Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Wenger’s single change for Milan can bring multiple benefits
By 1970’s Gooner
As soon as Eduardo was taken to hospital with his horrific injury Arsene Wenger has been faced with a significant decision to make. Who should take Eduardo’s place and partner Adebayor until Robin Van Persie returns to fitness?
Wenger I felt made the wrong decision opting to start with Walcott up front for the difficult home game against a well organised and dangerous Villa side. He did of course take into account that the young lad had scored two well taken goals during that ill fated game at St Andrews.
But Villa as it proved is in a different league than Birmingham. They are a few levels above in quality especially in defence and midfield and as such Walcott although started well using his pace could not, after a while, make any headway from the middle areas of the attacking line.
Milan’s defense was very impressive indeed against Arsenal in the first leg at the Emirates and Walcott, if he starts in attack, will find it even more difficult than against Villa.
But really Wenger will have to decide on the formation and tactics he will deploy at the San Siro first before deciding on the personnel.
If he decides that attack right from the off will be the better option then he might opt to start with Walcott or even Bendtner in a more forward position.
And there have been pundits who are urging Wenger to start the game as it finished at the Emirates i.e mark and push the ageing Milan defenders and midfielders high up the pitch so as to put them under pressure.
But in my opinion this is a more risky option to take as for one the Milan defence is a very good one and for two it will be at its most fresh at the beginning of the game. Additionally this tactic leaves you with no Plan B if it does not provide dividends.
The other more conservative option is to play a more restrained type of game in a 4 4 1 1 formation which would allow for a more compact midfield and provide the basis for a change into a more attacking formation (4 4 2 or even a 4 3 3) later on in the game if required.
Under such a scenario Walcott and Bendtner will not obviously be the preferred options to play in that hole behind Adebayor. Hleb would be the ideal candidate as he has played well in that role and carries the necessary experience and nous to be effective.
For an analysis of the three options available to replace Eduardo read my earlier posting on this issue: Wenger’s three options for replacing Eduardo
There is an additional reason why I would be prefer Hleb in that he could help Fabregas run the play form midfield by dropping deeper.
And that vital area of the pitch will be manned by an extra man especially if Ancelotti decides to also deploy a more cagey 4 4 1 1 formation (which he may well do even at home).
In this way Fabregas will be encouraged to be more forward oriented with his runs from deep making him an unexpected and therefore more effective “support” for Adebayor.
However Wenger has to also count the numbers and look at the available personnel. Who does he have available to play the wide midfield positions?
Eboue, Walcott and Diaby are all right footers (Rosicky has not travelled). Hleb is a left footer but if Wenger decides to play him infield then he has to settle for a combination of two from the other three.
I would keep Walcott on the bench as he would be far more effective coming on in the second half as he did in the first leg when the Milan players might not be so sprightly on their feet.
But of course others would disagree. I only base my choices on the tactics that might be deployed and not the other way round.
Prediction: Draw 1-1