Sunday, November 04, 2007
Arsenal’s Formula One Car Cannot Run With The Handbreak On. A Critique
By 1970’s Gooner
You can not have the most attractive team on the land, littered with players who possess amazing technique and skills yet ask them to play in a straitjacket type of formation which stifles their natural tendency to play the beautiful game.
It’s like having a Formula One car but running the race with the handbrake on.
It was obvious form the beginning of the game that Arsene Wenger showed too much respect to the opponents, as he did at Anfield last week when Liverpool were not really good enough to even get a draw.
Yet he repeated the same formation, apparently 4 4 1 1, for this vital game against Manchester United. But it was not really an attacking minded 4 4 1 1.
It was actually a 4 5 1 formation, as the outstanding Hleb did not play just behind Adebayor as you would expect but much more behind, in the midfield area, in more of a playmaker’s role.
This had the result that Fagregas was more withdrawn than normal. But more importantly, when Arsenal attacked, Adebayor was more often than not isolated with no midfielders pushing forward to offer support or try and pose a more potent goal threat.
This scenario did not of course evolve naturally on its own as the game wore on. It was Wenger’s choice to put the hand break on by instructing Hleb and Fabregas to be less adventurous territorially.
He probably had a game plan of putting the shackles on in the first half and then, if need be, become more adventurous in the second.
But it doesn’t work like that. Not against the Manchester Uniteds of this world. They don’t need much to clinically strike you where it hurts most because they, more than any other team, have the players to capitalise on any single mistake that unavoidably will occur during a football match.
No other team can boast of having so many “killers” in their midst such as Roonie, Ronaldo and Tevez. And they were very close to winning this game.
So it was no surprise that again the same scenario unfolded more or less at the Emirates as it did against Liverpool the previous week.
Arsenal start the game with the hand break on, no real support in the offensive positions, the other team get a goal (from a defensive lapse) and then release the handbreak to salvage a draw.
I am sorry but the teams the Arsene builds can not play in this way. They cannot play in a restricted manner, defensively minded, midfielders not venturing forward and with a lone front man. Of all people Arsene should know that!
Do you remember a few years back at the beginning of Wenger’s reign when Arsenal were supreme in the Premiership but flattered to deceive in Europe? Everyone was wondering why.
In my opinion one of the major reasons for this was the application of the “handbreak”, a submission to the tactical chess games that most managers like to play in the pursuit of getting a draw away from home.
Come on Mr Wenger. This team you have built is much better than that.