The Arsenal Column

Arsenal Analysis and Tactics. All views expressed are those of Pat Rice. (Disclaimer: they are actually not his words).

Arsenal meekly succumb to the challenge of Manchester United

There was no pizza throwing. No mass brawls. No unbeaten runs broken. No raised voices in the tunnel. For entertainment value, this Monday night instalment of Manchester United and Arsenal was a damp squib. Oh, wait. Yes, there was, at least, an overblown penalty but whereas Wayne Rooney joined Brian McClair and Ruud van Nistelrooy in blasting over the crossbar, it felt somewhat expected that the woefully out-of-form England striker would miss. Arsenal’s reaction was just as flat, although, that may have been masked by their belief that justice was done after Gael Clichy was harshly penalised for a handball he couldn’t avoid. By then, the Gunners were already one-nil down and had it all to play for but meekly succumbed to Manchester United’s attempts to reclaim top spot.

The game had intensity but note quite in the way it was exhilarating – and all a bit meaningless, like Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire. The reasons, it seemed, were that both sides approached the match with an air of caution while Arsène Wenger was scathing of suitability the Old Trafford pitch. “The technical quality of the game was average on both sides because the pitch was very poor in my opinion and the game suffered a lot from it,” he said.

Whether or not the pitch had a part to play in Arsenal’s performance, their attacking play was below their usual standard. Manchester United nevertheless defended obdurately against the ineffective attack but it was these types of defence that Wenger has tried to make his side better against. The altered 4-3-3 from last season has now become a 4-2-3-1 but the fundamentals on the ball remain the same; stretch play up the pitch when the team has possession thus creating multi-angular passing options. As a result the team can be more direct with the ball played forward quickly although to what level does it become a hindrance to the team?

In  Champions League matches, especially at home, where the opposition naively comes to play a short, passing game, Arsenal are quick to seize on them and impose their technical superiority. In the league, opponents can be frustrating and attack Arsenal where they can be exposed. That worked for Manchester United, who despite not being miles better, was better and deserved their three points.  ”The game-plan was to stifle the midfield and to make sure we got possession of the ball in there. We did that well in the first half. We played very well and maybe we should have been further in front,” said Sir Alex Ferguson. “In fairness, with the goal we did score, we deserved that. In the second half we had some great opportunities on the counter-attack; we were disappointed [not to make more of that]. Arsenal had more of the game in the second half without actually making many chances.”

Arsenal’s impotency can be summed up by not being one word – compact. Off the ball, distances were too large between team-mates and when they did have the ball, seldom made the correct decisions. There was a fifteen minute spell where Arsenal dominated and had penned back United, playing the type of football they are more renowned for. Samir Nasri’s shot that nearly fell for Marouane Chamakh on the rebound should have been the spark to bring Arsenal to life but they ultimately lacked ideas. Bringing on the unfit Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie made little difference.

It was a night Nasri failed to impose himself. At times the midfielder seemed inhibited and lacked the belief he could make the difference because, when he did get on the ball, he looked Arsenal’s best player. On the one hand, Park Ji-Sung neutralised his threat as United doubled-up on him, the other, he just couldn’t link-up effectively with his team-mates. Chamakh and Wilshere displayed nice touches without looking like providing the killer instinct while Arshavin was his usual self – seemingly sprightly on the ball but lethargic when it came to decision-making. “The way Arshavin always wants ball to feet, never in space – not just annoying. Predictable too,” commented Alessandro Costacurta for Sky Italia. Wenger craves a powerhouse in his midfield and could not wish more for the safe return of Abou Diaby so as a result, has had to rely on the surge of Alex Song.

In defence, Gael Clichy had a night to forget against Nani as the left-flank was horribly exposed. Arshavin was never going to track back and as his best work is usually done centrally, it may have been a wise move to swap him with Tomas Rosicky. This would have allowed Arsenal to defend better down the flanks but in not reacting quicker, just conceding space to their opponents. United were already outnumbering them in the centre and the lack of defensive work done by Nasri and Arshavin meant Arsenal effectively had two men across the middle – Song and Wilshere – and that left them too much work to do – and left Clichy exposed. Darren Fletcher realised this, and especially in the first-half, regularly looked to break down Nani’s side. Their goal came from a Nani cross as Arsenal exerted too much intensity getting back and couldn’t match the run of Park who headed in off the post.

Arsenal would have felt this was a chance missed, not just because Manchester United had a game in hand; their opponents are not much better but have the experience and efficiency they so crave. Matches against the top sides will decide the title says Wenger although with a more competitive league season, that is not necessarily the case. With the win, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side go top although in truth, Arsenal was always second best.

<Figure 1> The pressing from Arsenal in the first-half was a double edged sword. Arsenal’s pressing was surprisingly lax and never harried Manchester United’s defenders. As a result of playing too high up the pitch, the wide forwards never gave protection to the full-backs and also meant a lot of work for Song and Wilshere to get through.

Arsenal’s mass accumulation of cards this season have not been without reason; the inefficiency the system sometimes poses means the Gunners can get in to bad positions and often with a lot of space to defend. Song’s cynical foul on Nani was a case in example of that.

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24 Responses to “Arsenal meekly succumb to the challenge of Manchester United”

  1. marcus says:

    The word “meek” doesn’t even begin to describe the pathetic display our players showed. How anyone can view this team as potential trophy winners is beyond me. They’ll even screw up the mickey mouse cup against relegation fodder.

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  2. J79 says:

    Obvious I know but If they signed a player like Vidic and Essien -they would win everything

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  3. George China says:

    Nasri has said the gunners need to stop the pretty soccer if they are to win trophies. I hope he has told Wenger the FM’s game of intricate passing all over the pitch aint working.
    The problem is the flawed genius of a manager is adamant that it will work in the future.The trouble it has the gunners continually getting beaten and there is no hint it will change soon.
    I think iit’s better the flawed genius goes before the gunners become a mid table team and be the butt of jokes in the fw.

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  4. California Gooner says:

    “Arsenal’s impotency can be summed up by not being one word – compact. Off the ball, distances were too large between team-mates and when they did have the ball, seldom made the correct decisions.”

    Condemnations of individual performance and team spirit aside (we can leave those for other blogs), I think that is the main point. Nominally, ManU played a 4-3-3 like we did, but it never really was that, with Park coming over and double up on Alex Song along with Anderson, who is already a physical match for our DM. Those two, along with Carrick and Fletcher — who are patently NOT creative players– destroyed our midfield, and then quickly kicked it out to Nani in attack. Anyhow, ManU seemed to play with an unbalanced formation, Park mostly tucking in.

    We started to look better in the second half when Nasri started doing the same, putting more bodies into the midfield area. This left acres of space for Sagna to run up the right-side; unfortunately he isn’t that good going forward (although much improved); Eboue is actually better. Our midfielders need to play in short distances and have the skills to completely dominate the game when doing so. This allows them to control the ball but also sucks in defenders, creating spaces out-wide and in behind. To do this, one of the wide forwards really has to play as a false midfielder. This could be Nasri, or we could play Nasri on the left (allowing Theo to play as a true winger and the left-back to play the flank… again, Gibbs is probably better than Clichy here). I think that last year RVP effectively played as that extra body in the midfield when we had the ball before getting injured.

    So… for the rest, I invite you to fish around Arsenal-Mania where Joel Che has an excellent article on Barca following their win over Madrid where he discusses how they overload the midfield with excellent short passers, allowing them to dominate the ball and suck defenses in with a short/short/short/short, etc. … and then in behind the defense kind of pattern. I think they have to be our referent. However, it seems that ManU and Chelsea (think of Malouda coming inside and Cole on the flank) are also playing some variation of this, although neither team is particularly built around short passing.

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    The Brain Reply:

    Good points you make. I think Wenger sums it up about Arsenal not being compact enough and providing good options on the ball, when he said this:

    “Our passing was not quick or sharp enough to get them out of position.”

    Regarding Barcelona – they also play a 4-3-3 that stretches play, or as the writer of the article says can look like a 4-6-0 because the movement is brilliant. They have been Arsenal’s referent although the Gunners are trying to stamp their own style such as urgency. Beneath it, however, there is a lot of strategic emphasis played as well as boasting world class players that Barcelona have.

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  5. epl fans says:

    arsenal will returne top of the table sure!..

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  6. Peter says:

    Why will arsenal not start Walcott? His scant minutes showed the only glimmer of opening the man u defense.

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  7. The increase in technical/tactical fouling – is it always indicative of inefficiency? Some sides, not lease Man Utd, have relied on it for years in favour of allowing their wide men to be posted further forward when it suits them and give the opposing full backs something to think about. 

    I guess you need genuine hares in defensive midfield positions to do that though. I don’t know enough about Song to know if his engine’s up to it. 

    Great read again dude. 

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    The Brain Reply:

    It’s a tactic I don’t like but I can see it’s uses to a team’s strategy. The point you make about Manchester United is very apt and Barcelona do the same, as their forwards commit just as much fouls as their defenders, but the law of averages say, if they keep on hassling, one will pay off.

    Song knew his foul was necessary and Nani’s reaction as he fell to the floor realised this (he punches his fist on the ground when he realised he wasn’t going to be able to exploit the acres of space he had).

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  8. john says:

    “The way Arshavin always wants ball to feet, never in space – not just annoying. Predictable too”

    This is a particular problem i have with arshavin.

    arshavin used to be good at getting in behind the defender with the ball at his feet, but now it seems he either does not have the confidence to beat the first defender, or he’s too physically tired to do so. and he doesn’t like the make runs off the ball either, so defenders stick tight to him and he stays quiet the whole game.

    This would not be so much of a problem if he tracked back and covered the left flank. However, because he doesn’t, he now has the unfortunate distinction of being useless in both attack and defense.

    A solution that I would like to propose is to put Walcott on the left side of the front three in a villa/henry role. i think he’d have the confidence to beat defenders cutting inside, because he’ll be on his favored right foot and he certainly is quick enough.
    he also likes to GET IN BEHIND THE DEFENSE, GET THE BALL IN SPACE, and DEFEND, which suits our play better imo.

    i think the biggest problem with our passing is that WE DON’T PLAY THE BALL INTO SPACE ENOUGH. i always find that bursting runs into the box or into wide areas are the most lethal and widely used tactic by the best passing sides in the world. we always play the ball to feet, so OF COURSE OUR PLAY IS PREDICTABLE AND WE LOSE TO THE BEST SIDES.

    Certain players make runs into space and look to get in behind the defense in our side. And those players, not-coincidentally, are also our most dangerous players in attack. They are, in order of ability and tendency to stretch play with powerful runs behind a defense – Fabregas (by a large margin), RVP, Walcott, Nasri, Diaby, Wilshere and Song.

    But it is not only the fault of a lack of runs in-behind. It is down to the vision and passing of the man in the center of midfield. Our Quarterback is Fabregas. But when he is not playing, our second string Quarterback is nowhere near as good at getting the ball IN-BEHIND the defense – especially when the opponent is Manchester United and they are SITTING BACK SO DEEP.

    The sad fact is that we don’t have the quality of passers that Barca have. The way they see a pass into space and execute it is just unbelievable. I also think that Iniesta should be counted with Xavi as one of their best incisive passers. So they have two world class passers, while we only have one (who is currently injured).

    i say this because i’ve watched Barca enough to know that their signature pass is the ball from the center of midfield to the wide areas, where wingers/fullbacks are MAKING RUNS INTO SPACE. the player gets the ball and then passes it across the face of goal, where his teammates are ready to tap it in. I think we imitate this play, but don’t have the players to do it.

    Sadly, not yet at least.

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    john Reply:

    Just to clarify, when I say we don’t have the players to “do it”, I mean that we don’t have enough quality to beat a top side like United, Chelsea or Barca right now.

    We’re very close, but Nasri can’t be the only player that comes along in leaps and bounds on this team THIS SEASON. I think Walcott is in ridiculous form and therefore should be given his chance now that Arshavin’s place in the team SEEMS vulnerable.
    I also think we’ll improve in midfield once Diaby comes back.

    Damn Injuries.

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    The Brain Reply:

    Comparisons with Barcelona can enter into dangerous territory – which I try to refrain from but you find, you can’t really. RVP is the one player who is crucial to opening up space so as soon as he becomes fit, it’s a must to start him up front. Stoke looks like the perfect opportunity.

    As he drops off, he makes space in other areas and the improvements the team has made this season (which may not seem much) should prove more dangerous. Wilshere is the one player Arsenal could get more from. Great vision, will play a killer ball frequently and has a burst which he can’t use as much from a deeper position.

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  9. Kipmonster says:

    Yet another insipid lily livered powder puff display in a big game by the most gutless bunch of players to have represented Arsenal FC in living memory.

    The only bright spot being Szczesny in goal who actually looks like a PROPER goalkeeper !! …………. Big physical presence, agile & confident. Does NOT look like an accident waiting to happen like the other 2 clowns.
    Of course we know what happens next as the ‘ head & shoulders ‘ best Keeper will be relegated to the bench once Flappianski is 100% fit……… CRASS STUPIDITY !!

    Szczesny’s assured performance was remarkable considering the jittery shambles of a defence in front of him. United’s chances were creations of feeble headers & clearances by our back four.
    2 hapless Centre Backs, Clichy who years ago looked like he would advance way past Ashley Cole as a left back but who instead has alarmingly deteriorated with his regular repetitive mistake of getting caught in possession in dangerous positions rather than clearing immediate danger. Many goals have been conceded as a result yet he persists playing in the same manner.
    Sagna was excellent in his 1st season but since has deteriorated into a very average player.

    The defence & goalkeeping positions at the club are what have & will continue to cost Arsenal major silverware. It has now gone way past the stage where Mr Wenger can be accused of being blinkered or stubborn. It is now simply NEGLIGENCE on his part that the same failings continue to dog the team.

    Stupid again was Fabregas’s appearance on the pitch.
    Arsenal should do what United did with Rooney & send Fabregas away to a sunny warm location to recover 100% from the injury with an appropriate training program however long it takes. It is one area of the team where such a desperate player selection is unnecessary. We want & need a 100% fit & firing Fabregas & NOT a shadow player who will tweak the injury again & be outr again & on & on goes the repetitive saga.
    Mr Wenger has always had the image of man of high intelligence but his actions here are ridiculous as was his decision to field a weakened team in Donetsk. A strong team sent that would very likely have won the game would have ensured 1st place qualification & he could have played as weak teams as he pleased in the final 2 matches. Short sightedness will make further progress very difficult but then again as I no longer believe ‘ Winning Silverware ‘ is Mr Wenger’s motivation then I guess it doesn’t matter.
    Simply qualification for the latter stages & a Top 4 Premier League finish by evidence of attitude are the aims each season.

    Mr Wenger’s desired legacy is not one he wants measured by the amount of major silverware won but a financial one whereby when he walks away it will be the legacy of a state of the art training ground & a virtually paid off new stadium.
    It leaves smiling hugely the shareholders at the club whose share values rise & rise as the genuine paying fan continues to assist funding this state of affairs paying far & away the highest prices whilst both the Club & the Manager take umbrage if such a fan dares to complain about the strategy.
    ‘ Pay Up & Shut Up ‘ is the motto of Arsenal Football Club since the move to the Emirates.

    It is laughable that the ‘ AKB ‘ bash in the ‘ blogosphere ‘ Arsenal fans who criticise the club &/or the manager.
    The vast majority of the ‘ AKB ‘ are ‘ fans ‘ who rarely if ever pay a penny to go & watch the team but forever are remote whilst condemning those who do.
    Even worse when a member of the ‘ AKB ‘ such as ‘ Lady Arse ‘ is effectively stealing from & defrauding the club with their unlicensed merchandising. ……… DISGUSTING !!

    Fear of the unknown in the future is NOT a good enough reason to put up with a manager who continues to fail to see the glaring weaknesses that prevent us from winning the major silverware that has been & this season more than ever is there for the taking.

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    Eurazian Reply:

    Kipmonster,
    you raise some valid points, but I think you are being a little too kind to Szczesny and too harsh on Sagna.

    First, Szczesny: yes, he got more assured as the game went on, but his kicking was atrocious, particularly early on. This led to the back four being constantly under pressure. We could barely get it out of our own half for the first 45 minutes, and it was largely the fault of Szczesny. He’ll improve, of course. I like the look of the lad and think he’ll be a top keeper, but if we can assume Fabianski has put his monstrous errors behind him, then the elder Pole is better right now.

    As for Sagna: certainly, he was poor against Man U, particularly early as he constantly gave the ball away. His crossing was well below par.
    However, that was one game. Man U game aside, I don’t know how you could fail to notice that this season he has been the league’s standout right-back by a considerable distance. After regressing last season (probably due to the new formation giving him less cover), he has probably been our best player behind Nasri, and the only member of our regular backline who doesn’t look like an accident waiting to happen. His crossing has improved tremendously and creates a lot of chances. With all the frustration we’ve been having about Clichy’s brain-fades and the shakiness of the Squillaci and Koscielny partnership, Sagna has been doing his thing solidly and consistently all season. I can’t remember him making a single major error that led directly to a goal.
    Eboue is certainly a better attacking right-back, but he’s shaky defensively. Sagna is better all-round and the best in the league at his position.

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  10. Daniel says:

    One tactical problem on Monday was Rosicky — what was he doing? His lack of drive meant that Arsenal had a hole in the center. Arshavin, who was ineffective, would have better there, with Walcott on the wing.

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    Eurazian Reply:

    I really agree with your point about Arshavin. We bought him based on his performances for Zenit and Russia as a player in a “free” role, in which he was a roaming second striker/playmaker. We should give him a shot in this position when Fabregas is out; or even try push Fab back to play as a deep-lying playmaker with Arshavin in front of him.

    Much of Arshavin’s problems stem from him being out on the left. While he sometimes excels, he doesn’t have the discipline to do it at both ends consistently. I think Clichy’s problems are partly to do with the lack of cover he is getting from Arshavin. If Arshavin plays centrally, his lack of defensive application won’t hurt the team so much, since he’ll still have to track back a bit but won’t have to cover the whole left side.

    Arshavin’s also a player who likes the ball at his feet and to see the game in front of him, so he can penetrate defences with his dribbling and passing. On the left of a 4-3-3, we need someone who can get behind the defence with balls played into space.

    A player I would love to see at Arsenal is Gervinho, who was made to play the position Arshavin currently occupies. He’s an excitement machine and would love to play for us.

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  11. Krang says:

    Sometimes it looks like there are to many playmakers, chamack also acting like a target player, resulting in a lack of movement because of their urge to get the ball instead of running per chance in possibly open spaces. Miss freddy sometimes. Thought we started to take advantage of our techniqual superiority in second half, but the double substitution changed it all. Really really dissapointing appearence from Fab; lowest passing complete% ever for him?

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  12. drwtw says:

    I felt the substitution that needed to be made, and very early on at that, was Denilson for Arshavin/Rosicky. I’m sure people will focus on the lack of chances created however this was true of both teams, they just created slightly more because they had more sustained pressure than Arsenal did. In the one short spell Arsenal did have, they began to look dangerous and given a stroke of luck, equal to that of Nani’s deflected shot-to-cross, Chamakh could have levelled the score.

    It seemed clear that Wilshere and Song were struggling to either find a man to pass to (Wilshere) or were panicking under pressure from the destructive midfield (Song). Arsenal couldn’t find any stability in midfield and combined with the lack of a compact shape meant the ball kept being lost between the defensive half of the team and the offensive half.

    Denilson excels in games against destructive midfields where he brings stability through savvy positioning and quick, flowing passes to those nearby in space (creating a compact shape within the team). His away league performances at Old Trafford (08/09 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ij_Z0idJYWI & o9/10 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mUyXKkIcO0) against more or less identical sides (in both personnel and strategy).

    Wilshere could have become the central attacking midfielder where he’d have played closer to both the defensive half of the side and the offensive (Rosicky was playing too far away from the CM’s). Rosicky out wide would have allowed domination of possession and the ability to put real pressure on United or alternatively Arshavin would have had more players to play off and possibly more confidence to try the unexpected.

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  13. S says:

    Brain, great article as always !
    Over the past season and this one, for some reason Wenger doesn’t seem to be adapting the team selection and tactics to the opposition as he used to. The only exception, that I can remember now, is the advanced positioning of Diaby against Chelsea. Against the prev. Man U sides he used to frequently deploy Rosicky on the right to nullify Ronaldo. He did nothing against Nani. He also used to put Eboue on the right as well. In fact, he went on record to say that he likens Eboue to Parlour in providing some solidity.

    Also he seems to be placing too much trust on Arshavin. Yes, he is a fantastic player on his day and turn a match around all by himself. But you can’t simply rely on that one moment to arrive, which is becoming rare in the recent times. I would’ve liked Nasri on the left and Walcott on the right. Walcott’s directness, probably, would’ve pushed their def. line back and given us some space. Else, Nasri on right and Eboue or Rosicky on left to counter Nani. Or even Song as RDM and Denilson as LDM and Wilshere as AM. Wilshere, may be, was one of the better players before he was injured. Wenger didn’t do anything different tactically. It was all too obvious that Fergie would deploy a CL-type side, as he’s done so many times previously. Yet after so many kicks in the teeth, Wenger did nothing to counter tactically. Why do you think ?

    Coming to the subs, I was expecting him to bring in Bendtner (instead of RvP or Cesc) to provide some directness or better attempts with set-pieces, since Chamakh wasn’t winning any of those headers. I’m really waiting for Diaby to come back. Also RvP to vacate the Cesc’s role. He can’t play well facing DMs or circulating the ball well, IMO.

    PS: I’m tired to seeing articles on the media about how Arsenal “misses” Vieira, Gilberto, Petit, etc. I think the problem, aside from the obvious economic one, is one which is tactical and for some of them mental.

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    The Brain Reply:

    It was a strange one because Wenger said his team was organised well. Which is fair enough to say but it is kind of flawed; the team did well, or rather Wilshere and Song, to organise themselves in a system which makes it hard for them.

    One way to alleviate that would have been to drop the wide men back and play Arshavin central , because as you say, we can’t keep relying on him, on the left, to come up with a moment of magic. It’s like Waiting for Godot.

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  14. Tee Song says:

    Interesting debate on Arshavin. I think deploying him centrally within our current 4-3-3/4-2-3-1, with it’s emphasis on high pressing, would be disastrous defensively. Imagine our 3 forwards pressing, fullbacks pressing and Arshavin in the middle, leaving a an easy outlet in the middle of the pitch who could then turn and pick out his pass while Andrey half heartedly skips toward him. Opposing teams would rip right through the center of the team like a hot knife through butter. The problem is that if you’re employing aggressive pressing in the opponents half, the entire team needs to work to deny passers time and space and to deny passing outlets. If one player isn’t working hard to do this, the whole system breaks down. Even out on the wing, Arshavin’s lack of defensive commitment leaves Clichy horribly exposed.

    While I think that he has the tools to be very effective as wide forward in our system, I believe that Arshavin probably feels most comfortable in a free central role behind a striker in a 4-4-1-1. This would allow him to express his talents while at the same time freeing him of defensive responsibilities as the team would basically defend deeper in two banks of four. The fundamental question is how much do you want to change the teams structure in order to accommodate him or do you simply accept the fact that our left flank will be exposed any time he plays?

    At this point I would point to Ferguson and how he uses Berbatov. He and Arshavin seem to be kindred spirits. Outrageously gifted, wildly inconsistent, lackadaisical in effort. There is no doubt that like Arshavin, Berbatov is capable of scoring or creating a goal out of the blue and can with a sublimely skillful shot or pass, unlock the meanest defense. And yet, often in the biggest games, he’s on the bench. Why? Because Ferguson willingly sacrifices a little “magic” for industry and defensive solidity. Berbatov plays against lesser teams, where his lack of defensive workrate is less likely to be punished.

    Personally, I think it’s time that Arshavin lose his place as an automatic starter. His offensive contributions, while significant, can’t justify his defensive deficiencies, especially when part of our defensive strategy is to press the opponent and win the ball in their half. The forwards have to defend in our system. Moreover, he sets a bad example for the rest of team. One of the main criticisms of this team has been complacency. What statement does it make that Arshavin is one of the first names on the team sheet? That as long as you provide a magical offensive moment once every three or four games you’ll be an automatic starter, no matter how poorly you work?

    I would like to see a forward three of Nasri, Chamakh or RvP, and Walcott. Nasri can provide a lot of what Arshavin was supposed to bring to the team. I would venture to say that he’s become the player we thought we were buying in Andrey. Theo adds an important element to the team in that he makes runs behind the defense and he can finish off those runs with goals. Just his presence will cause defenses to back off that extra couple of yards which can make all the difference. Especially with Cesc and RvP (knock on wood) coming back, we will have enough creativity in the side.

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  15. tt says:

    how do you make the tactics board

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    The Brain Reply:

    Made it myself using a graphics editing program. It’s all about hard labour man!

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  16. ……….Manchester United overwhelmed and thats understating it Arsenal at Old Trafford with a thumping 4-0 win in the 5th round of the FA Cup. The game brought back memories of Fulham and Roma from last season and had Rooney put his finishing boots on although its hard to fault the man after his efforts in the game it could have been much more humiliating for Arsenal..Manchester United dominated so completely that its hard to know where to start praising them Nani for his assists and the best finish of the game Anderson for his midfield dominance where was Fabregas? Rooney for his tireless running Carrick for his pin-point passing Park and Fletcher for their 150 effort Evra for his bombing runs Brown for his crunching and timely tackles the Wall that is Rio and Vidiceven Edwin van der Sar had his moment although it was for making the Old Trafford faithful laugh with his quick thinking instead of any memorable saves..Arsenal were under-strength and wed already had Arsenal fans getting their excuses in Im kidding David but the manner of their defeat and the way they got overrun was surprising.

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