 (and others) have mentioned. This slow first half looking disjointed and then pulling it out of the bag in the 2nd half, often after substitutions, doesn’t look sustainable.
The balance isn’t right, and you know how much I have harped on about that in the past with universally loved terms involving the horning of shoes and circular holes with small wooden structures not compatible with said orifice 🙂
In many ways I think this is partly down to the unbalanced squad he inherited from AW, but also down to Emery and his preferences himself. I always feel that a manger can take one of two routes with their team. They either pick their favoured formation and develop the team to being effective in that formation, or they adapt the formation to the strengths of the players they have available.
Early indications are that UE is very much the former, that he has a preferred formation and will push for that before any other consideration. That is fine when you have the right players for that formation. When talking about these formations I recall something that RC78 said shortly after UE’s appointment was announced where RC said his preference was for a 4-3-3.
In that sense he was actually similar to AW. The only problem is that AW strangely never recruited the right players for this formation that he seemingly preferred, and UE has now inherited that team. He may have the right components for it to be effective after 2-3 TW’s but that would require 2-3 significant signings and also a cull of 2-3 significant current players in positions where we are overloaded.
One of the key components to the 4-3-3 is that it plays with 1 striker and 2 winger / wing forwards. At the top level these wing forwards have to have all the attributes of the tricky pacy winger that can torment a FB from the flanks but also be a prolific goal-scorer when they cut into the box.
Messi, Ronaldo, Bale, Robben, Ribery, Hazard, Willian, Sane, Salah e.t.c………we don’t have any of those players.
It seems to me that UE is, to a degree, doing what AW did, to put what he considers his best players out in the starting 11 and then try and force them into his preferred formation. It seems when players who would be considered lesser than the starting ones are substituted in, and change the balance, then we look better.
Auba is a striker that can work the wide channels, not a winger that can cut in. In that small detail you weaken the balance of the team if you get it the wrong way round. Ramsey, Ozil, Iwobi are also not wing forward wide types in the way those listed above are, and again they become lesser players if operating to a degree in these roles.
In other news……………..
Not sure I fancy it myself.
GoonerB – if you recall earlier in the summer, I was saying we were short on wing players…Maybe this winter we can grab someone that can do the job like Mané at LFC
Micky, I have often touted the 3-5-2 and am not against it at all. However you can actually have an even more attacking line up with a back 4 if you can effectively get the FB’s aiding the attack without too much risk of exposure defensively.
I agree about Auba and Laca playing as a front 2 rather than pushing Auba wider and deeper. They both are mobile forwards comfortable in dropping deeper at times, and working the wide areas. Play them as a front 2 but with the instruction to work as a partnership so each one becomes supplier and receiver at different times. Once they get this right defences will have a nightmare trying to follow the movement and changing positions of each of them.
Behind them you need the number 10 type player. This is likely Ramsey’s best position but I still feel that Micky is the better suited. He looks slightly more a withdrawn striker that can link with the midfield than Ramsey, who still to me looks like something between a BTB CM and ACM that wants to play as a striker.
I don’t think number 10 is Ozils best position either. Firstly again because I see Micky as being more naturally suited to that role just behind the strikers, and feel he will always carry a greater goal threat.
Secondly I think Ozil is the creator in chief and conductor of play and actually needs more licence to be wherever he wants to be in the CM. If he drops too deep from the front 2 they lose that support and link. If he stays close to them we risk not getting him on the ball enough in different areas to let his sublime skills do the talking.
I feel Ozil should operate just in front of the deeper 2 CM’s and behind the number 10 where he can link with both but have free licence to find space for himself and get on the ball. My favoured line up would be a 4-3-1-2 (could be considered a 4-2-1-1-2 potentially) as follows ;
Bellerin, Holding, Socratis, Monreal
“Micky for No10″, rah rah rah, Micky for No10, rah rah rah, Micky for No10”. Attack not Defence should be your cry, Micky!
It is true RC that we are short of established top class wingers. However if we move for 2 top class ones, in order to play that 4-3-3 formation, we will have to go through a seismic change in players both in and out to make it happen.
I consider us as having 4 good striker options and look at Welbeck and the young Nketieh as good back up options to Auba and Laca. All 4 are very mobile strikers as oppose to the classic more static number 9.
If you have 4 options here it makes sense to play a front 2. If you move to a single striker formation you probably only need Auba and Laca, but you break up their potential partnership and start to rotate one in for the other. It also likely means “bye bye” Welbeck and blocks any chance of Nketieh stepping up. He could be a gem potentially so do we want to do that?
Also we now look towards a deeper 3 with 1 of the 3 being more of a playmaker. Torreira, Xhaka, Guendozzi, Elneny, Ramsey, Ozil, Iwobi add up to too many. 2 likely have to go.
In terms of the winger / wing forwards I don’t see why we don’t try and find out if a couple of our own young players can’t step up to give us an option in the 4-3-3 formation before we go out and buy established players that will expect to start and result in a few players (who still offer great value) having to leave.
I would like to see AMN and Nelson get a chance in the wing / wing forward roles. I still see it as potentially AMN best position with his pace and ability to run at the opposition and don’t see the point anymore in looking at him as another CM in an already overcrowded area.
UE could try these players in that formation in lesser games and give them a chance. If it works we may have 2 good go to formations. My hope is that UE is flexible enough to adapt his formation thinking to suit our current strengths but I worry he maybe has that same intransigence we saw in AW. Excellent formations have chopped and changed over the years anyway so I don’t feel it is as if the 4-3-3 is now the holy grail that is here to stay and will never be bettered.
It could be that we are in a prime position to be the pioneers of the next great formation by returning to a front 2. The top modern strikers seem to often come from a background of having played as wider or deeper players before being switched up top, and seem to be much more mobile strikers than those traditional yesteryear ones.
I wonder if the front single striker is now not the best formation with the modern forward players and the mobile front 2 with a 10 behind could be the way forward. At any rate, looking at our squad, it certainly looks the best option to me in our case.
LBG – to be a proper politician one needs to have some sex offences to their name. Hector ain’t that type. But it would help his political career if he came out of the closet and announce he is a batty boy. True or not, it would do him good.
Lacazette & Aubameyang’s strike pairing is comparable to Suarez & Cavani’s playing for Uruguay. (Welbeck will have his role too).
Torreira reprises his holding role at the base of a diamond midfield. (Guendouzi stepping in when required).
For defence, we have Sokratis & Holding for Godin & Giménez; Monreal/Kolašinac and Lichtsteiner/Bellerin for Laxalt & Cáceres.
Either Leno or Čech is more dependable than Muslera in goal.
Which leaves the other vertices of the diamond: the tip of diamond behind both strikers and the other 2 midfielders that form the left and right sides of diamond.
Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Elneny, Ramsey, Özil, Iwobi are more than capable in taking up Vecino, Nández and Bentancur positions.
GoonerB – Laca, Auba is the modern version of Heskey, Owen or Bergkamp, Henry 🙂 so that we have to play in a system that pairs them as 1-1 or 2 up front
But like similar pairing in the past, they need 3 types of players:
1. Midfielder (deep lying play maker or playmaker) that can play long, short and through passes and that can also from time to time, score from the edge of the box
2. Wingers that can provide crosses and stretch defenses
3. Industrious full backs
At the moment, we are “OKish” in Type 1 and let us say we are also okish in Type 3. We are short in Type 2. Given this fact, we still need to put Laca, Auba and their back up Well, Nketiah in good conditions to score so we have to get the midfieldiers to stretch out wide as well so that requires a lot of running up and down and right now, I think only Ramsey, AMN, Guendouzi and LT could do it but the latter should protect our back four so we have Ramsey, AMN and Guendouzi left but Ramsey’s crossing is poor and Guendouzi’s is not much better so that leaves AMN and potentially, we can bring either Bellerin or Lichten or Monreal or Koli in the midfield.
Cech – Lichten, Sok, Kos, Monreal – AMN, LT, Koli – Ozil – Auba, Laca
We have an odd squad to be honest. I would love to see:
Auba, Laca, Ozil, Miky, AMN, LT, Ramsey, Guendouzi in the same team but it would not work so one of them needs out, let us say Ram
Cech – Mus, Sok, Kos – Bello, LT, Guen, AMN – Auba, Ozil – Laca
I sstill need space for Miky so he wuold take Guendouzi’s:
Cech – Mus, Sok, Kos – Bello, LT, Miky, AMN – Auba, Ozil – Laca
Does that work?
To be fair RC no formation is perfect and all have weaker points. We are a team that should aim for a quick fluid attacking style of play with players rotating positions……to a degree.
What I feel we have often witnessed in the latter few years has been more a free for all that lacked any cohesion or structure. It was often touted as being Wengers way and vision probably make the flaws seem more palatable. I actually feel that in his great earlier teams he had that attacking fluidity but with structure and discipline, but failed to replicate this in later years. It could be the quality of player he had but I have always felt his philosophy slightly altered to something almost too Utopian, and basically not achievable.
This team still needs a structure with players understanding their specific key role. We need to achieve fluid attack but within a disciplined framework. We need players to understand their key role but without pigeon-holing them and restricting their freedom to play expressive football. Difficult to achieve this balance no doubt.
The width issue has caused us a problem for many a year now. If we think back to that team with Ljunberg, Vieira, Gilberto, Pires, Bergkamp, Henry, most would say it was a 4-4-2. They are largely correct but the nature and key strength of the players would see this become a 4-3-3 in certain parts of the game. Bergkamp would often drop nearer the 2 DM’s to get on the ball to influence the game while Freddie and Bobby would often pull in closer to Henry and play off either side of him.
I think it is important to tap into the key strengths of any individual player and collectively get what you need across that 90 minutes in terms of goal threat and presence in the box, control, creativity, and a defensive screen in the midfield, and width.
I have liked the look off Micky behind the 2 mobile strikers when I have seen it. Their natural strengths and understanding of each other see them all rotating from central to wide areas at various times, so we will get some attacking 3rd width from that front 3 as well as a dangerous presence in the box.
Overlapping FB’s can provide further width and I feel this can work and give us adequate width without having to resort to having classic wide midfielders running up and down the flank. Ramsey or Guey doing this is an absolute no no for me and falls straight into the unbalanced formation trap.
On top of this you get to play 2 deeper DM’s and Ozil in a more free role to influence the game from deeper areas and more attacking areas. He can pick out Micky, Auba or Laca if they have popped up wider, or pick out an overlapping FB, and can arrive late in the box if others have gone wide. The formation and playing style of the players has to harmonise to give you that strength in all areas, and at the moment I see this line up in that formation (or potentially the 3-5-2) as being the ones that tick most of the boxes effectively..
Some obviously didn’t enjoy the sunshine, or perhaps they blog in the garden!
Then we have a back up of
Leno – Mavro, Holding,Monreal – Lichten, Xhaka, Guen, Koli – Ramsey, Iwobi – Wellbeck
My motto: light the fuse and let GB and RC do all the hard work 🙂
Re: sticking me in No10
Here’s the plan. You round up the angry villagers with their pitchforks, and they can march me to No10
Beware: it’ll be a little like sticking Guy Fawkes in the place
Micky, if you can blow up a few Tories, I for one would be over the moon.
Have no doubts whatsoever, I’d blow up all parties.
Is it allowed to watch a bit of Napoli Pool?
I think the cabbage would be a better choice than Steve Bruce
Ramsey might not want to play for us, but Argentinian Matias Vargas does! ” The new Hazard”. You’ll have to shake that tag off soonest, Matias.
no micky, spurs v barca in on
spudies are strangely excited, each one giggled when i wished them luck for tonight. Strange fish they are
didit – did you really write the post? bloody technical, what got into you?
i am sorry mate, but i really cannot engage in formation, I stilll find it hard to comprehend why Hector is a defender and Iwobi a striker. I would swap their positions, that\s proper risk taking. and you know that you cannot accumulate if you don\t speculate
I know a huge amount about risk, but on your other point, Iwobi is not a striker and Hector most definately not a defender 🙂
and how is your arm after your cycling experiments going wrong?
Eddie using back slash instead of apostrophe reminds me of that time her ‘r’ key broke because the dog chewed her keyboard or summat.
Arnie is about the only one who still uses ‘motning’ 🙂
Napoli v dippers is for purists
spuds v barca is for the rest of us hoping the English side does well in Europe 🙂
fucking dogs. yeah it is the same problem, thanks for reminding me. They broke the keyboard twice, I replaced it twice, lost some screws in the process and half the keys don’t work. Or the mouse. I have the one on a string from a previous century, bloody joke
come on you Spurs 🙂 🙂 i am sure they won’t disappoint
Some fine blogging between RC & GB today. Thank you.
Eddie. 6.51 Your last sentence …. I assume you are joking or trying to wind-up any right minded human
raddy dearest 🙂 of course i meant it! When did the spudies disappoint us? They always provide top class entertainment, comedy, suspense, drama, you name it. And then they bottle it 🙂 Terrific, don’t you think?
The Eddie ‘r’ key breakage was one of the great AA moments
No footie tonight for me, decided to binge watch a brilliant thing called Killing Eve with me wife. Not sure what it was on, Amazon or Netflix or…..iplayer?
i cannot take the suspense anymore. Sorry, i am off to bed, too tired for all the excitement. Good night.
It’s on iplayer, Micky.
I only heard about it because the lead actress was sat on a train next to some bloke who was watching episode 6 on his laptop and he didn’t even realise who was sat next to him at all.
She tweeted to that effect anyway.
Less than 2 minutes 😀 I should never have doubted them
‘Spurs missing so many key players it’s like a batsman going out with half a bat’
What a goal that was!!
Remind me. Did Glenda ever play or manage the Skinny Chicks?
That shut the fuckas up!
I sense a dvd coming on, “The night we nearly came back against Barcelona”
told you Raddy, they are priceless
messi looks like a junkie.
“Good” experience for Skip! Whose shirt did he get?
LBG – tss tss tss surely you meant this for the Secret Whatsapp reserved for the chosen few. Good bye.
David Ospina has kept a clean sheet in both of his Champions League games for Napoli – just one fewer than he managed in 13 starts with Arsenal in the competition.
Bit chilly for Big Raddy, brrrrrrrrrrrr.
Is this you, BR?
Just finished crying with laughter after watching Have you ever been this drunk.
I don’t get out much.
‘Manure are considering introducing ” gender neutral” toilets at Old Trafford to make the stadium more “welcoming and inclusive” ‘.
Like Totteringham, a s*** hole is s*** hole, is a s*** hole.
Something I always look forward to on Spursday away days are the foodie tweets from that travelling Gunner. Forget his name
He’s not gone to this one, Micky.
Oh ok but thanks for trying
Some very funny vids this morning. Thanks chas.
Loved the over qualified for the job drummer. Thought the woman in the back was amusing who is trying to go along with it with some foot tapping to the music but whose facial expression says “Jesus who invited Keith Moon”.
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