Let’s talk Arsenal and footie again!
There is a game on Sunday; it cannot be called crucial as all our previous, as well as the remaining, games are of the same importance. It is likely to be a weird game, and the main reason for this is not to do with Van Persie (VP), but us playing a team who have just become PL champions.
I would have preferred the Mancs still needing something from this game. If we beat them on Sunday we will not get much credit for it, and if we don’t, the criticism will be very high. You could say it is a no-win situation, but in the end it is isn’t: it is about three points and moving on to the next match.
The guard of honour has to be done and I hope the fans show class and respect: we would expect the same. If VP turns up at TE, he will no doubt get a hostile reception, but I expect him to stay behind in worldly Manchester for this one.
So how are we going to play against the Mancs?
We’ll do a proper pre-match report on Saturday, but let’s discuss the key formational challenges. Without Giroud up-front, Arsene will have to make adjustments. We don’t have anybody who can play the ‘Giroud’ role. I don’t think Theo, Gervinho or Pod have the stamina and physicality required to play the way OG does.
In my opinion, Arsene will have to change the formation to 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1, or go with a ‘fluid-three’ up-front, just like he did at the start of the season.
I reckon the latter is the most likely scenario. Arsene has the luxury that all his remaining attackers are fit and ready to go, so he can choose three from Gervinho, Theo, Ox, Cazorla and the Pod. The idea is that any of these three can play centrally, left or right at any moment in the game. This will make us unpredictable for our opponents, but our team’s unfamiliarity with this attacking system might lead to some miscommunication, misplaced passes, and unspotted runs. We are also likely to miss the aerial focal point of Giroud’s added height in the box.
However, I reckon the Mancs would much prefer having to deal with Giroud’s height than having to accommodate for the attacking variety that our remaining attackers have in their lockers. Gervinho or Ox have the close control and can work themselves into the box with the ball; Theo adds speed and lethal finishing (a good game for him to find it again!); and both Walcott, Gervinho and the Pod can all be the fox in the box and any given time. On top of that, all of Ox, Pod, Theo and Cazorla can score from outside the edge of the box, and at least on paper this is a good attacking force to choose from.
As always with a 4-2-1-3 formation, the pivotal role is the most advanced midfielder, and Wenger has to make a big choice who this should be: Rosicky, Cazorla or Wilshere. It is too early to say who he will go for, but I am convinced he will not leave out Cazorla; so if he does not play up-front, I reckon he will be ‘in the hole’ on Sunday.
My other train of thought is that Wenger will want to strengthen the midfield against the Mancs; something he often does against a top-four team. I would feel more comfortable with this as well, but then I am a big fan of playing with a solid midfield, with lots of possession and passing options: I reckon this suits our current squad the most. Obviously, it does require our ‘midfield-wingers’ to play a disciplined defensive as well as attacking game, and it could mean that the likes of Gibbs and Coquelin will get a start there, although it is more likely to see a midfield of Cazorla – Ramsey –Arteta – Wilshere, or Cazorla- Wilshere – Arteta – Rosicky. We have plenty of options to play a very strong midfield on Sunday; although, a beast of a DM is still badly missing.
Playing four in midfield would give us the opportunity to play two up-front: either in a 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2. I reckon if Arsenal want to get the best out of two of Pod, Theo, Ox, Gervinho (and Santi), one of these two formations would be our best option.
Now, the big question is which two attackers should be combined against the Mancs. Our highest paid, and also most prolific strikers are Pod and Theo, but could they hit the ground running on Sunday. I am not sure they would. Pod could play behind Theo and maybe it would work, but I reckon such a partnership needs time to develop.
Given Wenger’s recent remarks re the Pod being groomed to play in the middle up-front, I believe that he will start on Sunday, regardless of the formation. That leaves the question who will play behind him, and I reckon it will be Cazorla. These two have played a lot together this season and seem to have quite a natural understanding with each other.
However, I don’t think Arsene will go with either 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1, but with a fluid-three up-front:
What do you reckon Arsene will do on Sunday?
Written by: TotalArsenal.