New Season Tactics and Lineup by HA
Good day. The transfer window is shut. Arsenal had a good but not great window. Our playing style suits 4-2-3-1 most but for playing 4 defenders in every match for 55 odd games a season we needed 1 or 2 more defenders. Last year, there were some matches, when Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs all were injured and we played with Jenkinson- Sagna – Mertesacker – Monreal. This needed to be addressed in the transfer period. Specially considering Gibbs’ injury record and Debuchy’s disciplinary issues. We can still sign some free agents, but players who are free agents at the end of the transfer window are seldom the quality we require who can push us through. Maybe we should not have loaned out Jenkinson, then our squad would have looked far more solid.
But, there’s no use moaning about the window now. We should look ahead. We have a far better first eleven than we have had for a while. Maybe defensively we are thin but we can still hope for the title. End of the day, if we score more than we concede, job is done for that day. We need to use our squad in a better way. We should play with a formation, which addresses the injury issues. To sustain a title challenge over a season, we should be playing with a 3-3-3-1 formation. Playing three defenders out of six addresses our dire injury issue.
Please notice the goal conceded against Leicester. Have a look at Mertesacker’s movement. He was far too calm and slow for stopping the counter attack and the cross. We needed another defender in front of Sczczesny to defend the crosses coming from the flanks. We conceded a lot of goals last season because of the same issue (corners, set pieces and crosses from flanks). Another thing we have witnessed last season is opponents scoring goals from counter attacks. We often got caught up by the pace from the opponents because our full backs and wide players could not track back, and opponents found us with Koscielny and Mertesacker defending alone much too often. Therefore, we need three defenders all the time covering our back. Another thing we should be doing is rotating better. We could have kept Vermaelen if we had played him more often or rotated better. Just playing in-form players all the time means sad players on the bench and fatigue of the more used players. Also please note that, Debuchy receives cards mostly when he tracks back from attack.
So my choice for playing 3 CB’s are as follows:
RCB :Debuchy / Chambers
CB/ Sweeper :Koscielny / Mertesacker
LCB :Monreal / Gibbs
Holding MF has been probably our weakest point for last two seasons and also this one. After Song, we have not really replaced him. If Diaby could stay fit, maybe our situation would not have been like this. If Diaby can stay fit for half of this season, he is my most preferred DM. When he is not available (like always!), Arteta and Flamini can cover for him. When Arteta plays, our passing game gets a whole lot better. But he loses possession far too much for our liking against physically strong opponents. Flamini always orders other people about what to do instead of doing things himself. Last season, when he first arrived I thought we got ourselves a leader. But as the season progressed, he seemed more like a boss, not a leader.
For this formation, my DM has to stay in front of the 3 CB’s all the time to break up opponent’s attack. So for DM position, my preferred players are:
DM :Diaby / Arteta / Flamini
Box To Box Midfielders (RCM + LCM):
Undoubtedly we have one of the best B2B midfielders in Ramsey. Wilshere has not been able to live up to his name so far. But this season, I have a feeling he will improve. He has shown more maturity in recent games. With him triggering, we can have a very good season. In this formation, the central midfielders have to protect the attacks from the wing. For covering Ramsey and Wilshere, we can use Ox, Gnabry and Rosicky. Ox has been impressive last year when he was used as a CM. Gnabry played well too and Rosicky still has got the engine.
LCM : Ramsey / AOC
RCM :Wilshere / Gnabry / Rosicky
I have covered 3-3 of my 3-3-3-1 formation. For the final 3-1, the tactics will remain pretty much the same as that of last year.
For using both Theo and Sanchez, we have to use Theo in the Right flanks and Sanchez in the left. Theo can be played only in the right wing or in CF position. He scored a hat-trick against Newcastle from CF position. But he is clearly better from the flanks where he can use his raw pace. But he is also injury prone and should be rotated. To cover him, we can use Campbell. In Campbell, we have a great potential. Frustrating him by keeping him on the bench will do us no good. We should give him a run every once in a while. He has the audacity to shoot and score from anywhere, something we had in the king Henry. The wingers have to track back to stop the crosses from the wings. Walcott and Campbell both have the pace to get at the end of Ozil’s visionary through balls, which can tear the opponents defenses apart. Walcott lacks finishing ability, which Campbell can offer.
RW: Walcott / Campbell
My first choice here will be new boy Alexis Sanchez. He can dribble, he can track back, he is strong, and he is an opportunist who can get into scoring position from rebounds. One thing he lacks is passing in the final third. He can be selfish at times, which is not too bad if you consider the contrast in our passing and shooting. Our players pass from the scoring positions at times, which is sometimes wasteful. To cover him, I think we can use Podolski. He has lethal feet. He is a finisher. But he lacks the stamina to play the whole 90 minutes for successive games. And he is not too consistent either. He can be used as our super sub as Sanchez will not be dropped much.
LW : Sanchez / Podolski
We have one of the best number 10 in the world and we have Santi who can also deliver. It’s far too hard to choose one of the two. But to use our pace in the wings most, I would choose Ozil ahead of Cazorla. His passes can tear opponent defenses in half. But he is someone who needs others to score and play well. His performance totally depends on others. Last year, after we lost Walcott and Ramsey, his performance dipped terribly. So if his performance dips, we can use Cazorla and vice versa. Cazorla was very consistent in his first year but failed to live up to his standard last year. The reason behind it is his preferred position is number 10 slot. So I don’t see any reason to push him on the flanks but to rotate him more with Ozil. This will also create a healthy competition between them.
CAM :Ozil / Cazorla
We currently have Giroud out for a while. So our pretty much straightforward choice is new arrival Welbeck ahead of Sanogo. He is strong and fast. He can score in big games. But his finishing is not up to the mark yet. But under Wenger, I believe he can be a much better striker. And when Giroud returns, both of them will have a healthy competition. Something we have missed for a long long time.
CF :Welbeck / Giroud / Sanogo
This is a formation we should be using for most of the season to address our injury concerns, especially against weaker opponents. We can use it against strong teams like Man City too as they play through the middle more. Against Man United and Liverpool, we should offer our left wing more protection with Sanchez and Wilshere as they have Di Maria and Sterling in their right wings respectively. But against a very well balanced team like Chelsea, especially in Stamford Bridge, I think we should revert back to 4-2-3-1 with Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs in the back four and Chambers in DM position. Overall, my preferred formation is 4-2-3-1 but we clearly do not have enough players to play four defenders throughout the season. But we simply cannot use the current 4-1-4-1 formation. It’s not working at all. We are not being able to play the beautiful game we play and it’s also not becoming very effective. It puts Ozil out of position and we still concede goals with our defensive high line leaving Koscielny and Mertesacker alone to defend. This formation will always require the three defenders and holding midfielder to sit on the back protecting our goal.
Hopefully, the boss will address the thin defense line and answer in the right way. But knowing the boss, he will be playing 4-1-4-1 unless he absolutely needs to. Like in the FA Cup final, he reluctantly changed his formation to 4-4-2 and got the result. He should be tactically more proactive this season.
Good luck with the season!