I needed some time away from the blog and Arsenal. Just so I can think through what is happening to our beloved team.
A draw against Hull is not a total disaster, but in light of previously dropped points through many draws and a loss, we find ourselves now double figures away from the Chavs, and that after just eight games: played eight, dropped a whopping 13 points.
PL title well outside our reach is one thing but a failing defence and struggling attack is another. On top of that, Arsene gave a snarky, immature interview to a BBC reporter who clearly, yet fairly, touched on an open nerve. Where is the humility, the mea culpa, the war cry?
The thing that worries and irritates me most is the lack of shape and plan to our play, which is Arsene’s responsibility. We look so unorganised, undisciplined, unfocussed all over the pitch. Some refer to our injury woes for the disappointing performances, but I just cannot buy it. At the back we had the eager and talented Bellerin and Nacho played out of position, but the BFG, Szczesny and Gibbs are established players and we are playing at home, against Hull: that should be enough to defend well.
In midfield we played the veteran Flamini, the Spanish sub-international Cazorla and the super-talented Wilshere, and in attack we had the phenomenal Alexis, and Welbeck and Ox. The latter two are not OG and Theo, but they would both be regular starters in the Hull team we played on Saturday, no doubt about that.
It is this lack of shape and plan that I cannot get: the misplaced balls, the unspotted runs, the lack of discipline when defending set-pieces, the cluttering of the centre of midfield, etc, etc.
The players are keen and work hard for each other, but somehow they do not get what Wenger wants them to do; and this has been going on for a long time now. The constantly shifting starting line-up does not help of course, but that should not be a major excuse here. 4-1-4-1 could work brilliantly, but with the likes of Arteta and Flamini to pick for the super important holding midfielder role, we leave ourselves vulnerable.
The four in midfield would have to be an all-concurring force: dominating play, attacking the opponent by feeding (off) the CF at will, and protecting the ‘back six’ if and when required. But, as we saw once again against Hull, everybody wants to move to the middle and is addicted to the area in front of the opponents ‘D’. In the process, the DM is left alone and therefore vulnerable to counter-attacks, the wings are not used systematically – meaning the opponent’s defence does not get stretched, and we clutter our attacks by trying to funnel the ball through the heart of the opponent’s defence constantly.
And even if we manage to use the wings, there are often not enough players inside the box to hurt the opponent.
I reckon we miss OG tremendously in terms of given structure to our play; and unless Arsene decides to change our style of play to suit the sort of players we have, it will continue to be this way until the Alps born Frenchman returns to the team.
With Ramsey, Arteta and Theo returning now, and Jack and Alexis being in super-form, and Welbeck turning out to be a reliable, hard working and athletic central attacker, there is no reason for despair.
But we need a plan, and a system and formation of football which suits these players, which they understand and buy in to, and which the reserve players understand just as much. It is about time Wenger gets this right now.
Tell me, if we start with the following eleven against Anderlecht tomorrow, is there any reason why we should not spank Brussels- based ‘Manneken Pis’’ bottom with four or five goals?
Ramsey to sit a bit more back and support Arteta as much as possible – Jack to drive the centre of the team, with help from ‘box-to-box’ Ramsey when needed – Theo and Alexis to stick to the wing most of the time, but Alexis to help Jack in front of the D and Theo to aid Welbeck in the centre regularly. Full backs to support attack but one at a time and with discipline. And when we get the ball in the box, let there be enough players to make it count. Defend as a team all over the pitch. Let’s have high and constant pressure and good ball circulation, spreading the opponent’s defence by using the wings and dinked and long balls over the top. Let’s give them no time to think or reshape, and totally bamboozle them in the process.
And with the likes of Ox, Diaby, Cazorla and (hopefully) Pod on the bench we should be able to keep this up for 90+ minutes.
No excuses, self-pity or false sentiments. We have a great team and very good manager: we are The Arsenal – Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!
Written by: TotalArsenal.