Arsenal

ai???You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villainai???

Perhaps this line holds true for Arsene Wenger as it did for Harvey Dent. Perhaps Bela Guttmannai??i??s three years rule is more than just a myth. Maybe Sir Alex Ferguson and Guy Roux are just exceptions.

Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board have recently come under a lot of criticism from the fans and media pundits. Arsenal fans raised their concerns before the recently concluded match against Swansea City. Members of BSM (Black Scarf Movement ai??i?? A fan protest group) were out on the streets with placards and slogans. ai???Ivan Gazidas What the F*** are you doing?ai??? and ai???Lets kick greed out of footballai??? were some of the commonly used statements by BSM.

Fans are unhappy about the way the club is being run and there are two parts to this story ai??i?? the board and Arsene Wenger. While the inability and callousness of the board has been discussed in every forum, let us focus on the second part of this story – Arsene Wenger.

It is difficult to criticize a man who has been at the club for 16 long years. He is someone who has changed the identity of Arsenal football club from being a boring-one-nil-winner to a club which plays one of the most pleasing brands of football in modern history. Here is a man who has achieved something which even managers like Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho havenai??i??t achieved in English football ai??i?? win the ai???goldenai??i?? Premier League trophy. It is hard to claim that you as a critic know more than Le Professeur because as the popular chant goes ai??i?? ai???Arsene Knowsai??i??.

But sadly with age things have changed and perhaps even more sadly Arsene Wenger hasnai??i??t. Sir Alex Ferguson recently celebrated his 26th year in charge of Manchester United; 26 successful years. It is an amazing achievement. This man has pushed Liverpool off their perch, he has fought with the great ai???invincibleai??i?? team brought together by Arsene Wenger and he has seen Chelsea being transformed by a Russian billionaire and yet he came back stronger every season with new teams and new tactics. In recent years he has seen Manchester City evolve in a super power but yet his team currently leads the table against all these teams. He might not have won every battle he has entered, but one thing that has been consistent is his desire to evolve and come back stronger next season. It has the continuous evolution that has kept Sir Alex in this job for such a long time.

At times when one achieves success for such a long period of time, one tends to develop stubbornness inside him. You get the feeling that you have seen it all ai??i?? which basically closes your mind to new ideas and new beliefs. Sir Alex has moved on with changing times. Arsene Wenger hasnai??i??t. And there lies the biggest difference between two of the greatest managers in Premier League era. This is reason why Sir Alex continues to bring success to United, while Arsenal have now gone through seven seasons without a silverware. While there are many reasons for this drought ai??i?? one of the prime reasons has been Wengerai??i??s stubbornness that he seemed to have developed of late.

This obstinacy is not restricted to persisting with players who are clearly not good enough for a club like Arsenal, it is also visible with his tactics on the football pitch. Wenger has religiously stuck to his 4-2-3-1 formation, even if at times he didnai??i??t have the required personnel for this. He has played players out of position to accommodate them ai??i?? Ramsey at right wing, Vermaelen at left back and Gervinho as the striker. While Gervinho did work well for a period of time, it was never meant to be a permanent solution. Vermaelen has been one of the most underperforming players this season and the problem for Wenger is that he cannot drop his captain, as it will raise a lot of questions. Ramsey has blown hot and cold as he usually does but how Wenger sees him as a right winger still remains a mystery.

So instead of changing his tactics to play the players available to him in their natural positions, he has changed their positions to accommodate his tactics.

On the other hand you have Sir Alex who moved on to new diamond formation this season but the most important thing has been the fact that United have been tactically flexible. They have changed formations depending upon players’ availability and opponentai??i??s weakness. In fact Arsene Wenger experienced it first hand during his teamai??i??s match against United at Old Trafford this season. Sir Alex changed his diamond formation for that match and went in with natural wingers to exploit Arsenalai??i??s shaky full backs.

This is something Arsenal lack currently ai??i?? tactical flexibility ai??i?? and this is mostly down to Wengerai??i??s stubbornness. Arsenal over years have become predictable and their evolution as team has stagnated.

Few days back, there were talks regarding a possibility that Arsene Wenger is considering to play a back three. Although it didnai??i??t materialize, but is surely an option Wenger should look at. Lets look at how this team would look like with a back-three.

Possible Line-up (3-1-4-2): Szczesny (GK); Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen; Arteta; Sagna, Wilshere, Cazorla, Gibbs; Giroud, Podolski;

Arsenal

The above formation would address a lot of persistent problem for the Gunners. Firstly, it would help to shore up the full-back areas as Arsenal can double up on the opponentai??i??s wingers. One of the biggest problems for Arsenal has been the fact that none of their wingers have tracked back consistently enough to protect the full-backs. In this formation the full-backs will be helped out by the extra defender at the back.

Arteta has been deployed in the holding midfielder role this season after the departure of Alex Song. While the Spaniard has done a commendable job and has been one of most consistent players this season, it seems like he would excel with a ball winner along-side him. He would then play the role Pirlo plays in the Juventus team, controlling the game from the back. Playing an extra defender at the back would allow one of them to act like a sweeper and act as a ball winner who can complement Arteta.

Another problem that Arsenal face is the fact that their wingers donai??i??t provide enough width. Podolski, Walcott, Gervinho and even Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain like to drift inside. It congests the midfield and helps teams which park the bus against Arsenal. But in the 3-1-4-2 formation the full-backs can maintain the width. Sagna and Gibbs are more than capable of going forward and provide crosses. They also have the stamina required for a wing-back in this formation. If the team needs goals desperately, the wing-backs can be substituted by wingers.

Playing two men up-front would help Giroud excel. The Frenchman at times looks isolated at the top. Playing two up-front would also provide Wenger the option to play either Walcott or Podolski as the second striker.

Arsenal do have the personnel required to play in this formation. 3-1-4-2 can be the plan-b that the Gunners lack at the moment. Three man defence is still a taboo in England and only Roberto Martinez can claim to have successfully installed it in his team, while someone like Mancini has failed. But the fact remains, Wenger needs to divulge from the stagnation he has currently put his team under.

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4 Responses to “Arsenal Lack Tactical Flexibility”

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  1. James Gunner says:

    Totally agree with the view that Arsene lacks tactical flexibity.His one style with the emphasis on all out attack is what is causing the current problem and in previous seasons. Until he changes course with regard to tactics,Arsenal will continue to decline even if he were to get wc players.

  2. Goonerade says:

    The biggest worry for me is – Where are the backup Center Backs? If we unleash all three quality CBs we have, where is thr cover? What if one or two gets injured? Can Ignasi, Squil cover up. JD is still fine for me.

    Similarly, on the left side, we don’t have a Flying Back cover. Santos is not good enuf for me. On the right side, am fine with either of Ox, Jenkinson and Sagna!

  3. Ogun lanre says:

    Arsenal re very predictable, i dnt know d kind of training wenger put dem thrue, physically dey lack d steel, dey dnt ave good wingers dat can dribble 2 create chance, he uses player out of position, slow & predictable passes, allways play in der half, honestly we need a change, wenger as lost d touch, wit dis players & a thecnically good coach, dat dnt really on a player ( diaby, gibbs) we can fight 4 throuphys.