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.
2nd Option : ABSORB AND COUNTER.
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.