By Tony Attwood
One of the things that fascinates me is that many people who pontificate on football (as I admit I do) often don’t look at the home and away form of the teams playing each other. I think that if one does that one can begin to make more realistic predictions about how the game might go and what team we should put out.
Also I think there is a tendency to focus on individual players, rather than the way the whole team will work during a match.
Now I am no tactician when it comes to football, but I thought I would try and outline my thinking – so you can have lots of laughs and tell me where I am getting this wrong. And, because Untold doesn’t take down articles, no matter how wrong they are proven to be, we can see how Mr Wenger ignored all my advice and did something totally different.
The Away Table
In the away table Arsenal are on top despite having played one game fewer than 70% of the clubs in the top ten. In particular our away form is bringing in the goals. Liverpool and Man City have scored one more away goal than Arsenal but Liverpool has played an extra game.
We are quite obviously averaging two away goals a game – exactly double the likes of the almighty Manchester Mourinho.
The Home table
The home table shows Sunderland resolutely bottom without a win and with four goals scored and nine against. They score one goal a game, and let it two or more.
|12||West Ham Utd||5||2||1||2||5||8||-3||7|
Now obviously the two managers will know this and will be looking at the numbers as they plan their tactics.
However tactics can only be based on actual players and their habitual style of play, so not every option is open.
Sunderland’s home form vs Arsenal’s away form
|Team||Sunderland home||Arsenal away|
|Shots on target/game||3.3||5.8|
Quite clearly Arsenal are going to have the bulk of the possession, and have a greater ability to make a successful pass.
But here is an interesting issue: Despite being on the receiving end of the attacks, Sunderland make fewer tackles – which may explain why their card level at home is low, despite committing more fouls than Arsenal. What they appear to rely on to get the ball are interceptions.
With an average of only 3.3 shots on target per game, and with Sunderland not playing an offside trap in the style of Swansea away, Arsenal can afford to push forwards while keeping the back four and one defensive midfielder in place, should Sunderland intercept and mount a quick counter attack.
Using these figures we can predict that Arsenal will get around 16 to 17 shots in the game; all we have to do is stop interceptions of our passes that could lead up to a goal..
So, how does one stop interceptions?
Either by being increasingly accurate, or by playing short passes, or by playing long passes through gaps onto very fast running forwards.
What this means is that Santi Cazorla, assuming he can’t play, will be missed, as will Xhaka, who is suspended. Both could supply the balls through.
But all is not lost because instead we can use Ramsey sitting next to Coquelin (assuming Ramsey is fit to play).
Then in order to receive these fast and accurate through balls, Ozil should play in his attacking midfield (rather than the additional forward role he sometimes takes up) spraying the ball out to our forward runners.
What we could then do is try and confuse the Sunderland defence further by talking up the ability of Alexis the centre forward before the game, but then playing him on the wing with Giroud in the middle, with Theo on the other side. Or if we want all out speed play Alexis in the middle, with Theo on one side and Oxlade-Chamberlain on the other.
Or indeed Arsenal could use one of these two combinations for the first hour and then the other for the last half hour.
If this approach works then Ramsey could start moving forwards more, especially in the latter parts of the game, leaving Ozil free to go a-wandering.
Now there is one further benefit from this approach. With fast moving forwards having the ball, it is harder for referees to ignore serious fouls – which is what we are predicting could happen in this game. It doesn’t mean the serious fouls on the forwards will always be given, but a defender chopping down a fast running forward is so obvious most of the time, that referees who tend to meander in their ability to follow the rules, sometimes back off a little from their dedicated desire to do Arsenal down, in such circumstances. (For more on the ref, see Andrew’s commentary in the top article listed below.
Of course I am sure Mr Wenger will have a much better plan, but I still thought I’d give a bit of tactical whatnot a try – just to see how far out I am in terms of the real match.
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