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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Three reasons why Arsenal have not been at their best recently

By 1970’s Gooner

“I can't remember too many games where we have won playing like that. It increases the belief because we were not at our best and still won, but you can't play like that every week and get three points."

This was Arsene Wenger just after the Tottenham game.

Well he was very right of course. A somewhat similar performance was displayed against Portsmouth and it was only due to the home team’s desire being limited to getting a point that spared us our blushes.

Everton will not restrict their aspirations to just getting a point. I was very impressed with their away display at Old Trafford which was characterised with tenacious marking coupled with positive forward play.

There are three main reasons why Arsenal have been below par recently.

1. The conflicting role of Fabregas vs Hleb

The first concerns the role of Fabregas in connection with Hleb’s license to roam free. What is actually happening is that Hleb is dropping deep in the middle of the park picking the ball up and trying to dictate play from there.

This actually inhibits Fabregas who is taking a step back to allow Hleb to make the play. This means that his creative brain and penetrative passing are really being missed. And when Fabregas is under performing Arsenal under performs.

2. The 4 4 1 1 (or 4 5 1) system does not suit Adebayor who needs support

Hleb’s desire to dictate play has a double negative effect. As Fabregas and Co are getting too much support in midfield Adebayor is being deprived of the extra forward that will give him the support his is craving for.

When a 4 5 1 or a 4 4 1 1 system is deployed it is vital that the midfielders push forward when the front man has the ball. This has not been happening with Hleb being too deep concerned with making play.

Flamini is concerned with his defencive duties and Fabregas…well he is looking for a role at the moment. Rosicky and Eboue are by the nature of their positions too wide to offer support to Adebayor anyway.

So Adebayor is left carrying the baby most of the time. Arsene has to seriously consider bringing the 4 4 2 system back even if Van Persie is not fit to return. Maybe he was reluctant to do so having tried Eduardo there for a few games which didn’t work mostly due to Eduardo’s need to get acclimatized to English football.

But now Bendtner has shown that he is more than ready. When he came on at Portsmouth he helped create two goalscoring chances during a relatively short period of time.

Hleb should be told to keep to the left of midfield and Rosicky on the right. Let Fabregas run the show again, give some support to Adebayor and then we will see more chances created and hopefully goals again.


3. Not enough movement off the ball

Performances have lately been rather flat characterised by less energy, poor passing and more importantly not enough movement off the ball.

If the other team press on you in all areas of the pitch then you need creativity, movement off the ball and precise passing to get round the markers. If you fail to do that then your penetration into the opponent’s areas will suffer.

And you end up more often than not pumping long balls to the forward(s) who have to however be supported by midfielders or the other forward if this tactic is to work.

Movement off the ball is something which characterises all Wenger’s teams. It is the basic philosophy underpinning the “ball on the floor” approach with precise and penetrative passing.

Now why there’s not enough movement is difficult to discern but tiredness could be a factor. The only way to remedy it of course is to bring in a few fresh faces. There is strength in depth in the squad after all.


Football is a zero sum game and if all the pieces of the puzzle are not in place then the whole suffers disproportionately. However the converse is that when those weaknesses are corrected then the puzzle begins to look beautiful again.

There’s no in-between!

29 comments:

Wrighty7 said...

Totally agree with everything on the article 1970's. Its spot on. Wenger needs to address the situation and Bendtner is proving that he is more than ready to step up and play now. We could do with his physical presense against Everton.

JustinConnor said...

i agree

Almunia
sagna toure gallas clichy
rosicky flamini fabregas hleb
bendtner adebayor (or RVP)

walcott on in wing position if needed for change of pace

Ramgun said...

Good points, well made. It still doesn't explain why Adebayor doesn't understand the offside law or why Wenger is so reluctant to play Bendtner or change from the dread 4-5-1. You can't complain about opponents being defensive when you are only playing one forward yourself.

Nischit said...

totally agree with the article and even the comments. We really need to improve, and fast. The next two games are vital and if we win them, confidence will be higher than ever. I hope the manager realizes that 451 is just not working for us atleast not with hleb dropping so deep with teams pressurizing us the way they are.

Anonymous said...

Its true i think Adebayor is certainly missing Van Persie i'd give Eduardo or Bendtner a chance against Everton which will be a very very tough game. Also i think that since Fabregas and Hleb came back from injury in particular Fabregas has struggled to get back his form, their were signs of Hleb getting back ti himself yesterday.

Anonymous said...

I too agree with everything here. Where is RVP? He made brief 2nd half appearance a few games ago then he has not even been on the bench since? Neither was Dudu or Gilberto last game. We need them all to contribute if we want to keep pace at the top of the table.

Scott said...

Fans want Bendtner; AW is protecting him. We are slightly panicked watching Manure go top, but AW gets paid to make medium and long term decisions, and he errs on the side of caution. No one has seen Bendtner play a full 90 minutes in the league in a single match (correct?), let alone 2 or 3 in a row. AW most likely assumes he will prove even more inconsistent that Ade. AW remarked earlier in the season that Bendtner doesn't play fast enough, and presumably AW still thinks he needs to adjust to the pace over 90 minutes, mentally if nothing else. We are at a normal point in a squad's evolution.

All big clubs face it with an emerging star (assuming NB can become a star), and it often means the team does less well in the short run. There is plenty of silverware to play for.

Ryan said...

I completely agree with the article. I've been spamming the same stuff over Arsenal sites' comments for ages!

Wenger has to stop worrying about whether or not Bentdner or Eduardo will fade in the final 20 minutes and get them starting games. They need the games and the team needs a second striker, it's a no brainer. Even IF they fade badly late on, so sub them off, at least with them on we'll probably have scored a couple of goals ffs.

As for Eboue, besides his diving antics his form is consistently inconsistent. He should never be playing ahead of Walcott since even though Walcott is also sporradic, he looks like he can improve loads with the games and confidence. Eboue gets the games and has the confidence and is still very inconsistent. Yes he was one of our most dangerous players yesterday with his runs, but he was frankly quite shit with what bhe actually did. He worried their defense with his pace and skills, but he lost the ball almost every time and was really very poor (again).

4-4-2 and Walcott should move above Eboue in the pecking order even though Hleb is the first choice right winger.

Malaysia Gooners said...

AW need to change!! Ade need to be replace immediately. if AW don't want to bring in bend, he should consider to buy a powerful finisher like anelka,berbatov,eto or benzema. Ade canot play lonely striker and he is incosistent. he is a good finisher but he always lose at his ball control.

Anonymous said...

My succinct analysis is that Wenger doesnt have the balls to attack.

It was pointed out in preseason itself by the Ajax coach, Henk Ten Cate,formerly at Barca and now at Chelsea.

Even in that game we needed a piece of luck from Clichy and RVP to win.

We should be smashing these taems with our attacking verve.

I dont want to see Rosicky, Hleb etc tracking back. We need to impose on them.

I dont even care if we lose 7-0. Just hate these 0-0 draws where both teams are too inhibited to make a match out of it.

osas said...

I agree with everything you say apart from the comments about Cesc and Hleb. I think they can play well together but they have to be in form. The problem is they are both off form and they are really struggling to have the type of impact they had before the injury.

Anonymous said...

1970's, thanks a million for your incisive comments on the pressing issue, it's like a lecture. I've read everything that has been written plus comments on the other blogs but not has been this formative, please try to make daily postings. I've been reading your post recently and I'm quite impress, keep it up, I've added you to my must read list. Agree totally.

Anonymous said...

It has to do with Hleb but not your point. Let me put it this way, Hleb plays a big part in that team and when we plays well we win period!
I think we need a change that will make Rosicky take more responsibility.
They need to shoot as well, like they were doing few games ago.
I think this was a good thing and I believe we will win the PL, CC, and CL.

Anonymous said...

It has to do with Hleb but not your point. Let me put it this way, Hleb plays a big part in that team and when he plays well we win period!
I think we need a change that will make Rosicky take more responsibility.
They need to shoot as well, like they were doing few games ago.
I think this was a good thing and I believe we will win the PL, CC, and CL.

jack said...

By using 4-4-1-1, Arsenal scored late in recent matches, not many clear cut chances created and the worst thing is Ade needs dozen of chances to score a goal. With his current form, I don't really think Arsenal could get a good result at Everton.
Please Wenger!!! swift to 4-2-2, use Bendtner!!! stop to drop further points!!! We want to be Champion at the end of the season this time!!!

Rich said...

"My succinct analysis is that Wenger doesnt have the balls to attack."

Excuse me?!? If this is your succinct analysis, let us be grateful that you don't go into detail. Arsenal is one of the most attacking sides in Europe and is universally praised for its attacking effort. And as for quoting the thoughts of someone about to be sacked from Ajax before going to a grand position of No2 at Chelsea, you should probably think more before speaking.

Many seem to think that 2 up top is the easy solution - but it didn't prove that way at Middlesboro where we were outmanned in midfield and unable to even get the ball to Eduardo, who up to now has been awful in the Premier League.

I agree that Bendtner is being brought on slowly and would like to see him against Everton but lets not lose sight of the fact that we are still creating chances.

The problem for me is that our style of play is about dominating the ball but that over a season is shattering. What we need is to copy the Man U blueprint and be able to blitz teams over a 20min period and then take it easy for the rest of the game. Watch how many times they do this, go 2 up and then close down the space. It makes them less entertaining than us on the whole but far more effective over a whole season.

Instead of griping about the team, just realise that we have had an awful December (as we have for the last two years) but have still come out only one point behind the leaders. If we can learn from our mistakes then we have a real chance at the end of the year and no one here or in the mainstream press expected that.

Rich said...

"My succinct analysis is that Wenger doesnt have the balls to attack."

Excuse me?!? If this is your succinct analysis, let us be grateful that you don't go into detail. Arsenal is one of the most attacking sides in Europe and is universally praised for its attacking effort. And as for quoting the thoughts of someone about to be sacked from Ajax before going to a grand position of No2 at Chelsea, you should probably think more before speaking.

Many seem to think that 2 up top is the easy solution - but it didn't prove that way at Middlesboro where we were outmanned in midfield and unable to even get the ball to Eduardo, who up to now has been awful in the Premier League.

I agree that Bendtner is being brought on slowly and would like to see him against Everton but lets not lose sight of the fact that we are still creating chances.

The problem for me is that our style of play is about dominating the ball but that over a season is shattering. What we need is to copy the Man U blueprint and be able to blitz teams over a 20min period and then take it easy for the rest of the game. Watch how many times they do this, go 2 up and then close down the space. It makes them less entertaining than us on the whole but far more effective over a whole season.

Instead of griping about the team, just realise that we have had an awful December (as we have for the last two years) but have still come out only one point behind the leaders. If we can learn from our mistakes then we have a real chance at the end of the year and no one here or in the mainstream press expected that.

Anonymous said...

Good post I agree with all the points made.
The team is tired. Wenger needs to make a few changes. Bring bendtner in and drop eboue. Diaby should play in midfield instead of Flamini.

Bohemond said...

I would go to a completely different way. Especially if ManU win their early game.
Arsenal should play 433 for once with Adebayor Eduardo and Bentdner all starting. I'm it'll crack Everton's defence.

Anonymous said...

For gods sake get rid of Eboue.
He doesn't use the ball well, has no idea what to do with the ball anywhere near the area and to be honest he gets on my nerves. He can manouvere a bit of space in a tight situation but that's all he can do.
Meanwhile Bendtner and Diaby are on fire. Give Rosicky the day off.
Team for Everton
Almunia
Sagna Toure Gallas Clichy
Hleb Fab Flam Diaby
Ade Bendtner

Anonymous said...

the problem is players like silva and bentner need to show they are ready to help. ade and hleb are tired. those other 2 are fresh they should have been used at portsmouth.
manu used saha. that is the difference we need to rest players.
if wenger has no faith in those subs then he must get those players required. where is persie?

Michaelos said...

The main reason we are not winning is like so many seasons before is that we are always carrying one and sometimes 2 players. Last year it was Gallas and Eboue. Gallas still strolls but now and then he shows what he can do. Eboue has become a diva who does little either defensively or offensively

www.freewebs.com/trugooner said...

Time for a mix up in the team.
I hear Gallas is injured so maybe Song can come on for him. He's been doing well at CB in the Carling cup and seems to be better than Senderos. Also Hleb or Eboue is a dilemma. It seems an obvious choice but Hleb looks rusty, Eboue played well against Portsmouth and the Hleb-Fabregas problem. Also stop this 4-5-1/4-4-1-1.

I would like to see for Everton:

Almunia
Sagna-Toure-Song-Clichy
Eboue-Fabregas-Flamini-Rosicky
Bendtner-Adebayor

Anyone agree?

Anonymous said...

agree with true gooner
bendtner to come in and we will surprise everton winning there after a long time.

Anonymous said...

"Just hate these 0-0 draws where both teams are too inhibited to make a match out of it"

Err...Arsenal have not drawn 0-0 in the premiership for a YEAR. Is this a wind up? Do you have a brain injury?

Paulsito said...

Great analysis! i also believe Gallas has played well but not been an emotional presence to get the team playing with more energy, he need to be more vocal bcuz these players r still young and Please can we stop toure from making these great passes out of bounds or to the opposite team - this just may help!

God Bless!

Anonymous said...

Because we are a bunch of arseboys???

Get it?

We take it up the arse you see?

Gayers anonymous I think not.


He He he.

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