Are Arsenal starting to get a bit predictable in their approach? by SE
Arsenal in the past have been accused of being a bit naïve in the way they approach the massive Premier League games, as Arsene Wenger seems to build his gameplan around attacking his opponents and place relatively less emphasis on good defending. At times this season, however, we have seen the French manager take a more flexible route, set his side up a lot more defensively and then reap the rewards for being more pragmatic. The question, though, is: are the Gunners overdoing their defensive game-plan and failing to strike that balance between defense and attack?
During last weekend’s away clash against Newcastle United, Arsenal were guilty of inviting pressure on themselves and quite lucky to not concede that equalizer the hosts were worthy of. They were utterly dominant in the first half, scoring those two goals that we all thought would be enough to see them through quite comfortably. However, the tale of the second half was a stark contrast of the way the first period panned out and to be honest, Wenger would have been gutted if his side failed to come away with all three points.
The North Londoners completed 221 of their 274 attempted passes in the first half, vindicating their sheer dominance over John Carver’s men. However, in the second period, Wenger’s wizards attempted a mere 167 passes, going on to complete just 119 of them. The hosts came back strongly in the second half, when Arsenal took things for granted and started sinking deep into their own half, as Newcastle attempted a mammoth 266 passes, which is almost 100 more passes than their North London opponents, and completing an impressive 221 of them.
Last Saturday’s hosts ended the game with 51% possession, which was a consequence of them controlling the game in the second 45 minutes and playing with the massive confidence they gained after Moussa Sissoko halved the deficit in the 48th minute. Wenger looked really frustrated throughout the second period, when his side stopped playing and over-relied on Newcastle’s ineptitude to come up with that equalizer.
It was not for the first time this season that Arsenal failed to continue their imperious display from the first half, as they lost the North London derby last month because of their intention to sit back and rely heavily on quick counterattacks to win the game. Last Saturday’s game against Newcastle might have come at the right time for Arsenal, who still have the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United to play in their 2014/15 Barclays Premier League campaign, and ideally need to guard against such complacency if they are to continue this 6-match unbeaten streak and achieve a top 4 league finish.