Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The team vs. the individual: Arsene's new system.

Three games and 12 goals should leave no room for complaint.

Yes, the opposition was weak at the weekend, but so what? I remember going to a string of games in January/February last season where we played fairly mediocre opposition and couldn't buy a goal.

Portsmouth might be a shambles, but we can only beat the teams put in front of us.

Moreover, the other two teams we've beaten may not be top-top-level quality, but is anyone suggesting that Goodison Park or Parkhead are easy places to go and get results?

Three games in August and three wins; and by my predictions we will have two more before the month is out.

I think we will see the game out tonight without much difficulty, and will probably put at least another two goals past the celts.

Beating United at OT will be a huge ask, but I think, despite their demolition of Wigan on the weekend, that United are a team entering a difficult period of transition.

They have very little midfield to speak of the at the moment, they have Michael Owen as their third-choice striker, and if Rooney doesn't perform (which admittedly he almost always does when they play us) they will definitely struggle against a side brimming in confidence and full of dynamism. And if they don't buy before the end of the transfer window, something is afoot behind the scenes at the club. Fergie is not the type of manager to bank a cheque for £80m, no matter what he may protest in public.

The things that's struck me about the way we've been playing at present is how it seems to be ensuring that someone will be presented with a chance to score for us at regular intervals within games. It's less that our forwards aren't scoring, and more that the onus isn't on them to get all the goals.

Even if it worries me a little that players like Arshavin and, in particular, van Persie don't seem to have fully clicked into the system, does it really matter if the team is winning? Does it matter if van Persie scores or not, even if he is our nominal 'striker' if he's provided three assists in two league games? Whilst I'd like to see Arshavin in a central role - if more of our squad can perform to the peak of their ability by him being shoved out to the side (and only shoved out there a bit in any case), does it matter if he doesn't get four goals in every game?

Ultimately the formation seems to be encapsulating a lot of what Jonathon Wilson predicted in his excellent book, 'Inverting the Pyramid'.

Future trends in the game, at least at its highest-levels, will be towards 'universalism': Playmakers who can tackle, wingers who can cut inside and swap wings, centre-forwards who have the technique and passing ranges of midfielders, defensive players who can bring the ball out of defence and start attacks.

Total football for the Champions League generation.

And that's what strikes me about critics of the new system who say that Bendtner hasn't scored, van Persie hasn't scored, Arshavin isn't contributing enough. Who cares as long as we win?

If we can successfully continue our progress towards a system that has 5-6 players across the midfield and forward line who can effectively interchange positions, we will overwhelm our opponents, as we saw in the breathtaking 15 seconds that led to Diaby's second goal.

So, I'm excited about this season. I'm still hoping one more central midfielder comes into the squad before September 1st, but I think, if nothing else, we are in for a year of entertaining football. And let's all try and be positive for once!


Anonymous said...

thats actually an insightful look at the tactics wenger is playing. Everyone (myles palmer i mean) is disappointed our strikers have not scored, but soon they will click. I just hope its an man yoo and city, cos if we get 4 points MINIMUM we will start being spoken of as challengers. Unfortunately, I still think Chavski will win it as they can grind out results.

Anonymous said...

People have to complain to get better educated or well informed. it is normal to worry that the strikers arent scoring.
the good thing about it is they are part of the team and contribute to the play that leads to goals.
i for one am glad goals are coming from the midfield and its really been a while that happened.
the strikers will score.
i cant understand anybody saying Arshavin isnt contributing or is left on the wings. He goes to wherever he feels he should be in the game.

Anonymous said...

i feel we will beat utd on sat if fab plays this system is proving great just need backup for song senderos will stay

Unknown said...

C'mon guys, tell me which team has a massive array of pottential goal scorers who can deliver like Arsenal? It's clear that Arsenal is a team that doesn't depend on one or two players for goals, and that's hugely positive.

Anonymous said...

Fanner said.. the most dangerous team to play against is that everyone can score. Imagine u cannot predict who is going to score against you. I don't see it an issue for our strikers not scoring, and i feel it is better to have goals among all our players, from all cylinders!! cheers !!

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