Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Forget what the national papers are saying. This is the way to beat Leicester

By 1970's Gooner

Leicester have to be given respect. They have a counterattacking mentality which has been practised, finessed and executed to near perfection.

They always keep Vardy and Okazaki up front. They allow you to have the ball and when you move forward in front of their packed two banks of four they spring into action trying to win the ball. They then release it early to their forwards and at the same time their midfielders rush into the opponent's area waiting to do the damage.

This tactic works because they have two very good ball winners in their midfield in Kante and Drinkwater and two very fast forwards in Vardy and Okazaki who stay up front. It's not a surprise that Leicester do very well against the top teams. And there is a reason for this.

Top teams play attacking football based on ball possession, pushing their opponent in their half. Top teams do also something that more often than not turns badly against them. They push both their full backs high up the pitch. This means that Leicester's counter attackers find the space to run into and the presence of their midfielders coming up to support them provides for a very potent attacking threat.

Arsenal and City were outdone in this way. In the previous game between the two teams Arsenal's Ramsey ventured in Leicester's box to take a shot and from his dispossession they counter attacked by passing to Vardy where Bellerin should have been who run on and scored their first goal.

Similarly City's Zaboleta was caught up field while Kante released Mahrez into the space vacated and he scored the killer second goal of course.

So ideally Ramsey has to sit tight in midfield like he diligently did against City and, alongside Coquelin, provide the cover for Arsenal's overlapping full backs.

But imo the three wingers that Arsenal can play on the right of midfield are out of form. Walcott is way below himself that's for sure. Cambpell has lost form probably tired from playing too many games and the Ox is still trying to find confidence. Even if he did score the goal at Bournemouth his overall display was still below what is required to play against Leicester.

Arsene Wenger will, I know, be tempted to start with the Ox hoping that the goal will have given him a boost to carry him through the game against Leicester. I think he should resist that temptation.

Instead Arsenal can line up on Sunday by playing both Coquelin AND Flamini in central midfield. This way they will sit in a disciplined way in the middle of the pitch and put a stop to the Leicester counter attacks by covering the space vacated by Arsenal's full backs (especially Bellerin).

Ramsey would then revert back to his previous position on the right wing (when Cazorla was playing in midfield). In this way he will be able to come in from the right and help in the play making interchanging positions with Ozil and also drop back to assist Bellerin when we haven't got the ball.

In this formation a balance will be created where Arsenal will still maintain their attacking mentality and ball possession but will be more robust and defensively minded in midfield.

And for a change Arsenal will have adopted their tactics to fit the opponent.

This is the way to beat Leicester.

Monday, February 08, 2016

The best way to hand Leicester or indeed Spurs the League title

By 1970's Gooner

There is something that keeps niggling me all the time. It started way back during this crazy season on the occasions all Arsenal had to do was win the game in front of them to go top of the League. They always failed.

Their performances were nervy, edgy and tentative. The only saving grace was that the direct opponents were faltering too. Leicester and Tottenham were drawing more than they were winning and City were suffering due to key absences of Company and Aguero.

In the meantime Arsenal's jitters continued with poor performances against Spurs at home when we snatched a draw, lost to WBA away with a shambolic display and drew away at Norwich where everyone is winning. Leicester and Spurs on the other hand kept winning.

Then Arsenal pulled a fantastic performance out of the bag against City winning at home 2 1. But when in the next game they needed to win so as to consolidate the advantage they gained and prove to everyone that this year is their year, they see the dizzy heights of the summit and of course get nervy again! They put in probably the worst performance of the season that far and get thumped by Southampton 4 0!!!

So don't tell me Mr Wenger that the players are not scared of the top. They are shit scared. They haven't got the bottle. It is obvious.

And the best way to hand Leicester or indeed the Spuds the League title is to repeat the display at Bournemouth in the next game against Leicester.

For don't be fooled by the 2 0 away victory at the south coast. The display was again nervy especially at the back with Gabriel adopting what I would call an agricultural display and slack marking especially on the occasion when he naively let Pugh slip past him and run clear on goal.  It is sad that our alternative is to start with the ageing Mertesacker.

Flamini was far from his best. He tends to mark only space and as a result gets by passed as he lacks pace. He surely has to be either replaced by Coquelin or indeed play alongside him.

And the Ox got a great goal but he is far below what we would need to beat Leicester. The out of form Walcott or the tiring Campell are not the answer either!

Wenger has to get his finger out and instill competitiveness and above all confidence. He also has to adapt his team selection and tactics to match Leicester. More on this will follow.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The reasons behind Arsenal's slump

By 1970's Gooner

Arsenal have only collected 3 points from the last four games. Draws against Liverpool, Stoke and Soton plus a defeat at home against Chelsea. Its not the form a title winning team is it? There are three main reasons that can explain the recent loss of form. I consider the last one as the most important.

Key players loose form

Where do you start. Mertesacker has been shaky for a long time and this was well exploited by a clever Chelsea tactic of getting Costa to run on his shoulder . In fact the whole team was underperforming up to the sending off.

This loss of form has been evident even in the games we won prior to the Liverpool game. Newcastle were outplaying us at the Emirates but couldn't convert their many chances until Koscienly popped up to rescue us. Bournemouth were only outdone from corners otherwise they were competitive alright.

Flamini, Ramsey and now Walcott have been way below par. The first two in particular have been very poor during this period. Flamini has not been closing down the spaces in midfield and Ramsey has neither been as mobile or accurate with his passing. This significant area of the pitch has been our Achilles heel. Let's hope Coquelin will return as strong as he was before he got injured.

The absence of Sanchez

Sanchez has been sorely missed as much as Coquelin. His runs and dribbles unsettle opponents as they don't know which way he will go. He offers something out of the ordinary but his mobility also offers an outlet for Ozil's innovative passing. And this should not be underestimated.

Lack of confidence in themselves

This lack of confidence has been very evident every time Arsenal have to win a game to keep themselves in contention or even to go top. It has been evident when say City or Leicester have dropped points and Arsenal only have to win to take advantage. They invariably failed every time.

There is an aura of uncertainty in their passing, crossing or in taking chances. It is also evident in their slow starts to games as though they wait to see what the opponent has to offer rather than imposing themselves irrespective of the opponent. This was very evident at Liverpool where they went one down relatively early in the game and also against Chelsea where they were so tentative in the early stages with Chelsea dominating possession and threatening. It was evident against Soton where we wasted a whole half to get into the game! And this was at home!

The players better start shaping up otherwise its goodbye to the title ( to possibly Spurs heaven forbid) and probably goodbye to fourth place.

Now that Coquelin and Sanchez are back we expect better days to come. Let's start at Bournemouth.