BALANCE is the KEY

The reason that I thought this post was needed is because players’ names and positions are seemingly moved around without any regard to this element.

First I would like to define what I mean by balance.  It is not simply a question of having a symmetry of players left and right or up and down the field.

Real balance is where players are comfortable playing their ‘A’ game–a game which works well with those around them, and, above all, knowing what the other players–their teammates–need to bring their ‘A’ game into play.  It is this interaction that is vital for the team to function at its very best.

This sort of balance needs to spread through to the entire team so that it can function as a complete unit.

There is also an individual balance that has to be struck between being too selfish or too unselfish.  Alas, hindsight is usually the only thing that can determine which is right and which is wrong.

This ‘understanding’ begins at the back with the goalkeeper.  Whether it is defending or switching to attack, all the outfield players should know how they can assist one another for the best outcome.  Likewise, the fullbacks need to know when it is best to tuck in or go out to meet the attacker.  There is a particular need for understanding between the keeper and centre-backs.  Of course we have a very good example of ‘balance’ in our two CBs, Mertersacker and Koscielny.  What the one may lack the other compensates for and it works very well.

We also saw last season the understanding which Coquelin and Cazorla had and it grew as the season progressed.  Cazorla appears in another excellent working relationship with Ozil, and here it is much harder to achieve, as both are performing similar roles as creative midfielders, albeit each with his own style.  It is worth remembering that it was Cazorla who made the deeper role work for himself, allowing Ozil the freedom to be the force he is. However, the point is that, between them, they have that key balance which allows both to be very good at the same time.

Ideally these cameos (partnerships) would all fit together and spread throughout the team.  The truth is, however, that it is very hard to achieve all over the field. Most of us can remember that Podolski and Gibbs seemed to work really well together, but, when Cazorla played wide, Gibbs may have well stayed back due to the number of times his runs were ignored.  I don’t believe it was a personal thing, just that Cazorla had no inclination to get drawn into one-twos in the corner of the pitch, as his view of player positions would be limited.  By moving away from the touchline the whole pitch opened up for him allowing him to  perform his best.

This brings me to the second part of the need for balance: having players who are comfortable in other areas of the pitch than where their preferences lie.

This is probably Arsene Wenger’s biggest headache because central midfield is choked by players who all want to operate there.  I am not talking about players being designated to a central midfield spot, because, if we played all the players who have this tendency, we would hardly have any other outfield players to choose from.

Strangely enough, Ozil, when designated to stay wide, has shown he is very poor by comparison to his best. Yet he is the one player who has more lateral movement that any other and this is why he clocked more kilometres per game than the majority of his teammates. (Ramsey also runs a high distance per game but mainly due to his forward runs and getting back to assist the defence.)  Still, when you see Ozil’s ‘heat map’ after a game, it is always hottest just inside either touchline.  It is important for his ‘A’ game that he has freedom in his lateral movements. When he moves, he doesn’t necessarily just go to to the halfway point and then move further across.  Instead, he is forever drifting around either side–and deep and forward–seeking to create space for himself and others. Essentially, he is a creator of opportunities from various angles.  This is why he is so essential to this Arsenal team–and very difficult for the opposition to mark.

If we are to have a successful season we need better balance with players who compliment each other.  Otherwise, teams who play a ‘park the bus’ style tend to find it easy just to allow our players to turn inside while keeping their players in two banks of 4, tightly bunched in the centre, waiting to smother them with sheer numbers.  It gets so congested and very difficult to break down, as we have found on numerous occasions.

The teams from the lower echelon of the league have two options: either try and play–and then get exposed by our quick movement, or try and do the defensive wall, hoping they can hold out and maybe catch us on a quick counter. For those teams we need to be able to counter-attack before they get set.  That means letting them have some possession, not trying to keep it to ourselves.

But then there were teams like Leicester who were very well disciplined so that they get back in numbers, even though they created numerous attacking chances.  Should the top six sides see this as a way to beat Arsenal we may struggle even more because they have better players going forward (and are thus more likely to score) while defensively they can make it harder for us to break through at the other end.

Of course there are teams in the top six who can be defensively frail, for example, Manchester United last year.  They lacked a set back 4 and consequently were quite easily beaten by teams other than ourselves.  Chelsea on the other hand, I think, are mechanically drilled to be defensively minded first and then look for attacks when they happen.  Although they will get numbers forward, they will also get men back very quickly and they are a very solid unit. Manchester City also have had problems at the back through individuals missing who were normally very reliable.

Below them you have the likes of Southampton, who, again, had a very sound defence when all players were available, but also were very specific when they attacked.  Tottenham had a strong initial attack but it wasn’t altogether a cohesive unit in their midfield.

Arsenal need to beat all of these sides in this coming season if they are to become league champions.  So, getting the balance in our team right so that it can handle different types of defensive challenges will mean changes in personnel and getting away from this very centralised way of attacking, at least some of the time.

I am not going to waste time by pointing out the areas of weakness in this because the transfer targets, should they arrive, will set up a whole new set of relationships to be worked on.  Remember, we are not far off our first league game and we want to hit the ground running.

We will also be handicapped by one of our key players being unlikely to play those early matches.  Mind, if management can force Alexis to stay away from the Emirates and get a proper rest–at least for a while–it should be to our long term benefit. We all saw last season what a draining effect just playing in a summer tournament can have on our key players–even more so when winning it.

That means a new balance will have to be in place from that which we have now. A lot will depend on how pre-season goes for the likes of Hayden, Gnabry, and Wellington Silva to see if they are likely to make their presence felt.  But one would like to think Oxlade-Chamberlain, Debuchy, and Welbeck, all of whom missed a large part of the later season, will also be keen to get themselves noticed.

There is not a lot of point in discussing names of players who may or may not be joining us in this transfer window, but it is important that whoever comes in adds to the balance of the team as a whole.  Arsene Wenger will make inquiries about any number of players if the data fits in with our requirements.  He will also be looking at other traits before choosing his top choice.  An example would be, say, in a striker who scores a hat full of goals from a few opportunities. But, if his profile has next to zero in the assists column, he will not be what Arsene is looking for.  Why?  Because, instead of opening up defences, we put all our eggs in one basket, and if that player goes missing, so do your titles hopes.

Having the right balance between players does not stop with them having a good understanding amongst themselves; they must also work as a unit out of their normal positions.  I am thinking here of being prepared to do the defensive stuff that does not leave us open to a swift counter attack and being aware that committing too many bodies forward may leave colleagues at the back vulnerable.  This is where the balance of experience and youth comes in, which is a variation on this same theme.

Finally, we must keep the same effective balance when making substitutions.

Very tricky this one, because often a single player can make a big difference in restoring the balance in attack or defence.  Then, at other times, it is necessary to take two players off together, because the two coming on have an ‘understanding’ that can also change the course of a game, whereas, if you introduce only one, it is less effective. This is an area with which I think Arsene has difficulty at times, being overly cautious at upsetting the balance with those who are playing.

Overall, we are not that far off from having a balanced team, but it requires two things to make it as near perfect as we can get.

1, Recognising what works, and, when changes are made, that they too work with the unit as a whole.

2, Changing tactics or formations while maintaining that cohesion and balance.

Luckily, it is the manager who makes these decisions and it is his neck that is on the line. We, as fans, can argue all day long about who we would play where, and why.  But please, remember …

Balance is the Key.

By Gerry

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34 Responses to BALANCE is the KEY

  1. Gerry says:

    Eee lad, your were up late posting this? Thanks TA, and sorry if the touching up caused you extra bother.
    Hopefully my problems will ease now the cause has been identified.

    I was amused when I did my first bit of editing on this because it was when Ozil’s Ultimate X1 was posted. So seeing Cazorla’s name in there confirmed the point I was making above.

    The other thing I should add, is in theory, all players should be able to work with those around them to bring out the best in each other. The problem is comes during play, individual instincts, habits if you will, take over. We have seen at times when Ozil looks despairingly at Alexis, for having played a perfect pass to open up play, Alexis ruins it by going it alone and trying for a speculative shot, when a pass would have served better. Or the opposite, Ozil, with a clear shot at goal, decides to go for a tricky pass that fails?

    We may want perfection, but it is not going to happen. The guys out there will try their best, but they are human. So these things will be worked on as the season progresses, no doubt. Putting all the individual pieces together, especially with new personnel, will take time. However, getting bodies back to defend when we lose possession will be crucial. And if we have a fluid front line, meaning players could be further away from their natural positions, means they will be drilled into filling spaces, gaps in our defence, first and fore most. The idea that because we have Cech in goal does not mean players can relax from this.

    For us to have a successful season we need more clean sheets this time around. But as HT said yesterday, the first blip in performance and questions will be asked.

    Also from yesterday, as with the above, I agree with the Prof, you cannot rely on width from full backs alone because of the gaps it leaves behind, apart from the funnelling to the centre by the others?

    As for the squad going on tour, I would not read too much into Wellington’s absence, as I would think his fitness levels for this big step up are probably better served by staying here and building up the core strength he will need? This tour will be about players playing shorter stints, as much as seeing who is sharp and ready. The Emirates Cup will be more of a proper work out, and it would be nice to win it for a change?

    Much to look forward to, even before the season begins. My tips of the youngsters who will do well on this tour? I think the absence of Welbeck hands a big chance for Akpom to really impress. Zelalem, who despite playing for the USA in the Under 21’s is out there, and he will be a big hit in the deep lying Cazorla role. Both these showed glimpses of their potential on the previous Asian tour remember? I also expect Hayden to show up well in the games against the UK clubs, as I doubt he let up on his training since the end of the season.
    I also want to see Reine-Adelaide, Willock, Crowley, and Iwobi have some game time, although they will have to be exceptional to have any impact on the bosses plans for them

    B’ hell … another post length comment … on my own post!

  2. RA says:

    Well, Gerry, that was a super read, and drew me in despite my initial reaction that it might be a re-statement of the obvious. 🙂

    Actually that was not a correct view as you very neatly explained yourself in way that brought focus to some matters that we all tend to take for granted, but without giving too much thought to what needs to happen within the team ethic and environment.

    I think you have nailed this, Gerry, and although I have opinions on how this balance has worked – or not – it did make me think that there is more to the need to finding and encouraging a complementary style of play, and the players who can gell within it.

    Balance is the word. 🙂

  3. Nik says:

    Balance is in fact a very tricky thing on all fronts. I wanna touch on the point of combining players.
    This approach may sound a little naive but if you see the example it’s very useful.
    The idea is to partner players to increase the strengths of the team without regard to the weaknesses. It means to become so good with your strengths that weaknesses will never get exposed. This means that a player like Özil should be partnered with other players that are good in possession and good passers of the ball, like Cazorla. Which strengthens the overall possession based approach we have. This also means that we do not need a powerhouse of a defensive midfielder, because he would not have the strengths that match the rest of the team. But a DM like Coquelin who does well in possession, is quick and reads the game well, but also has certain defensive qualities.
    This allows the players to move around all over the pitch and allows very much fluidity all over the pitch. It also means that players are not limited to their position but everyone could play everywhere.
    There are of course some positions where you need certain different qualities like centre halves and strikers. But that would make just 3 out of 10 positions. All the other positions could be used by very similar players.
    This.approach was mastered by Guardiola at Barcelona. All his front 5 players and his fullbacks were very similar in style and partnered to their strengths. For example Yaya Toure was sold although saw him as the powerhouse defensive midfield enforcer, but Guardiola (rightfully) thought Busquets more useful.
    Guardiola still tries to apply this idea to Bayern and recently he said he’d like to play only with central midfielders.
    For us I believe that we need another winger that combines Alexis’ and Cazorla’s strengths and another DM that combines a defensive reading of the game plus offensive possession based qualities.

  4. NjkSG says:

    Hi guys,

    If we buy, where do we put the youngsters?

    We should never be trigger happy like Chelski.

  5. Gerry says:

    RA, I am touched. That is a mighty fine compliment from the master critic, and occasional ‘wind up’ merchant. 😀
    So I am naturally taking it that the former applies here.

    I too, am trying to avoid getting into the negative or ‘incompatibilities’ that may occur, in the hope that we will get to the point where up to 60% of the team will be interchangeable. Perhaps one block of 4 here, or a couple there, whilst maintaining the unity which will only come by being successful?

    However, I do think this is what AW is looking for when recruiting from this transfer window. He wants players who are adaptable. Poor Reine-Adelaide has hardly had time for the ink to dry on his first professional contract and Arsene is looking to the future when he will be a ‘play anywhere’ in midfield guy. :LOL:
    That puts a big question mark over those that only want to play in the centre midfield position, or go there anyway? But at the same time they can be brilliant in the right circumstances, but that will not necessarily make them automatic starters?

    It will be interesting where he thinks Oxlade-Chamberlain will get his most starts this term? If Theo is not for wide positions, then my guess is he will work the right side, possibly in tandem with Bellerin, or alternaively, as the Rosicky-esque player to alternate with Cazorla, alongside Coquelin?
    The aforementioned J R-A is very much a junior version of the Ox, so we may not have long to wait before he appears on the fringes?

    I guess we will see over these pre-season games what the thinking is. With Gnabry not back in training until next week, Ox gets ‘first run’ as it were.

    Thanks again for the comment.

  6. NjkSG says:

    Um guys,

    Just read the arsenal website and it says J R-A is good left or right mid, but he will see him playing at central mid..

    I reckon we have too many players in that position. He should stay at left or right.

    What say you?

  7. Gerry says:

    Nik, I agree that balance, particularly with the bigger picture, is indeed a tricky thing to achieve.

    You make a very good point with the Toure v Busquets comparison. The more useful player may not be the most obvious one, or even the most skilful, let alone the most expensive? Coquelin is testament to that?
    The value to the team as a whole is where the benefit comes in. He allows Cazorla the freedom to go forward, who in turn allows Ozil to drift, who in turn creates space for others to attack. Symbiosis?
    The question of DM or not to DM is a particular tricky balance to get right. I am of the view that only Hayden developing into the player I believe he is capable of being, will stop another player coming in. Nobody in our present midfield collection who can tackle comes even close to what Coquelin currently provides. Which is why we need, at the very least, cover in case of suspension or injury. Bielik, I think is another season away, and Gabriel, who I have nominated in the past, is the most likely of the ‘experienced’ players, but I think he is destined to play a big part as CB. Chambers would be a bigger risk at the moment, imo.
    For me, it is Coquelin, Hayden, or new DM.

    Similar decisions up front too, but that is another story.
    Thanks for your comment Nik. Balance could be a talking point after all 😆
    Cheers

  8. Gerry says:

    NJ – Yes the killer argument against transfers. However, We are not that far down the Chelski road of having youngsters around in their academy just to prevent other clubs from having them?

    Funnily enough, reading that made me think, perhaps we should buy Ruben Loftus-Cheek from them. He would be perfect and very compatible with Coquelin or Hayden?
    Not to mention, I rate him very highly. 😀

  9. Nik says:

    Balance is one of the major talking point in football Gerry 😉
    when I did my coaching license a couple months back we talked a lot about Breiten- und Tiefenstaffelung (I don’t know if an English word even exists for it :D)….you explained it at the start as ‘having a symmetry of players left and right or up and down the field’
    It is the very basis of every possible system in football. You try to split the field in quadrants or parts and try to create 2 on 1s or 3 on 2s in every part of the pitch. Balance is absolutely vital for that.
    You also mention a good point with teams parking the bus against us, where this type of balance is even more important. Because you can only spread a defense (e.g. two banks of four) bei spreading your players left and right and up and down the field, so that you don’t overload the middle of the park where the opponent already has a numbers advantage.

    As for a DM I feel that if Coquelin misses a couple of big games we might get into trouble. He stops a lot of attacks in the opposition half by reading the play as well as getting back into shape very quickly. Something no other DM in the current squad is able to do.
    In the striking department I think we are well set up. Giroud is perfect for games with a lot of possession where he can stay in the box and score. Walcott and Welbeck are both very useful in games with lesser possession where we do not spend most of the time in and around the opposition box. (My favorit DM is still Javi Martinez who unfourtenatly will not join us in the near future at least)

    In defence I’m still hoping for Gabriel to become a starter ahaed of Mertesacker because he is more capable of defending counter attacks because of his brilliant man-to-man and tackling abilities (like we saw against Everton). And of course pace is an issue as well.
    In the big games Wenger tends to keep one of the fullback futher back to provide extra cover and balance which might not be needed as much when Gabriel is playing.

  10. JM says:

    Arsenal’s main starting midfield (bread & butter):

    Volante (Holding midfielder, not specifically a destroyer): Coquelin (Flamini)
    Regista (Deep-lying playmaker): Cazorla (Arteta)
    Trequartista (Advanced playmaker): Ozil (Wilshere)

    with the alternative B2B: Ramsey (The Ox), when we are playing only either a regista or a trequartista in specific matches.

    We are possibly looking at a top quality candidate who can play either the volante or regista (or both) roles. (within or outside from our squad)
    (think Pirlo, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Schweinsteiger, De Rossi in their prime, and currently Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Verratti, Nemanja Matic, Blaise Matuidi, Sergio Busquets, Luka Modric, Maxime Gonalons, Morgan Schneiderlin, Koke, Toni Kroos, Kevin Strootman etc)

    Another role is the Raumdeuter-type (“Space Interpreter/Investigator) player on both attacking flanks (Alexis & another strong candidate) to fully utlilise Cazorla’s, Ozil’s and Giroud’s play setting up abilities. Sometimes, we have Ramsey/The Ox playing on the right flank in this Raumdeuter-role.

    A piece on Thomas Muller’s role as the Raumdeuter for club & country.
    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2488021-why-bayern-munichs-thomas-muller-is-the-complete-modern-footballer

  11. JM says:

    Arsene Wenger on FC Barcelona (past & present, club, legends, managers & players, playing style)

  12. JM says:

    Arsene Wenger on FC Bayern Munich (past & present, club, legends, managers & players, playing style)

  13. Gerry says:

    Thanks Nik for that latest input. I must admit I was thinking more like RA said, that it was stating the obvious when I was writing it … ha ha.

    Thanks JM. I haven’t got around to watching the videos yet, but the thing about Muller is really what most think. Muller is the ONLY one that plays that role really well?

    I am not sure I can go along with your player listing though?

    Flamini I believe is out of contract, or at least he was offered as free to go (to Bastia) according to reports? I cannot see him being on the list of squad members come September if that is the case.
    Cazorla covered by Arteta? I think you are just putting a name against the type, rather than any realistic idea that that would work? May be 3 or 4 seasons ago, but not now, and certainly not what Arsene would want as we try to build a quick counter-attacking style that does not compromise the defence when it breaks down?

    Agreed on the Ox position though.

    Notice to all – Between 5.0pm .GMT Spain v Russia in the UEFA under 19’s on Eurosport very shortly. Three Spanish players to watch out for. Their striker(No 8?), their central creative mid, and the right winger/wing back – Asencia is his name. I cannot remember the other two. All three will be really good in a couple of years, but damn good now.
    Cheers

  14. proudgooner says:

    From the post before
    iL responed to this one after.
    Gerry,
    Love all your points on this topic and agreeded with all, i like the way yu understand it and your thoughts on it.
    I think Theo is going to have a great season, if he stays with us.?? I really don’t know what he is playing at though.?? He is making himself look like an incrediblly greedy bastard or is interested in leaning by the looks of it. Has he not learnt from the mistakes of RVP, Sagna Helb etc etc etc
    All regret leaving and want to come back even if it’s just to do training for free. It does make me Question Theo a bit. It can only be money or he is thinking about moving. Right?
    Like RVP from him we just wanted loyalty after an injury ravaged time with us then after hitting form they want massive money or out.
    Theo don’t make that mistake. I am sure that 120k a week will be just fine after all many our fans get by on 14k a year
    By the way i noticed a couple of us forgot that we have also realeased Diarby , which is very understandable. So 3 spaces , 1 filled by Cech.
    I am with you Gerry though in the whole we have to give Gnabry, Wellington, and defo the OX a good lot od game time. Or unlike the above mentioned you could understand them wanting to leave.
    I expect big things fron Danny , Theo . Gnabry Zeleem so i think maybe just 1 more SQ player.
    The tour will give us a good chance to judge better ay?
    As i have already said before also the reason he may not have is perhaps he wants to sign Theo first.
    But then if Theo is scared of that competition then maybe he is not up to the job, just my thoughts.
    Wenger is by far the best man in the world to make these desisions.
    He also highly rates Sanogo and who am i to say that he is not the next big thing.
    Wenger has always built up BIG players from a young age and its something i love to see.

  15. proudgooner says:

    1 other quick thing.
    That pink ball that our lads are training with. Is that the new EPL ball? Does anyone know?

  16. proudgooner says:

    If you read this from Wenger it kind of sums up the last post beofre.
    Also the last sentence is important.
    So Jack and Theo to become 2 more SQ reg
    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20150708/boss-theo-and-jack-can-have-big-impact

  17. proudgooner says:

    On to the topic,
    Balance is key. Wenger often mentions it. I still sometimes like to also refer to the chemistry of the team as well.
    Balance and chemistry though are different things , they are very similar in there importance.
    In fact imo 1 can’t be at its full potential with out the other.
    Gerry summed up the Balance great, i won’t go in to the chemistry of the team in full, but i can see that Wenger has thought about it and put the near perfect bunch of players together that will work together very well .
    The only real point to make about it really is that this or it will be a factor in any player that he decides to try and hopefully sign.
    It was also good to see Wenger really find the players to find the right balance between attack and defending, or as close as he can lol
    He will always be an offensive attacking manager, but he has found the balance there. TBF he is still working on improving it and has already in Cech

  18. allezkev says:

    Fortunately NJ, Arsene seems to usually look for an internal answer to any gap in our squad, so he’ll always give our youngsters a chance, before spending millions signing the next ‘ big thing’ via the transfer market…

    It may not us give the instant gratification that those who follow City, United and Chelsea are accustomed to, but I kinda like the way we do things.

    It’s traditional, what I’m used to and makes me proud of the club I support…

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    Nice one Gerry and you created a balanced response as well. Seventeenho issued the post so that’s why it came out so early.

  20. steve says:

    Here you go Gerry my crazy world of balance here at Arsenal, i thought i would give you something long to read in the morning – repaying the favor you’ve given many times in the past.
    Try not to get lost in my insanity lol

    BALANCE:
    As applied to the sustainability of the club and its development from youth, through the up and coming stars to the seasoned professionals who have done it all and seen it all, a carefully crafted conveyor belt of club growth.

    Experience:
    Dependability and reliability on knowing what you are going to get from these seasoned professionals

    Sanchez——————-Giroud——————–Walcott
    —(26)————————(29)————————(26)—
    —————-Rosicky——————Cazorla—————-
    ——————(34)———————–(31)——————
    ——————————Arteta——————————-
    ——————————–(33)——————————–
    Monreal————Kos————-BFG———–Debuchy
    —-(29)————–(29)————-(30)————–(29)—
    ——————————–Cech——————————-
    ———————————(33)——————————-

    Most of the players are around the 30 yr mark whilst the two pacey wingers / strikers on either flank are a few years younger.

    Potential:
    Maybe not as dependable as the experienced guys in providing consistent performances at the levels we expect but they show the potential to perform at an even higher level than them in the future with experience, guidance from the older guys and correct utilization from the boss.

    The OX——————–Welbeck————————Silva
    –(22)————————-(24)—————————-(22)-
    ————–Ramsey———————-Wilshere————–
    —————-(24)—————————–(24)—————–
    ——————————Coquelin——————————-
    ———————————(24)———————————-
    Gibbs—————GP5—————???——————Jenko
    -(25)—————–(24)————–(??)——————-(23)-
    ——————————Szczesny——————————–
    ———————————(25)———————————–

    Most of the players are around the 24 yr mark whilst the two pacey wingers / strikers on either flank are a few years younger.

    Youth:
    Slightly harder to accurately compose the team at this level due to the nature of this level of football and the uncertainty of successful transition from this stage to the next but already we can start to see a group developing that may someday support the first team and further advance the ongoing development of the club and as new academy recruits come in to take their place at this level further advance the balance we now have in the squad.

    Gnabry———————–Akpom—————————Iwobi
    –(19)—————————-(19)——————————(19)-
    —————-Crowley————————Zelalem—————-
    ——————-(18)——————————(18)—————–
    ———————————–Bielik———————————–
    ————————————(18)————————————
    ?????—————Hayden—————CC21————-Bellerin
    -(??)——————-(20)——————(20)——————(20)-
    ———————————–Macey———————————-
    ————————————-(20)———————————–

    Most of the players here are around the 19 yr mark and complete a nice balanced gap of about 5 years + between each level (19, 24, 30) – ahhh balance lol, Arsenal the Zen masters lol.

    BALANCE:
    As applied to the roles of team football within the individual players themselves and by this I mean very simply the yin and yang of attack and defensive qualities that make a player an all round footballer and team player.

    Experienced guys:
    Sanchez – exceptional, he attacks with energy right through to the 90th minute but tracks back, gets stuck in and tackles at every opportunity.

    Giroud – great defensively at corners and has even improved on his closing down and tackling up the field also, a couple of times chasing down the keeper and almost fashioning chances – something I thought I would never say about Giroud, I think such has been the impact of Sanchez. In attack he has scored almost as many as Sanchez in the premier league whilst missing a lot of the first half of it, many people don’t rate him (me among them funnily enough) but you can’t argue with the depth of what he provides in all round football terms of balance.

    Walcott – attacking wise he is fine (on the basis of a very short term at the end of last season in any case) but defensively he is lacking for me and really needs to take a page out of Sanchez’s book to become world class and a balanced footballer.

    Rosicky – definitely has both the attacking drive and the midfield defensive battle and tackling in him. He is one of my favorite players and is creeping into legend status (imo).

    Cazorla – who would have guessed it, excellent in attack and carrying the ball forward but has also now carved out a place for himself as a deep lying midfielder showing he has the defensive qualities also, even with a few great tackles last season, he certainly battled in there in the second half of the season.

    Arteta – had to become the very example of what I am describing after he went from attacking midfielder at Everton to DM at Arsenal, he succeeded and now incorporates initiating attacking moves with great passing as well as tackles and intelligent blocking of threats.

    Monreal – what a season, great wing play combining with others in attack and scoring against Man Utd, but also increasing his defensive output to a level I had previously though he would always fall short of. He has put Gibbs on the bench, helped to solidify that back four towards the end of the season and now greatly adds to this balance we have in the team.

    Kos – excellent in defensive duties but I expect a little more in attack during corners.

    BFG – same as Kos although imo I wouldn’t list his defensive abilities as excellent lol.

    Debuchy – hard to tell with such a short run in the team but from what little he played he looks much the same as Monreal on the other side so again a nice balance of attacking availability and defensive soundness which actually saw him put in a couple of good performances as CB (as did Monreal also).

    The guys with potential:
    OX – imo closes down and does his defensive duties well, I know TA seems to disagree but hey. And a very dangerous and direct drive forward so the balance is there, he just needs to add more goals.

    Welbeck – pretty much the same as OX, work rate is top class and does his defending from the front well and looks dangerous on the attack, he just needs to finish the attacks with more goals.

    Silva – I would have to wait until I can judge him in the premier league

    Ramsey – great balance of attack and defensive duties, the attack side becomes a major boost when he hits form.

    Wilshere – again like Ramsey a great balance of drive and passing forward with defensive duties and tackling, even seeing him played as a DM for his national side.

    Coquelin – defensively this kid has been a revelation since he was put in at DM, he may not have the attacking prowess of Arteta with his adept passing but realistically Coquelin does exactly what I personally want him to do attacking wise – not much lol, simple pass to someone who’s more skilled at going forward and get back into position, perfect.

    Gibbs – attacking wise he still provides well but defensively he has been caught out a few times this past season and simply needs to work harder on this area, competition from Monreal should be a great motivator in this regard.

    Gabriel – I need to see more of this guy before I can make a judgement.

    Jenkinson – again need to see more of him (in an arsenal shirt that is) but the West Ham fans I know say very good things.

    I won’t do any analysis of the youth level because there is much of their individual game yet to be developed at this stage in their career but a few who have made it into the first team (Bellerin and Chambers) have done themselves no harm at all, Bellerin in particular looks to be forcing Jenkinson out on loan for another season. I don’t know about you guys but I’m very happy with this squad of players and the balance they provide in attack and defensive qualities. With a couple of exceptions who could do better imo (Walcott for example) in general most players are well rounded complete footballers – balance ahh Zen

    BALANCE:
    As applied to a formation that balances the team in attacking threat and defensive strength.

    Well this is where I become incredibly simplistic in my logic and most likely incredibly unrealistic in my football practicality and knowledge, but here goes…
    For me its got to be 4-3-3, it starts off as looking like this: (taking the team of experienced guys as an example)

    ——-Sanchez————Giroud—————Walcott—-
    ——-Rosicky————-Arteta—————-Cazorla—–
    Monreal————Kos————-BFG———–Debuchy
    ——————————–Cech——————————-

    And as we develop the play up field our two attacking midfielders invariably come in more centrally as they love to do and where they are most effective, but notice not into a crowded area as there only two of them not three or four all vying for that central position lol. And they also obviously advance past the DM of the midfield group.
    The wide strikers or wingers provide the width whilst also looking to come inside if the ball is on from the midfield , they can also drop a bit deeper making a midfield four across the pitch if needed.
    Meanwhile the two full backs step up into the deeper midfield area to support the DM making a three across the pitch with the two CB’s patrolling behind them.
    Like this:

    Sanchez——————-Giroud——————–Walcott
    —————-Rosicky——————Cazorla—————-
    Monreal——————-Arteta——————-Debuchy
    ————————Kos————-BFG———————–
    ——————————–Cech——————————-

    Now for me at least (in my simple mind lol) this looks to provide a perfect balance in the team. With the goalkeeper not included in outfield play then this leaves an even split of five players in attacking roles and five in defensive ones not to mention their own individual balance of these two qualities as I stated a minute ago – in other words just because you have an attacking role eg. Sanchez, it doesn’t mean you don’t track back and get stuck in.

    I guess it comes down to asking whether I think the front five have it in them to score consistently without the support of the full backs up top and also whether I think the five at the back have it in them to cover any threat on a counter that the front players have failed to defend against up top. I would like to think that in both instances the answer is yes – balance 
    hahaha if it was only that easy lol.

    BALANCE:
    As applied to getting the right balance of all these factors; experience, potential, youth, individual attacking and defensive work, formation, not to mention a balance of some important physical characteristics that cannot actually be approved upon by players like size or speed and then throw in some injuries as well………..
    Well that’s the boss’s job lol, best of luck to him 
    I know one thing for sure whatever he does he will never make all of us happy

    Before you say it, yes i know, no Ozil – i couldn’t fit him in to this type of line up, he doesn’t do it for me in midfield and not out wide as one of the front three either (like a Messy type no.10). In short he brought imbalance to my balance lol so i left him out lol. I suppose it makes sense in a way since he is the one player you could really say is a specialist in one particular role, as Wenger has recently had to admit to and adapt to it seems after publicly stating that Ozil will be in the no.10 role consistently next season.
    In this pile of mind dribble i was using the two attacking midfielders to provide just as many passes and clever moves as a specialist no.10 and with him out of the equation everything fit. I know in reality this would not be the case, but since when do i walk the path of reality lol.

    There you go then, in my (deluded) mind at least i think we have a very high level of balance here at Arsenal – as long as we are not filling the pitch with central midfielders in every position lol

  21. geoffchase says:

    So let me summarize widoy briefly:

    TA: a star team still has to have some real stars. TA posits 6-7

    Gerry: a star team is better than a team of stars who don’t blend well (usually the case with teams of stars)

    Niks great response above: football is best played when you have more numbers than the other guy, be it attack or defense. So it’s all about seeking or making numbers (a jgc-ism)

    Thus, a star team will best fulfill the ability to find numbers, especially if it has a core of stars that blend together.

    A jgc coaching quote: “football is a simple game, with simple rules, comprised predominantly of simple actions, and can be mastered by finding numbers, which means anyone who can count to four (saying this last while holding up 3 fingers)”

    Done — jgc 🙂

  22. geoffchase says:

    *wildly briefly .. Damn autocorrect..

  23. Gerry says:

    Even more responses. Thank you all.
    Thanks TA for explaining the timing – the real TA that is. I was up at 3.0am local time here, and I saw the post was only just posted. Second one down on NewsNow, no less.
    So apologies to HT, and thanks for the grammatical error corrections – I don’t see the ‘quack until Monday and I am getting slightly worse as each day passes(pernicious anemia), and the migraine headaches don’t help. Sometimes the distraction of doing something else helps, other times the eye strain takes over …
    My excuses done, but thanks to both of you for getting the post out … and making the joint production team work.
    Cheers

  24. Gerry says:

    PG – First up. Thanks for the comments off the previous post. I like it 😀

    On this one, I was interested in your distinction between balance and chemistry, so I have been mulling it over whilst going through the other posts.

    The conclusion I came to, in trying to separate them, because there is an overlap in many cases. So I will use this example to see if you agree?
    I explained my thoughts on balance in the post, but ‘chemistry’ implies a more personal connection with another. Yes?
    So taking the Ozil and Cazorla relationship on each level, to get inside the difference and overlap.
    I think they both have tremendous respect for each others game, and they work hard on maintaining that balance with how they play. I also think they have a chemistry because both share the that fundamental basic quality in that they are working for the team. So they enjoy and share a joy for each others contributions.
    However, because they are different personalty types off-field, that chemistry does not extend very far in their into their private lives.
    I could be wrong here, but I see Mesut as a more worldly introvert, but contradicts that by enjoying life away from football. The serious side of him gets him involved in things that are less personal.
    Whereas Santi I see as a more homely type, just as happy to have a home-cooked meal with friends than go out to a posh restaurant. Projects he gets involved with away from football are things on a far more personal level. Things he has a deep emotional connection with.
    But that does not mean they would socially exclude each other. It is a matter of degree.
    Ozil and Gnabry on the other hand, is very much about chemistry betweeen them, and I think his inclusion in the Ultimate X1 was based on this chemistry they have. Shared humour and general friendship, which goes on off-field. Simply they enjoy each others company. That chemistry can help a lot on field too … until it goes wrong! (Like finding your wife has been sharing her time with your buddy? Just ask John Terry about that?)

    Complex things when these working relationships take on extra dimensions

    Of course ‘team chemistry’ only works well when when they get together off-field.

    But the difference between chemistry and balance really comes down personal connection as distinct from respect for another.

    I could have saved myself a lot of typing if I said that in the beginning :LOL:
    Cheers

  25. Gerry says:

    Steve – Nice of you to put in a post length comment … that’s my job! 😀

    I am not going to argue with a lot of what you have written, because, on paper it all looks fine. I do think, as with JM’s comment earlier, the inclusion of Rosicky ‘on paper’ (as with JM and Flamini) is risky. I think both only stay if we do not get any new signings. I have already said that Ox could be the one to take up the Rosicky mantle, as well as positions elsewhere?

    But I will just C&P a chunk out of your comment to demonstrate where the ‘on paper’ falls down in reality:

    ‘For me its got to be 4-3-3, it starts off as looking like this: (taking the team of experienced guys as an example)

    ——-Sanchez————Giroud—————Walcott—-
    ——-Rosicky————-Arteta—————-Cazorla—–
    Monreal————Kos————-BFG———–Debuchy
    ——————————–Cech——————————-

    And as we develop the play up field our two attacking midfielders invariably come in more centrally as they love to do and where they are most effective, but notice not into a crowded area as there only two of them not three or four all vying for that central position lol. And they also obviously advance past the DM of the midfield group.
    The wide strikers or wingers provide the width whilst also looking to come inside if the ball is on from the midfield , they can also drop a bit deeper making a midfield four across the pitch if needed.
    Meanwhile the two full backs step up into the deeper midfield area to support the DM making a three across the pitch with the two CB’s patrolling behind them.
    Like this:

    Sanchez——————-Giroud——————–Walcott
    —————-Rosicky——————Cazorla—————-
    Monreal——————-Arteta——————-Debuchy
    ————————Kos————-BFG———————–
    ——————————–Cech——————————-‘

    Back to me …
    Okay, forget a bit about the personnel for a minute, just look at the above and tell me where the width is, if as you say, the defensive five on or around the half way line? Do Sanchez and Walcott stay wide? Or do they move inside … and bring the covering fullbacks with them.
    With the former you have just three plays in the box covered by 6 players defending – ie two banks of 4, minus the FB’s?
    The alternative could mean you end up with 14 players in and around the box, including their ‘keeper? I don’t think that is the way to break down PTB teams.
    Of course in reality we would commit the FB’s forward, or at least one at a time, but that does not alter the crowded box, and the still have two players available to spring a counter attack? It only needs the one that gains possession to push forwards at pace, and they are 3 on 3, and one of our 3 might be Per!!!

    To my way of thinking, and hopefully AW’s too, it is us who should be doing the counter attacking. Drop deep, trust our defence, and launch attacks at speed.
    On paper, like this:
    ———————————GK———————————: Opposition GK
    ———————————————————————-: Opposition box
    —————-RCB———————LCB———————: Opposition defence
    (New winger)————DM————————————:(our counter attacker) plus their DM
    ——————(Alexis)———(Walcott/New striker)——:(Already 3 on 3?)
    ——–(Ozil)—————————(Ox/Gnabry/Bellerin)—: (Pace an skill close behind)?

    Note, we still have 6 defenders back should it breakdown. But the winger could be either side, but off and running behind their FB. He has two options; to take on the RCB, or pass inside. Ozil available to switch play to the unmarked Walcott/New striker option, or the wide midfielder, which would make a two on one before their cavalry arrives.
    Simple on paper?
    By having the winger you do not need to have our FBs out of position should it break down.

    Like you, I am omitting a key player for this type of team. Giroud is no good in a crowded box. Pace is essential against PTB teams. I have not given up the idea that Bellerin might be used as a right winger at some time in the future, when Debuchy is fully fit, and depending if Gnabs goes out on loan?
    In your scenario you were quite right to omit Ozil from your line ups. He is an oddball that does not fit any box or label. But your are also right in thinking that he will be the key player in Arsene’s team. Although I still don’t see him as a typical No 10, sitting behind the striker. That is more JW’s style. But again, with the fluid forward line, who is that striker? No, I see Ozil still moving around, and moving defenders around, making spaces, etc.

    You said a lot more in your comment Steve, but I need a break … perhaps later?
    Cheers

  26. Gerry says:

    Geoff – I have just addressed your point to Nik in the above. Cheers for the summary.

  27. Gerry says:

    Just been browsing the rumour mill over my second breakfast.

    At last, Man U have made their first move in midfield. Which many blogs are interpreting as good for us re MS? I am not so sure that is the way it will go though?
    Whilst it is unlikely Man U will proceed any further with the French midfielder, it does not mean we are the only suitors for him. PSG for example?
    Southampton will not drop their price of £25m if they they think they can get it, although they do have the need for cash as they will need to replace 3 players at the latest count?

    Mind, Man U are reportedly keen on Muller or Bale which might send De Maria the other way for the former? Or our way in the unlikely event of Bale moving this season, only then could I see D’M come our way. My view on that is it is a complete blind, or a partial one to get him for a relative snip at £40m?
    Pogba going to Spain in January does open the door for them needing a ball playing mid, and if they cannot get Ozil, which they won’t, but I don’t see them looking MS’s way.

    Ramsey seems to be doing a Theo in stating his preference as to where he plays, and should we get MS, or similar, he too is talking himself out of a starting berth … unless he can transform himself into some thing Pogba-esque week in week out. Now there’s a challenge?
    To be fair, him at his confident best is not far off it, it is the week in, week out that is the weakness?
    J R-A (aka Adelaide) is going to be used on our LW on tour, which will be a good one to watch.

    So the round up, is still watch the Man U space, and when they are full perhaps we can go for our real targets?

  28. NjkSG says:

    As rumour mills are just rumours, schweini is going to man*** leaving us with MS..

    However, if he does come in, we have plenty of box to box players and he will be just a back up to Coq.

    We have too many pogba-like players here so its going to be a crush if MS comes in.

    And rumours are untrue until signed.

    JK

  29. Gerry, others… Sorry for “posing” as TA there in getting out the post… We had a bit of an emergency situation here at the house which then turned into a bit of a lost night and (following) day… In the end, nothing too serious, so no worries there, but I got a bit rushed just as I was getting out the post…

    Gerry, I actually meant to send you an e-mail re: editing the post, but it got lost (in my drafts) in the confusion…Next time, maybe…

    As for the post itself…I’d go with the original assessment about stating the obvious, but that’s an exercise which sometimes (and in this case) can spark folks’ thinking, so no harm done. Count me with Nik (and the professor, jgc) that we are in a very good spot to create overloads (3 v 2s) in MF with the MF talent at our disposal. This can take the form of “pretty triangles” but can also occur when a player turns and runs with the ball forcing the next defender to choose between marking a target or stopping the run. Movement and spacing are the key. It’s so difficult for players to know when they should move to become part of the play or when they should move away (fill space) to give more room to their mates but also be available if the “play switches,” This is where our good finish to the season and already strong squad really could pay dividends…

    For me, the key guys are Giroud and Alexis…If they keep moving others will too…If they don’t–and since we rely on them for goals they naturally want to be in shooting positions–we make life easier for the opponent. I know there’s a real hunger to bring in that elusive world-class striker, but I think anybody who comes is still going to have to figure out how to work with those key guys (or fill in for one of them)… Even if we don’t buy, we can still find the goals from the current group–if we have the patience and commitment to just keep moving… If the fans could see the need for such patience we might be able to turn the Emirates (Ashburton Grove) into a real fortress and not transmit all those nerves–even in the tight matches…

    Hahaha…talk about stating the obvious… 😀

    Carry on…

  30. TotalArsenal says:

    Posing again… i.e., this is 17HT, but we have a…

    New Post, New Post…

    Warning, I know the guy–all too well–who wrote it… 😀

  31. Haha…Where’s the blue box?… I’ll figure it out…maybe, someday…

  32. TotalArsenal says:

    Help, Help… (This is 17HT, by the way…)

    The post seems to have gone out but it’s not on the homepage…Or rather it’s the 2nd post currently sitting below Gerry’s post… I’m not sure what happened but I’ve gotta run…

    Sorry, Cheers…

  33. TotalArsenal says:

    Fixed!!! Should be in the correct position now… 😀

  34. proudgooner says:

    Gerry,
    Thanks for reply.
    I do agree with your thoughts of the chemistry of the team and liked the way you put it.
    I had a fewother ways i could have explained it myself, but yours worked.
    The topic of chemistry was slightly of topic but i felt you had said the main part in your post about balance.
    But to me for some reason the chemisty of our team keeps coming to mind and just how brilliantlly Wenger has put them together.
    As for just 1 but BIG exvample of how bad even just player can change the chemistry of a side i give you Gareth Bale at Real for exvample.
    The chemistry between any work college is important imo. If you are not getting on with the people you are working with it won’t be enjoyable.
    It is indeed as you said like a relationship between a mr and mrs, just on a friendship level instead with all that working in harmany i believe the players will click and work better together.
    Wenger also always says of the BFG he has a calming infulance on our defence.

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