Sunday, March 30, 2008
Arsene’s change of tactics
By 1970’s Gooner
Arsene Wenger made the changes for the starting formation at the Reebock by resting Adebayor and pushing Toure to right back bringing in Senderos to play in the middle of the defence.
In my preview of the game listing the three options available for replacing Sagna this scenario was a possibility but not the one I, or the majority of the voters on the poll that we set up, most favoured.
Most preferred was the simplest option which was to bring Eboue back to defence thus keeping the rest of the defence intact minimizing the number of players playing out of position.
And it was Toure that was culpable for Bolton’s first goal not being close enough to Taylor so as to at least put him off his header.
And as for the second goal; what was Flamini doing passing the ball back into the area? But what has to be also said is Almunia’s slow reaction to the deflection.
He had enough time to adjust his body as the shot and subsequent deflection was not that strong but his delay to dive early enough allowed the ball to roll into the net.
Enough of the negatives.
The come back from 2-0 down, with 10 men on the pitch has to be ranked as the most spectacular ever comeback in the Premier league.
And it came after a first half showing that has to be ranked as Arsenal’s worst performance after that awful defeat at Middlesbrough.
The nearest that I can remember is Kanu’s famous hat trick at Stamford Bridge but that was with 11 men on the pitch!
What made the difference were not only the substitutions that Wenger bravely made as early as the 56th minute even if Walcott’s pace on the right sliced Bolton open again and again, something that was missing till then.
What made the difference was the tactical switch that accompanied the substitutions.
Switching from 4 3 1 1 that Wenger had to revert to with Diaby’s sending off ( RVP was instructed to drop slightly back behind Bendtner) to a more attacking formation of three at the back by taking Senderos off, worked a treat.
After all Bolton were 2-0 up and this was maybe their undoing in the end. Because even if Arsenal had only three players at the back Bolton were not really going to burst their gut to get a third goal.
They probably felt that defending a 2-0 lead with 35 minutes to go and against 10 men was well within their capabilities. But unlike last week at Stamford Bridge Arsene Wenger had the last laugh.
Arsenal did not react to Grant’s switch to 4 4 2 and their use of the long high ball into the box and we paid the penalty. This time it was Wenger that was making the tactical switch.
Arsenal began to push the ball around with purpose and determination; they had after all nothing to lose anymore. They also began to find outlets in Walcott and Adebayor that were not available before.
And the goals kept coming one after the other culminating into the most satisfying of them all, the own goal by Samuel.
At least young Fabregas tried to put the ball in the right area of the goals. That is in the opposite corner to where the goalkeeper was positioned.
Robin Van Persie had two similar chances created by Walcott’s impressive work on the right flank failing to score as he tried the spectacular power drive trying to burst the net.
He did get his goal form the very good penalty he took and this, along with the match fitness he is regaining, will I think prepare him well for the crunch games coming up.
Man of the Match: Alexander Hleb.
Had a very good game throughout even under difficult weather conditions and strong play by Bolton.
He won the penalty for the equalizing goal and gave the assist for Fabregas’s winning goal.
Almunia 5; Toure 5; Galas 7; Senderos 6; Clichy 6: Diaby 5; Hleb 8; Fabregas 7; Flamini 5; Bendtner 5; Van Persie 6; Walcott 7; Adebayor 5