Welcome to the new bus! Will ‘Disruption’ ruin Arsenal?

This is something I have been thinking on and observing since the Crystal Palace game. A busy lifestyle has prevented it from being brought out until now.

Have we ever replaced him?
Have we ever replaced him?

Let me start by stating some truths, or “truths” that are well believed:

  • Arsenal either go out pressing high and attacking to play beautiful total football, and are beaten on the counter by top teams like the special one’s boys in blue. Can’t win the big game that way.


  • Arsenal have fixed this with a deeper lying formation that does the same, and also shelters the big German dude from pace and youth, but are still beaten when teams then press us in return.

These all lead to arguments about who is best or better, who fits the EPL, and, in the end, questions about whether Arsene has lost it, and not kept with the times.

I will argue here that something more fundamental has happened. In particular, that both the above approaches, total football and sitting deep to counter, are played by Arsenal. And played well. We have beaten top teams with it, and lesser teams, as well.

However, … And there is always a however, the game has changed… I think…

In past, weaker to mid table teams would sit deep and hope for the Fat Sam Miracle (FSM), known to American football fans as the “Doug Flutie, bye bye Florida State (or was it Notre Dame? 🙂 ) hail mary” to pull out one or even three points. Also commonly known as parking the bus and daring you to get through. So, what has changed?

Teams have realised this “prevent defense” (another American football term), is, to use what Americans often call it in context, the “prevent yourself from winning” defence. More simply, they have realised that it invites top teams to totally dominate them, and that with the ever increasing talent gap they will eventually get through. They will, not, they might or they should, they will.

The talent gap is ever greater than before with so many top Euro teams, not just in the EPL, looking for talent and depth.  Thus, what to do? Time to innovate of course!

Simple answer? You can’t be dominated if the other team doesn’t have shape or form, and is lightly battered like good fish and chips, which is to say as much as the missus (in the refs uniform here) will let you get away with! This is easily done by hiring pro wrestlers to come in and chase the other guys around. However, it tends to pee off the fans and the ref.

So, how to get this done by stealth? How to ruin your opponents game so much they cannot score, while offering you the ongoing FSM opportunity?

Simple, don’t park the bus, don’t press, which is what people (or many such) *think* they are seeing now, when Arsenal struggle. Instead, play what I call a disruptive game. I differentiate pressing and disruption, as one which is playing forceful defensive football and keeping shape, while the other is defined to ensure the other team has no flow and no shape. Thus, narrowing that talent gap.

In particular, pressing is a game played to win, disruption is a game played not to lose. More specifically:

  1. Pressing = turnover and fast transition to press/contain the ball as far up the field as possible. Generally, 1 on 1 or 2 on 1, looking to force the turnover on either a long ball prayer having cut off all reasonable passes or marked them closed, or on a poor dribble into a player all other options being closed off. A third equally positive outcome is forcing the pass to keeper who then belts it up field. All turn the ball back towards us by forcing high risk, low opportunity balls from the other side that we can easily take. And take in a form ready to go forward in transition.

It’s about controlling shape and getting the ball back to go on offense with good shape.

  1. Disruptive = looks a hell of a lot like a pressing game but involves more often 2-1 and 3-1 defending. A rush at the ball holder and not necessarily caring about others. The goal is not to contain and restrict field space, but to disrupt passing lanes, foul often to disrupt runs and passes, and a greater focus on taking the ball by running many players at the ball handler.

When this is done the ball may turn over but you are not in a position with players in shape and well spread to take best, or sometimes any, advantage. It forces players to far more quickly find something, far more quickly approach their own ball carrier (shrinking the pitch to smaller areas). Thus, against Palace who played this way a lot, we often won the ball but had nothing to really do with it. Hence, they had lots of ball, but little or few opportunities really, as when they won it, they too, were in no shape to attack.

They make our defending easier, but make our attack much harder. They didn’t threaten until we shut off a bit at 93 mins, after almost getting a third goal at 92 mins. We weren’t dominated, we were disrupted, by a team playing for 1 or hoped for 3 points.

So, you say, they sound the same. But, the difference is that a Pressing team is trying to control space and win the ball back anywhere. It’s a plan that focuses on organizing defence as a form of attack and positioning with structure.

A Disruptive team cares less about shape on defence and how it leads to attack with good team shape when the ball is turned over. Their goal is to take away the other team’s ability to move the ball regardless of what it does to their own ability to move the ball. It’s a negative form of football.

It’s also highly successful at times. It is a great equalizer across teams of different abilities – thus reducing that talent gap. It also creates a scenario when you are at home and know the field and have the crowd, where it is likely the better choice of odds than parking the bus.

Keep the other team off balance and out of shape / ball and hope that, despite having no real shape to go forward yourself, you can get a quick breakaway or mistake to capitalize on. Then hunker down, disrupt more, and hope to hold on.

Hence, I think when we play these types of teams among others, or top teams away, we seek to have a deep lying defence. That allows shape to be maintained and lets them, or forces them, to come to you. You then have shape to counter from, which we have the squad for. But, it still won’t solve the problem of being disrupted on attack. The only way to avoid it is to move quickly with lots of field space when they are not near to run after you … Sounds like “on the counter” to me.

But listen again, and hear what isn’t said. That if we can only score on the counter, or mostly so, the opposition have taken us out of our game, forced us away from dominating with talent that we have.

The solution is risk. Again, playing to the opposition. Another possibility. A great rock of a ball holder. Coquelin has done the defensive thing, but not that. That was Vieira. It is Toure and Kompany when they are in form. It might be Schneiderlin. It isn’t Santi, Ozil or Alexis who are tricky enough, but too light and dynamic and want to go forward.

The real key?

In my opinion, a rock and a fast passing game. One that isn’t afraid to go backward if it is isn’t there. If we can’t counter, we need to control through speed.

Thus, and perhaps this is now past length, we have the squad for it. It is perhaps something that has evolved and perhaps we are finally smart enough to do it instead of going after them like we have so often done away against such teams (for which we have been punished).

Sadly to say, it also means that Mourinho may know something and be quite clever having seen this first or nearly so? Look at his squad, sit deep, counter, pass quickly, Terry and others are the rock…

Questions for the critics?

  • Is disruptive, and yes, ugly, football the future?
  • What’s your solution?
  • Who do we need to implement it?
  • Or, am I being too subtle and over analytical, just bring on the fresh faces?

— Cheers – jgc

56 thoughts on “Welcome to the new bus! Will ‘Disruption’ ruin Arsenal?

  • Superb discussion post, Geoff. Definitely an area in which you are a BK master. 🙂

    To me it looks like we are unable to confidently push out when we are playing deep and get ‘locked in’. It might well be a Vieira or Yaya, or Diaby type of player who can do this for us. Maybe that is the difference. But we also have not seen enough of Rambo and Jack this season to judge what we really need. They are not as physical but have the ability to push out nevertheless. Especially Jack thrives in this sort of play and Arsene and Roy H have been trying him deeper this season. Rambo has the engine but perhaps not the close ball control to get us out of jail.

    I am not so worried about the teams that try to disrupt us as we usually beat them with patience and quality. If we want to play deep then we need to find a way of pushing teams away from our ‘D’ area and to break out with the ball with thrust and quick passing – and keep hold of it of course. I dont think we are too far away from it but we need to get the balance right in midfield, and key for me is the b2b midfielder. This should have been Rambo but he is having one of those seasons, and of course Diaby…… Big sigh! 😛

  • Yes Geoff, this is indeed how it looks. We fail sometimes because we have not got the players to perform the way other teamss do, but we are nearly there.
    TA is right about some of the lesser teams getting beaten if we are patient. The reason for that is, it take a lot of effort to keep swarming over attackers. QPR is a great example really. They harried us for about 25 minutes, and then the numbers started to slip back to just one player blocking, and so we started to get into the game.
    Now many people will say we started slowly, but that disguises what Geoff has described above. We had to work hard to keep our shape. Mind it would have been helpful if we passed better, as not all of the lost possession was down to their tactics. Rosicky in particular was guilty several time in this period, though not alone. It just showed the difference between coming on when the opposition are tiring and starting a game when their minds are on full alert?
    The only thing about the QPR game that surprised me was that they did not start the second half the way they did the first. Perhaps it was the lack of reward of a goal to give their adrenalin a surge, so the clean sheet is a bonus in that respect. It may not be the Arsenal way of years gone by, but the players are working hard all the same.

    So to answer your questions Geoff ..
    1, It will only be the future if it is successful, and then something will develop that forces teams to be more proactive. Having player capable of moving on and off the ball is the way forward.
    2, We have players capable of that when they are fit and on form. but we are a couple of players short of ideal.
    3, Ideally we should be in the high pressing camp, but again to have so many bodies forward we need the ‘Rock’ you speak of. I hoped Gabriel was going to be the solution this season, so I cannot see us getting away with a high press unless they are of a type that allow us to pass and move from the off. The bigger worry is whatever we do we have got know, or be more cute, about shutting up shop. Letting sides having a sniff of a chance in the last 20 minutes is something that AW is going to have to give a lot more thought to. Alternatively, unleash a striker that put our goal tally not just at one or two when we are dominant, but go for the jugular and knock 4 or 5. Have we got such a player as yet unused or untapped? OX, Gnabry and Akpom are potentially right for it, and until they are tried, that is all they are. Of course a back to form Ramsey would not go amiss either?
    4, I am not sure what you mean by ‘just bring on fresh faces’, such as I have suggested above.
    The analysis you give is an accurate snapshot of current football tactics, imo. In fact you have taken away the subtlety. But we are a team, and they are trying to fill holes as best they can. So fresh faces will have to do likewise. Keeping a balance team will win out in the long term, but may not get the results against the sides we most want to beat.
    A bumpy ride ahead?

  • Gerry, at the start of the season WE often started energetically and ran out of steam after 30 minutes, especially if we had not scored. We then often conceded and had to chase the game to get a result. I reckon we play a lot more measured/mature at the moment.

  • Always good to get a post from the Professor and I believe I understand the basic ideas. Cheers for posting it…

    The only thing I disagree about is that the gulf in talent is widening. Yes, the top teams are very deep and possess enough quality to withstand normal injuries and the need to periodically rest players, while competing on multiple fronts. With internationals, football is essentially a year round game. On the other hand, the structure of the English TV money means that the lower teams can buy players and pay salaries at a level that they can get goals not just through man-handling and getting lucky (the old Route 1 lottery of playing up to a big man and hoping for a lucky bounce…) but by getting the ball just about anywhere on the pitch and stringing a few passes together and scoring a nicer goal. As such, this sort of disruptive play, when combined with good focus, can yield surprising results (upsets). More and more goals happen and teams are less content to play for nil-nil. 3 points for a win is one factor, another might be the influence of Arsene Wenger and the attacking flair he brought to Arsenal approx. 15 years ago. It could even be argued that the Arsenal style made the back half of the oughts was a golden period for English Football. Between 2005 and 2012 at least one English club made the CL finals in every year but one, winning the tournament on 3 occasions.

    At this point, however, the very best attacking talent seems elsewhere. Additionally, with the depth of the competition for the CL spaces, like the professor says, even the top teams–including Arsenal this season–are playing these more pragmatic styles and are happy enough when the opposition have the ball. This season the top 4 total points at this stage of the season is very low and likely will finish lower than in past years. It’ll get better as the teams move into their end of season modes, with relegation teams happy for a point against the big clubs and mid-table (and already relegated) clubs finding it difficult to be arsed… Still, with 6 (or more) teams legitimately in the hunt, those teams will be happy for a point when they play each other…

    So, getting points is more difficult, leading to disruptive playing styles and a lot of frustration when the big teams come up short. At least in the real world. In fantasy land, the lower teams should be easy to beat and doing so (as we did at QPR on Weds night) is business as usual. Or maybe there’s some other reason for the lack of comments. It could also be that for all the big money English Clubs are making from television, not that many locals are willing to pay to get every match. It’s possible the regulars aren’t commenting about the QPR match because they didn’t see it…More likely it’s because we met the prediction. Satisfaction is quiet, dissatisfaction needs venting?…

    It’s too bad because I actually think we saw some good stuff in that match (and a little bit of the late lack of focus which has been a real feature in recent matches). That match was better but I also think we’re suffering in our full-back play. Bellerin looks a fine prospect, as does Chambers, but I think we miss Debuchy (and Sagna). On the other side, Gibbs can run all day (if he wants to or thinks he should…) and brings a lot of athleticism to the task while Monreal has improved his game, esp. at the defensive end with some of those efforts at CB. Still, we’re having real problems when it comes to positioning and decisiveness in these positions, and opponents, IMO, are exploiting them. So many of our conceded goals have started with bad (or none existent) challenges out wide. Also, teams have found a lot of joy when defending marking our FBs out wide and forcing them inside to clog up the works instead. With our attackers tired from helping deep in central mid-field, they’re less excited about making the wide runs (overlaps) and crossing the balls themselves. From a tactics perspective, I believe this is our greatest struggle. More solidity at DM is likely the answer, but the amount of running our main attacking mids (Ozil, Alexis, Cazorla) are being asked to do is too much. It will be good to have Ramsey, a natural workhorse, to help spell them a bit or to help out Coquelin. Rosicky subbing for Ox (or visa versa) hasn’t been all bad, of course, but ALL of those guys are probably more comfortable further forward. As such, the real answer probably will only come in the Summer…

    Anyhow, that’s how I see things (and thanks for reading)… Thanks again for the post, Geoff.

  • TA and Gerry

    Well, like any post, I also try to take a slightly extreme stance. It’s never all one thing or another.

    TA, I agree about AR, JW etc. I suspect that AR can do it, but doesn’t have the tougher mentality, JW has all the mentail th, but not the size/bulk, Diaby has it all, but, well, we all know.

    I am concerned about disruption. You are right, we always win on patience, but it’s a puck game, the same way pro poker players play the odds and not poker. Done well, it will turn the odds more in your favor than otherwise. I don’t like it at all, but that’s an opinion, not a fact. So, I have issues with it.

    I particularly dislike the physically that often comes with it, especially given how we see guys like Alexis, Ozil and others targeted by the fouling. It leads to injuries and time off and time off form we cannot afford. Only Ozil and OG have really come back into the team on form basically.

    Gerry, what I meant was actually a lure to others. I.e. Which half of the team should we sell to bring in 37 SQ players! Also currently known as the get rid of Everyone but Alexis camp! 🙂

    That said, one thing you wrote about strikers resonates. I am not sure that this type of game doesn’t make OG better actually. As a top holding striker type he is the target for a long ball to hold and get us on the front foot. More below..

    — jgc

  • All

    One thing Gerry wrote about strikers resonates. I am not sure that this type of game doesn’t make OG better actually. As a top holding striker type he is the target for a long ball to hold and get us on the front foot. It suits his style more, and the tricky Alexis types less.

    Why? When there are 3 players running at the ball and rest all out of shape, mathematics says there are 2 open guys somewhere, preferably forward. Thus, the easy and safe attack is boot it up to a large man who can hold well. It’s especially brilliant if you have speed and trickery wide, read Alexis, Theo, Ozil, Ox, Welbeck etc in any order. Unfortunately, that’s Fat Sam Football (FSM) which I detest…

    Still we had better opportunities when good long passes out of our end, an Ozil specialty in particular, found OG or Alexis up front.

    We were least effective vs QPR when OG was back helping defend because it cost us shape and we had no solid holding outlet. That said, he had come back looking for ball because we were being so disrupted… :/

    Just a further thought — jgc

  • 17

    Hmm, good point. I think the top talent economy is weird just now. Some thoughts:

    A. Yes, more teams stocking more talent and even mid level promise is being paid for in top dollar.

    B. I think this prevents teams 6-20 in EPL terms from getting close unless someone bursts onto the scene as it were

    C. Thus, the gap to those teams is widening. Just look at Sandro for QPR lumbering about and running into people everywhere. Or XXX whomever hog tying Ozil so he doesn’t score…

    I should also note we agree on solidity in defensive midfield control. Ozil and Alexis and Santi need to be running less, I agree also. However, I am uncertain how that will work or with whom we will get that Presence! To bring to mind my first post. 🙂

    Meanwhile, to differentiate, these other teams don’t play DMs they play enforcers. What made Vieira great in my mind was that he was not only a SQ DM, but also a SQ enforcer when needed.

    Now who is THAT person in today’s world. Given how much refs are missing these days, as shown so well by replay technology, the SQ DM part seems to matter less, which is sad perhaps.

    Just some further thoughts in response.

    On a positive note, I think we can count on MU and Van Gaál to come out to play!

    Cheers — jgc

  • Geoff, 17, I only saw the highlights of the Hoops game. Three things I liked a lot. Giroud’s total involvement in attacking, Gibbs’ FB play offensively, leading to two assists, and Ozil’s box positioning. Giroud is a modern holding striker, who can do all, including through balls; indeed, without him upfront we instantly lose shape AND space/dimension. I loved Gibbs’ drive and focussed attacking on Wednesday: for once he was very effective… More please Kieran. Ozil was so unlucky not to score and get a pen.

    We created almost double figures shots on goal against the Hoops, and we could have had five. So. Patience, organisation and solid attacking is starting to bare fruit. Big test on Monday though…

  • TA

    Or salient quotes

    “You can have an influence on people’s lives. Medals are important but are not the only thing that matter.”

    “The availability of the players changed. We produced players like Cesc Fabregas, who is less physical than Patrick Vieira, but who are still exceptional players.”

    On the second, perhaps we are coming back to a period where a Patrick Vieira type can have greater impact than another Fabregas. Not better, just different and more likely in this current style of game to have impact.

    Cheers — jgc

  • Thanks for the response, Professor… And it seems like you watched the match…QPR is a money team and, of course, they were coached by Harry Redknapp, so they have a good group. Even if they go down plenty of their players will find new teams in the PL… Overall, agreed, however, the way the money is being spread makes for more variety of results and better styles of play amongst the lesser teams. In the end, however, there’s really a big 3 when it comes to money. Arsenal are solidly #4 and Liverpool (a brand with great tradition and thus some degree of nationwide and worldwide support) and Spurs (by dint of being in London and Arch-rival to the Arsenal brand) also can spring some upsets. They’re probably both slightly ahead of their natural trajectory due to getting “lucky” with special players who they then sold (Suarez, with Torres, before him and Bale with Modric before him)… My hunch is that it’s only gonna get tougher to break into the top 4 and top 6 as time goes by, but that all of the clubs are subject to supporter revolts and thus some wandering in the desert if they give in and fire a manager in mid-season…

    That has nothing to do with tactics, of course…

    The problem Arsenal are having, I think, is that our FB-DM rotation is currently staffed by less experienced players who can get lured out of position or stuck in static ones. It’s been good that Coquelin stays at home (most of the time…even he got too far forward for much of the Monaco match, I thought…) but it doesn’t make for the irresistible football Arsenalistas demand. Personally, I think Rambo is our man, this season at least, and how he plays will have a major bearing on how fans feel about 2014-15. A couple of well timed belters from 20 yards (at ManU on Monday or down in Monaco vs Chavs or Pool…) would go down a tonic. If you can present an offensive threat while still being positioned to help if there’s a turnover, you help create that critical fore-aft balance, allowing guys like Giroud and Alexis (or other forward types) to remain a threat further up-field.

    A final issue is that our own Route 1 game which (IMO) we actually used to employ a lot has been hampered by two issues: no settled #1 and no Bacary Sagna, who got just as many long balls from Szcz as Giroud did. We were under the kosh quite a bit due to indifferent clearances from Ospina and Gabriel (and others) during the first half on Weds (and we also struggled with Sandro as a disruptive force). Ospina’s kicking is improving (I think) but it would help if our FBs were just a little more physically imposing. Nacho and Debuchy are not big men (neither was Sagna…) but there’s a reason they got the call to fill in at CB (rather than Gibbs or Bellerin). As good as Bellerin has been playing, I could see Chambers getting some starts out at RB just to provide a little size at which the keeper(s) might aim…

  • TA… The game was worth watching, and it really should’ve been over 3 mins into the 2nd half on the Ozil haul-down. (IMO, it was just about the best game I’ve seen Ozil play in red w/white sleeves, even if he was wearing yellow on the night…) Also, I think a front line of three of Ox-Welbeck-Walcott-Alexis (and Ramsey and/or Rosicky in tight behind them…) could do the pressing bit and give Giroud a little rest now and again, against the easier teams, but agreed, esp. with Sagna gone, that he’s darn near essential to help relieve pressure (see above) and give shape to our attack. Overall, it’s a shame that we’ve had such a struggle with injuries this season and now face such difficult cup matches and a very competitive battle for CL places. It’s also a shame that Sanogo as a more direct Giroud fill-in (he looked good in the FA Cup matches last season) seems to have gone South…Finally, and not to answer for the Professor… I think the answer at DM (with personal terms already agreed…) is Schneiderlin…If not him, I’d stump for Kondogbia. There are 4 or 5 clubs willing to spend more money on Pogba (including Juve w/a monster contract) than our Stingy Stan, I fear…

  • 47-45.
    Boston College.
    Hail Flutie(-to-Gerard Phelan)
    vs. University of Miami (Nov 23rd ’84).


  • A note from ‘over here’ (USA).
    About a third of AFC games are webcasts online (NBCSportsLive).
    You must watch live– as the webcast goes dead about 20 minutes after the live match ends– with no way to retrieve and watch later.


  • JW

    Thanks! Didn’t know that. Had forgotten Miami, the big boys of the day.. Tho I was watching live at the time! I just didn’t look it up! :/

    Cheers — jgc

  • Gee, this is a thinking person’s blog 😀

    Thanks for the comments in reply Geoff. Sorry I couldn’t join in last night. I have to take my downtime in the evening in order to get my 5.5 hours sleep, which lately starts shortly after 10pm.
    Great comments from you too, HT, and as is often the case, I agree with muich you have said.

    Just to clarify my point on strikers. When I suggest that trio of alternatives, it was not meant to be as an alternative to Giroud. more another support for Alexis to feed off Giroud, but with different attributes. Namely the ability to have a crack from outside of the box, as well as add power and trickery getting into the box. The problem with having 3 up front, as you point out Geoff, really only two can be considered up field and ready to go on goal, and that, at the moment tends to be Ozil and Giroud. Not that both of those don’t come deeper when needed. So this means Alexis does drop back with the team, and whoever on the other side does. What was more noticeable in the QPR game I thought, was that Alexis only came to just inside our half, and did not do the ‘mad’ chasing back and forth of recent games … hence he scored later on.

    Back to the point of having clinical strikers in the mix, is probably because I am less sure Welbeck can cut it, and Theo needs a particular type of game to flourish?
    The other problem that arises out of having three central-ish forwards is congestion in the middle. Which is where the overlapping full backs are needed. As has been said all over the blogs, both played their part really well in the QPR game. – At this point I should apologise for not putting out any post match comment, but I lost my connection for a time, plus very busy on my other front … Chetenham week coming up … and I kept waiting for the new post to air my thoughts. – Back to solving problems with our ‘current’ squad.

    To have our backs he freedom to go forward when we are in possession does require a more defensive partnership against the stronger teams than Coquelin and Cazorla. Not that both have not done a terrific job. And your are right about Coquelin getting forward HT. Just as ‘Le Boss’ was saying he had realised his defensive qualities and stop trying to be everything, he did that mazy run to the QPR bye-line from inside our half :LOL: However that augers well for the future for him, should we get another DM in the summer, as long as both do not get forward at the same time. Bellerin too, popped up in central midfield a couple of times as our DM, when we were really pressing home our advantage, so he may yet have a role when Debuchy comes back?

    How I thought it would happen with a double DM pivot with Gabriel, and keep our attacking threat would be at the expense of either Cazorla or Ozil. So now, for beyond United game it would likely be Coquelin and Ramsey as the pair, hoping that the ‘discovery’ of what causes Ramsey’s hamstring problem is something simple like having one leg slightly shorter than the other, so causing an imbalance that the body compensates for, and thus delivering hamstring/thigh problems. I am not saying that is the problem, just an example that might make him feel more at ease, and can come back in a more confident – read = in form – player that we need. That would be the pair in the preferred, imo. line of a -2-1-3 or -2-3-1 depend if we are in or out of possession, but not in fully defensive mode.
    That would allow for Santi to be the deeper lying CAM and Ozil as part of the front three. However, with having the extra fire power, Ozil OR Santi as the ‘1’, and Alexis, Giroud, Gnabry as the ‘3’. Variations on that theme would allow for Ox behind the current trio, or Alexis behind Akpom and Gnabry either side of Giroud, at some stage in games.
    Will this happen? No.
    The United game will be much the same as the QPR game after 20 minutes, but may be Ox ahead of Rosicky? However, if anybody is going to provide a shock as the season goes on, it will be Gnabry.

    You read it here first!

  • hey ballbag i’m here!! 🙂
    been away for the last couple of days but i’m back to infuriate you all again now 🙂

    jgc, i wanted to analyse your first two thinking points a little more because i am not sure we as a team have significantly mastered either enough to make them options we have in our locker – definitely not enough to say we can either play this way or that way.

    Arsenal either go out pressing high and attacking to play beautiful total football, and are beaten on the counter by top teams like the special one’s boys in blue. Can’t win the big game that way.

    Arsenal – pressing lol
    I love this post if not just for the fact that i now have a name for what WE do when we “close down” now i know we are disrupting 🙂 We don’t do a very good job of it tbh hence the tagline “Arsenal will always let you play football” and teams invariably do seem to play to a higher standard when they play us or should i say we give them time and space to be allowed to do so.
    I hate it, i always used to call it herding – we run towards a player then stop about a meter away and try to cut down his options on the ball but we don’t end up rushing hardly any players into a mistake or cut down a significant proportion of passing options, they find away out, they play moves on and the other team puts some passes together, looks good (for them) and builds confidence in the match as a result – crap imo
    But at least i know what the strategy is called now.
    To see pressing just look at the difference between Sanchez’s runs towards people and the rest of our teams, he doesn’t stop a meter away but gets body to body with the player, doesn’t foul, but chips away at the guy until he makes a mistake or looses the ball – love that shit!
    He obviously didn’t get the memo re disrupting when he joined Arsenal and is still on Barcelona directives lol, how i wish we had the same coaches implementing the rules here.

    We will never play a pressing game unfortunately, well not for a while anyway because although it is very much a team strategy as far as when one goes in to an opponent two others do as well and then others have to fill the spaces vacated by those etc etc (you know how it goes lol), it remains heavily reliant on the individuals abilities and our individuals don’t have those abilities i’m afraid – maybe one or two but one or two can’t play a pressing game which is a team strategy it just ends up leaving gaping holes.

    Pressing needs;
    Pace – to get to the opponent quickly and effectively in the first place
    Tenacity – strength and fight (without fouling) to actually make a difference when there
    Stamina – the fitness to keep doing this for 90 mins

    Most of our players have deficiencies in one ore more of these areas which makes us unable to be a pressing team unfortunately;

    Giroud – Pace and Stamina
    Walcott – Tenacity
    Ozil – Tenacity
    Cazorla – Pace and Stamina
    Wilshere – Pace and Stamina
    Ramsey – Pace
    Arteta – Pace and Stamina
    Rosicky – Stamina
    BFG – Pace and Stamina

    The guys who could play a pressing game:


    Only half those players started against QPR and most of those were defenders who are by their very nature supposed to be able to press. The midfield and attacking areas are severely lacking in pressing ability imo. But i cannot see many star names on that second list so its not going to change anytime soon lol. (there are a few names on that first list i wouldn’t want to see left out of the starting line up that’s for sure)

    Maybe you could get away with one player who gets let off from these duties, a playmaker like Ozil, a lightning quick winger like Walcott, a finisher like Giroud or a midfield dancer like Santi – but all of them in the same team at the same time and kiss your pressing goodbye, hello herding lol.

    In contrast look at the midfield at the Chavs:
    Oscar – who has been made to press these days

    Only Hazard gets a free ride and maybe to some extent Fabregas but the rest are pressing first technical ability second.

    So in that respect be careful what we wish for, we could end up playing like the Chavs lol, well at least those of you who covert results would be happy. I think we have too much technical ability ingrained in the players here at Arsenal to ever look that shite but we could definitely increase our pressing game;


    This team would press all over the pitch and the only guy who gets a relatively free ride is right there in the middle and is a choice from the first list (Ozil, Ramsey, Santi, Wilshere) no prizes for my choice but you get the point. That’s a very different looking team though and i’m not sure many of you would be happy with it.

    In conclusion though we (imo) have never really tried playing the pressing game as a team properly and its a shame as with the right personnel i think we could be masters at it.

    Arsenal have fixed this with a deeper lying formation that does the same, and also shelters the big German dude from pace and youth, but are still beaten when teams then press us in return.

    For me when we play like this its all about transition from defense to attack and whether you want to do it the hard (class) way or cheat and do it the easy way. I say cheat because i have seen no better example of this than a Madrid – Barca game a couple of years ago with Moo in charge (please someone give me some other examples i hate giving that cheating fucker so many plaudits on this blog, i’m beginning to sound like cockie)

    Barca were pressing hard and brilliantly like they always used to do and Real not wanting to loose face were trying to play out from the back with skill and technical ability – that wasn’t going well lol.
    So in a change of tactics Moo stopped doing this and just left two players (probably CR7 and Bale) up field, one on the left and one on the right. When they got the ball back in defense they completely took out Barca’s pressing capabilities by blindly hoofing the ball straight over it down one of the sides of the pitch, knowing a player would be thereabouts. Whatever side it went the guy on the other side would run over to support whilst the target man was trying to take control of the ball and make a break for it.
    Fucking ridiculously simple tactics and i’m happy to say Barca went on to win the game but that was more about Real end product and finishing – the tactics worked a treat and they looked very dangerous many times completely negating any effort put in to get through Barca’s pressing.
    Sanchez and Welbeck left up top either side when a team is pressing, hoof it down the line to either of them, whilst the rest of the midfield moves up in support – not pretty but then niether is loosing to the spuds who pressed us off the pitch that day, or Dortmund for that matter lol.

    Is disruptive, and yes, ugly, football the future?
    No, pressing is and always has been and its not ugly when done right

    What’s your solution?
    Personnel change, then pressing when in the ascendancy and when in defense route one break away football with two up top.
    I think many people forget back in the Invincibles era a lot of our best moves from defense to attack were just two or three passes FORWARD, they weren’t hundreds side to side, round and round, backwards then forwards lol

    Who do we need to implement it?


    Even if none of this ever happens i at least hope one day we will remember that:
    That is probably the biggest thing that pisses me off about our breaks atm.

    There you go, late to the party but gave it a go nonetheless, off for a cuppa 🙂

  • On that last point (in CAPITOLS), then you leave out the best player capable of doing that?

    Full response though Steve. I’ll leave Geoff the job of analysing the rest of it.

  • I rate Jack better than Ozil Gerry you know that but like i said just substitute one from the list of Ozil, Ramsey, Santi – so there’s your man 🙂

  • Btw Gerry I am sure i didn’t make my point in a building in which a legislature meets (capitol) 😉 🙂

  • Love the post & analysis Geoff! Top stuff! 🙂 Yes, disruption seems to be strategy of the season so far and, as you point out, it is helping the mid-to-lower teams stay in the game. I don’t think though that it will be the future. Simply because the top teams will find a way to get around this strategy given the talent at their disposal. In fact, I actually think that Arsenal is well positioned to counter this already, just that execution is not as efficient currently.

    My reasoning is: For a team that is playing disruptive football, going after the ball handler is vital but along with it they have to retain their own defensive shape. If they do not then the skill players can find a way to wriggle free and launch a counter. So, typically the disruption has to be executed by the front 6 in front so that the back four can maintain positions. So, despite appearance, the front 6 cannot blindly charge in as hard as they can. Such a strategy might initially be successful, but trends become obvious during the game. A natural counter is to keep the ball moving around continuously, so that there is that element of doubt in the designated “chargers” as to whether they should abandon their position and charge or wait for someone else. This hesitation is the key weak link because if the opposition recognizes any trend / hesitation then they can really punish you.

    This is why I think that Arsenal has taken a bit longer to get into the game, I feel. In Le Coq they have someone providing security to the back 4, which diminishes the worries to our goal. While he is capable of being a decent distributor that facet is still being polished (and may never get to be real top class). In Ozil, Cazorla, and Alexis we have guys who have the skill level to escape and launch a counter. If the team relied on a single ball handler like we did a couple of years ago it would be difficult to counter this strategy. But having three who also move around so much makes it next to impossible to apply this strategy for 90 minutes successfully. None of the other top teams this year can boast such a capability. for instance Hazard & Cesc can do this for Chelsea but that means that they cannot cover the entire pitch width when other teams are being disruptive to them. This is why I think Jose went in for Cuadardo who offers more by way of ball handling compared to Salah and Schurrle.

    The challenge for Arsenal has been that they have not been as efficient with the chances that have come (despite OG scoring the last two games, he has missed a number of chances since Monaco, which is troubling). So to your question as to who we need to implement the counter, I feel we have the personnel and just have to work on being efficient consistently. And secondly they tend to relax once they have the lead figuring (I suppose / maybe) that the opposition will not change their disruptive strategy, which of course is wishful thinking. Next thing you know the goal is under seige, we are chewing on finger nails, hiding behind couches,…:-)

    Anyways, that’s my take. What do you all think?

  • HT, i have a good question for you mate, when you said “IMO, it was just about the best game I’ve seen Ozil play in red w/white sleeves” at the QPR game, why was that exactly?

    I agree totally but i am extremely surprised our verdicts align on this one lol

    For me there was so much more effort from him – getting into players, fighting for balls, dribbling past players, darting about in actions areas etc, basically actual football lol, the kind of action i have been bashing him for not providing thus far.
    The stuff which you guys seem to adore was far less in this match (No assists and 78% passing acc, lower than normal, and he didn’t drift into space throughout the game) – it was a much greater action type performance from him.

    I can’t see you congratulating Ozil on providing the kind of game that i like to see so i was genuinely wondering what made you rate this performance above all the others as his best?

    Again i agree with you but i don’t see how lol 🙂

  • Steve – regarding the pressing game observation; I am not sure that any team can maintain it over 90 mins at the level needed. Wasn’t this the underlying reason for Mou being a failure (that should warm you up! :-)) at Real and why he decided to lick his wounds in a league where Pep was not around? Barca repeatedly tore into his lineups and I think that his La Liga title owed more to Villareal, Malaga, and the other teams being terrible that year easing the pressure on the other games that Real played. Of course that does get to your point in a roundabout way that when pressing is done right you really need exceptional players in a solid system to negate it. A good alternate example of the strategy that you recommend I think was Bayern when they played City at Etihad. Total possession but when they lost the ball pressed City phenomenally. I think that first half was just absolute dominance. But couldn’t maintain it for the second.

  • Excellent comment, 22 digits 🙂

    Arsene clearly does not expect team pressing anymore, but likes pressing in pockets. We did this well against QPR from what I saw and Giroud and Alexis are good together at this. We used to press as a team a lot more in the old days, but it requires a lot of energy and I reckon that’s why Wenger does not want to play that way anymore. Absorb and pounce is the way forward it seems.

  • ST, yep you answered your own question exactly as i would have done lol, Barca certainly did it week in week out in their day but like you say it takes an exceptional group of players especially if you want to keep the technical ability high as well – don’t forget it wasn’t players like the Ramires’ or Coquelins’ it was superstars like Messi and Iniesta who were nipping at oppositions heels (playing ugly jgc) constantly – amazing discipline and team attitude they had.

    I think we could do it with our younger generation but like TA said i think Wenger is geared more towards doing bursts of pressing with three players at a time and trying to keep the energy expenditure to only when there is a high reward situation. This in itself though takes an amazing understanding between the players as if just one switches off and the other two go spaces are left and played into by the opposition while taking out two of your players from the move. It takes a well gelled team to consistently provide this sort of pressing and maybe why we haven’t seen it work too often at Arsenal yet, once a more consistent first XI is sorted maybe it will become more effective.

  • 17

    Not sure where we are disagreeing, but when I say greater capability gap, it’s not from the rich getting richer, it’s the poorer losing more talent as there are more rich around Europe now, and they are seeking ever greater depth. Witness Jovetic so completely surplus to requirements at City that they got Bony and so on… This reduces their options. So, it’s not about being richer, but, these days, not getting impoverished.

    I am less in accord about CBs, as long as we play a system to their strengths. No one wants to see BFG in a foot race. Where Sagna used to get long balls, we now have capable wingers.. so, less need?

    cheers — jgc

  • Gerry

    Overlapping is fine, but only one at a time please. Every overlap is an offensive opportunity, that a missed pass will turn into an offensive opportunity the other way. I think Bellerin has the speed to recover it, but not sure on Gibbs, he commits earlier and harder than Bellerin who tends to time his runs more.

    Just my 2p tho

    cheers — jgc

  • Steve

    I am basically only ging to reply shortly. Why, because you took almost everything I said out of context and decided to use it to browbeat me to make yourself feel better or feel smarter or whatever.

    A few comments:

    a. We press, perhaps lightly but we press.

    b. Defense is about getting the ball, not necessarily taking it. Taking it implies risk and one finds it is easier to be given the ball, rather than taking it.

    This, just btw, is what Chelsea does. They press but not so aggressively as to lose defensive shape. They do it sitting deeper too, their press, like ours in fact, is more about getting time for defenders to get back in front of the ball. Are they less easy to break down, yes… but that’s due, fundamentally to better personnel..

    c. its interesting how your assessments fit your prejudices when the facts show otherwise. If Ozil had no stamina then why does he run more meters than anyone else. Game in, game out. Steve, this is reality calling

    d. you love Alexis and call for passing to space, but when OG does it for him, he turns and yells and points at his feet.. hmm…

    Finally, if your trolling game is to take things out of context and tell the other person they are stupid, then so be it, but, in me, frankly, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

    good bye — jgc

  • StH

    Agree fully, in that teams adapt. We do have the passers to make it click.

    I am more concerned that we often over compensate. We rush players back towards ball, and then lose our own shape. There is a touch of having to get the ball, yes, but having the outlets. I think some good percentage of the time, we don’t have the outlet and that is our own fault in defending and the switch to transition. The rest, as you note, we are not as efficient as we could be at times.

    Like you I am please with Coquelin, but unsure on his distribution, tho it is growing each game I get to see. I think, he’s a solid defender but still less incisive about pushing it forward, in comparison to say Bellerin of similar experience level.

    Again, Vieira is the model for me. his style would not have fit as well in the last 5-10 years as it did earlier, but now a good defender and excellent distributor with Presence! and some mongrel seems a necessity. I think Chavs have it in Terry and Matic and it shows in the results. Soton, despite the lower points, have it in Wanyama and Schneiderlin as well, and hence, so few goals against with a good scoring record for the rest of their personnel, IMO.

    cheers — jgc

  • StH and Steve,

    FWIW, there is pressing and their is disruption and their is a high pressure game. A true, in my definition, pressing game is one that cuts off options, not takes the ball. Taking the ball is a far higher energy event and as, St H noted, only lasts awhile. Good for a burst when you need dominance, but not all game.

    Pressing simply cuts that off, and can be done with high, medium or low line – call it what you will. It forces the low quality option and / or shot.

    High pressure used to work when athletes varied across teams, but everyone’s a top athlete now. You could effectively run a team off the field, and can do so at many lower levels, even of the pro game, even now. But not at the top. There a greater subtlety has to rule, in my opinion.

    If I had a complaint just now, it’s that we fall into the trap of responding to disruption.

    First, rather than hoof it for the FSM, which, Steve, is why I am not a big fan, but as I noted in the post or first replies, it works… But that again levels your talent to their level, and, for us versus most teams, means we don’t play to our strengths..

    Instead we get harried, especially in minutes 1-20 – which is also why for the last few years those are such fraught minutes for Arsenal. Get past them and you’re likely golden. Anyway, we get rushed and try to force the game. We have two of the more sublime passers in the league now in Ozil and Cazorla, and TR when he’s on makes 3. Yet, in rushing to the ball, we shrink the field to our own disadvantage and play into the oppositions hands. I would rather see us give it over and wait more patiently. We did this against City and …

    BTW, I did not say, give it over and not defend, I said, give it over and be patient, which implies defending before anyone puts words in my text-based mouth…

    It is true that you have to have the ball to score, but scoring takes up only 1-3 minutes at most of a game, thus most possession is wasted or applies pressure. Knowing this the answer when disrupted is to focus on quality of possession. We have not done that as well as we might, I would agree.

    — jgc

  • Great stuff Geoff. We are a work in progress, and it only comes together occasionally.

    Re the overlapping. I agree that there needs to be balance between the two wings, but I thought in the last game they were better. Although, not having a second viewing, memory can blot out the bad bits. I was amused at you putting Bellerin and Coquelin as having similar experience, which is true regards this season. But it is a fine compliment to Bellerin that he has wiped away Coquelin’s previous 4 or 5 years. No doubt about, Bellerin does improve from game to game. Particularly from a difficult one.

    On the other points you have expanded on, I note you say high pressing does not last long. I thought that is what Spurs did to us for periods throughout the game. Indeed, did it to Chelsea in the league game, but could not replicate it on the bigger Wembley pitch. Even so, they made them look less than convincing, and why they are a much bigger threat to gain a 4th spot at somebody’s expense? Even against the ‘lesser’ teams they are still picking up points, and them dropping out of the Europa league will certainly help them in the run in?

    I think both you and StH have right idea in how to combat the ‘disruptives’. The combination of passing and moving, particularly passing quickly, and being more patient can wear out teams ability to keep it up. I watched the ‘new’ Barca machine a couple of weeks ago, and they do this effectively with triangles. Not a lot different to ‘old’ Barca, but they now have some younger athletic players in their mix, not just the diminutive three. Often in our game a ball gets played to somebody who is immediately closed down, and the only option is to play it back from whence it came. What invariably happens then is that player is closed down by a couple who were involved in the the first press. In a triangle, not only are there two options to play it away, at least one point of the triangle will be in an open area to move the ball forwards.
    I fancy Barca to up to the challenge of Bayern a lot better this time around, and anybody else, should we still be involved.

    Back in OGAAT mode. Without Gabriel we are a bit back to square one, with all the vulnerabilities that can appear. But I think over the last few games we are developing a better mechanism to cope. However, OT is a big pitch, so the ‘gung ho’ ploy from the off is definitely one to avoid, as we will be picked off late. I think if we can keep our front line sharp and together they will be good against a fragile United defence. But, and here is a problem, they do have players who can exploit any lapses in our defence. Team selection will be vital, if we are to keep the balance? I think a draw will deflate them more, even if the extra game should be avoided if at all possible. Staying in the ‘Cup might lessen the pain of going out of the CL, and we do have the games in the right order I think?
    Always something to look forward to …..

  • Gerry


    A. I meant in EPL experience more than age… Both on one solid season almost

    B. Big pressing to deny is easy, but you risk, like in any pressure system in any sport, the breakout which reverses numbers and leaves you scrambling.

    C. It is easier on narrow and-or short pitches as the smaller lengths serve as an extra player to force the desired action and aid in covering players and passes. But, it still takes energy.

    IMO, what we do now is press in a Chase definition of contain and deny space, OG and Ozil shut down passes where Alexis tends to chase and pursue more. Equally, in countering it, Alexis and OG are more static, Tho still moving lots, than Ozil who is moving to create space and set up the next pass/run.

    While Koz takes the ball well, as does Chambers and Gabriel before a departure, and Bellerin is tenacious, we are not really a big ball winning/taking team. We rely on team defense which relies on shape and roles being played. Thus, the containing pressure trying to force low percentage passes or long balls.

    Just my further 2p — jgc

  • Wow, shit balls, jgc i am extremely sorry mate i honestly had absolutely no intention whatsoever of trying to “browbeat” you dude i am very sorry.
    Its pretty clear now that i must have taken your post completely out of the context in which it was written and can only apologies again for that – my ignorance astounds sometimes.
    Whatever the unfortunate result i promise you bud there was absolutely no malice or trolling etc intended in my response, i simply wrote what i see on the pitch with regards to pressing and must have missed the point of the post completely.
    Can we put this down to me being a dumb-ass this time and move on, for once i wasn’t trying to stir anything whatsoever mate, just tried to reply to a great post and got it all wrong 😳

    In reply to your comments (i hope without seeming rude this time)

    a. That was exactly my point, i thought pressing lightly was “disrupting” – this is maybe where i made the cock up. I call what Sanchez does pressing, closing down with purpose and a significant amount of time an end product of winning the ball. The others close off options and space but often no enough to stop an easy pass out of the press to carry on the move.

    b. meh i see a lot of both regards defenders and there are often battles in close areas or right up against the touchline in the case of FB’s for the ball but i take your point that its the much preferred strategy to be given the ball and reduce the risk of taking it. When i talk about pressing i do intend on focusing on the midfield and attack for that very reason (less risk areas), that is why when i hypothesized a team in respect to pressing the defense stayed the same but it was the rest that changed significantly. This is where we must improve imo.

    c. You misread this bit me thinks, i was fully aware of Ozil’s stamina i have it repeated to me constantly. I wrote:
    “Most of our players have deficiencies in one or more of these areas:
    Ozil – Tenacity”
    His deficiency was tenacity not stamina mate, in that i mean we could sign a professional marathon runner and his running stats would be off the charts but what would he do once he gets to the opposing player with the ball – very little, he would just spend the game running around a lot, not unlike Ozil lol.
    However i did later go on to say how i agreed with HT that this (QPR) was probably one of the best games i’ve seen Ozil play simply because he actually got more “stuck in” and purposeful in this game, it was a more action type game from him all round which i was pleased to see.
    I also listed other players in that list who don’t press who i rate highly as players so i don’t know at what stage in that comment i actually furthered my “prejudices” but i think you misread the list layout in all honesty.

    d. you mean that one time in the last game where Giroud, whilst looking straight at Sanchez and seeing he is almost stationary, completely over hits the ball down the left side – not really what i meant no mate lol (no wonder Sanchez showed his frustration).

    Again i apologize for managing to take the post out of context bud, i was just discussing what i see on the pitch – completely not my intention to cause any malice, sorry.

  • This was a good educational and tactical post of sorts by the professor .

    so , I will take the easy way out and agree with 99% of what you stated and the remaining 1% will have to be concurred with Gerry’s comments = 100% .

    been enjoying the cricket world cup lately hence been awol (you gotta love the timing of the world cup, no footy = no problem, bring on the mad entertainment from the land of the convicts 😀

    big game tomorrow for man utd – not so much so for Arsenal . all the pressure is at man utd and this is trickling down and showing to the fans for a change – can’t remember the last time I was so relaxed facing man utd at old toilet – am confident of getting a very positive result. It be icing on the cake if Ospina was still in goal though , then we may end up winning 7-0 otherwise it’s gunner be a 3-1 .

    onto the questions then :

    Questions for the critics?

    Is disruptive, and yes, ugly, football the future? ———– no, somewhere in between .

    What’s your solution?————————- get a proper B2B who can play least 5 to 10 games in a row or give you a full season . Unfortunately, both JW and AR don’t do it for me in terms of fitness and their absence then disrupts the whole balance of the squad and changes everything.

    Who do we need to implement it? ======== See above in conjunction with a Pogba, Schnerdelin, Bender = sorted ? not quiet . Diaby, one of Flamini and Arteta after 12 months = sorted and space created .

    Or, am I being too subtle and over analytical, just bring on the fresh faces? ==== no, you are correct .

  • TA, you’ve got mail…

    Professor, well done with the responses to comments…That’s the blog here at its best, I think… Overall, through them, I think I have a much better idea of what we’re talking about…which makes me, in the end, want to agree with the overall thesis that disruptive defenses are gonna be the norm going forward. Intense pressing, whether it be Dortmund from the front or Barca more in the middle and esp. immediately after losing the ball, just cannot be sustained at a high level for an entire season or beyond.

    Still, for Arsenal, I think small packs of guys (at least 3 players) doing so on occasion can work some situations w/o us losing too much shape. We’re definitely better at the moment w/ Giroud in the line-up, but an occasional match against taller, slower central defenses (and keepers) with Welbs, Alexis and Theo (Ozil and Ox or Rambo) just in behind…) might yield some turnovers which are so well placed as to be “instant chances” and goals… As such, we can “play to our strengths,” in spurts, even when our biggest strength (Ollie) is on the bench… I fear, however, trying such a tactic too often or against the stiffer competition, as it makes us a lot weaker at set pieces and corners down at our end…

    Anyhow, great job… Pool, with Skrtl looking very hurt early on, are still nil-nil vs Blackburn at half-time, and have given them some chances for it to be worse…

  • 2nd (out of 3) QF goes to a replay as Blackburn hold out at Anfield…

  • another replay – loving it – only helps our cause as we play the LiverFOOL’s on the easter weekend .

    saying that, I hope we can avoid one ourselves tomorrow 🙂

  • Evening all,
    Does anyone know if Giroud is injured?
    It is just after viewing the training pictures today, i noticed Giroud was missing.
    I also noticed and it pleased me, that all the players looked very focused and serious. Normally it is all smiles, which i like to see but this united game is a big test and 1 i badly want us to win even more after seeing united beat us at home. Of course Santi had a smiley photo, as he always does 🙂 and his form is 1st at the moment anyway.
    Rambo is back on the scene and i think i would like both him and Theo to start this game.

  • ……………………..Welbeck

    Or swap Rambo for Ozil and go


    That maybe the better option, up to le Boss.
    In Arsene i trust!
    Thanks for the Keown – Wenger film Cockie.

  • Jgc,
    Good and interesting post,
    You are right and on to something, I think Wenger has defo eased of Wengerball a little this season. 1 because we face stronger teams. 2 we simply have to get the results at the moment and can’t afford to slip up.
    Wenger is Wengerball though and he will always play this way if he can, and i personally love him for it.

  • I just thought another option is. Backline of–

    Gibbs Koscielny Chambers Bellerin.
    Pace or expiriance ???

  • Giroud is in one of the pictures @ PG

    the one where Ramsey is at the forefront and G is in the background.

  • F11ngers… Yes, I saw your question about our shared appreciation of Ozil’s, er, efforts, at QPR, but like JGC suggests, I also saw it a(nother) troll…designed less to find shared illumination than an “aha” moment of argumentation… As such, I let it go…

    But, given that you seem a bit contrite with the professor, maybe you actually do want to know what I think…


    Here goes… Ozil, for me, at least, and maybe befitting what we paid for him, is the most valuable player I’ve seen at Arsenal in my time watching…(Only since Autumn 2006, I’m sad to say, which leaves out Bergkamp and Henry, amongst others…) Other players are more impressive (much more) in their work rate, their finishing and plenty can imitate his best work on the ball–dribbling, passing, shooting. Nobody, IMO, however, has a better eye for helping the team. This is seen primarily in movement to keep the good spacing on the pitch but also in herding the play of the opposition towards our defenders. In general, one has to look away from the ball to see Messy do his thing…never an easy ask for most observers esp. if they’re already blinded by rage or personal prejudice. It only gets worse when such sentiments are inflamed by a Neville or an Owen in their ear, talking about how lazy Ozil is…

    At QPR, however, Ozil did more on the ball than in most outings. That little pair of self-passes on the touchline then back to the center in the first half, was impossible for anybody–even the dyed-in-the-wool haters–to miss, as was his move on goal where he was cynically hauled down to open the 2nd half. Overall, it was a quiet game (first half in particular) for Alexis who was staying very close to the left touchline for a lot of the match and for Santi who was deeper than usual, almost playing as alongside Coquelin. This left a lot of the ball carrying to Rosicky and Ozil, who, I think, have a very good understanding of where the other is headed. As such, even though he didn’t score nor make any assists, he did more directly on the ball than usual, in addition to his usual watching and working and quietly orchestrating things to our advantage it was thus his most *impressive* outing, if not his best. It should be noted, given just how many #10 types we’ve got (who move naturally towards the ball and rarely the touchlines), that this is a bigger job at Arsenal than probably any club in world football…

    So there you go… you got me, hook in cheek…or deep in the trap you’ve baited for me… so now you can break out the actual research proving that Ozil is just a lazy cnut, only has lady parts in his shorts and/or is nicking a living while enjoying all the good turkish food North London has to offer. Or that any old Hayden, Niles or Maitland could do twice the job if only given the chance… On the other hand, you did enough (in dealing with the current post…) to inspire the hope that you might come around to an appreciation of our man. If you ever did, what a satisfaction that would be…

  • hahaha why does everyone think i’m out to get them all of a sudden 😆
    What have i missed these past few days!!?? 😆

    It was simply more of the action type stuff same as me then, i was only asking the question because we never ever see eye to eye as far as Ozil is concerned and so i had to ask – no trolling intended bud.

    I wont respond to yet a(nother) effort to try and explain to me why Ozil is so good because i really am honestly not looking to argue. sufficed to say when i look at the worlds best no.10 (the real Messi) the action, dribbling and pace he brings to the game looks worlds apart from Ozil’s contributions. If we could teach OX to see that passing picture on the pitch like Messi then maybe he would probably be the closest thing we have to the real thing but that will take a lot of education (if only Dennis was a coach at Arsenal) if it is possible at all. Oh how i wish Jack had real pace as that would be a thing to see imo.

    Anyway, looks like we agree on an Ozil performance for once, and for the same reasons no less – what is the bloody world coming to! lol

    Don’t get me wrong though, i definitely haven’t come around 🙂

  • Look, there’s one ball yet 22 players on the pitch. If all you can see is the ball and the players who are on it (or tying to get on it) and what they do with it, you’re missing a huge chunk of the game. On the telly, they try and direct our view towards it, but there is plenty to see away from it. Of course, it gets worse on MOTD and other highlight packages (with the occasional exception where they actually highlight important moves away from the ball)…

    Anyhow, given that this seems the way you choose to view the game, and you’re open about your prejudices and proclivities for certain players and certain types of players, there really isn’t all that much to discuss… Perhaps that’s why I didn’t answer in the first place, even if you weren’t (in this instance) trolling for the gotcha…


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