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Looking back: Tactical analysis of Aston Villa v Arsenal

Arvind

This game was  our Monday night kickoff against Aston Villa. I’m going to try and keep up with our games and get these out as soon as I can after the games. Here goes.

Attack:

Sagna’s crossing has massively improved this season. He again puts 2 great balls in towards Giroud in the first 8 minutes. Giroud misses the first one, but I won’t fault him too much – it was more of a near post flick on header that Per wins on corners – hard to score those.

The second looked like a pull by Vlaar and could have been a penalty. Hmm. Dodgy 50-50 decision 1. The overall movement of the team is really good though, everyone’s had early touches and we’re keeping the ball really well. Santi is operating like a deep lying playmaker – he has hardly been on the left.

Ozil’s not having a great game although he’s trying to play a lot of nice balls. Sagna is in the game all the time. This also means that Villa Park is a big ground (I hope : D). At Craven Cottage for example, I doubt you’ll ever see  so much wide play. We’re playing neat football but really absolutely no end product – big fat bus parked. 30 minutes.

Goal – Wilshere. It’s a brilliant goal really. Not just coz of Ozil splitting the defence and Monreal’s cut back but the overall awareness. Just a minute ago Flamini was getting pressed by four people and under pressure – Ozil sensed that and dropped back into the left of midfield. Immediately Monreal sensed an opportunity and made the run , knowing the extra man was back there. The finish was great, slightly scuffed, slightly lucky probably – but the move deserved a goal.

Goal – Giroud. Lucky bobble off his knee. Brilliant first touch and a great strike though. Great Alex Songesque chip by Wilshere.  Suddenly we’re 2 up.

At corners Per is winning a number of headers at the near post and Kos is screaming in at the far post, while Giroud stays in the middle. These are all signs that we have many many weapons now, and they’re more effective. Earlier I used to wonder why we even bothered at corners – we were that bad. And oh..Cazorla’s long passing off either foot is as good as I have ever ever seen. He’s an unbelievably ambidextrous footballer.

Giroud’s passing has been very poor, misplacing a lot of simple passes. Having said that though, every single time he’s lost the ball he’s defended extremely hard running back 60 yards to help out in defence. It’s what you get from him – whatever he does or doesn’t he’ll work unbelievably hard and many times – that is enough.

Aston Villa haven’t got close. It’s some very fluent football being played, a lot of one touch passing which is very good to watch. Ozil’s played well too, much more involved than a few other games. Giroud’s a bit off his wavelength I think and the rest are all on the same level. They have to find a way to work together a bit better. Overall a great first half.

2nd half:

Passing is still very crisp and Sagna has been an outlet down the right for some reason for the first 10 minutes.  There’s something Giroud is frustrated about – he’s been complaining all game to someone or the other. Lovely move to put Monreal in – tackle just as he’s about to shoot – a great tackle too. Looks like he got injured in the process.

Ozil’s had a good game, he hasn’t made too many bad passes at all. It’s interesting that people don’t come close to putting a tackle in, the pass is already made before someone hits him. It might be a 5 yard pass, but you’ll rarely see him holding people off like Giroud does or going into a challenge – it’s like he’s an offensive version of Mertesacker.

Wilshere’s running the game now – completely. His passing has been a joy to watch this game cycling the ball from left to right and back. Gibbs sets Giroud up but he curls a shot wide – the technique looked terrible on my laptop, his body bent backwards at an awful angle. He’s worked really hard though Olly.

Playing only on the counter right at the end and Giroud is frustrated again with Ozil for not putting in a good ball. It’s been a hard game for him, he’s got his goal and worked hard but overall it’s not been a great game – too many mistakes.

Defence:

Kos is staying with Agbonlahor for sure while Mertesacker will deal with Benteke, who by the way has not touched the ball in the first 8 something minutes. At all. Nacho uses his right foot quite a bit – Gibbs could learn a bit from that, he’s overwhelmingly left footed. It’s also interesting how high both full backs are as we pass the ball around. The moment you see both Sagna and Monreal in the opposition third – it means the other team has parked the bus.

Wilshere gives the ball away and Delph has a crack but it’s a poor shot. Everyone said that this was Wilshere’s fault but it wasn’t a great ball either into him – he was stretching. This was very similar to the Ozil ball to Flamini, which Fernandinho stole at the Etihad. The first ball has to be an easier one.

Yellow card Monreal. Clear card. Not sure why he’s crying about it – clearly beaten for pace and didn’t get the ball. Hopefully the ref is consistent though. 36 minutes. I wish both he and Giroud wouldn’t keep throwing their arms up when it doesn’t go their way.  It irritates me. Monreal is a super backup LB though – on this form Gibbs has a fight to get back into the team.

Per has been just awesome after the goal. He was always playing really well, even in that so called poor first season of his. But now, there is just an aura of calmness around his game. I haven’t seen him make 1 single sprint. He just stands there and the ball come to him. It’s also interesting to watch Flamini work with the CBs – he’s always within 20 yards of either of them before he passes back. The moment Per or Kos step up, Flamini goes into CB.

2nd half:

Caught out on the counter very early – Bacuna’s shot straight at the keeper. When we’re sitting on a lead, we still need to keep our shape – not try and overcommit forward.

58 minutes. Still playing very well. It’s an aerial bombardment from Villa but we look good.

We’re definitely playing more in our half now, Sagna is forward a lot and Flamini is now at right back..no wait.. he’s now at CB as a 3rd defender. What I want to say is – he’s everywhere really – sees a gap and goes there. Also Szcz seems very very calm this game for some reason – he hasn’t had much to do but seems to be in the perfect position every time.

Someone gave the ball away deep in the Villa third which led to a counter and Benteke dragging a shot wide. I think Santi. Benteke has won a number of balls in the air today, they haven’t done much with it but he has played quite well I think. And then as I say it, Santi does really well to win possession back, but misplaces a tired pass, cross comes in..Gibbs is predictably inside, probably rightly so this time – cross comes in, great area… dangerous for Mertesacker to touch it for fear of an own goal..far post header. Goal Villa 1-2.

Ugly whack across the face for Rosicky by Agbonlahor. That’s a yellow card for me, the problem is the whole game is littered with these incidents and until there’s some consistency, nothing is ever going to happen.

We’re a bit rattled now, Szcz takes a poor goal kick resulting in another Villa attack and a huge defensive header by Per to save the day. Else that was 2-2.

Rosicky goes off, probably makes sense and the Ox is on. Meanwhile disconcertingly a cross somehow comes in from the left side despite Gibbs practically stuck to the attacker. There’s NO WAY that cross should come in. Sure Per heads it away but why did that cross come in, in the first place?

Dangerous cross. Push on Mertesacker but a poor header by Benteke else that was  2-2 which would have been a terrible 2 points to give away.

Summary:

In the end we just about hang on, with a very good performance from the defense. This was a classic English end-to-end game with a large number of aerial battles. We kept going though to our credit, and it’s an important 3 points. Well played.

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9 comments to Looking back: Tactical analysis of Aston Villa v Arsenal

  • Yassin

    Thank you Arvind for starting nearer games. I like this tactical posts on Untold, and thank you for taking the time to write it, i know how it feels to squeeze the time to do something when life is traveling so fast.

    Anyway, into the game, I believe our defence has been great all season, but sometimes mistakes happen, which can hurt, thank God Villa didnt equalize that day.
    Our problem is in attacking, we lost two players which we couldnt replace yet:
    1- Fabregas: is the one who used to lead the attacking side of Arsenal, am not talking about passing and capabilities, am talking about the missing Per or Arteta but up front. This player could move and make people move in the opponent half in a way that create chances, something we lack nowadays, we just pass the ball, but no plan how to get a goal, everyone is doing their best, Ozil, Ramsey, Cazorla are brilliant players but cant lead the the attack as Fabregas do. I think the nearest is Wilshere and Rosicky, but still we need one to replace Fabregas, am not talking about transfers, am talking about someone stepping up.
    2- Henry: No am not talking about a striker, am talking about a player who can get a goal out of no where. Like real madrid goal in CL, we need someone, anywhere in the attacking side of our team, who have the capabilities to make unbelievable stuff to get us a goal when we are off, not necessary score,but create. Those players are Hard to find, but for Arsenal to challenge Money teams, we need this player.
    3- ok i said two but maybe we need a Riley type of player ;P

  • Damilare

    Thanks Arvind for a job well done.

    I like what you said about Ozil being an attacking version of Per, I like that. Fast forward to Soton match, towards the end of the game, Arsenal was counter attacking and it was Ozil speeding (not like Theo but unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Ozil) away with the ball. I was impressed bcos it showed he was working on other aspect of his game already.

    He may not have Rambo’s engine or buzz all around the pitch but if he continues to improve on his stamina and speed, he will be some player.

    A bit off topic: I still cannot understand why the FA or PGMOL(Pig-mall) or whosoever that should act did not penalise Agbonlahor during or after the match for his cynical foul on TR7.

  • rantetta

    Arvind, apologies for this off topic input. Sam & Jose described in another language. Is it German?:

    http://youtu.be/Tumy3WX_wUM

    I’ll read your piece in the morning, Arvind.

  • Gunz

    @rantetta
    Same video, without the german.
    Jose is hilarious, ‘king media whore.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOgToHw7ABI

  • Arvind

    You are welcome Yassin, Damilare. I will try and do the Southampton game as soon as I can so I don’t lag too much. Read it when you can Rantetta : )

  • Sammy The Snake

    Last day of transfers, let’s keep updating Arsenal rumours and activities.

  • bjtgooner

    Nice write up Avrind. The only area I would qualify was the foul by Agbonlahor on Rosicky – I felt this was deliberate and would classify it as red rather than yellow – but would defer to Walter’s opinion.

  • Rantetta

    Thanks Arvind.
    This is a good article.

    I must say; I thought Villa were even ‘fouler’ than you’ve described but I haven’t watched the match a second time.

    I must admit that due to desperately trying to see which player is on the ball, and whom he could pass to, and ignore the plundits, it’s hard for me to see Tactics when viewing ‘live’ for the 1st time. This is partly why I find your pieces so interesting.

    On top of that I tend to have my head still brewing about injustices from the last match – in this case, Southampton.

    For me, not only should Agbonwhore been sent off (shouldn’t he have got at least 2 yellows in the match at the Em’s), but it’s unfortunately no surprise that the FA and plunditocrasy failed to act against Gabriella. He deserves all manner of karma for the way he and his team mates have assaulted us in the last 2 years. (Did you mention Benteke’s dives?)

    Ozil v Soton:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65DeXi8vmes

    Thanks again, good article.

  • Rantetta

    Gunz

    Thanks for the English version of Sam&Jose’s pressers. I love it, despite disliking both of those managers.

    Sam, an Englishman, spoke of how he “out-tacked” Moanreen. Priceless. Classic British football manager-like.