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Arsenal v Liverpool: the tactical analysis

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By Arvind (sorry I missed the name out earlier – Tony)

We won. Didn’t play as well. But we won. I’ll take it. And before I start off I’d like to say…if we had the mental strength we have now; in the season where Dudu had his leg broken; we’d have won the title that year. A big if..but hey that’s my honest opinion of things. On to the game then..

I thought the back four weren’t great to be honest. Specially for the first 30 minutes or so. Why do I say so? 2 main reasons. You rate a fullback defensively on 3 main points:

1– The ability to cut crosses out; or let the winger cut in and shoot

2– The ability to get back; from the attacking third quick enough

3– Defend set pieces and diagonal balls

Yes there are others, but if you do those 3 well..there’s a big chance you’ll have a decent game. Now neither Gibbs nor Sagna did points 1 or 2 well for a large part of the first half.

There were two many simple passes and one twos in midfield; which ended up in the ball getting to the final third on either flank. The Pool midfield didn’t even have to think. Get Ball. One Two. Third pass onto the wing. That’s definitely something that needs to improve else we’ll have trouble.

And all this meant that we kept chasing the ball all the time; and but for Superman Szcz would have been out of the game by halftime. The other point was that Arteta (looked knackered) and Benayoun vanished today, Song didn’t have a great game bar that gorgeous chipped pass at the end. So the first half, frankly I was thrilled to be level.

Vermaelen and Kos are too gung ho again and Suarez was kind of playing with them at times. They did hang in there and Kos specially made a few really good tackles and showed strength to get over his terrible own goal. But really… I’d like the defence to settle down a little. Maybe it’ll come.. they haven’t played too much together.

Did you guys see the ‘super duper slow mo’ camera on Suarez? He won’t be in England much longer; they’ll hound him out just like they did to Eduardo. He dived yes. But how many times have you seen that ‘slow mo camera’? Not me…in India anyway. Oh and zero zero replays of the Henderson incident. What happened to that? Oh wait…it was too graphic and children are watching TV. Give me a break..please.

I though Diaby had a fabulous cameo and calmed things down in midfield. An instant upgrade over Mikel today and you saw Rosicky applauding his efforts too. He went a long way in carrying the ball, adding that aerial presence and passing the ball around in a slightly physical (not dirty) encounter away from home. Hope he was taken off as a precaution and he’s fit for the next league game…Arteta needs a rest.

Yossi didn’t do much today and the swap for Gervinho was the right one; to show that we wanted the 3 points; and while we didn’t see much from the Ivorian, he helped Gibbs out in the last 15.

Suarez’s diving all over the place was sickening and I’m not convinced its a penalty; he’s left his foot in there; Szcz has not tripped him. Talking of which, it was a big MOTM performance by Szcz. How many keepers that you see are so big and have that much agility to make a double save? If he keeps his head on the ground..he has a big big future. His overall command of the area and sweeping up so much was top top draw. He’d had a dip in the middle of Jan and Feb (did any one notice?) but is back now. Very happy.

Theo was again more central today as the game went on and less on the RW. More or less confirming what I said on the Spurs analysis thread. But lets see. Will we play 4-4-2 next season? Maybe. Or can we play either formation based on the opponent? Yummy : )

The AOC for Diaby sub was good too; in the sense that Pool could never attack full tilt as they were scared of Arsenal on the counter. RVP, Theo, Gervinho and AOC all on the pitch..means its big danger if the Liverpool fullbacks pushed forward too much; which is where they’d got most of their joy this game.

When Kelly missed an open goal and Bellamy came on, I was worried that we’d bottle it and surely concede. But credit to us for hanging in there mentally, for having a much better second half and nicking (yes that is the right word) the points at the death.

And RVP.. What. A. Player. What a huge amount of work he did today. And what a finish. And what a lovely touch with him kissing Alex Song’s boots at the end. I’m sure he truly appreciates what he has and that he will stay on at Arsenal. Yes, a little bit of that is me hoping…but I truly truly wish he does a Ryan Giggs here.

Overall it was a scrappy game and one we could have lost badly if Szcz hadn’t saved us. But its 3 points. And we’re closer to third and further away from 5th. Here’s hoping for a Spurs loss tomorrow. Enjoy the weekend guys : )

 

13 comments to Arsenal v Liverpool: the tactical analysis

  • novice gooner

    I haven’t got a chance to read carefully. But I think you got the twitter id wrong there.

    UntoldArsenaArvind … missing L?

  • Sincere apologies for the screw up at the top – the article is by Arvind and our Twitter account is UntoldArsenal.

    Anyway, I have corrected it now.

    Doh!

  • wamberto

    Wengers injury list gets bigger every game,cant remeber the last time arsenal have started with strong eleven.
    All out attack vs milan!

  • what a goal

    it is true that arsenal did not press well at in the liverpool game. it could be down to 2 factors. first, tiredness from midweek internationals. secondly conserving energy for milan. pressing is an energy expending exercise. if that was the tactic then arsenal definitly got out of jail because places where no pressing led to defeats are littered all over the season.

  • JohnW

    Then the Milan game needs to see a change of tactics. Theo should be deployed as a striker to run at the centre halves, RVP to play the Bergkamp role; The Ox at right wing and told to run at the defender whenever he has the ball, Gervinho on the left and told the same. That may be would expose us to the counter attack, but AC Milan is not used to being attacked very much, especially if you attack the centre-halves.

  • nicky

    I may be in a minority but to me, tomorrow’s game falls into insignificance compared with (say) next Monday’s EPL match against Newcastle. Realistically, we have little chance of scoring at least 4 goals against experienced CL campaigners like AC Milan and it would be a shame if an all-out attack resulted in additional injuries.
    When I recall all the mayhem Arsenal went through earlier this season (even relegation was talked about) and realise where we are now. Firmly in 4th place and destiny in our own hands, it would be criminal to lose everything purely for a gung-ho display in search of a miracle.
    Let commonsense prevail. 😆

  • nicky

    Correction.
    After AC Milan I should have added “WITHOUT REPLY” Sorry!

  • bjtgooner

    Good analysis Arvind, very enjoyable.

    @nicky

    I sympathise with your comment, we don’t want more injuries to key players when wen need to keep the EPL momentum going – it is very important to beat Newcastle next Monday.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Agree the next game against Newcastle is far more important than tomorrows game.
    Kassai killed the little hope when not giving a blatant penalty for a foul on Van Persie (he has a habit in not giving us penalties in Europe). A 4-1 could be done when we would be on fire.

    But without almost our complete midfield as I think the only one who isn’t doubtful is Song (?) is almost impossible.

  • novicegooner

    a simple, spot on analysis, Arvind.

    I agree with you that our fullbacks didn’t have the best game. To me they’re constantly overloaded by Liv’s players. Sagna was overloaded by Suarez, who constantly moves to the wide-left, and Downing. It should be walcott who helped him out, but I think Walcott couldn’t afford to do that because it could leave Jose Enrique unmarked, which could be even more dangerous knowing that Enrique has the quality to attack. In my opinion, Arteta should help Sagna out by defending the zone between Sagna and Kos where Suarez loved to exploit, but as you said, Arteta was quite invisible.

    On the other flank, Gibbs was overloaded by Kuyt and Kelly, and sometimes Henderson too (Kos OG). It was because Benayoun didn’t track back Kelly. Consequently Kelly had space and time to deliver crosses. I actually expected Song to help out Gibbs, but he seemed reluctant to do that maybe because he’s worried about Charlie Adams runs.

    It’s a difficult situation for AW actually. With Benayoun, the team has more more creative talents to provide services for RVP but his not tracking back damages the team’s shape.

    and yes Diaby did very well. He opened up space for other players with his skill and it’s very sad that he’s injured his hamstring again.

  • Sammy The Sanke

    One of our own:

    Japanese teenager Ryo Miyaichi has been declared by Goal.com readers as the Asian player of the month for February after this week’s poll throughout our Asian editions.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I think the bleak game from Benayoun was because of sickness.
    Most of the time a sickness has an incubation time before it really becomes visible or you really feel sick. But it can already affect you without you realising it.
    Maybe traveling from Israel and back to England sitting in planes for hours made him sick? It could explain why he seemed short in this game as in the Tottenham game he worked really hard and was effective.

  • Yommex

    It speaks volume how FIVE of our players picked up injuries in our matches against Sunderland. Was it the pitch or the specific instructions from their managers to roughen the boys up? Maybe a combination of both.