Last night’s defeat against Dortmund was a painful one: we were ‘out-systemed’ by Klopp and throughout the ninety minutes we had no answer to it. The Germans played with a great tempo and gang-pressed our players continuously: outnumbering them around the ball almost constantly. We were unable to build our attacks from the back and pass the ball round in midfield, and we also could not thump it forwards towards a holding striker. They played in concentrated units of three/four/five players around the ball, whereas we stuck to our positions and spaces a lot more. The crowd whipped the home players up and we looked stunned and apathetic from the start.
I really think our players were up for this though, but we just could not handle Dortmund’s system of football, the high tempo and pressing football. It was embarrassing but it might provide the team with some valuable lessons: ‘Oh the sweet uses of adversity’ as Shakespeare once said.
The responses by fellow Gooners have been varied, yet predictable: some want to change the formation and some the players, and there is merit in all of it. We all have our hobby horses, and especially when we lose we like to get them out of the stable. My head buzzes with thoughts like:
- For 4-1-4-1 we do not have the right DM: so why play this formation?
- Why did we not buy a proper, footballing DM this summer?
- What has happened to BFG and Koz’s fine partnership?
- Should we adjust our system to get the best out of Welbeck?
- Am I mad and almost everybody sane by disagreeing about Ozil’s ‘best position’?
- Why has Wenger changed from 4-2-1-3 to 4-1-4-1, and why did it work okay against the Nothern Oilers and not against Dortmund?
- Etc, Etc.
Like many others, I have some reservations about Wenger’s approach to our football at the moment – formations, style of play, player purchases, etc – but we should be careful with jumping to conclusions. It is early season and the preparations for the new season were short, due to many international players returning late and CL qualification needing to be secured against a tough opponent. We did qualify but drew one or two games too many, and now we have been outplayed/out-thought by a rampant German team.
Dortmund are capable of this, as the money-no-object team in Madrid will testify. Many regard the self-adoring one as a great manager, but also he had no answer to the Deutsche Welle two seasons ago. Sometimes you just have to hold your hand up and say: we were second best and well done to the opponent. Key is to not make too much of it and move on, especially so early on in the season. It is a defeat we can afford after all.
In football, and life in general, you can always respond to a disappointment or set-back in three ways: do nothing, make changes, reinforce your belief in the road you have chosen. We are all fantasy football managers who can instantly suggest what Wenger needs to change in order for Arsenal to become a trophy-winning side. We can have these opinions and utter them without a care in the world.
But Arsene is the manager and he has an entirely different weight on his shoulders than us arm-chair managers. When he lay there on the beach in Brazil a few months ago, he day-dreamed of winning silverware with 4-1-4-1 and he got Sanchez and Welbeck, Debuchy and Chambers to make it happen. Let’s give him a chance to see this new formation and style of football through, and not jump to conclusions yet.
Keep the faith.
Written by: TotalArsenal.