Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Formation dictates Wenger's personnel for Milan

Ed: This is an article that was posted this morning but apparently due to some technical problems (we think with Google) a lot of visitors could not log in. For those that managed it forgive us for reposting!

By 1970’s Gooner

As soon as Eduardo was taken to hospital with his horrific injury Arsene Wenger has been faced with a significant decision to make. Who should take Eduardo’s place and partner Adebayor until Robin Van Persie returns to fitness?

Wenger I felt made the wrong decision opting to start with Walcott up front for the difficult home game against a well organised and dangerous Villa side. He did of course take into account that the young lad had scored two well taken goals during that ill fated game at St Andrews.

But Villa as it proved is in a different league than Birmingham. They are a few levels above in quality especially in defence and midfield and as such Walcott although started well using his pace could not, after a while, make any headway from the middle areas of the attacking line.

Milan’s defense was very impressive indeed against Arsenal in the first leg at the Emirates and Walcott, if he starts in attack, will find it even more difficult than against Villa.

But really Wenger will have to decide on the formation and tactics he will deploy at the San Siro first before deciding on the personnel.

If he decides that attack right from the off will be the better option then he might opt to start with Walcott or even Bendtner in a more forward position.

And there have been pundits who are urging Wenger to start the game as it finished at the Emirates i.e mark and push the ageing Milan defenders and midfielders high up the pitch so as to put them under pressure.

But in my opinion this is a more risky option to take as for one the Milan defence is a very good one and for two it will be at its most fresh at the beginning of the game. Additionally this tactic leaves you with no Plan B if it does not provide dividends.

The other more conservative option is to play a more restrained type of game in a 4 4 1 1 formation which would allow for a more compact midfield and provide the basis for a change into a more attacking formation (4 4 2 or even a 4 3 3) later on in the game if required.

Under such a scenario Walcott and Bendtner will not obviously be the preferred options to play in that hole behind Adebayor. Hleb would be the ideal candidate as he has played well in that role and carries the necessary experience and nous to be effective.

For an analysis of the three options available to replace Eduardo read my earlier posting on this issue: Wenger’s three options for replacing Eduardo

There is an additional reason why I would be prefer Hleb in that he could help Fabregas run the play form midfield by dropping deeper.

And that vital area of the pitch will be manned by an extra man especially if Ancelotti decides to also deploy a more cagey 4 4 1 1 formation (which he may well do even at home).

In this way Fabregas will be encouraged to be more forward oriented with his runs from deep making him an unexpected and therefore more effective “support” for Adebayor.

However Wenger has to also count the numbers and look at the available personnel. Who does he have available to play the wide midfield positions?

Eboue, Walcott and Diaby are all right footers (Rosicky has not travelled). Hleb is a left footer but if Wenger decides to play him infield then he has to settle for a combination of two from the other three.

I would keep Walcott on the bench as he would be far more effective coming on in the second half as he did in the first leg when the Milan players might not be so sprightly on their feet.

But of course others would disagree. I only base my choices on the tactics that might be deployed and not the other way round.

Prediction: Draw 1-1


Anonymous said...

Hleb is right footed.

Wenger will start Diaby on the left with Hleb behind Ade but I would prefer to see Hleb on the left with Gilberto drafted in the parter Flamini, giving Cesc the free role behind Ade.

Anonymous said...

although good with both feet, hleb is naturally right footed

Tom said...

I think your analysis is correct and that is probably the way AW will line up the side at the start.

I would prefer either a 442 with Adebayor and Bendtner up front with us attacking wide with crosses into the box to unsettle them - they would hate that and it could be the most direct [and unexpected] way of going at them. Both can score in the air and both can finish well, and both do good work in midfield areas as well. the Milan midfield will a tight central 3 designed to stop our passing game - they will expect us to try and pass through them in that area. I'd like to see us go for it out wide. In this formation the side would look like this:

Sagna Gallas Senderos Clichy
Eboue Fabregas Flamini Hleb
Bendner Adebayor

Walcott and RVP to come on later

however, a speculative thought ... this 4231 formation might be interesting:

Sagna Gallas Senderos Clichy
Flamini Diaby
Eboue Fabregas Hleb

I know AW will never set up in this way but it would give us a great wall in front of the back 4 but with two players capable of attacking from deep. Fabregas would then play a little further up the pitch and become a bit more influential in attack, and as we know Adebayor can lead the front very well.

Anonymous said...

With Diaby in there, I don't see what you are calling a great wall.
I would go for Gilberto rather than Diaby.
I think RVP is fit and a natural instinctive talent who doesn't need to be match fit to score goals. I would have prefered that AW goes in this one without too much caution and go for 4-4-2:
Sagna- Gallas-Senderos(or Gilberto)- Clichy.

Eboue- Fabregas-Flamini- Hleb.

RVP- Adebayor.

AC Milan 1- Arsenal 2.

Unknown said...

You're writing a blog on Arsenal & don't even know which foot Hleb kicks the ball with!!!

Anonymous said...

Spot on 70's we need Hleb to support Ade with walcott coming off the bench with RVP to scare the hell out of them. I reckon we will turn the screw on in the second half when they tire.

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