Tactics – How to make Arsenal’s 3rd goal against Watford a habit!


Arsenal have their first win in this season’s Premier League and it came against Watford, 3-1 to the visitors to Vicarage Road Stadium. Of the three goals, the third goal is perhaps something we would want to see more often. This is not because it was scored by Ozil. Neither is it because it came to ensure the game was out of reach from the opponent. Rather, the buildup suggests just how we can be devastating, especially with our new signing Lucas Perez in the side.

It happened that Ozil was at the end of the effort, but it could have been Giroud, Walcott, Perez or anyone for that matter. That goal suggests that we can set up the side in a manner that such kinds of successful attacks can be realized more often than not. With Sanchez the architect, it reveals why he was largely successful at Barcelona when he played with Messi, Neymer and Pedro.

First, Sanchez needs world class willing-to-sacrifice players alongside him. The attitude that Ozil had at that moment to read what Sanchez needed, and respond in lightning fashion, with the Watford side left awestuck, is something we must drill into the side both in terms of providing the architecture for as well as the hunger pangs to be able to execute – not once but rather routinely.

Second, world class does not mean the best in the world. No, ‘world class’ refers to the willingness of players to remain in the hunt, and hungry to execute what they did yesterday, today and tomorrow without ever stopping to say – this is enough. That’s what Messi, Suarez, Neymar, Cristiano and Ibrahimović are all about. That’s what sets a player aside as world class. The third goal coming after two others had been executed and flowing from the boots of a Sanchez who, on the day, was already very successful and could have said ‘enough’ but did not – confirms that Arsenal this season have the capability to be the best if we wanted to, with these set of players.

Third, the manager must be willing to set up the architecture to enable the team to play at their optimal best. In my view, both Sanchez and Perez are free spirits whose best form plays out when not tied to too many responsibilities on the pitch. Ozil shines in the number 10 role behind a fast breaking line of strikers ahead of him. Giroud is best when playing together with another striker where his best form bounces off the other player. Walcott too loves the confusion created by a fast paced attack and often overruns the defensive cover of opponents when such quick and confusing melee is generated.

We have supporting casts in the defensive midfielders and the defenders. It is clear that Cazorla and Xhaka are quickly forming the best tag team in town in this role and should be encouraged. The four-man defense with Koscielny in it is continuing to look a tighter, meaner and more less breached side. It’s a bit too early to speculate what will be the impact of Mustafi in this but one would hope that in the absence of Koscielny, maybe due to injury or suspension, Mustafi would provide the ‘Koscielny effect’ for the defense.

This article was about the best attack Arsenal can muster based on the relative strengths of the players available to Arsenal this season as, last season, a certain poverty of attack robbed Arsenal the bragging rights of title holders. Having said the above, the system that would best secure this attack above might be as follows: – System


I know, two Sanchez’s and 12 First XI players. That’s because Sanchez is given a free role to turn up at any spot around the attack. He will be performing nothing very different from Perez only that Perez will have a smaller radius to execute the same, and Giroud stays put in there most of the time as the target man. With more understanding even he will begin to explore his link up play potentials and become mobile too. Walcott deputizes the two attackers and can start some games that require more mobility.

Ox-Chamberlain will do exactly what Sanchez does easily and would be a great deputy to the Chilean. Elneny and Coquelin will deputize both Xhaka and Cazorla so effectively and one of them will soon replace the aging Cazorla.

If the third goal against Watford is anything to go by, then the above would see Arsenal at the optimal best which is better than any side in the EPL and Europe – Come On You Gunners!

Nicholas Oyoo


  1. Well, this formation and tactic may be effective to finish off the lesser teams, though it can be done with some solidity. If you are going with a 4-4-2 (be it the common or the diamond formation) one player whose role is very much redundant is Santi Cazorla. In this formation, both have the same job to do, that being pinging passes to Sanchez/Ozil and shield the defence. It would be more solid to have Ramsey instead, much like his role in his fantastic 2013-14 season. Xhaka would be the perfect foil for Rambo, like Flamini/Arteta that season. But that must be done, if and only if we persist with 4-4-2.

    I don’t think going with 2 up top with Sanchez and Ozil will work against bigger teams though, as it would leave our full backs to defend 2v1. The ideal tactic would be 4-2-3-1 and rotating the players.

    1. ? We need more rotation in terms of tactics based on the opposition.. We don’t change formation and personnel enough because of the opponents.

  2. talking about tactics, I think this is where the manager’s ability and intelligence rily comes into play. Wenger has being at fault for only playing the passing play without any cutting edge tactically and we can see the difference when we play against teams with the same beautiful kind of football we play (bayern and Barca) I think tactically they outshine us, and if you observe closely, mancity are begining to show such signs too Bcuz of their manager. so in conclusion Wenger really needs to improve on his tactics, he’s too predictable. I can predict his substitutions in nearly every game. this is how bad it has gotten. he is so slow in making decisions on the game, I can’t even remember the last time he made a substitution before the 65 to 75 min mark, so it means our game play remains the same for more than an hour of the game no matter the situation where we are having things working against us or not. I am not trying to be negative here but only saying what I have observed in this our Arsenal team over the last few yrs.

    1. before the 65 to 75 min mark? yes he made subs there, no not made, forced to make due to injuries. i saw teams making substitutions during half time brake, Wenger will never do that, he doesn’t want to disappoint his beloved under performers. also others will play 90 minutes no matter how bad they are ie. Ramsey.

      1. exactly, doing the same thing every game makes you easily predictable. Wenger is just too easily predictable when it comes to his tactics

  3. I really like the ruthlessness Pep is showing at City. Wenger displayed same when Sanchez first came. Wish we could see that more often…

  4. I’m hoping that Arsene is not foolish enough to play Perez out on the wing. This would be a mistake. It wouldn’t be too long before fans say that we needed a striker, other fans will argue that he plays both positions but the arguments will persist none the less. They will say how it is our major concern and Arsene had all summer to do it, they’ll mention how Perez only played one season as CF so is therefor a midfielder above all, and how that is where Arsene is playing him anyway.

    1. I am seriously guessing that is what Wenger will do. only him thinks Giroud is a world class striker. I jst pray my guess is wrong tho. we jst hv to wait and see

  5. I salute your article for it’s outstanding optimism and though i’ve not seen the goals against watford it would be very nice if Arsenal could score a third goal more often to put teams out of the match. I agree with you that our players should be more willing to run for each other for the entire 90 minutes and show their worth to the cause, even if they lose then at least they lose trying their best for us fans and no fan can put them down for that. On our day we can put the best teams under pressure though i don’t share your view of us being the best in EPL or Europe, that my friend is as it stands, a dream that may one day hopefully become a reality, a reality i hope i’m still alive to see when it happens.

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