Adapting Formations…

It’s been a crazy few days and on top of our recent loss to Barcelona and we’ve finally lost to Sp*rs after ten and a half years of not losing to them in the league. In the light of recent performances, some questions have been posed throughout this site, throughout the media and more over throughout our minds. There are several reasons why we’ve had the losses that we’ve had throughout the season, drawn the games we’ve drawn and of course reasons why we haven’t won a trophy this season.

If we look at the squad, we have a big squad of players, multiple players to fill each position and a first XI that is a tough match for any team.

Let’s look at the first eleven:


Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy

Song – Nasri

Walcott – Cesc – Arshavin

Van Persie

It’s a strong XI players, but is it strong enough? We know that we only started four of those players against Sp*rs, with Vermaelen not lasting even the first half. But those XI (tinkered with a Denilson or Diaby here or there) did play against Man United and Man City and Chelsea earlier in the season sucumbing to losses, so it poses the question of whether our first XI is good enough.

The next question is to question whether our squad is good enough…

The question after that is whether our formation is correct…

Then the next question is whether our coaching methods are correct…

And then of whether the tactics are right…

Before I got into my next piece – I wanted to pose those questions and review the line up above…

The first XI you reviewed above, I do believe has some deficiencies – the goalkeeping position has been scrutinised and it’s becoming more and more apparent that Almunia is not in the same class as other goalkeepers for clubs vying for the same trophies. The rest of the first XI noted above have an exceptional level of talent between them – unfortunately for us, they have never actually played together this season, and that’s a story of our season – a story of our last few seasons.

This article may not bring you answers, but’s it is a form of rationalisation.

Outside of the first XI, we have players like Denilson, Diaby, Eboue and Bendtner who have coming in and had to do a job. Are they good enough? Maybe they are and maybe they will be even better next season. Do we need better players in the squad, of course we do. Where do we start?

I don’t think Arsene will do anything in regards to the goalkeeping position, because he believes that the four keepers we have in Almunia, Fabianski, Mannone and Szczesny are rated by the manager – all for different reasons.

For the defence, let’s have a look at the players  in defence then it’s clear that Silvestre should leave the club in the summer. Should Gallas? Definitely not – he is finally showing the form that we saw at Chelsea, he has an abundance of experience and could be a great mentor to a younger player. We have Djourou and Nordtveit to come in – returning from injury and loan respectively. Campbell was brought in during the January window as Silvestre’s performance early on in the season wasn’t good enough and Djourou had no chance of return before the end of the season. Campbell has done well and could be a useful player to have around next season, but one player I would expect Arsene to bring in is an established young centre back.

For the midfield, it’s been pretty obvious that without Alex Song, we lack any cover. Denilson has tried his best, but doesn’t quite have the defensive capabilities of his team mate. Diaby is a hit and miss player and with time he could become more consistent, but in recent performances, he has reminded us of his lack of decision making.

For the attack, the wingers, the play makers, we have a good crop of players such as Cesc, Nasri, Walcott, Ramsey etc – Rosicky looks past it and the attackers, the strikers – we have 2 useful ones from a possible 4. Eduardo has seemed to have regressed, Vela has seemed absent for most of the season, leaving Bendtner and Van Persie. The student and the master.

Basically, what I’m saying here is that our backup players aren’t quite up to it – and looking through the squad, and of similar sentiment to the comments from Deb’s post yesterday, 1 GK, 1CD, 1DM and 1ST all required…

But that’s not all that is required.

It was apparent through the Sp*rs game that the formation we played wasn’t effective – with Rosicky and Eboue on either side of Bendtner – the 4-3-3 turned into a 4-5-1. Now whilst such a formation works against teams better than us (well, it used to) but against teams like Sp*rs who themselves play a 4-4-2, was it right to persist with such a defensive formation? When Van Persie came on, we reverted to a 4-4-2 and immediately we became more of a threat. In the same vein, throughout the game, we were overloaded in midfield – Rosicky, Denilson, Nasri and Diaby occupied very much the same place.

I’m not saying that the formation for the season wasn’t the right one, but it works only with the right personnel in the right positions – it works with Van Persie, Arshavin and Walcott, but not with Rosicky and Eboue. And that’s why we need to be able to mix the formations when required throughout the season. With several strikers out injured throughout the season, I admit it is hard to play a 4-4-2, but moving Walcott up front and occupying another defender is a more attacking theory – with Nasri and Rosicky occupying the wings in a 4-4-2…

Sometimes we have to be more flexible with our formations, and play a formation that suits the available players. People say it’s not rocket science, but in reality it pretty much rocket science. It is true that Arsene knows what to do – I believe this season has been a massive learning curve for him in terms of the current squad. We’ve had some very very bad injuries and that’s something that surely can’t repeat itself again.

For all my rambling and all my thinking, I hope I have added some rational to the thoughts of the first team, the squad, the injuries and the formation. I haven’t posed too many answers here, just many questions… I’ll leave it at that for now…

Speak soon…

  • Abhijeet Prabhakar

    With the advent of Fabregas, 4-4-2 is a formation better abandoned. In our first team formation you have mentioned, we will almost certainly have new additions next season. It will be more like this –

    New GK
    Sagna – New CB – Verm – Clichy
    Song – New DM(Hardman)
    Arshavin – Fabregas – RVP
    Chamakh/New Striker

    Players like Silvestre/Denilson should either be shipped out ASAP, or at least not persisted with on such regularity. Denilson is quite simply not a first team player.

    Gallas may or may not stay, and even if he does he will not last for 2 seasons from now

  • ny

    Nice subject thrown in.

    We say we play 4-3-3.But i DONT THINK IT IS actually 4-3-3.Arsene is trying to simulate the invisible style.Although the invisibles were called 4-4-2 and our current formation is called 4-3-3 , both becomes the same once the game is started.

    Comaparing player by player (I am excluding Goalkeeper and Defenders)

    Robert Pires – ( A winger is who is not much interested in defending but scores crucial goals ) replaced by A.Arshavin

    Freddy Lungberg – (A winger who is very much committed ,who is there everywhere on the pitch) replaced by Nasri/Rosicky.

    Gilberto – (Defensive Midfielder) replaced by Alex Song

    Viera – (Box-to-box leggy midfielder ) replaced by Diaby

    Bergkamp – (Comparatively slow player ,most intelligent ,who make goals for Freddy and Pires ) replaced by Fabregas
    (Fabregas is given an advanced position to take this role , Arsene does not call him second striker though )

    Hentry – (Striker converted from Winger ,likes to take corners and free kicks even though his height would be more helpfull if he was there in box while taking kicks,World Class) replaced by VanPersi.

    Personally I am always confused seeing difference in formation shown on TV before the game and the actual one .

  • vj

    well dev we already have a striker in chamakh, i hope we will see more of mannone next season i really think he could be really useful, i think wenger will get a defender for sure but i reckon he might hold off the defensive mid with people like craig eastmond coming thoruough this season. he will leave the decision of defensive mid and goal keeper late on to see how the squad has developed, since wenger had want chris smalling early on in the season i think a centre back is definitely on the cards

  • goonerman

    Well peter hillwood has said that we have got more money to spend than we have for a long time and the only team we cant compete with in the market is man city which to be fair nobody can! so hopefully wenger gets the cash and SPENDS SPENDS SPENDS

  • Yemi

    @ dev:
    You have just echoed what i have been saying as well as in the previous post. I am not saying we should overload our squad with world class players, i am saying we should have the RIGHT back up for the all positions. I left out GK position cos i know arsene won’t do anything about that so we are left with na backup in CB, DM and CF. Those 3 positions. Denilson, diaby, nasri, ramsey have all tried to play the DM postion at one time at the other but it was not quite right.
    For CF, if chamakh does really come in the summer, then we are covered. CB is one short for me, Djourou is back, sivestre should be out. If gallas comes back we will still need one more. Maybe Nordtveit should do.

  • Yemi

    My last comment on ( Sp*rs 2-1 Arsenal. Not yet St. Totteringham’s Day, but it will be, soon!)

    I totally don’t fancy the madrid/chelsea/city model. What i am just saying is that we need back up players for every role in the team. Injuries are part of a season that can never be ruled out. So when one gets injured there should be another who is capable of taking up the mantle. We are some way away from that in some very key positions.

    1.) One is CB, We should do away with silvestre, hopefully djourou should be OK soon. Then maybe one other defender, and maybe bartley. much as i hate to say this but at the moment, senderos will be a much better option than silvestre.

    2.) Second is DM position, We have only Song. No other player will do the job well or almost as well. eastmond is still on the production line.

    3.) thirdly is CF, We had more shots at goal against tot’ham in the few minutes that RVP played than we had before he came. It shows what a quality striker can do. B52 is good, what is left for him is consistency and maybe positioning.

    I DO NOT support buying expensive ready made players. But get the good unknown ones. Wenger knows how to do that as he has shown with verm.

  • ny
  • Pissed off

    Everything depends on Arsene and I have to say he hasn’t made the best of decisions these past few yes. I still insist that selling Flamini and Hleb where massive mistakes and criminal on his on part.The further sales of Toure and Ade while retaining Silvestre is even more criminal.

    Am afraid, Arsene is the architect of his teams regression. Buying all those players you mentioned won’t help. I will tell you something mates do you lots think if we had retained the team of 2007/2008 and brought in Nasri in 2008/2009 that we would not have stood a chance. Disruption is a real enemy of progress and that is the hard lesson we fans have learnt over these years.

    Am still hoping on a title this year; it sounds crazy but lets see after the weekend if the dream is still alive.

  • parksy

    Just a few questions please. 1) Is it the board that makes wenger not spend the money he has specifically put away for him in the accounts? 2) Is it the board who cannot identify a good goalkeeper? 3) Is it the board who teach our players the tippy tappy passing that seems to go nowhere against good clubs but because it works against lower teams we gush? 4) Is it the board who rest players unecessarily in cup games? 5) Is it the board who think we didnt need any major strengthening in the summer and jan especially ? 6) Was it the board who said this team was 1% away from dominating the premier league last year? 7) Was it the board who guaranteed a trophy this year? * You need to stop blaming those who dont directly affect the decisions/tactics/coaching. 1 man took all the credit for the success, 1 man took all the credit for revolutionising a game and according to some of you building arsenals new ground, their only european success and cup finals etc… Well 1 man takes all the blame for all the current failings & for not adapting to the game when he had a great basis already there and letting my beloved outfit become perenial also rans. The difference between those who here who are negative and those who are positive is becoming faith vs fact. 1 side hope wenger can do something different, We base our pessimism on 5 years of same seasons of no trophies of not building. Before anyone says look at how we have progressed and get any spreadshets out with point per game dont forget the season where we threw it away against birm when contending. Did we get closer the next year? Exactly. Wenger just saw his best chance pass him by. I would be very unhappy now for him to be there at the start of the season. However I accept the board wont get rid of a cash cow so Ill have to wait 1 more season for his farewell. A legend whos memory is tainted for me.

  • Francis

    Take it easy pissed off…..

    i wouldnt say that wenger was the architect of his own down fall…hleb wanted to leave isnpite of all pleas and advise. his head had been turned…no manger wants to keep an unhappy player…so he had to go. afetr all the support and effort that wneger had put into him to be the player he was…remember he only had 1 decent season..and left right after that….we all know the story now

    flamini’s case is also similar to hleb he thought he had become a mega star after just one good season. yes he asked for a contract extension in the summer prior to his depature but at that time and rightly so he was asked to prove he deserved it as he was an unknown quantity. he promised arsene that he would sign the improved contract available but…we all know what happened. i guess the grass is looks green at ac milan…from a potential france national team starter to a forgotten player…it was his choice!!!

    i dont like players who try to hold the club to ransom…just like adebayor did. no player is above the team.

    cesc, henry, veiera got bumper deals cos they earned it. these players put in graft of 2-3 seasons of consistent performances.

    so we lost an entire midfield as rosicky also got injured. wenger had to draft in an on-off diaby, song, denilson and bring in nasri. thats when our problems begun…the spate of injuries did not help either. the formation built around adebayor had to be changed for obviuos reasons.

    it takes time to gel and to put up consistent performances as i previously said these players are not machines!!!!

    wenger’s business in the summer depends on what he wants to do with the likes of wilshere, JET, Eastmond, Bartley, Nordveit, Merida (if he stays). these are players who need playing time to develop their game to a consistent level

    ps guys do not forget that Bergkamp was already an established player, so was Gilberto, Pires,

    the current team is and has been developed from scratch!!!

    for those who say denilson isnt good enough take a look at the 1st barca game …yes he is lightweight bcos of his physique but he is needed for certain games and has been played out of position most times bcos of the teams injury situation

    @Dev i will comment on the tactical aspect of our game/positional play/roles/vision of the club and the players at our disposal..a little later

  • If you really care for Arsenal!

    For all the FC Arsenal fans and supporters in UK!
    23rd of April, at 14:00 pm we gather at the “Emirates Stadium” to voice our discontent with the current situation at the club. At the end of every season we hear the same stuff from Wenger and the board.
    “We were really close” “If we find an available player we will add to the squad” “Next season is decisive” “We are at the stage where we are developing players”
    Aren’t you fed up with it! We say “Yes”
    Something needs to change! 5 years without trophies. It is hard to take.
    We pay the highest ticket prices, we are told to believe in these bunch of players and keep faith. But enough is enough!!!
    The board says we’ve got the money Wenger says we don’t.
    Who is lying? It is obvious that we need reinforcement, yet Wenger says we cannot spend big money on real quality players. He says we’ve got the policy and we’ll stick to it. For how long?
    We’ve been sticking to that policy long enough to understand that it doesn’t work!
    23rd of April, at 14:00, EMIRATES

  • Zegooner

    @ Francis:
    I agree fully with what you said on!

  • Francis

    Am i the only one who lives in the real world i.e. that only one team can win the league…

    yes its within our rights to demonstrate and put forward our thoughts about how the team should play and be managed…

    but which manager at the start of the season has no desire to do well and win a trophy???

    arsenal do not have a divine right to win all trophies it’s a competition amongst/between other teams…yes our expectations are high but then there is reality and there are other factors that have conspired against us not winning a tropy…

    maybe self inflicted but then the overiding factor esp money has been the move to the emirates…we all know this

    yes our policy can be questioned esp towards certain competions like the fa cup and carling cup…but that’s the route the manager has chosen to go…we may all not agree with him….lets give him the benefit of the doubt.

    time will tell if we reap the rewards of blooding our younger players in the afore mentioned competitions

    yes i agree that hill-wood has not been fortright on the monies available for spending bcos he typically times his statements when arsenal are clearly in no position to win a trophy.

    ps do not mess with us hill-wood …but i must emphasise that arsenal do not have a divine right to win all the time.

    it goes without saying that other clubs want to win a trophy too!!!!

    guys lets be circumspect here….the manager is doing his best with the resources at his disposal…and yes he is human and he makes mistakes like we all do.

  • Pissed off

    Am afraid I have to go with the protest; am in for it in all honesty.

  • goonerman

    Andy townsend claims on the daily mirrow that in a 11 man team spurs would have 6 players in it and we would only have 5! they would get some in but for them to have more tha us is mental, just for the fact we are ahead of them in the table proves we would have more players in the starting 11. i dont know if this is a bit biased but i think this is how the team would look like.

    Lennon-van persie-Arshavin

    YER OR NO???

  • JDD

    what was that idiots 11?

    i would agree with yours but maybe taking out palacios and putting in pavlychen0i going with 4-4-2.

  • JDD

    actually i would say

    clichy gallas vermaelen sagna
    arshavin fabregas song nasri
    van persie pavlychenko

  • goonerman

    Andy townsend tottenham and arsenal 11 was this! be prepared you will laugh at a couple of the choices.

    Van persie-Defoe


    I mean how stupid can he be to put some like bale and dawson ahead of people like gallas and arshavin and even modric for spurs haha!!

  • JDD

    that team is laughable.GALLAS is better than dawson-ARSHAVIN is better than lennon-NASRI is better than bale-SONG is better than palacios.and as for my 11 defoe would maybe actually get ahead of pavlychenko,thats a close one.but definatly ARSENAL 9 spurs 2

  • tm17

    So all 3 wins against City for manure have come in
    extra time this season I don t know what you call that passion, desire or just plain luck.

  • Pissed off

    tm17: perseverance; this comes with passion.

  • Kuka

    I never knew I would say this: “spurs might just win us the league”. I hope Arsenal players are watching. Beat Wigan and we are back in it

  • Kuka

    This league is not good for my health (lol). It can’t seem to make up it’s mind. Great. Now Spurs beats United, Stoke beats Chelsea, we beat City and we stand top of table with chlelsea…. It’s like a thriller movie…