Last night Arsenal were out played, outclassed and outgunned to a 3-1 loss but a key element of the loss came by the great play of the Bayern full backs Alaba and Lahm, often left to run riot down the wings with Podolski and Cazorla unable or more likely unwilling to track back.
Arsenal like a lot of top teams around Europe play a 4-2-3-1 formation, this formation is great if you are able to dominate games and push the opposition back but if you are under the cosh can leave you often facing a 2 on 1 situation down the wings. Last night Vermaelen was often in a 2 on 1 situation which pulled Koscielny across slightly and left too big a gap between Mertesacker and Koscielny. Philip Lahm is one of the best attacking full backs in the world and if anyone should have known this it should have been his compatriot Podolski. However Podolski was too often found up field and Bayern exposed this weakness.
In the first few games of the season Podolski was praised for his relationship with Gibbs and especially his work-rate to get back and help his left-back out however this seems to have disappeared, is it entirely his fault. With the formation the players in the 3 behind the forward need to support him when we get the ball or we will lose it all to quickly. This is even more of an issue when Walcott is the sole CF and his inability to hold up the ball due to his small stature. Podolski and Cazorla realised they should be near him to try and help him lay the ball off then try play the ball in behind. However they didn’t even manage to do this as Arsenal were lobbing balls forward like Giroud was the CF and Walcott was simply outmuscled by Van Buyten and Dante. This often left Podolski and Cazorla in no man’s land, not defending and not supporting the attack.
In a 4–4-2 lets say with Giroud and one of Podolski/Walcott, Giroud can either flick the ball off to the striker or hold on the ball and lie it back to the advancing midfield. You then have two dedicated plays out wide to mark the opposition wide men and negate the threat of 2 on 1′s down the flank. Walcott showed last night and a few weeks back against Man City he can not be the CF when we are going to be defending for large parts of the game. He doesn’t offer an out as opposition defenders will sweep up anything in the air and he doesn’t seem to have the same impact of running in behind when not cutting in from the wing. His best piece of play came from when Rosicky played him in behind on the wing and he pulled it back for Giroud to unfortunately hit it cleanly right at the keeper.
Too often opposition know how we will line up and modify their tactics to negate this, they pack the middle and keep us passing the ball in a semi-circle around the box, Blackburn swamped the box often leaving Giroud trying to fend against 3 or 4 players and as such minimised his impact. We lack the Fabregas to be able to play the incisive ball to break this swamp and as such our attacking threat is minimized. Even when we go behind we still stick to this 4-2-3-1 formation, Wenger doesn’t try and alter the situation and put 2 in the box to increase the threat. As bad as Chamakh was I think if behind with 20 minutes to go sticking him upfront with Giroud would give the opposistion defenders a hand full to deal with.
Manchester United change their formation week on week to keep the opposition guessing this season they have played 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2, 4-4-2(diamond),4-3-3 and even effectively 4-2-4 once. This is a nightmare for opposition managers as they can’t prepare specific tactics. Ferguson does have a much better squad so he can rotate personal and formation more easily but with the may our season is going its worth an effort.
Do we have the players to play a 4-4-2? That is a legitimate question. Any two of Wilshere, Arteta, Ramsey, Diaby, Rosicky could play in the central two. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rosicky could play out wide but I don’t think Cazorla, Gervinho, Podolski or Walcott have the defensive abilities to play out wide. I don’t know where Cazorla could play in 4-4-2, he is great going forward but his defensive abilities leave one wishing for a more physical presence. With Gibbs returning one of he or Monreal could play on the left wing as well.There may be debates over whether Wenger should come or go but he is here till at least the end of the season and we need to change something to ensure we have Champions League next year. An example 4-4-2 for me would be
What do you think?
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