Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Monday, April 20, 2009

The reasons behind Saturday’s team selection

By 1970’s Gooner

A lot of commentators have been postulating that Wenger rested players against Chelsea so that they would be fresh to face not Liverpool but Manchester United in the now all important Champions League semi final games.

The reason is that Arsenal are already seven points ahead of their closest rivals, Aston Villa, for the fourth spot in the League anyway (with a game in hand).

But the only players rested against Chelsea among those fit and available were Song and Nasri while Arshavin is not eligible to play against Manchester United in the Champions League anyway.

The fact that Nasri was not in the first eleven may have something to do with his form rather than needing a rest. Nasri has been off form recently and already had a rest due to his absence from the first team due to illness.

No, to my mind, it appears that Wenger made a decision to try and win the FA Cup semi final by matching up to Chelsea’s formation (and resting Song in the process).

It all back fired.

The overriding error is that he showed Chelsea too much respect. In other words he tried to stop them from playing rather than encouraging his own team to play their own game.

But when a team tries to match up the opponent’s formation it has to have players in the key positions that are at least equally good as the opponents.

And Arsenal’s central midfield in Fabregas, Denilson and Diaby certainly wasn’t a match for Essien, Ballack and Lampard. Offensively on the left Van Persie was not up it and Adebayor was too isolated up front.

The 4 3 3 formation meant that Fabregas or Diaby should have been playing further up front in order to support Adebayor (we are still not sure who was supposed to play behind Adebayor- maybe no one?).

This did not happen and Adebayor was left isolated and thus rendered ineffective.

Van Persie’s deployment as a left winger was a disaster.

Some say that he was played there to help young Gibbs out but the downside was that Van Persie did not offer anything going forward and Gibbs had a fine game anyway, both defensively and attacking wise.

But the perplexing decision here is the omission of Arshavin who is cup tied anyway for the Champions League.

He would have not only offered defensive cover for Gibbs (Arshavin has shown defensive responsibility in his games for Arsenal so far) but would also have been more offensively minded than Van Persie was from that position.

The ironic thing is that if Wenger really wanted to rest players for the Man U games then he would have started with Arshavin instead and gave Van Persie a break (by the way Van Persie is now carrying a groin injury).

So trying to match up with Chelsea by using inferior players on the day was Arsenal’s undoing.

Now, if in the 4 3 3 formation Song was deployed in central midfield instead of say Diaby (or Denilson) and Arshavin on the left instead of Van Persie I believe things could have been a lot different.

Fabregas for a start could have been more offensively minded as Song would have been far stronger in midfield than either Denilson or Diaby thus providing the platform for Fabregas to go forward.

I am assuming of course that Fabregas would have been given the go ahead to roam forward….

Adebayor would have got the needed support up front and Arshavin would have created 1000% more than Van Persie managed.

In other words Arsenal would have been far more offensively minded.

But is this what Wenger wanted?


Anonymous said...

poor journalism im afraid

Anonymous said...

Poor comment Anonymous. This is spot on Wenger picked the wrong team and any1 that says otherwise has blind faith. Every1 makes mistakes and Wenger did on Saturday, simple.

Anonymous said...

Diaby gives fantastic head which is why he'll always get selected regardless of how unbelievably sh*t he is.

Raymond said...

I agree with everything accept the effectiveness of van Persie. The key to the midfield breakdown was that Diaby and Denilson were not upto the task. Densilson it goes without saying has not been upto the task for some time and Diaby fails to cope when put under the sort pressure he was under once Chelsea conceded and pushed up their line. Tuesday or not we should have started with Fabregas, Song, and Nasri, with wither Arshavin or van Persie dropped just behind Adebayor. The midiled was a disgrace, Fabregas excluded and Fabianski doesn't bar comment getting beaten at his near post, because when all is said and done, the 2 goals we concded were gifted by the keeper.

Anonymous said...

I think your wrong on the inferior players bit as we have beaten chelsea with near enough the same midfield at stamford bridge. so that statement about matching up inferior players is bullshit. and also did near enough the same midfield give them a game in the CC cup final? and made them look ordinary for long periods of that game.
The pitch was the major factor in the fa semi's cause chelsea didnt hve to work hard to stop our fluid passing game as the pitch done it for them. The extra power and physicallity told in the end(drogba,lampard,ballack,terry,alex,ivanovic,essien - all big strong, powerful players) and we were norrowly beaten.
fair play to the lads - u win some, u lose some!! hope everton win the cup!!


Anonymous said...

Diabys first game back after injury and you call him shit?
This is what I hate about all you johnney come lately fans, when we hav a poor game you look for a scape goat, and it's always the same, why don't you pick on Cesc he had a shit game much worse thaN Diaby, so did Adebayor.
Be fair!!!

Anonymous said...

There is no way you could play song as no manager in the world would not have cover on the bench for the Central Defence. Even in amature or kids football you cant have no cover for CD on the bench. You have to cover all positions on the bench. And maybe wenger see silvestre as more expendable than song as he does not want to risk his injury with such a congested run in and 5 defenders already out.

@ anon April 20, 2009 8:36 PM

you may call it blind faith i dont know - maybe though is a bit of perspective,maybe analysis?

What makes everyone who agrees with you?

Anonymous said...

team that lost 2-1 in the carling cup final -

Arsenal: Almunia, Hoyte, Toure, Senderos, Traore (Eboue 66), Walcott, Fabregas, Denilson, Diaby (Hleb 68), Aliadiere (Adebayor 80), Julio Baptista.
Subs Not Used: Poom, Djourou.

Chelsea: Cech, Diarra, Terry (Mikel 63), Carvalho, Bridge, Makelele (Robben 46), Lampard, Ballack, Essien, Shevchenko (Kalou 90), Drogba.

please note the midfield there. and we near enuff taught them a lesson for long periods in that game.

team that won in the league 2008

Almunia 6, Sagna 7, Gallas 8, Djourou 5, Clichy 7, Denilson 6;
Fabregas, 7, Song, 6, Nasri 6;,Van Persie 8, Adebayor 6 (Bendtner 83).

Cech 7, Bosingwa 6, Ivanovic 5, Terry 6, A Cole 6, Mikel 5; (Malouda 70min 5), Ballack 6, Lampard 6, Deco 3 (Stoch 81 5), Kalou 6, Anelka 5.

even with that midfield above there was no saviour of our season mr arshavin (and i think the blokes gonna be player of the season nx yr believe me)

So please all this about our midfield is not really the point. The pitch cost more than team selections.

and some of you arsenal fans grow a brain and learn to think- instead of spouting the general - they r shit, wenger bottled it,we will never win anything with this team, he a twat - it getting boring!!!

Anonymous said...

The annoying facts is that Diaby and Denilson should never played together..PERIOD..i dunno if we can avoid losing when both are on the same pitch(exception to the Villa Park,where both player score)..
Both are good and maybe developing to become better players..but as i mentioned earlier,both of them compliment each other in making each one looks stupid and bullshit..
anyway,that's Diaby..where he tend to lose the ball quite easily..maybe he wants to prove that he also can be better than Song...and we have Denilson who were outmuscled by Ballack,Essien and Lampard..

Anonymous said...

So RVP who scored twice last time against Chelski and has been Arsenals player of the month several times this season is now an inferior player in your mind? How quickly things change...

Anonymous said...

Your such a genious, why don't become a manager?

Anonymous said...

TrueGooner say... lets be real here. Arsena made a mistake. Period. what gets me pist is that Diaby ended the game. forget about the formation. Diaby had a horrible game why not sub him and bring on Song? We all knew we had injury problems but if its not working for a player or team why not change something to get it going.

Anonymous said...

As someone else metioned and I happened to agree with wholeheartedly, Wenger team selection has as much to do with his vindication as anything else. He played the exact midfield that he did in the 2007 carling cup final. What he wanted to say, had we won, was that 2 seasons on the boys had grown and that he doesn't need to buy players with multi million dollar price tag to achieve success. His babes could do it. Vindication denied.

Anonymous said...

we didnt lose down to team selection we lost due to 3 things 1. injuries do you think we would have concieded those goals if sagna and almunia were fit 2. the pitch it was shit and thats being kind any team who plays a high tempo game will find it difficult to win out there i counted loads of occasions where arsenal players tried to move the ball quickly and the ball wouldnt carry as it was slowed by the pitch 3. mind else where next years champions league is important and this years infact would we have though last nov that we would be sitting in 4th 7points clear and a game in hand and in the semis of both fa cup and europe cmon gooners put your toys back in the pram and think about where we were this season a very dark place and look how far our boys have come.

Anonymous said...

"Diabys first game back after injury and you call him shit?
This is what I hate about all you johnney come lately fan"

I don't think anyone is basing Diaby being shit off one performance, he has been shit for 4 years!! And don't give me this bollocks about his having potential, he had potential when he was 19, not now. He is pony.

Anyone who thinks Diaby is a good footballer has clearly never played the beautiful game themselves. They are basing it off the off 2 seconds of brilliance, which anyone can show if they did the same trick for 90 minutes.

Anonymous said...

This is not the first time wenger has bottled it when it comes to the big games - There is no excuse for not playing Arshavin - why the hell did we buy him if not for games like this - I have been following arsenal since the days of charlie george, i know what i am talking about - To play denilson instead of Arshavin was a huge error of judgement by wenger and he needs to come out at say so.

Anonymous said...

Wenger really screwed up on saturday. If I were Andrei arshavin I would wonder why wenger bought me. what game was he saving him for? Liverpool? I dont want to beat liverpool- i wanted to beat chelsea - wenger needs to give the fans an apology and admit he got it totally wrong

Anonymous said...

ignore the facts and keep up the rant!!

thats Arsenal fans for you these days!! says it all really!!

Its not Arsne who bottled it-



Henry said...

Arsene doesn't owe us an apology he owes us an explanation. Why boss? What goes on in that glorious French head of yours?

Anonymous said...

Why are people still going on about the team selection!? We lost becase of two defensive errors, so it wouldnt have made a difference if Arshavin or Nasri played anyway!!

Anonymous said...

I am shockingly surprise by you all critics. When i first saw the line up of Arsenal i reflect it all to the worries Arsene have at the back five. They are not his best and worse never played together. chelease can ran on them easily. thats why our manager has this kind of defencive team formation. It was tricky situation with lots of risk. For you all who think it is easy & obvious should all know first who are they talk about. Don't expect the boss to blame it on the back four though. So guys give the man a break and do your job, support.

Anonymous said...

Wenger waited to long to make substitutions - to make substitutions at half time is to admit you got the selection wrong and wengers biggest flaw is faliure to admit mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes but people will respect you if you admit it and try to rectify - this wenger did not do until it was to late - bringing on bentdner at the end summed it all up - As arsenal fans who buy merchandise and support the club we have the right to constructive critisism - and wenger bottled the selection on saturday - period.

Anonymous said...

One step forward against villareal and two steps backward against chelsea - no doubt arshavin will play tonight against liverpool - but it is too little too late - he needed to play against chelsea - we dont need to beat liverpool so we finish 3rd instead of 4th - and hand the title to the bastard ferguson - we needed to beat chelsea to get to the FA cup final - Sorry Mr Wenger you screwed up big time.

Anonymous said...

Out of all the reasons why we lost the match, team selection comes down pretty low in the pecking order. The main reason was that we lost so many defenders in such a short time frame. Next comes the fact that we were playing Chelsea - one of, if not the best teams in the world for physically grinding out results (while playing unattractive football mind). The pitch didn't suit Arsenal's game while it did Chelsea's.. neither did we adjust our game to the conditions - the Fabianski dash out of the area has saved us on several occasions... but the Wembly turf was not the place to do that. Arshavin was, I think, meant to be an impact substitution... but wasn't. But why on-song Song didn't get a look in is a mystery.

Time to get behind our boys... Arsene's comment about the Kop singing 'you'll never walk alone' when they were losing 5-1 to us at Anfield is telling. Confidence is a big part of top level sports... we are part of the team... let's get on with it.

Anonymous said...

To anononymous @ 1.oopm

Arshavin an impact player? jesus christ what are you talking about.
we need to play to our strengths -and attacking football is supposed to be our strength - how many times has wenger complained about teams packing the midfield against us - stop defending the indefensible - Wenger got it badly wrong

Anonymous said...

If you were in the Chelsea dressing room on saturday and saw the arsenal teamsheet who would you be more afraid of - an inexperienced defensive midfielder - denilson - or an experienced midfield playmaker who has scored goals at the highest level -Arshavin.
Take off the blinkers those who are afraid to critisise wenger - he got it badly wrong and the momentum has been lost - i guarantee we will not beat Man utd in the champions leauge.

Anonymous said...

We can talk about the pitch and goal keeping mistakes all we want but the bottom line is that Wenger lost us that game with his team selection and tactics, which were quite frankly a "disaster".

If he talks about his players showing confidence, he shouldn't undermine that confidence with negative team selection and tactics.

I only hope the team recover quickly from this defeat, as with past games of this nature e.g. The Carling Cup defeats of recent seasons they have usually coincided with a major dip in form. And BTW Most of those defeats could have been avoided with more positive team selection. Unfortunately it doesn't seem as if AW has learnt from those defeats.

Anonymous said...

I have another theory of the reason why Wenger didn't start Arshavin on Saturday. This is how I see it. Hiddink is Russia's manager so has worked with Andrey for a long time and knows the way he plays and as he thought he would start, could tell the Chelsea players how to play against him. Wenger I think will have thought about that and so played RVP instead of him. Just another idea....

Anonymous said...

what you saying is right, however i feel a 4 4 2 formation would with ade & persie upfront arshavin left diaby fabregas walcott right would have balanced play kept width and created more chances.

Anonymous said...

WEll after the match, we realise that we gave away, soft goals, with the last one bein 6minutes from time.
So imagine, a poor team from arsenal, gave Chelsea a run for their money. THe goal should not have been scored. Then arshavin and nasri would be on for the extra time. Chelsea would not have the strength on bench.
SO the problem with a young team is thst, we cannot play a whole months mathces, whereas chelsea has the same starting line up(outside of injuries), for many games.
They are older and stronger. ONly our back four, and fabregas starts games.
LASt season, WE had basically the same squad for most matches.
Older players dont worry about burn out. Gerrard plays so much for example.

gazzap said...

you dont need cover on the bench for defence if you have cover in the team. Had silv or Toure got injured then Song could have dropped back and been replaced by Den off the bench.

its telling that wenger never mentions Arshavin in any interview he gives about his team selection. He KNOWS he got that wrong, but he will never admit it. Nasri was probably still low on energy after his virus.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Song was probably left out for insurance, in case one of the back four got hurt - he couldn't afford to have Song out on the field and get hurt himself, that would have been disastrous.

So, he decided to play with two DM's (Denilson & Diaby) to make up for the absence of Song. That meant someone had to get sacrificed, and he probably had to choose between Van Persie, Arshavin and Walcott. Van Persie has probably been itching to get back in the side, and Walcott's been on form (he abused Cole on Saturday), so the shame of it was he sat Arshavin.

What he should have done, in my opinion, was go with his 4-4-2, keep RVP and Ade up front, and go with Denilson to play DM beside Cesc, keep Arshavin in the lineup. Not as physical as Chelsea, but probably would have kept possession better and supported the front two better.

Anonymous said...

the reason why arsenal lost was simple. The passes were always intercepted by chelsea, the reason for that even more simple. The pitch's horrible!

We lost the ball during a build up, chelsea hit us on the counter attack. simple.

Bhidhi Mukoma said...

Poor team selection by Wenger. He thought he was being clever leaving Arshavin out. That was stupid

Anonymous said...

The fans knew wenger screwed up on team selection, the players knew it, the arsenal board of directors knew it, the ex-managers who were pundits on bbc radio knew it - everybody f***g knew it. He messed up big time and as one of the previous posters we have lost our momentum - The game against liverpool tonight is not important to arsenal fans (all the arsenal fans i know want liverpool to win the title) - the game on saturday was.

Anonymous said...

the reason song didn't play was because he was the only player left in the squad who could play at centre back. Wenger didn't want to take the risk of having no defensive players no the bench

Anonymous said...

You need your best players on the pitch not on the godamm bench - Song was on form and playing very well - Arshavin plays with spirit and was as fresh and hungry to play - AW got it badly wrong i am afraid - reminded me of champion league final against barcelona when once again in a really big game against big opposition AW bottled it and tried to play safe instead of playing Jose Reyes -

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Anonymous said...

Look Mr wenger - Arshavin scored - suprise,suprise - I know you care about this game more than saturdays but we the fans do not - You owe the fans - especially the away fans who spend their time and money - an explanation.

Anonymous said...

Liverpool winning 2-1 I dont care if liverpool win - AW created bad kharma for us by fukcing up so badly on saturday - serves us right - its all about momentum and AW for some unfathomable reason bottled it.
Forget the champions league - the players are too confused too win anything.

Anonymous said...

Yes Mr Wenger - arshavin scores goals - still waitibg for an explanation you f***g idiot.

rabshaqa said...

Sorry I don't have time to read more than 3 comments.
I see this article written very well. However I have a couple of conflicting views. RVP is great at left wing as he showed for Holland in the world cup. The game plan was bad and there was not many individualy creative players appart from him so it was easy for Chelsea to deal with him. Fabergas was giving away possesion more than Santa on Christmas eve. Wenger made a mess by leaving Arshavin and Song on the bench and payed the ultimate price. Denilson, Diaby, Disaster...Delinguent.

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