By 1970's Gooner
There are those who maintain that in football management you have to choose the formation the team will play in to fit the players you have available.
Others say that you have to choose the formation you prefer and then choose the right players to man it.
In Arsenal’s case and especially for the Champions League Quarter Final game against Villareal at the Emirates, Wenger has to decide which it will be.
One of his options is to play the same system he deployed at Wigan (in the first half) and also in the first leg of the Champions League at Vilareal.
He slotted Fabregas in the hole behind the front man and kept the two central midfielders, Denilson and Song, restrained to their more defensive/ protective duties.
This is a slightly more defensive formation as there is always the protection given by the two defensive midfielders.
The problem with this system however is that if the opponents successfully man mark your “Fabregas” out of the game then you have a real problem.
Not only is the side starved of attacking options (there is one less “active” forward) it is more importantly starved of its creativity.
This is very true of Arsenal because the central midfielders, who are defensively minded and trained, certainly lack the art of creativity so they cannot fill in the role that the man in the hole has been forced to vacate.
Chelsea nullified Liverpool’s most influential player at Anfield and Torres and co were starved of their skipper’s dynamism, tenacity and creativity.
Essien followed Gerrard everywhere he went and Chelsea ended up 3-1 winners. The return leg looks like it will be a formality (I hope it is not).
Wigan similarly deployed Scharner to close down Fabregas in the league encounter last Saturday and the little maestro couldn’t get his usual game going.
He had less space to play in, his passing was restricted and therefore couldn’t stamp his authority nor dictate play as he normally does.
The result was that Bendtner was isolated up front and Arsenal’s attacking penetration impaired. The same happened in the away Villareal game with Adebayor for most of that game.
Fabregas could be much more effective playing a deeper lying role.
This is because if he is indeed man marked or closed down he can have two options to by pass this obstacle which are not that easily available when he is in the more forward position.
The first is that he can take advantage of the movement of his team mates around him and exchange passes with them taking opponents out of the game.
This is because there is usually much more space available to move about in the middle areas of the pitch than further upfront. The space simply is so much less in front of him if deployed in the more forward position.
The second equally important option is that if he is indeed closed down he can play the long ball to (one of the two) forwards thus by passing the close marking and also providing variety in Arsenal’s play.
This often catches opposing defenders out of position as they are not really conditioned to expecting the long ball from an Arsenal side that usually passes the ball on the floor. Adebayor scored at Villareal from just such a pass.
By playing Fabregas in the deeper lying midfield role Arsene can then have the option of deploying Robin Van Persie as the man in the hole (or indeed in a straight 4 4 2 formation).
In this way the whole system becomes more creative and attacking in nature as there are now two forwards up front (say Adebayor and Van Persie) as well as a creative midfielder in Fabregas.
The latter can also, due to his versatility, revert to being more defensively minded if Wenger wants to protect a winning scoreline, say…..
Let’s have Fabregas where he belongs Mr Wenger.