Thursday, April 03, 2008
Three things need to be corrected for the forthcoming Liverpool games
By 1970’s Gooner
Last night’s game should not be interpreted as a failure. The positives were that we dominated for a large part of the encounter especially in the second half where we had them pinned against the wall.
But just as with Milan at the Emirates we couldn’t put the ball in the net.
Mainly through grossly inadequate refereeing, Bendtner’s selfishness (who appeared to me to want to put the ball in the net himself rather than allowing it to pass through his legs) and Van Persie’s need for a few more games to find his match fitness.
However there were three in my opinion fundamental areas that Arsenal need to put right so that our chances for success are maximized for the forthcoming two Liverpool encounters.
1. Eboue was a disgrace
Eboue displayed all the negative characteristics in his play all crammed into one game.
He was not penetrative enough and kept coming inwards, passing the ball back to Toure or infield.
The number of successful passes he made can I think be counted on one hand.
He fluffed horribly the one and great chance he had to score to make it 2-1 and what was equally bad he rarely tracked back to assist poor Toure who had to do the job of two men.
And on the occasion Eboue was there he allowed Gerrard to ease pass him and go through into the area to eventually cross the ball for their equalizer.
Under normal circumstances Eboue should be dropped. Judging by his woeful display and obvious lack of confidence I would prefer him to sit on the bench but the sad thing however is that Wenger is running out of viable options.
In the absence of Van Persie and Diaby (he is red carded for Saturday remember) Walcott should be brought in to continue the impressive performance he put in the second half who finally offered penetration on the wing.
But who can play the other wide midfield role?
2. Width, width, width
As pointed out in my preview of the game Liverpool followed their tried and tested formation and conservative tactics they always employ against strong opponents.
They play with two defensive midfielders (Mascherano and Alonso) and have the two wide men (in this case Kuyt and Babel) tuck into the middle and congest it as much as possible.
That is why Arsenal needed to stretch the play on the wings so as to create space for our midfielders to operate. This did not happen as Eboue was nowhere to be found and Hleb kept coming into the middle thus congesting it even more!
The change in Arsenal’s intensity and effectiveness was very evident as soon as Walcott was brought into the game.
If Robin Van Persie was fit then what I suggested in my preview of last night’s game, a 4 3 3 system, would have been the best way to create the needed width for the game next Saturday.
He would have been best deployed on the left wing and Walcott on the right hand side. But sadly he is not available.
So for the next game Wenger has the option of playing Hleb there or even persist with Eboue with the hope that “surely he can’t repeat the same awful display two games running!”
3. Hleb is far more effective in the middle behind Adebayor
It is becoming increasingly obvious and it has been pointed out often enough by this blog that Hleb is far more creative and effective when operating from a more central role.
This is because his style of play is based on close control and technical trickery coupled with the ability to pick penetrative passes by putting people in on goal.
He was so much more influential last night when eventually Wenger instructed him to come infield late in the second half.
I believe that that is where he should be positioned in the future starting if possible with next Saturday.
But if he is brought in behind Adebayor then who is to occupy the left hand side of midfield?
Clearly Arsene Wenger has difficult choices to make.
a. Play Hleb behind Adebayor and keep Eboue and Walcott on the wings.
b. Be even more creative by playing Clichy and Walcott on the wings and bring Hoyte in at left back (leaving Eboue out)!
c. Adopt the 4 4 2 system by dropping Eboue, playing Bendtner alongside Adebayor (as he did at Wigan) and deploy Hleb and Walcott on the wings.
Sadly the squad, due to injuries, is not big enough to cope with so many absentees especially for next Saturday. Read, Van Persie, Rosicky, Eduardo, Diaby and Sagna to name the first team regulars only.
Ideally I would like to drop Eboue (he was not good enough to play in any position last night and I wouldn’t trust him to start a game now), deploy Hleb in the more central areas of the pitch and add width to stretch the play.
The only way to achieve all this and keep a balanced side is option “b” above.
Arsene’s change of tactics needed to counter Liverpool’s style