Time for a new tactical Approach, don’t you think? by ED
Seriously do Arsenal fans lack about as much creativity as their manager at this moment in time. With the game against stoke slowly coming up on the horizon, the usual “what’s your ideal formation?” conversation has come up as per usual… And I mean everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but… for me there doesn’t seem to be a difference in opinions, the same bog standard 4-2-3-1 (put me to f@cking sleep formation) is the basis to which we turn to time and time again, the only difference is the personnel… and the assumption that they bring tactically a different aspect to the team..
While the answer is yes, let me explain the very reasons as to why it will never work as long as you play 4-2-3-1. First of all the opponents are Stoke City, now I don’t know how much you know about Stoke…. But after living in Stoke, for the last 4 years, and seeing more Stoke vs ‘the top five’ games than I’ve had hot meals in my miserable student life there, there are three key aspects I’ve learned about Stoke… and I am sure most of you would agree; firstly they are physically imposing (they are a big bunch of Mother Lovers, particularly the back 4 and occasional defensive midfielders), Secondly; ridiculously aggressive (Just take a look at their disciplinary record – mostly Charlie Adam’s, and no need to remind you of Ryan Shawcross (yes I’m aware he is out) aka Ramsey’s Leg breaker) thirdly pioneers in ‘Smash and Grab’ football (for as long as I’ve seen Stoke play, they’ve always had a plethora of forwards… who have had just about enough skill and pace to kill you counter attack… this year that quality has gone up significantly Shaqiri, Affelay, Bojan).
So what does it mean against Arsenal… Well remember when I mentioned physically imposing, yeah their shortest defender is 5ft10 (Munesia).. Playing a lone striker in that environment is just about the dumbest thing you could do… he would become isolated very quickly, the threat of an aerial ball against Stoke becomes almost comical, Stoke have height in spades – attempting to beat them in the air sounds just about as stupid as attempting to out pass Barcelona.
Also playing a 4-2-3-1 formation (packing the midfield) against Stoke is simply just playing into their hands. They love to sit back and can dominate the midfield on account of the fact that they are bigger and more aggressive than most teams. People like Sanchez, Ozil and Carzola may not necessarily have the best time trying to evade the physicality of Stoke. Lastly the counter attack, we play with wingbacks, whom whenever teams sit deep against us we send forward, so pretty much all the time. Crystal Palace’s forwards had the capability to irritate Monreal and Bellerin, but didn’t do any damage. Stoke’s forwards are a significant upgrade on them, so if I were Arsene I would be wary of overcommitting, especially with someone like Bellerin whose immaturity (and I mean in terms of experience in the position) could be highlighted very quickly.
The whole point of this article being… Why would you tactically play into a situation that gives the advantage to Stoke? Why not use a formation that exploits their obvious weaknesses; along the wings in the fullback position …. They may be good at attacking there but they sure as hell can’t defend it… and their discipline. For example 4-3-3 concentrate less on playing in the centre and attempting to dominate it as it’s contest Arsenal will win and take advantage of the fact that the full backs haven’t got pace, which normally means the defensive midfielders or center backs often end up doubling up on the wingers… thus clearing a space in the middle and allowing people like Ozil and Giroud to play to the strong points of their game. The point being – by opening up Stoke, forcing defensive midfielders and centre backs into a position whereby they are left chasing these fast players, means that more than often they are left committing fouls.
I hope Wenger sees sense in this game 4-2-3-1 against Stoke is a recipe for disaster…..