I watched the Dortmund – Bayern German ‘Super Cup’ game yesterday to see how they would get on and what sort of system of football they would play. If anything, it proved to me once more that both managers and football systems are equally important as (the quality of the) players. I also wanted to see how their systems of football compared to what we have seen from Arsenal this early season, albeit against weaker opposition.
Dortmund were deserved 4-2 winners, as they played the better football throughout the game, except for a couple of short spells when Bayern were able to assert some pressure on them. Dortmund played very similar football to us, operating as a solid unit in front of their back-four and turning from defence into attack in a flash, with quick balls over the top for Lewandowski or, the once again very impressive, Reus to capitalise on – they should have been 3-0 up after just twenty minutes played.
When Die Borussen had the ball in front of the Bayern box they were able to play the passing triangles to pick holes in a surprisingly weak Lederhosen defence, and get themselves into fine scoring positions.
Bayern were less comfortable in controlling the game by playing the ball round in order to create well thought-through attacks, and they were also sluggish in their turn-arounds most of the time. They really missed Schweinsteiger to help them control midfield; the not fully fit German only came on when it was already too late.
Bayern seemed to be playing in a 4-1-4-1 formation which is a reflection of Guardiola’s desire to keep the ball as much as possible in the opposition’s half. But, to his agitation, his players did not work hard enough, and the Dortmund midfielders were very good at keeping the ball and passing their way through Bayern’s midfield with relative ease.
They did not seem to miss their own traitor, Gotze, much as Gündoğan took over from him almost seamlessly. This is once again proof how good a manager Klopp is, who focuses on the system of football he wants to play and then fits players into it, rather than the other way around.
It was also interesting to see that most goals were instigated from the wing, and how much havoc was created in both Bayern and Dortmund’s defence from these areas in general. Good wing play, whether from the wingers or the full backs, is absolutely essential, and both German teams are very well equipped in these areas.
Comparing Arsenal with both of last season’s CL finalists, I can confidently say that our system of football is pretty similar to that of Dortmund.
In the last four games, we have seen a pattern of:
- Playing relatively compact at the back with two DM keeping everything tight and organised;
- Quick turn-arounds from defence to attack with balls over the top as well as diagonal balls to launch a winger from our own half (mostly Theo).
- Better organised in defence, with Mertesacker leading it and both Koz and Sagna playing good too;
- Good use of the wings with mostly ‘proper wingers’ using speed and skill to get behind defences;
- Good, intricate and patient passing of the ball whilst trying to find a deadly opening when playing in and around the opposition’s box;
- Being very direct when chances occur, having led to us scoring a lot of goals in pre-season.
I really like what I saw from Arsenal until now and it shows what Arsene and Steve can do with this team when they can have, and keep, them together. We now need to see how our team will hold out against tougher competition and we will have ample opportunity to test this in the next two weeks.
Although I would be delighted to add a super quality player to the squad this summer – especially somebody who won the CL recently would be very good to add – I am just as keen to get solid back-up for the likes of Arteta, Mertesacker (or Sagna if he is to become our fourth choice CB), Giroud and possible Szczesny, although Fabianski has been doing more than okay until now.
This, rather than the signing of three or more world-class players as so many seem to want, is key; and I am confident it will happen this summer.
If we can strengthen our spine and add one quality attacker, Arsenal could go far this summer, and I don’t think we would be far away from Europe’s club finalists at all.
Written by: TotalArsenal.