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Arsenal’s tactical revolution slowly comes to fruition

by Tony Attwood

Last season Aaron Ramsey scored 16 goals in all competitions.  Which is a fairly decent total – until you remember that he only played 35 games, when it suddenly becomes a very good total.  It is almost one in two.  In the league it was 10 goals in 23 – again approaching the magical 50% mark.

Last season Olivier Giroud scored 22 goals in all competitions.  Not bad – although he did take 51 games to do it. In the league it was 16 goals in 36 games and he was our top scorer.

The year before that (2012/13) the top scorer was Theo Walcott with 21 goals in 43 games.  (14 in 32 in the league – 44%).  Giroud was second with 17 in 47 games.

Now the problem with having a goalscorer who dominates all goalscoring in the club is injuries – not just some accidental injury – the hamstring or something like that – but the Shawcross type injury where the player is taken out utterly and totally for months or years, possibly for life.   Many clubs these days go for two goalscorers.  Three is even better.

Looked at from this point of view, and considering just league games, last season we had Ramsey 10 in 23 (43%) and Giroud 16 in 36 (44%).  Theo got five in 13 (38%).

The season before it was Walcott with 14 in 32 (44%) and Giroud with 17 in 47 (36%).  Ramsey only got one goal that season in 37 league games.

Now, this is looking ok – not sensational, but not bad enough to start saying players are not up to it and should leave.

But let’s go a stage further.   Last season was Ramsey’s first as a significant goal scorer.  He changed positions and had his breakthrough season.  He also missed quite a bit of it with injury.

Last season was also Giroud’s second – and many strikers do take a couple of years to get going in a new league.   Last season Theo was putting in some superb performances before he got injured and we had to adjust yet again, to a significant player being out for a long time.

What we have got here is two players on the pitch who, injuries permitting, might well increase their goal scoring this season.  Ramsey because this is only his second season as a player getting into those positions, and Giroud because he’s now served his apprenticeship in the Premier League and knows what it is all about.

And we have Theo coming back next month.

Now two goalscorers in the time is pretty much required, both as a cover for injury and as a way of giving defences more problems – they are having to watch two players who might well pop up with the unexpected movement in the penalty area.

But three goalscorers – that is getting rather interesting.  And that is what we are heading for.   Three players who can score a goal on average in every two or three games.  That is not unknown, but it is quite rare.

Arsenal did not have this during the Unbeaten season – we had a total dominance of Henry and Pires.  In fact for the moment I can’t quite think when it did last happen (although it is Sunday morning as I write this and I went to a music festival yesterday so I might not be thinking straight.)

For me this implies that this is not the time to replace Giroud in the team.  What it is in fact is the time to play Alexis on the wing.  Now Alexis, last season scored 19 goals in 39 games – 48%.   Of course it was a different league, but anything approaching this in the Premier League is going to give us four players who could score once in every two or three games.

Just to reiterate this, and using league games only, as the measure that is consistent from one season to the next we have…

  • Alexis 48%
  • Theo 44%
  • Giroud 44%
  • Ramsey 43%

OK I have cheated a bit because I have used Theo’s figure not from last season but the season before, because last season was so truncated – but even if I took last season it was still 38%.

My view is that this is a revolutionary way of playing in the Premier League – a way that is designed to insure against injury and utterly bemuse defences.  Who is the defence supposed to mark?  Giroud, because he’s the big centre forward lurking in the area.   Theo?  How do you do that with his pace?

Ramsey? Well, he’s a midfielder, and you don’t normally mark box to box midfielders like you do centre forwards.   Alexis? Who knows how you mark him.  I haven’t seen him play enough yet.

It is a most interesting conundrum, and a complex one. For me part of the reason that journalists and their AAA allies have turned on Giroud is simplicity.  The poor saps like very simple things – and the classic notion of a centre forward scoring all the goals give them that.  “If you can’t see that Giroud is no good you are an idiot”.  You know the stuff.

But Wenger has always been the experimenter and the developer, and here he is doing it once again.

Of course experiments take time to bed in, and that setting-up period is happening in these opening games.  The fact that we have produced some scintillating football already, for example against Man C,  shows the coming together stage is working well.

Playing with four goalscorers in the team not only gives us a chance of more goals (obviously) but also gives the opposition a greater marking problem.  This is why I am not 100% convinced about the screaming and moaning about needing two new defenders.

Teams line up and use tactics not only to suit themselves but also to take account of the opposition.  You may recall how visiting managers bemoaned the fact that it was so hard to mark Henry.  But still they tried, which is why Pires scored so many goals – he found the space as Henry dragged the defence out of position.

Now we are slowly putting together something new – four goalscorers.   A team that comes at us and says, “so what – their defence is useless – look at the Chelsea, Man C and Liverpool results” might well score several against us again this season.  But if we can keep at least three of those four attacking players fit, there is every chance we will score more.

Given the choice I’d soonest see Arsenal win 6-1 or 7-0 as has happened in recent years.  But given the choice between 5-3 and 1-0 victories I’d sooner have the 5-3.

There is one other point.  I don’t go along with the statement “Arsenal had been waiting for a hero for nine long years before Ramsey fired the extra-time winner that decided the FA Cup final against Hull City” which is how the Telegraph described matters recently.  We’ve had heros through that time, although ultimately (for example RVP and Fabregas) they have let us down.

But I do agree with their analysis when the paper says, “It is no coincidence that Arsenal, having been top of the Premier League following the Boxing Day victory over West Ham in which Ramsey suffered a thigh problem, had dropped to fourth – and out of the title race – by the time the 23-year-old had returned at the start of April.”

That injury to Ramsey was catastrophic for us – and we know that if he gets injured again this season, it will be problematic.  But with three other goalscorers in the team, this season I am hoping that if it should happen again, it won’t be quite as catastrophic as before.

I think we should remember at this time, just how much the AAA hated Ramsey and cried out for him to be dropped, just 18 months ago.  Indeed not just dropped but sold – or given away.  The same AAA who now carry on about Giroud.   Sometimes it is important to remember what has been said in the past when judging what is said in the present.  All of us say silly things (well, maybe not all of us, but I know I do) but when those silly things are said over and over and over and over again, and are downright daft, it is worth remembering.

52 comments to Arsenal’s tactical revolution slowly comes to fruition

  • Mandy Dodd

    Food for thought here. Hopefully, Theo reaches former heights…..and there could be a lot of goals, from players in positions very hard for defenders to deal with. Would also like to see Ozil weigh in with a few more goals, have a feeling that may well happen.
    Sadly, no Poldi in your calculations? Think he also has quite a high percentage, but according to reports, looks like he is on his way.

  • Nelson Wong

    If they live up to their potential. This team will be quite terrifying.

    Two of them provide 20 goals and two provide 15 for the legue meaning 70 goals. Cazorla can give you 10 if he plays frequent enough. Ozil between 5 to 10 when he picks up his form.

    Then Koz will get 3 to 5, Per 1 or two. Other guys each will get one or two.

    The team can reach the 100 mark. 90 is quite a certainty if they perform up to standard.

  • Mandy Dodd

    All these snorers running into attack…..may even confuse the pgmol! They could even get our players mixed up when handing out cards!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Above….scorers, no AAA slip intended!

  • Leon

    Three games in and we have already lost both first team strikers, our first choice left back and our captain.

    That is the reason why Arsenal won’t win the Premiership and fans should be asking the question of why does Arsenal suffer injury after fucking injury when no one one else suffers such damage.

    Wenger and his prehistoric training programme is to blame for this but at usual the dinosaur is so set in his ways to realise the damage that is being caused just as he is too ignorant to realise that Arsenal are so predictable to their opponents its EASY to play against them…

    But to so many Wenger is god and does not make mistakes…

  • doug

    muppet alert

  • great article as always, av always found myself endlessly defendin Giroud, i also thot startin him 4rm d bench wil help d haters to see his importance to d team bt instead sum nw saw him as a gud playa off d bench

  • WalterBroeckx

    I think Leon has missed that we now have the physical coach that guided Germany to the world cup. Oh well…

    Or maybe he guided Germany to the world cup with prehistoric training programmes?

  • Walter,

    Recall when some of us insisted that it was the kicking and not our medical team that are responsible for our injuries? Well…..

    By the way, there is no indication that Ollie is injured. Gibbs and Arteta are back in a few weeks but when you want to post nonsense on the Internet there is no reason not to. I just hope there will be no whining from the rubbish talker or some over-sensitive apologists when others push back and push back hard.

  • Mick

    @Leon (the training expert)
    Can you tell us in detail how Arsenal go about their training, what they are doing wrong and what is prehistoric about it Then could you educate us as to how you would go about improving it.

  • para

    Hope we get our defence sorted soon. At the moment the new positioning of players are not yet as perfect as the old, but soon we will have a double good defence(i mean two defences to choose from).

    I predicted Everton is going to be our new bogey man(and not just ours, so is not just negative), because they(Martinez) really prepare for a team.

    Wednesday we know what is at stake if we let them score, so our defence AND indeed the rest have to be sharp and work hard.

    We have enough depth now to have a good squad for the next game without making players too over tired.

    Let us get CL sewn up and then we can go on a run. (to the end of the season anyone?)

  • Pete

    It is very easy to spot the trolls…

    Any use of the words/memes “dictator”, “dinosaur” or “OGL” show that they have a structural inability to think for themselves – and just parrot what they seen on toxic sites.

    All credible fan surveys (i.e. those not restricted to the cronies of the miserablist in chief) – even those run by the naysayers – show large majorities supportive of the club’s management. That is the Board, Gazidis and Wenger.

    A bit like insect bites – you know you shouldn’t scratch them, but sometimes the compulsion is too strong…. So f*ck off Leon.

  • Philbet

    The problem is people judge not on what they see but on what they expect to see,Giroud plays CF for Arsenal he has to score 25 goals per season and be the outstanding man of the match performer in at least 10 games,Ozil cost £42Mill he must pull up trees immediately They ignore the contribution to the team and sometimes even to the result because there expectation is greatness,I have just re-watched yesterdays first half and without doubt Alexis was our standout player,yet he was sacrificed for the team and few (if any) will agree with my assessment but I am happy to sit through the half again with anyone,The real facts about yesterday were, we bossed the game up until they scored (against the run of play) boyed by scoring Everton had a good spell, got a second (by default) and went in 2-0 up, we tried and tried and eventually clawed our way back into the game to (scrape) a draw,we were playing a top 6 side away, we had a pretty make shift back line so it is only reasonable to expect a little rustiness from the back 6 (inc Flamani & Schz) yet after going behind drew, however to read the media we had a disaster whilst Everton had a blinder, the facts don’t back any of this up,while ever we have fans who expect to win every game unchallenged we will always have the moaners and knockers, this months Giroud is last months Arteta and last years Arshavin or Walcott or Denilson or Squilaci etc, if people cant think with accuracy of thought how can you expect them to be objective with opinions.

  • Pete,

    I love your last paragraph!

  • proudkev

    Good article.

    Theo was a big loss last season, not just with his goals and assists but how he affects other teams. Too many fans naively believe you need a 30 goal striker and you’ll win things. That’s not the case. Football is changing, we are seeing false nines and less reliance on one player to score goals. In many ways we were spoilt with Wright and Henry, these players are rare yet some fans think you pluck these from the trees.

    Arsenals fluidity will come. We have new players to integrate and those coming back will improve us. It is a sign of our quality and attitude that we can get points late in games where we have not been anywhere near our best.

    My only concern is backup for Giroud. I like the fact that Sanogo stretches the game and look at his influence in the FA Cup, when he came on and in the community shield, positively. With Podolski leaving I can’t help but feel that we still need an addition. Not a 30 goal striker but another option.

  • InitialsBB

    @proudkev, Sanogo, Walcott, Alexis, Campbell could deputise for Giroud. Surely the defence is another/ bigger concern? Imagine injuries to Kos and Mert simultaneously.

  • greencardusa

    Wenger always spoke of players playing for one another. Therein, lies not only the greatest strength of a team but also the greatest possibilities for each players growth. We know the talent of each player, and can only hope for a consistency where players are supportive and make things happen for one another. Of-course injury and knocks affect how well this can happen so that we are mindful not only of that playing for one another when every single one is fit and injury-free, but also when some are carrying knocks. This goes for the fans as well! Our support for the team when all is well and when we are forced to play some with knocks.

  • Pete

    Boo – I was inspired by all the previous rodent-related comments!

  • mika

    two games in and five players already on the injury list (not including Theo) Ospina, Arteta, Kos, Gibbs and now Giroud (could be out for a couple of weeks) I thought the new fitness guru was going to improve our injury record? Well at least we will be top of one league again this season! lol

  • mika

    I think the week ahead needs to be a very busy one in terms of transfers. I doubt there is an arsenal fan on the planet who doesn’t know we need a CB and a CM to come in! After what has felt like weeks being ‘on the verge of signing’ Kostas Manolas, it sounds as though he is off to Roma to replace the outgoing Mehdi Benatia (Bayern Munich). It feels very much like business has been out on hold until we know our CL fate and its not the first time we have seen this happen. It’s an argument I can’t really subscribe to. Even if we were not playing in Europe, any team wanting to compete domestically needs a proper compliment of 4 CBs. Wenger himself said recently that he bought Chambers to play as a full back and was surprised by his form at CB. So in truth, its turned out to be a decent stroke of luck and nothing else! For a club such as ours to start the season with 2 recognised CBs (one of which was being rested!) is madness. Actually its appalling. As for midfield…..well we saw what happened last season against our main rivals. The lack of power and discipline in the middle of the midfield was a major factor in that. Europe aside, we need to address that position if we are to make a proper stab at winning this league.Regardless of which tournaments we are competing in, the problems that need solving are still the same.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Give the guy time mika he has only just arrived. Ospina was injured when Shad arrived….like theo. Giroud and arteta impact injuries, cannot do much about that. Have read a lot about shad, the organisation fron which he comes from and his methods…..think given time he , alongside our current staff will help reduce day to day injuries, as well as those caused by ref neglect…..but he does not have a magic wand…..and even if he does, three weeks not quite enough time. But from what I have read, he is at the forefront of what he does, his previous charges, the Germans were the fittest team in Brazil, not their natural climate…..as with the England team whose fitness levels dropped so dramatically after the first game….so give this guy time…..marginal gains and all that

  • Mandy Dodd

    Mika……Manolas…….Roma…..who cares?

  • An “lol” following a comment about injuries to Arsenal players? That’s a new low for the ‘non-existent’ AAA.

    Also, where is the “Giroud is injured” nonsense coming from? Giroud is not injured. At least there is no information to that effect on Arsenal.com and AW spoke about him today.

  • “Arsenal fear Olivier Giroud could be ruled out for as long as three months IF a second scan confirms that he has a broken ankle.”

    Why not wait till the scan result comes out before running the story?

  • Mandy Dodd

    Really hope you are right Bootoomee, like you, have a lot of time for him, but this is in the Telegraph so would give it about a 33% chance of being true I guess, but this source worries me more than some I could mention…..

  • Mandy Dodd

    A news outlet ain’t going to wait for a second scan…..not with a vital Arsenal player anyway…..fear the worst sadly, also concerned at the lack of news on another I rate highly, our skipper….

  • Mandy Dodd,

    I am not claiming any insider knowledge of the state of Giroud’s ankle; so there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ here 🙂 I understand your concern as you and I are probably his biggest fans anywhere!

    I have been worried about Ollie since he held his foot at the end of the game on Saturday but the guy is built with titanium and I hope he is okay. I have been refreshing Arsenal.com (the only outlet I trust on all things Arsenal) for information on his health but there has been absolutely no mention of the matter IN ANY FORM. Absolutely nothing and Wenger has talked about him in 2 separate articles published yesterday and today. There isn’t even any mention of him getting some knocks or anything like that. If there is a knock, Wenger would usually allude to such and then say that we are waiting for the result of a scan, or something like that, for final confirmation.

    I desperately hope that I am not misguided. I hope that he is indeed alright.

  • proudkev

    The funny thing is that all those slagging off Giroudcwill now use his injury to beat up Wenger.

    Every injury we get is usually blamed on Wenger or the club. It’s. A nonsense of course. Losing Arteta and Giroud to impact injuries so early in the season stops that red zone rubbish the AAA use. We lost Ox in last seasons first game another impact injury.

    I already said I thought we needed another Giroud type and this potential injury, with Pod off, suggests I was right.

  • Mandy Dodd

    I hope he is ok as well…..as I do Arteta…..and the currently under reported Diaby. As you say OG is robust but a guy that Wenger says fights 50 battles a game is going to break down at some point, just hope it is not now! But being reported on other outlets as well.
    Whatever the truth of this, or non truth, sure the guys are going a about their business accordingly

  • Mandy Dodd

    Proud kev, another giroud is not easy to find, especially amongst the reported replacements, if true, the aaa will soon see the value of this fine forward……then blame wenger as they always do.
    For a team used to the odd injury crisis , this is turning into one of the worst. Cannot remember a start of season this bad…..but stand to be corrected….
    IF true, the aaa media angle will be why didn’t wenger sign Balotelli ….or any number of other players…..hindsight……..

  • proudkev

    Mandy, you are right. The AAA just make things suit, they really are not supporters if our club. They seem to get off on disrespecting the manager, players, fans and ultimately the club. I think they’ve dug a hole for themselves and that means they feel that good results prove them wrong

    Giroud is a very good player who received unfair criticism.

    Good night.

  • @Mika
    “It feels very much like business has been out on hold until we know our CL fate and its not the first time we have seen this happen”

    Where in the world does that stmnt. make sense, we have signed a “new” attacker, replaced 1 defender, and signed another “new” defender who can play multiple positions and replaced a GK , all of this before even the emirates cup kicked off, so how do you make it out that business is on hold because we don’t know our CL fate ?
    Agreed that we haven’t replaced Vermalen yet, but wenger has said he will replace vermalen If he leaves, so he will replace him, wait till august 31 for it.

  • omgarsenal

    Congrats Leon….you are now on the hallowed list of AAA assholes whose verbal diarrhea is exceeded only by their poor grammar and stupid cut and paste parroting of illogical nonsense. Tony & Walter; I have decided to begin this list with the occasional cretin like Leon, who slithers on to UA vainly hoping that someone will agree with him or her. They quickly wither and slither away to the LeGrovel website or other sewers that constitute their home.

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    We have had a fantastic summer transfer season.
    If Giroud’s injury is short term (a couple of weeks): the Boss will hold off buying aCF.
    If Giroud’s injury is serious (the reported 3 months): the Boss will likely buy a CF.
    In the interim, it is best to wait for EVIDENCE!!!!!!!
    A lot of business will take place after Wednesday.
    There are far more selling clubs than buying ones.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The English language has some wonderfully anthropomorphic collective nouns for the various groups of animals.
    We are all familiar with a Herd of cows, a Flock of chickens,
    a School of fish tand a Gaggle of geese.

    However, less widely known is a Pride of lions, the family a Murder of crows the family (as well as their cousins the rooks and ravens),
    an Exaltation of doves the family and, presumably because they look so wise, a Parliament of owls.

    Now consider a group of Baboons.

    They are the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive and least intelligent of all primates. And what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons?
    Believe it or not ……. a Congress!

    A CONGRESS OF BABOONS!
    You just can’t make this stuff up.

    My question would be -” What is a group /gathering/ collection of the AAAA called ?”
    a) A puking ?
    b) A dibbling ?
    c) A crapping ?
    d) A shitload ?
    e) A babbling ?
    f) A gleeting ? (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gleet?s=t)

    Come on , you guys, give it a try – you KNOW you want to !

    ”Life’s tough … it’s even tougher if you’re stupid.”- John Wayne

  • ARSENAL 13

    In all this we are missing one name, Wilshere. Wilshere will develop into a goal scoring midfielder. May not be Ramseyesque, but will score his way into double figures. He might take time but by the end of this season he’ll be there. Ramsey + Wilshere will combine to get us around 30 goals (that may be next season).

  • Jambug

    Been away and a bit out of touch but just heard on the radio Girouds ankle broken and out for 3 months.

  • Jambug

    I hope you are right Boo, although it sounded like it was said as a ‘fact’ as opposed to ‘Arsenal fear’ type speculation.

  • Jambug

    SKY just said ‘it is feared’ so still conjecture it seems.

    SKY are at the Arsenal training ground today watching us train and speaking to Wenger so we could possibly get a better insight than usual.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Always Fear the worst when it is us and injuries……and then there is the remote chance of a pleasant surprise. Only we could have the misfortune to possibly lose our main striker to having a ball kicked at his ankle!

  • bjtgooner

    Latest from Sky – re Giroud.

    Arsenal still assessing situation, AW news conference at 1.00pm.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Hopefully a bit of news on Arteta as well……very quiet on that front, unless I have missed something

  • bjtgooner

    @Mandy

    I read that Arteta was making progress & that he should be available to play Man City mid Sept. However I don’t know the original source & reliability of the comment.

  • Jambug

    Mandy Dodd

    My brother once broke his ankle kicking the corner flag whilst taking a corner.

    So alas there’s still a few unexplored avenues for Arsenal players to explore with regards to getting injured 🙂

  • Sean

    Wenger has sat on his hands and watched talent go elsewhere… only an injury can force him into action. That holding role is another area where not even 3 shoddy performances can shake him into the realisation we don’t have anyone.All the gaps are obvious. Yet again the injuries are piling up. We’re still playing the same way we always have done.

  • It is always best to wait for confirmation from Arsenal.com on anything Arsenal. It’s what I do. There is no need to hurry, we’ll know sooner or later. Having said that, I hope Ollie is fine.

  • Troll alert!!!

    Don’t feed the troll folks.

  • Dave C

    Lol, only injuries can force Wenger into action. I could of swore we bought a bunch of players recently. Am I missing something, or are you really retarded?

  • Gooner S

    @Dave C

    Yes, apparently you and indeed I are missing something; seemingly Wenger has only signed 1 player because ..wait for it…. the others are replacements. Only Sanchez is currently an addition. So Chambers, Debuchy and David Ospina don’t count. “What about Campbell?” I hear you say! Don’t go there. He was an Arsenal player all along. Doesn’t count. Seemingly I shouldn’t be pleased at all with what we’ve done pre-season. My mistake. It’s also probably wrong of me to think that some of our intended targets are waiting until Arsenal get Wednesday’s result out of the way before they commit to joining us or not versus other opportunities they may have.

  • Dave C

    Gooner S,

    Thanks for making it all clear. For a minute there, I thought Sean was an inferior human being, but my mistake. I shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Haha.

  • menace

    That was such a bad thing Wenger did. He went onto the field of play and kicked Giroud in the leg and damaged him. Wenger out!!!

    PGMOL my beloved supplier of cheats anon allow a wild kick at Giroud to go unpunished. I do not like to wish evil on anyone but ………

    Arsenal are better than any bunch of cheats and despite their influence on our magnificent game we will continue to be the most successful club without selling our soul.