Friday, December 21, 2007
The new Bergkamp can exploit Spurs weaknesses
By 1970’s Gooner
Now that Eboue is back in the squad fit again Arsene Wenger has a decision to make. Does he stick to the formation and system that has worked reasonably well in the absence of Robin Van Persie or does he reintroduce the Dutchman back in the first eleven?
During his absence Arsenal played with one forward in Adebayor with Eboue and Rosicky in the wide midfield positions. Hleb has been operating just behind him in a loose 4 4 1 1 formation. I say loose because Hleb often performs play making duties, dropping deeper to receive the ball and direct play.
In fact this is a position he was used to playing in Germany before his transfer to Arsenal. He knows how to play it very well.
In a way the formation is really a 4 5 1 but it is a creative and positive 4 5 1 rather than the dour and defensive minded formations that this system has come to be associated with.
However this style of play means that Adebayor is often isolated up front and unless the midfielders surge forward to support him the attacks can sometimes lose their impetus. Also the lack of another forward reduces the goal scoring potential of the team.
Now if Arsene Wenger decides to bring Van Persie back it means that the system will have to change to an orthodox 4 4 2 with Hleb and Rosicky on the flanks and Eboue dropping to the bench.
In making the decision Wenger will look at Tottenham’s style of play and try and exploit their weaknesses.
Spurs under Ramos are playing with a positive philosophy of going forward. They deploy two forwards (usually Berbatov and another according to availability) and two wide midfielders (Lennon and Melbrangue) in a 4 4 2 system where the wingers play more as orthodox wingers rather than tacking in to form a more compact midfield.
In fact this system will suit Arsenal’s 4 4 2 very well. Spurs will only have two men in midfield and with Hleb coming off his line as he tends to do (so as to create space for Clichy) it is Arsenal that will have more numbers in this part of the pitch.
Spurs also lack creativity especially in midfield. Jenas and Boateng are not that imaginative in their play preferring to play short rather than penetrative passes.
There is another reason why Wenger may deploy Van Persie and that is the obvious weakness that Spurs have in defence especially centrally where Kabul and Dawson, if fit, will play. Considering that Spurs have conceded on average 1.7 goals per game (29 goals in 17 games) it looks good for Arsenal’s attack.
Spurs on the other hand have a potent attack which on Saturday will be manned by the impressive Bulgarian Berbatov and Irishman Robbie Keane.
There have been goals scored in each of the last 13 league games since the 1-0 defeat at Manchester United on 26 August (their only blank in 16 league outings).
However Arsenal’s defense has tightened up this year. Toure and Gallas have formed a very strong partnership and Sagna and Clichy look formidable in the full back positions. Flamini also tends to play in a more restricted role protecting the defence.
Arsenal have conceded on average less than a goal per game (0.8 in fact) and if Almunia plays to his best Tottenham will find it difficult to score.
Bergkamp used to score against the Spurs often memorable goals. The new Bergkamp can do the same.
Prediction : 2-0