Arsenal tactics – Time to abandon Zonal Marking?

Maybe it’s time Arsene changed tactics and made our players take responsibility! by GunnerJack

I don’t usually criticise AW and I am a big fan. However when a system is used which repeatedly did not work throughout the whole of last season and has already failed in our first game this season then maybe a case can be made for Arsene to consider changing tack.

What I am referring to is the ‘Zonal Marking’ system we use because when using that system no one is really held accountable when things go against us. If we switched to ‘Man To Man’ marking then the responsibility/blame for an opposition player causing us problems or worse still, scoring, would be immediately obvious.
By the way I am talking about all our players here, attackers as well as defenders, and if one of our attackers had been given the specific task of marking Hangeland whenever and wherever he was when we lost the ball yesterday, then that player would know exactly what was expected of him and could concentrate on that job alone. After all if we don’t have the ball what better job could our players do? As an example of our attackers being given specific instructions on who to man-mark then in yesterday’s case the job of man-marking Hangeland might have fallen to Yaya Sanogo, though I am definitely not having a go at him.

Perhaps Arsene does not want to burden our players with such a responsibility as the blame for an opposition counter attack, corner or goal would be immediately obvious. Then again, maybe our players should stand up and be counted!

The 6-0, 5-1, 6-3 and even 3-0 scorelines against us by our worst enemies last season made me sick to my stomach and I definitely do not want to see any more like that . . . unless we’re dishing them out of course!

So, should ‘Man To Man’ marking be given a try at the risk of upsetting the sometimes fragile egos of some footballers or is AW correct to stick to the zonal system and so absolve everyone of direct blame when the opposition stuffs us? Over to you . . .


Tags Man-Marking zonal


  1. Man U fans were calling for the sacking of their manager Van Gal even before Arsenal kick a ball for the new season. Seriously? Van Gal! If not him, who then? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Dislikes ? Just now Liverpool looked like they had nothing one pace run and pass and they’re ahead .. If that was us we wuld just be passing side to side with our fake wingers who r slow

      1. The line that Southampton are playing is nothing like the banks of 4 CP played yesterday. Don’t worry if teams play a high line like Southampton we will also see Alexis and Theo burn them.

  2. Come on Southampton! Prove that these Scouse benefit grabbers cannot cope without Suarez and that they’ve overspent on mediocre players!

  3. I don’t see how zonal marking means players have less responsibility. Each defender is supposed to defend his zone of the pitch, so if an opponent gets through in his zone, the defender is clearly at fault. Zonal marking is better for our style of football where we need to transit from defense to attack quickly, and so every player should already be in position when we get the ball back. Most big teams use zonal marking, just look at the CL. Maybe you mean changing to man marking for setpieces only? It would make sense, because it’s much easier to defend setpieces by man marking.

    1. Goontz great post. If you have Mert in front of Schez and OG a bit to the side but also in front of Schez a ball with not enough height doesn’t get through 90% of the time. So having those 2 in zonal marking is a huge advantage.
      I also agree with you as man marking is much easier to do on set pieces rather than corners.

  4. Watched the game yesterday and yet again I had my head in my hands. Honest we let TV go but no one in to replace him yesterday ? The new boy is still quite slow so that says sorry it’s a no go at the moment. There is a lad on the bench and let’s see if you now who I’m talking about? Been on loan for 3 seasons? Well if yr not going to use him sell as part X for Mario? World class player who just wants to be loved by his own fans something us arsenal fans do to the full. Then there is this little prob of no DM my god man we can all see it so why the f–k can’t you

    1. well, we had to bring on monreal for gibbs and we had to take sanogo off for giroud because Giroud needs game time because he isn’t fully fit yet (and also Sanogo isn’t ready for 90 minutes) so that left us with only one flexible substitution.

      Ox is not a bad option and even though he didn’t play well he injected pace in the whole team almost instantly.
      Campbell will play soon for sure, we have Besiktas on tuesday, then Everton on Saturday, then Besiktas again on wednesday, and then Leicester on sunday; 5 matches in 15 days.

      As for Chambers, he was really good and is definitely good enough to replace vermaelen.

      You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    2. What game were you watching?
      Chambers was absolutely outstanding for a 19 year old playing against Pullis inspired ork trained players.
      The kid was snuffing out runs and made a lot of mileage on the pitch, I saw him chasing down attackers, slow? you are deluded!

  5. Wow the article is about man marking or zonal coverage and we have Man U Liverpool and directness why bother with the articles.

    1. There is nothing wrong with our zonal marking having the 2nd best set piece result shows it’s working . Only Mertasaker is a match for someone like hangelaand. We should have had the migits like Sanchez and santi on both post

  6. Pre world cup Cesc found out AFC delegation were in Barca. He thought it was for him, delighted he called Arsene wenger to find out it was Alexis. lol

  7. liverpool, chelsea and city are real strong this season….

    if we still dont spend big, we will be challenging for 4th spot with RVP Utd

  8. Can anyone tell me why Wenger signed Sanogo..Campbell is a million times better yet warmed the bench yesterday..?
    Why Wenger sold vermalen and hasn’t replaced him..yet?
    Why we only have koscienly and mertesacker as true centre halves..?
    Why Wenger persists on trying to accommodate players in ‘unnatural’ positions when clearly it negates our natural flow..?
    Why Wenger loaned out jenkinson and signed Debuchy who is slow and only slightly quicker than mertesacker ..
    Debuchy is no better than jenkinson and that’s not that good..!?
    In defence We only have koscienly in midfield Ramsey and ozil and Sanchez up front.. of true premiership winning credentials..
    Wilshere is miles away from becoming the next Gascoigne – he’s trying too hard and dwelling on the ball.. Ramsey excels when he plays with ozil and or rosicky..
    Where the fu@k is diaby?
    If we lost those above players to injury and replaced them within our squad with the remaining players…we’d struggle to beat west ham..
    We need 2/3 players to challenge ?

        1. “Why Wenger loaned out jenkinson and signed Debuchy who is slow and only slightly quicker than mertesacker ”
          Not only are you clueless about football your brain also lacks the ability to judge the speed of moving objects.
          You and davidnz are definately legends keep it up mate.

  9. Not sure about abandoning it. Second line of defenders should have blocked hangerlands run and kos had no awareness, not once did he look over his shoulder. If we’d had a > 6 foot dm player on the pitch it nay have helped us!

  10. Wish Wenger would go for Falcao. Madrid have dropped out of getting him, or Martinez. Or at least another top winger like Reus, di Maria, Cuadrado, etc

    I was thinking about CDM, but after watching the CP match and watching Sanogo and Giroud not score, I think we need higher quality striker.

    1. yeah… Giroud only set up the eventual winner in 30mins of game-time, but if he isn’t the one to hit it into the back of the net what’s the value!!

  11. Do you reckon Southampton fans will boo Chambers like they are booing Lovren? Anyways go on saints, prove a point today (and help us in the title race).

    1. Sagna was the only starter in that list and we’ve replaced him with Debuchy. We also have Bellerin as cover. Vermaelen was hardly in the squad and we have Chambers now.

  12. chambers, OX and Campbell should go on a loan…with pending new signings coming in they will hardly get any games….

    1. With Cazola, Sanchez and walcott on the wings

      where will Ox, campbell find game time?? not to mention Wilshere tooo

  13. To me the defending of the corner which produced the Palace goal was naff. We don’t have an abundance of height on the pitch so a man on each post would be a benefit. This zonal marking was cause of concern in set pieces last season and looking at yesterday it will again.

    I also thought our approach to our corners was a complete waste, the majority never got past the first defender on the near post. I don’t know what the tactic was but it wasn’t very good or poorly executed.
    How and ever I am still delighted with the ugly three points.

    1. You do realise we had the best record defending setpieces in the whole premier league last season. And you do realise before we switched to zonal marking in the 11/12 season we used to ship goals for fun in set pieces.
      Any one who says zonal marking is a problem just listens to MOTD pundits too much and doesn’t actually think for themselves.

  14. Arsenal top of the table with 37 games remaining……

    we need to spend big to remain the status…

  15. Considering Giroud and Mertesacker who both played a vital role in minimizing our vulnerability to set-pieces last season were not on the pitch i wouldn’t read too much into it…

  16. So you call other people a clown and then come out with this drivel?

    Arsenal conceded 7 goals from set pieces last season – FACT!

    Stop being sensationalist and coming out with this nonsense because of one goal. I don’t remember you making articles after article the many many times zonal marking worked.

    1. haha if i was a celebrity i’d be locking myself at home where no one or thing can hurt me… they’ll be dropping like flies if there’s any truth to the curse!

  17. Hello to all my fellow gunners… Just need to cope well in set pieces mark a man dont free him to score goal in set piece situation.. We r otherwise good in defending I m feeling exciting for this season as it progresses.. Optimistic that we will win the league INSHAA ALLAH come May but it will be a tough contest this season.. But I m a gooner and I will always support my team… Go go gunners.. COYG!!

  18. Even if for argument’s sake you are right and theo would score 20-25 goals there.
    do you think Sanchez, Ozil, Cazorla, Podolski, Ox, Wilshere and Ramsey would score more goals with Giroud or Theo at striker?

    1. Well Ramsey scored as a direct result of a header. Even though no assist yesterday OG like you pointed out in another post was responsible for finding Debuchy wide open in front of goal. So yes OG will make all those others more goal threats.

  19. La Tercera: Eduardo Vargas has told his family he will join Arsenal this week on a season long loan deal

    hope this isn’t true we need cavani / reus

      1. I reckon one year would be good .. We need the pace and then we can go all out for a striker next year

    1. Its hard to believe Dortmund and PSG wanting to lose their key player at the closing stage of the transfer window.

  20. Bacary ‘I didn’t go to Citeh for money’ Sagna is not even in the squad.

    Not even bench warming.

    Probably out shopping

  21. Why can’t Wenger see our two glaring weaknesses?

    1. CDM- Lack of a top defensive midfielder
    2. Lack of a top striker which can be solved 2 ways:
    A. Buy a top striker like Falcao, Cavani. OR
    B. Buy Reus or Cuadrado and make Sanchez or Walcott a striker.

  22. Zonal works well and suits what ought to be our improved counter attacking style this season.

    For me it was simply an error probably by koz(?) not seeing hangeland coming and reacting. Some teams use zonal and have specific man marker for a dangerous player…shearer, Carroll etc who did or can excel at putting the ball in the back of the net from a corner.

    So it works fine, we just weren’t quick enough to react and seemingly had no one man marking hangeland.

  23. From what i have heard about Zonal Marking there are two layers, the first layer is to block the path of the runners and the second layer is to head away the ball, the first layer is also our counter attacking line.
    Unfortunately yesterday sanchez who was the first line choose the light pole to block, kos could not react in time and we were one down.
    Therefore i can say zonal marking is not bad its just the use of the team members in specific situation

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