Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Walcott and Clichy should be the wide players against Blackburn

By 1970's Gooner

This away fixture at Blackburn is the equivalent of a real fitness test for this young but maturing Arsenal side.

All the football pundits are expecting Arsenal to return to their old ways. Their first away fixture in the North with rain gushing down, a partisan crowd and an opponent prepared to stick it up your nose. This is where titles are won or lost.

And there is some merit in this logic.

Yes they battled hard against a physical Ajax in the Amsterdam tournament but that was a friendly after all;

Yes they came back to beat Fulham at the death; but Fulham surprisingly didn’t park the Fulham Broadway bus in front of them and it was a home game after all, in nice London summerish weather.

Yes they had to man the barricades against an intimidating Sparta and Tomas Repka in Prague which indicated that they are up for the physical type of games; but having watched the game live, Sparta did not produce the quality of football as say Blackburn could pose on Sunday.

So if Wenger’s babes can also pass this test then the football world will really sit up and take notice.

Hell, the players themselves will sit up and take notice!

So if you are Mr Wenger and you realise the enormous up side potential that an away win at Blackburn at this juncture will give to this side how should you approach this game?

I say this because injuries to Eboue, Rosicky, Diaby and Eduardo are likely to deprive the team of key players especially its wings. Without wings no one can fly. And fly is what Arsenal need to do if they are to have a chance of winning this game.

How Wenger decides to replace the loss of Eboue and Rosicky will, more than any other decision he makes for this game, go a long way in deciding its outcome. And there are two reasons for this.

The first is the need to have penetrating wide midfielders as this will be the only way to bypass what is likely to be a congested midfield; made even more congested by Hleb’s insistence to drop deeper than he should. May be on Wenger’s orders.

The second reason is that Blackburn themselves look likely to play with two wingers who like to go forward. The dangerous Pedersen and old boy Bentley. Exploitation of the spaces left behind them may prove their Achilles heel.

One way to (partly) solve the winger’s crisis is to change the formation and play 4 4 2 by bringing Bendtner or Eduardo in to partner RVP. The result will be that Hleb will move to one of the wide midfield positions.

But I don’t think that Wenger will want to change a winning team’s formation. And as he has said, Eduardo will probably be deployed from the bench. Bendtner he considers not yet ready to start.

The only viable solutions available to my mind are to play Clichy as a left sided midfielder with Hoyte brought in at left or right back.

Clichy impressed during pre season when he was tried in this position and also showed, during these first two competitive games, how dangerous he is going forward.

For the other wide midfield position the choice is between Denilson, who is now fit, and Walcott.

Walcott impressed when he came on against Fulham and he will be adding real penetration, an ingredient necessary if Arsenal are to exploit the wide areas.

The rest of the team picks itself.

Hleb is top scorer, Robin needs a Batman and Fabregas is the real captain

Fabregas has added a “Peter Storey” attitude to his vast arsenal of talents


Anonymous said...

I fancy Hleb on the wing and Eduardo to play with RVP

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree with 1970's Gooner we need width and Denilson isnt going to provide it

Anonymous said...

Its a pity that Diaby is not fit as he would have been ideal for the central midfield against a physical opponent

Anonymous said...

walcott is a definite starter for me. If he is not going to start him now that Eboue and Rosicky are out then when is he?
Theo can shred them to pieces!

Anonymous said...

An away win at Blackburn will be massive

Anonymous said...

I think the 'more physical' northern teams doing well against Arsenal for exactly that reason is quite a myth to be honest. Very rarely is a modern Premiership game particularly physical since 95%+ of the players go down in this league almost as easily as they do on the continent. The bitty games up north don't come from teams being so physical, rather referees being poor and blowing the whistles every 10 seconds for next to nothing (much like in the Sparta game) for what they deem to be fouls but are actually as small as 'jumping with your arms up' (which you HAVE to do ffs) or 'using your shoulder' (which isn't even an offense). Arsenal suffer far more from free kicks being given and having their play disrupted rather than from simply being bullied, since refs barely allow any physicality in the modern game anyway. The biggest factor in Arsenal dropping points last year againt teams like Blackburn was simply playing badly, not taking the chances and giving away far too much defensively. That's not being bullied off the park, that's playing badly. The only reason Arsenal don't throw points away against teams like Utd are that they play far better and concentrate because of the occasion.

If Blackburn are so physical then can someone explain why last year Gilberto got sent off thanks to their most physical player?

Diving and theatrical nonsense.

The ONLY reason we didn't beat them in both FA Cup games last year was because Arsenal played absolutely terribly in both games. Blackburn were equally appalling in the first and only McCarthy's nice goal won them the second leg of what was probably the worst set of performances from two teams I can recall in my life.

If Arsenal play with responsibility in the knowledge that they are FAR too good for Blackburn then they will win comfortably and nobody should expect anything less, even with a few injuries.

Anonymous said...

'Physical teams kicking Arsenal off the park' is a crap excuse for throwing away a clean sheet and failing to take their chances. Teams aren't any diffeent now with Arsenal than they were during the invincibles era, simply that this team threw results away far more cheaply last year

Anonymous said...

To Ryan

I agree with you in the sense that our defending has been poor which combined with the absence of a real goalscorer last season resulted in loosing matches that we dominated.

Anonymous said...

I think the previous anonymous has a point in that blaming opponents for (theoretically) rough play is a cheap excuse masking the real reason which is just a bad performance

Anonymous said...

in my opinion the reason why Arsenal did well against Man Utd and come to that against the top teams is because they didnt play defeensively against us.
They played their own game because only a win would have done for them.
This allowed Arsenal to be effective as we are a far more technically gifted team than they are!

Anonymous said...

Against Blackburn, i feel playing a 4-5-1 with Bendtner up front, RVP and Hleb playing off him would be an idea. They could provide width and support. In the middle i'd have Cesc, Denilson and Flamini. This would be very flexible and provide numbers when defending and when going forward. The defence picks itself. I fancy us 2mora, the team are growing 2getha and in spirit! C'mon Arsenal. Wrighty7

Anonymous said...

Interesting team selection wrighty7.
I for one am all for Bendtner starting games as I think he can support RVP very well up front. And that is waht RVP needs.

Denilson has improved a lot and he certainly can play in midfield but when Gilberto and Diaby return his chances will be limited.