Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Arsene’s change of tactics

By 1970’s Gooner

Arsene Wenger made the changes for the starting formation at the Reebock by resting Adebayor and pushing Toure to right back bringing in Senderos to play in the middle of the defence.

In my preview of the game listing the three options available for replacing Sagna this scenario was a possibility but not the one I, or the majority of the voters on the poll that we set up, most favoured.

Most preferred was the simplest option which was to bring Eboue back to defence thus keeping the rest of the defence intact minimizing the number of players playing out of position.

And it was Toure that was culpable for Bolton’s first goal not being close enough to Taylor so as to at least put him off his header.

And as for the second goal; what was Flamini doing passing the ball back into the area? But what has to be also said is Almunia’s slow reaction to the deflection.

He had enough time to adjust his body as the shot and subsequent deflection was not that strong but his delay to dive early enough allowed the ball to roll into the net.

Enough of the negatives.

The come back from 2-0 down, with 10 men on the pitch has to be ranked as the most spectacular ever comeback in the Premier league.

And it came after a first half showing that has to be ranked as Arsenal’s worst performance after that awful defeat at Middlesbrough.

The nearest that I can remember is Kanu’s famous hat trick at Stamford Bridge but that was with 11 men on the pitch!

What made the difference were not only the substitutions that Wenger bravely made as early as the 56th minute even if Walcott’s pace on the right sliced Bolton open again and again, something that was missing till then.

What made the difference was the tactical switch that accompanied the substitutions.

Switching from 4 3 1 1 that Wenger had to revert to with Diaby’s sending off ( RVP was instructed to drop slightly back behind Bendtner) to a more attacking formation of three at the back by taking Senderos off, worked a treat.

After all Bolton were 2-0 up and this was maybe their undoing in the end. Because even if Arsenal had only three players at the back Bolton were not really going to burst their gut to get a third goal.

They probably felt that defending a 2-0 lead with 35 minutes to go and against 10 men was well within their capabilities. But unlike last week at Stamford Bridge Arsene Wenger had the last laugh.

Arsenal did not react to Grant’s switch to 4 4 2 and their use of the long high ball into the box and we paid the penalty. This time it was Wenger that was making the tactical switch.

Arsenal began to push the ball around with purpose and determination; they had after all nothing to lose anymore. They also began to find outlets in Walcott and Adebayor that were not available before.

And the goals kept coming one after the other culminating into the most satisfying of them all, the own goal by Samuel.

At least young Fabregas tried to put the ball in the right area of the goals. That is in the opposite corner to where the goalkeeper was positioned.

Robin Van Persie had two similar chances created by Walcott’s impressive work on the right flank failing to score as he tried the spectacular power drive trying to burst the net.

He did get his goal form the very good penalty he took and this, along with the match fitness he is regaining, will I think prepare him well for the crunch games coming up.

Man of the Match: Alexander Hleb.

Had a very good game throughout even under difficult weather conditions and strong play by Bolton.

He won the penalty for the equalizing goal and gave the assist for Fabregas’s winning goal.


Almunia 5; Toure 5; Galas 7; Senderos 6; Clichy 6: Diaby 5; Hleb 8; Fabregas 7; Flamini 5; Bendtner 5; Van Persie 6; Walcott 7; Adebayor 5


Anonymous said...

also interesting was the change in our style of play. we were more direct after the 60th minute. till then it was the now so regular pursuit of perfection read no attempt to score unless we have all 10 players around opponents D.

i feel that dropping van persie deep and asking to bendtner to play alone upfront was a tactical move too. it ensured that if any of the two were to get tired, it would not be RvP - who'd be later required in the second half to be up front along with ade

Anonymous said...

There's no Clichy on your ratings. Why is that. I think he was the man of the match.

Anonymous said...

Yes sorry, my mistake about Clichy. Have included him in the ratings now.

Unknown said...

Nice analysis, well thought and well put...
I agree there was a change in tactics and for the first time in a long time, i could see fight in the team.
After a month of seemingly going through the motions, you could see the team fought till the very end and it resulted in a positive result.

Let us see how we fare against the Pool...

Anonymous said...

How can Diaby get the same rating as Flamini and Bedntner? Common people use your heads!!!!

Anonymous said...

Diaby a 5??

You've got to be kidding me. He didn't track back their right back for the first goal and then he gets himself sent off.

Seriously - get some proper football fans to do the ratings. You don't know what you're doing!

Anonymous said...

I'm not the kind of guy who dwells on someone else's misfortunes, but, in case of Bolton Wanderers, I must say, I wish them a happy relegation from the bottom of my heart. Hopefully they will go into oblivion just like Leeds Utd did. On second thought though, if we didn't have ugly teams like that, we wouldn't be able to appreciate the beauty of Arsenal would we?
Anyway, a great game indeed it was. I would bring player's ratings a wee bit up considering the elements, pressure, confidence (or lack of it), and so on. Give the kids a break. They will need it against the anti-football-playing-style Liver. It's all very close, but we're living, we're living.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Boris. May Bolton go to the lower divs and never make it back again. That is where they and their anti football belong.

Anonymous said...

Almunia 5; Toure 5; Galas 7; Senderos 6; Clichy 6: Diaby 5; Hleb 8; Fabregas 7; Flamini 5; Bendtner 5; Van Persie 6; Walcott 7; Adebayor 5


I think it should be:

Almunia 6; Toure 6; Galas 7; Senderos 7; Clichy 7: Diaby 1; Hleb 8; Fabregas 7; Flamini 5; Bendtner 4; Van Persie 5; Walcott 7; Adebayor 6

Anonymous said...

for their second goal I think the article is too harsh on manuel. on first look it looks as though he has not got across fast enough to a soft shot. but if you look from the angle behind the goal, matt taylor's shot was originally heading for the opposite bottom corner to where it eventually went. Almunia had just started to move that way then it hit Gallas and went completely to the other corner of the goal. anyone who has ever played in goal will tell you that once you are wrong footed its very hard to travel any great distance in the other direction.

Ryan said...

What stood out to me in this game was
1) No width. Until Walcott came on we had no width down the right, while Diaby on the left never goes down the outside
2) We miss Sagna
3) Bendtner is quality. Hes one for the future. I know he didnt score but I really like the way he can challenge for long balls from goal kicks, something that Ade only occasionally does, and his ball control is miles ahead of Ade.

Anonymous said...

But to struggle this hard against a poor poor Bolton isnt exactly championship material.Granted it was a wonderful comeback but we should never have been in this situation beforehand.

Anonymous said...

The man of the match for me was Almunia.

Cannot blame Almunia for the gallas deflection goal. I think Gallas needs to stand and face that shot, not turn his back on it, criminal!

If Almunia hadn't made that fantastic save (when it was 2-0 i think) then it would have been totally different!

Anonymous said...

Quite harsh on Manuel aren't you. There wasn't a thing any keeper in the world could have done with those two goals. A point blank header and a huge deflection while you're going the other way to cover the shot are two of the most rank things to deal with as a keeper.

Anonymous said...

Danish Gooner, I think this is exactly champions materials.

we start badly, concede 2 goals from their only two attacks and get a player sent off. Champions come back from that, losers don't. To win this game like this was essential. 3 points were so important but the momentum and confidence switch meant even more. Now the team has believe.

We are going to trash Liverpool, although I am really afraid of Torres. He is just so good. I hope that he stays with Senderos on. We need Senderos against all the Liverpool crossings (he was amazing in the 3-1 FA cup victory last season). Plus I trust Toure much better there then Eboue or Hoyte.

Anonymous said...

Danish Gooner - don't forget that United lost to this Bolton side earlier in the season.

1979gooner said...

Bolton's first goal was a good goal to be fair, Toure was not that culpable for me.

Also Almunia had no chance with that deflected effort, think you're being a tad harsh saying he was slow to react.

Eboue is dodgy defensively and tempramentally, I'd far rather see Toure there on wednesday.

sikatinavra said...



Nkosi said...

I think Toure and Clichy are not mentally switched on all the time. Clichy was not 'the man of the match' for me. He was responsible for the second goal -passing the ball to Flamini who was actually standing in 'a mine field of Bolton players' and he almost made second 'Birmingham type of error'towards the 92 minute! What is wrong with him?

Toure is slower than he used to be. He now remembers (reacts slowly) to do the right thing when the player he is marking has already reacted and he is not athletic enough anymore -cant lift his leg/foot on the most crucial tackles!

Ebue is better in the halfback position. He takes early decisions - some of them are not good and result in cards, but he is decisive enough. He has been unlucky abit and this is likely to continue for some time but he is not like the current Toure.

Anonymous said...

come on guys
how did you judge almunia as dudek?
he's one of the best goalkeeper this season in premier league.
Excellent stopper, good in handling, most of the time he makes good decision to rush out or stay in goal. what do you expect more on a goalkeeper. look at other 'keepers like van der sar, reina, cech, all of them have more dodgy moments than him. i back him to be a star for gunners

Anonymous said...

Agree with Manuel. Almunia is one of the best keepers in the Premier League.

Maybe its Almunia himself that has written that previous comment.....

Anonymous said...

Its not Flaminis fault the 2nd goal! Just look at the pass that Clichy plays to him, its an absolute hospital ball, it lands right at his feet and so he has to take a touch, as he does that he is surrounded by players! He had no other option, apart from maybe half volley it out for a corner but hes not gonna do that is he!

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree, it was clichy's fault for the 2nd goal. The lad has cost us a few points in recent weeks and months. He tries to play in wrong positions of the pitch. The ball should have been launched upfield not passed into a crowded area of the pitch

MeteorMonster said...

Everyone is blaming Toure for the first goal because he was beaten to the header. However, in retrospect we forget he was playing RB and not CB. The header was made from a position left, dead center of the goal. This position should have been occupied by our DMF Flamini since Gallas and Sendoros had slid over because of Clichy's run.

For all of Flamini's praises, and I dearly love his energy, work rate and enthusiasm, he has failed to fulfill his duties as a DMF especially in the past 5 weeks. In fact, against Chelsea, he played most of the game in the upper thirds which forced Fab to defend and therefore lost his attacking capability. certainly, his stats of 3 goals and 2 assists certainly does not qualify him as an attacking MF.

I dare anyone to watch that game again and refute my assertions.

Anonymous said...

To Meteor

The nearest player picks the forward which was toure. also the scorer was inside the area how do you expect it to be a midfielder's responsibility?