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?