Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Arsenal’s Formula One Car Cannot Run With The Handbreak On. A Critique

By 1970’s Gooner

You can not have the most attractive team on the land, littered with players who possess amazing technique and skills yet ask them to play in a straitjacket type of formation which stifles their natural tendency to play the beautiful game.

It’s like having a Formula One car but running the race with the handbrake on.

It was obvious form the beginning of the game that Arsene Wenger showed too much respect to the opponents, as he did at Anfield last week when Liverpool were not really good enough to even get a draw.

Yet he repeated the same formation, apparently 4 4 1 1, for this vital game against Manchester United. But it was not really an attacking minded 4 4 1 1.

It was actually a 4 5 1 formation, as the outstanding Hleb did not play just behind Adebayor as you would expect but much more behind, in the midfield area, in more of a playmaker’s role.

This had the result that Fagregas was more withdrawn than normal. But more importantly, when Arsenal attacked, Adebayor was more often than not isolated with no midfielders pushing forward to offer support or try and pose a more potent goal threat.

This scenario did not of course evolve naturally on its own as the game wore on. It was Wenger’s choice to put the hand break on by instructing Hleb and Fabregas to be less adventurous territorially.

He probably had a game plan of putting the shackles on in the first half and then, if need be, become more adventurous in the second.

But it doesn’t work like that. Not against the Manchester Uniteds of this world. They don’t need much to clinically strike you where it hurts most because they, more than any other team, have the players to capitalise on any single mistake that unavoidably will occur during a football match.

No other team can boast of having so many “killers” in their midst such as Roonie, Ronaldo and Tevez. And they were very close to winning this game.

So it was no surprise that again the same scenario unfolded more or less at the Emirates as it did against Liverpool the previous week.

Arsenal start the game with the hand break on, no real support in the offensive positions, the other team get a goal (from a defensive lapse) and then release the handbreak to salvage a draw.

I am sorry but the teams the Arsene builds can not play in this way. They cannot play in a restricted manner, defensively minded, midfielders not venturing forward and with a lone front man. Of all people Arsene should know that!

Do you remember a few years back at the beginning of Wenger’s reign when Arsenal were supreme in the Premiership but flattered to deceive in Europe? Everyone was wondering why.

In my opinion one of the major reasons for this was the application of the “handbreak”, a submission to the tactical chess games that most managers like to play in the pursuit of getting a draw away from home.

Come on Mr Wenger. This team you have built is much better than that.


Anonymous said...

This is garbage. United's offensive capabilities meant it was vital to cut off the midfield supply line, and we generally achieved that, bar a couple of schoolboy errors.
This was not Bolton we were playing, and AW got it absolutely right.
If we'd left them enough space they would have carved us apart.

Anonymous said...

all said n done . the bottom line is we are surely gonna win the premiership . i base this on the fact that we came back twice against a team like united(u gotta accept that it aint easy ) and we came back against liverpool as well ...... the mental strength is flipperty high and the come backs against lower teams will be wins !!! (if we fall behind coz of our doped up defense ofcourse)

Anonymous said...

Shame you can't spell - hand brake!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon has a point. We stifled them pretty well and created enough chances to win. I have the opposite grumble to 70s Gooner. As the game went on and the substitutions were made we started to look more like 4-2-4 (by which I mean Fab, Theo and Edu were caught forward too much). MU started to find space in midfield and that's when they can hurt you.

I also think it was a mistake to take both Hleb and Rosicky off at the same time - we got punished with that second goal before Gil had got into the rhythm of the game. Hleb and Rosicky are stickybooted types who can keep the ball forever. We lost control of the midfield when they
went off and paid the price. Just one or the other next time please boss.

Admittedly bloody Almunia should have stayed on his line but there would have been no supply for Evra if we'd still been in control in the middle.

Anonymous said...

Total garbage.Wenger did pick the team wisely.How do you expect us to play without caution against like you said a potent side like united.If hleb and fabregas had been too free of themselves it would have been asking too much of flamini...Although i sometimes wonder if we should have started bendtner and adebayor with rosicky on the bench...........However Well played ARSENAL.Now to finish the job against chelsea and win the title come gooners

Anonymous said...

I agree with 1970's. We showed too much respect to liverpool and Manchester United. Its when we start playing our normal uninhibited game that we produce our best. And when we do that none of these teams can live with us.

Anonymous said...

When we play 4 4 2 we are at our best. Not the negative 4 5 1 that Aersene Wenger cnooses everytime we come up against a strong opponent.

Anonymous said...

United had conceded just 4 premiership goals all season up until yesterdays game and no one had put more than 1 prem goal past them. To think that we could have gone gung-ho and rolled them over is just absurd fantasy. We had to control midfield otherwise their counter attacking strategy would have murdered us. Sure 4-5-1 restricts scoring oppurtunities for us but it also restricts United. They are a top, top side - get real and realise that respect for quality opposition is the first requirement when trying to beat them.

Anonymous said...

I would like to ask the previous anon what formation he would have suggested Arsenal play if RVP was available.

It would surely have been 4 4 2.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is garbage and it illustrates precisely why Wenger manages a team at the top of the Prem whilst you (and the other tactical geniuses here), on the other hand, waste your life carping, pontificating and opinionating on a blog. The internet has a lot to answer for.

Anonymous said...

To shooy

and this is exactly what youv'e just done my friend. Used the internet to state an opinion.

Anonymous said...

Once again the analysis of a pseudo-intellectual. Following from your "amazing" observation that Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez are world class players with clinical capabilities, Arsenal should have played with freedom and disdain; abandoning defensive discipline. What rubbish? Taking flight from reality, you fail to observe that the substitution of Eboue by Walcott was the root cause of their 2nd and almost winning goal when Walcott's Formula One instincts were immediately taken advantage of by Evra who went on an overlapping gallop to collect Saha's audacious reverse pass. Time and space to choose the perfect cross; goal to Ronaldo. So much for your metaphor.

Anonymous said...

To answer the question as to what formation we would have played if RvP were fit it would have been the same as we always play when both he and Ade are fit: 4-4-1-1

Anonymous said...

Yes probably 4 4 1 1 but RvP would not have been dropping back into midfield and depriving support to Adebayor.

It would have been a real 4 4 1 1 like United's was when Roonie was there to score their first.

Anonymous said...

To Shottah Gunnah

Playing in a 4 4 2 or even a real 4 4 1 1 system does not mean that Arsenal would have abondoned "defensive discipline" and throw caution to the wind.

Also, even under this system Walcott should have tracked Evra's run into the area.

Football is full of different opinions and I appreciate yours.

Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

It seems that 1970's got it right again. The Mirror quotes Arsene Wenger admitting that he got his tacitcs wrong!

Anonymous said...

This is scary. Wenger admitting a mistake as pointed out by 1970's!

Anonymous said...

I think it was very important to come out of the 'Pool and Man U games undefeated, and we have done this. The way we played against 'Pool and the way we scored against Man U at the death will give these players great belief. They are showing fight until the final whistle every game, and this will stand us in good steed with some tough away games coming up. Wrighty7

Anonymous said...

The psychology of the players will now be at a high and they will get ready with more confidence for the coming games

Anonymous said...

Wenger already stated he made a mistake in isolating Adebayor upfront.

Anonymous said...

Formula One car? Handbreak? Errr... you're not quote mining from Myles Palmer by any chance?