What Tactics Against Bayern?

Are Arsenal an attacking team? The answer is neither yes nor no or if you don’t mind it is both yes and no. It’s definition is rooted in relativity. Are Arsenal offensively minded? Only one answer this time. Definitely yes. The status of being the attacking team resides in the ability of the team to dominate a game in the attacking areas, the mentality
notwithstanding. Arsenal are 4th on the possession table in the Premier League with 56.4% and accepting possession stats as an accurate indicator of the offensiveness of teams, that would mean that on the average they conduct their games as the attacking team.

In the top five leagues in Europe, Bayern Munich sit comfortably on top of the possession table with 64.5%.Arsenal are 12th with 56.4%. All things being equal the stage is set for us to lose our usual status as the attacking team when we clash with Bayern at the Allianz
Arena. But it is not always that things are equal. There are strategies and there can be other strategies. Do we dare go toe to toe with them away from home? I would say yes if we can be clever as well as make the sweats to pour. On the other hand we could decide to swim with the tide and use their force against them as is done in Judo, by conceding possession to them and…… boom!… every now and then. Mark you, the two options are not exclusively mutual over 90 minutes but there is always a centre to a style.

1st Option : ATTACK! ATTACK!

This reminds me of General Rommel the Desert Fox who was always coming up with the unexpected! The game plan here would be to disrupt their well oiled passing game with intense pressing all over the field KloppLiverpoolesque. This is insane, I say to myself anytime I watch Liverpool do it.  Beware, it’s not only about quantity, it’s also about quality. There is skill to it. Have we got the personnel for it?  Coquelin, Elneny, Sanchez, Mustafi, Koscienly, maybe also Nacho, Bellerin and Welbeck. That’s not bad, 8 out of 10 outfield players and we’ve still got Xhaka (a little bit on the slow side), Oxlade-Chamberlain (a little bit less than 90 minutes of concentration), Walcott (might not throw in tackles but compensates with his bullet speed which the opposition find quite disorienting), Ozil the alchemist (a luxury we can afford ) and others. Do I really have the stomach for this option? I leave it to you Gooners to resolve.


This is never good for my heart. And the danger is that it’s not a tactics we are well practiced at. If only we could hire our two banks of four from West Brom or Burnley, my mind and I guess yours too would have firmed up on this option. Our problem is in the bank of four that makes first contact with the enemy. It requires men who know how to
control spaces without the ball. It also needs men who know how to escape the high press with intricate passing and mobility when they have the ball. I miss Santi Carzola
hugely, believe you me (remind you of somebody?). On the defensive phase of proceedings, two names spring to mind immediately. Coquelin and Elneny but when you think about escaping the press, well… Coquelin???  Xhaka is very good in controlling space but is there a question mark behind his name too in short quick passes to escape the
press.  He looks good enough to me and watch out for his longer passes for springing counters. Two more to go for in this 1st bank of four, but first let’s find the two that we should leave up field. Sanchez and Ozil. Obviously we dare not leave Sanchez in those two banks of four. He would twist and twist and turn and turn in front of our goal. That wouldn’t be good for my poor heart. Back to the remaining two players for the 1st bank of four. These two should also be part of the squad for the counters. Welbeck looks a good call at the left side and and the newly crowned Mr. Universal, the Ox, patrols from the right.

Gooners, what’s your take on these two options and the personnel to man them. Or do you have other options to offer independent of these two? Remember that this is an away-home fixture which should have some bearing on the overall strategy. There is something that tells me that we could make it to the next round.


By Pony Eye.

17 thoughts on “What Tactics Against Bayern?

  • I think we don’t have a choice other than to absorb and counter. That said I don’t think it’s really a choice I think we will be forced to do so. Bayern will keep the ball and keep us pinned in and we will have to break whenever possible. I think we need to keep as much pace and creativity on the field for as long as possible. Ozil, Sanchez, Perez, Walcott should all be guaranteed starters in my opinion. We’ll need to have two CDM’s so Ox may be the victim here and I’d probably select Elneney and Coquelin as they are naturally defence first minded.

    Gibbs struggled on Saturday so I’d probably bring Monreal back in at left back and keep the rest of the back 4 as was.

    Will be a very tough task but if we could sneak a goal or keep Bayern down to a single goal then it would make the second leg very interesting.

  • As far as I know, Wenger will sit back and work on the counter, which we have done so many times.

    Obviously that with Welbeck we will be doing more attacking, but it seems more likely that we will sit back and see how they play before we counter.


  • Go back and watch recent Munich games, wenger will use the same exact tactics. In the home game, unless we’re down big and need goals, he’ll use the same exact tactics. Even if key players are injured, he’ll throw on the backups and use the same exact tactics.

  • Total, yes I did see somewhere that Anelka had gone into coaching, but I didn’t realise it was with Roda, that’ll be one to watch…

    Interesting choice for him in starting this phase of his career in Holland.
    Kind of imagined that he would have started in France.

    I see that Zelalem scored for Venlo.

  • Hey PE, I enjoyed editing (just a little) your post… I hope you don’t mind the (small) changes I made…

    My feeling is that since Santi got hurt we’ve definitely been trying to sit back and absorb pressure and hit on the counter much more than we’d probably prefer. I like attacking football and pressing from the front and I thought we were doing well with this sort of approach earlier in the season, the shining example being at home vs Chelsea. IMO we’ve been heading downhill ever since. All the injuries (and 7 matches missed due to Xhaka’s red cards) have decimated our MF. Up front the contract issues with Alexis and his apparent lack of trust in (most of) his teammates also seems to have hurt us…

    Hope (for some of us, at least) springs eternal and Bayern have issues of their own–maybe–under Ancelloti. For both teams the CL is massive. As such, I expect a very conservative first leg with both teams very cautious about getting too many guys forward. I read some comments from Neuer and the whole sweeper-keeper business (Pep’s style…) sounds like it’s a thing of the past. We should remember that nil-nil will suit them just fine…

    So, I think we’ll need to defend well and keep the ball as best we can when we have it… As such I would use our best footballers (at every position, including a guy you don’t mention at all.–Olivier Giroud…) and worry a lot less about pace and tackling and the like… But I’ve already said my piece in comments in the last post and need to keep something in reserve for a match preview…


  • Thanks HT for the professional editing. You sure got an eye for details.
    Wenger is a super optimist and that reflects on his philosophy naturally. He’s probably thrilled at the prospect of his team standing toe to toe with Bayern at the Allianz Arena. My nature leans heavily on the cautious side so it’s the absorb and counter that is my preference. At the same time, I can be a boy for a bit of a game. So why not the toe to toe. But who does the toe to toe with Ali, who must float away (my nature creeping back). My fear fear is that despite wanting to stretch the field, we might find ourselves pinned back. That is the counter game being forced on us, and wouldn’t it be smarter if the line up ab initio reflects that tactics?

  • I would prefer Lukas Perez on the right wing and the OX In front of Elneny and Coquelin.

  • Roger W, what about Xhaka? Do you remember how difficult it was for us trying to escape Man C high press in the 2nd half of of the match against them? But first, would you prefer we sit back and counter or…….?

  • njk, Pepklopp, am very much inclined to your view that we sit back and counter as the centre of our strategy. We have speed all over the squad, and quick transition should always be prominent in our strategies.

  • Very good post, PE, and good comments as well. 🙂

    I think we lack a clear identity and the main factor for this is Wenger’s inability to sort out the midfield. We have the players to vary from a more defensive set-up to a more attacking set-up, but they both come with advantages and disadvantages. Wenger has not been lucky with suspensions for and injuries to key players in that area. Question remains whether we would have done a lot better had Arsenal been more lucky re this. Having said that, against Bayern there is a great opportunity to find the balance with two of Elneny, Coq and Xhaka to be played in the double DM pivot. This should keep us solid and offer a good platform to support the attack. I really fancy us against Bayern if we were to play Elneny, Xhaka, Ozil, Welbeck, Alexis and Perez/Ox against the Lederhosen tomorrow. Bring it on!!

  • Hey Key, yes Zelalem scored and his team are winning games. Anelka is supporting the youth academy of Roda and doing recruitment in France for the club. He is linked to Roda’s new sugar daddy, a Swiss born Russian who lives in Dubai and just bought a quarter of the shares.

    BTW Kev, I took a cab from and to Euston over the weekend and both times the cab driver was very friendly. I almost asked whether they were called Allezkev in blog world, but did not dare in the end.

    Thanks for doing the post admin, Seventeenho

  • No problem, TA…

    PSG now up 4-nil over Barca…Wow… It doesn’t make me think that finishing 2nd would have been good. Instead, it makes me feel that our two draws against the French team weren’t such bad results….

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