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Return of Henry/Pires tactic spells new era for Arsenal

It is on occasion forgotten that Henry didn’t do it all on his own.  Most of the time he had Robert Pires to help him.  It took over a year to get right, but when it did work it was stunningly simple.

Henry could always be relied upon to spend some of his game on the left wing, and when he did that he would invariably drag two defenders with him.   Pires would then toddle into the centre forward position ready for the pass that allowed him to score.

It worked so many times that it was always a wonder that other teams didn’t get it – but it is a measure of the quality of these two players that they got away with it for so long.

Repeating the trick is harder, although we’ve seen it start with Adebayor taking increasing numbers of excursions to the left wing.   Now we are starting to see why – Nasri is turning up in the middle more and more often.  We’ve even seen Bendtner going out left, so Nasri can work more and more down the middle.

OK, Nasri is not Pires – not yet.  But don’t forget that Nasri is younger than Pires was when he joined, and Pires had a very dull and ordinary first year with us (of course we now forget the cries that he should be dropped – what we now remember is Player of the Year and the rest of the team bowing down to him when he hobbled up to collect his championship medal).  On that basis Nasri is operating above schedule.

This could be the magic that Wenger has seen and is trying to develop.   Adebayor playing down the middle but confusingly ending up on the left wing, Van Persie playing behind the front player (and I have to say Van P is looking better and better to me.  I know the game was against an ordinary lower league team yesterday, but the last goal showed focus and concentration, and a lot of skill), with Nasri drifting into the middle.

Nasri spent a lot of the past year injured, and that is why he was available on a transfer.  People talked of the new Zidane, but that was more in hope than expectation.  But Wenger’s insights are generally more right than wrong.  It is not functioning anything like fully yet, but I think this is where it is going.

PS: Don’t forget Highbury High next week.   Including “It’s Football Jim, but Not As We Know It” – a stunning and remarkably amusing little number written by someone.

(c) Tony Attwood (come on guys stop nicking my text and sticking it up on other blogs – go and write your own) 2009.

9 comments to Return of Henry/Pires tactic spells new era for Arsenal

  • FunGunner

    Interesting. Perhaps it would suit Cesc as well, as he seems to be staying deeper this season. And Nasri certainly has more acceleration and is a great finisher.

  • ryan

    i love having nasri and an in-form rvp together. rvp has as much natural talent as any player in the world. he hadn’t started the season that well by as they say form is temporary, class is permanent. it was only a matter of time before he found the form (and then some) which got him described as an early bergkamp. the fact is an on-form rvp is totally unplayable and i’m so fucking glad over the past month or so he’s started to refind that killer sharpness that makes him such a truly special player.

    if nasri can either somehow playwith cesc (sadly i don’t see it working out) or if he can keep improving on the wing i feel there is a potentially unplayable group of players emerging. rvp, nasri and cesc have the potential to be quite unstoppable in the same way henry,bergkamp and pires were. if nasri will keep getting forwards cesc doesn’t need to score because he can put them on a plate for rvp and nasri. and that’s ignoring our horribly out of form but potentially great ade, our returning eddie, our up and coming vela and wilshere. if we can sort out dm and get in a defense coach we can have a fantastic team overnight, literally.

  • kg

    I like this analysis, but what can we do about the other CM position? Is Denilson, Diaby or Song the answer?

  • MAte i suggest you get some free legal protection if you are having trouble with people copying your writing.

    Check my ‘about me’ on my blog and use what it do if its any help!

  • simon

    I’ve seen enough of Samir Nasri to convince me that he can play a more creative role in the middle of the park for Arsenal. With Fabregas, Walcott and Rosicky missing we have lacked a creative spark in the team and Nasri, with a more central role, can provide us with that.By moving Nasri into the middle of midfield and playing Vela on the left, Arsenal would cause teams plenty of problems. I’m sure Vela is ready to play more regularly now and despite Wenger saying he is a striker he looks comfortable down the left flank. With Vela naturally left footed it will provide the team with more balance. I know throughout the years Arsenal haven’t played the game with natural wingers but Vela can come inside as well because he is confident to do so. We still need to buy players though, and I think that despite this “remedy” another creative player is needed. Arteta is a player who could do a job in the middle or out wide but I think another type of player is needed first. I still feel Arsenal need to buy a defensive midfielder and that should be at the top of Arsene Wenger’s shopping list. I know Wenger loves to attack but defence is the most important part of a successful team. I honestly feel that a defence made up of Sagna, Gallas, Djourou and Clichy is solid enough. However, the defence seems to have a lack of protection from the midfield and that is why we look so vulnerable at the back. A player who can allow the midfield to attack and protect the back-line is something Arsenal have been missing this season. If we get the right player to play this role it would cut out a lot of goals that we concede.

  • raj

    Great analysis. Totally agree with most of what you say – though one addition, we need to bring in someone to stop conceding the goals.
    I’m sure wenger has got someone lined up but it’s all vyer hush hush @ the mo.

  • chris

    I think Villa have used their Nine Lives already. They are everyone’s flavor of the month at the moment, but I think it is a little over the top and over-hyped in the press and among the pundits. They had better put much more cushion between themselves and the other contenders for the last Champions League qualifying slot, because, frankly, I believe their massively good fortune this season will turn at some point. The last second goals will turn against them. The ref’s decisions have gone their way this season and I sense a few to go against them at some point that will decide matches. An injury to a few of their starters and it could all go pear shaped as they are paper-thin. They also seem to leak goals and this with one of the best keepers in the league running the back. The press and pundits lauded their point against Arsenal at home, but none of them noted it was against what was close to a reserve side for Arsenal. They were gifted an own goal v Hull, and Hull fully deserved a point in that match, but all you read and hear is how wonderful Villa are. This is the over-hyped review at the moment. The press and pundits ride the wave and build you up only to take an unnatural glee in tearing you down later. Villa beware. Arsenal are nowhere near full strength yet and you still have no distance –

  • carry

    It’s been a hard year for Gooners. From potentially winning the League with a team that no-one rated outside the Emirates, to where we are now.

    Even harder for most of us is the fact Gallas is still around.

    Player-wise last year we should have had the best defence in the world – Sagna and Clichy were the best fullback partnership by far in the PL and Toure and Gallas on paper were two of the best defenders in the world. Yet together they could not defend.

    Instead look at how Man U won the league – Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo scoring whilst Rio (who no matter what the papers say isn’t world class) working incredibly well with Vidic. Wenger saw this at the end of last year and yet brought in no-one but Sylvester – third choice at Man U. Did he try and buy others? Certaily if the rumours we hear are true.

    In reality Gallarse has cost us points against (amongst others) Hull, Fulham, Stoke and probably the title against Man U last season. Add to this he mouths off and provides poor leadership and this does mean he is not fit to play for Arsenal.

    FFS Get Senderos back and play him with Djourou if no-one else is available. At least he tries and tends to have his worst moments against the obviously leaving Drogba.

    There is a culture of laziness at the moment. Send Song and Diaby (both of whom AW has extolled massive amounts of loyalty in return for very little) on loan to a Champions league side. If they can adapt to that and not assume that other teams will capitulate to us then they may stand a chance.

    Buy Flamini back. If he costs us £20m it would be the best signing we could make. He would provide energy, dynamism and grit – all three of which have been lacking at the Emirates. When we have our players fit we have an overload of creativity.

    How to make the most of this? Play 4-1-4-1. A decent back four with a screening player meaning the fullbacks can get forward, giving the ability for Van Persie, Diaby (if he is still about), the ever broken Rosicky, Eduardo, Walcott, Denilson, Ramsey, Fabregas, Wilshere, Adebayor, Vela, Nasri et al to get forward and still have cover. Even Bendtner could do well off of them.

    Perhaps a year outside the Champions League would do us good, the problem is though if we qualify with the team as it is AW may well see it as justification of his policies and we go into 2009/2010 with no new additions.

    Make no bones about it. Arsenal are in crisis. But it is a crisis we have made for ourselves. We have been spoilt by our success.

  • Colonel Mustard

    “Arsenal are in crisis. But it is a crisis we have made for ourselves. We have been spoilt by our success.” – WRONG – we are hardly in crisis but are in decline in our standards by Arsene’s stubborness to prove us all wrong with sub standard players. thats where we are. refusing to strenghten for this season was criminal and negligent on the basis of what went last season in terms of injuries and players out.