Variation and the confusion is now the key for Arsenal



By Bulldog Drummond

We now have a decent video of the Arsenal game against Barcelona available so it must be time to take a further set of thoughts about the game.

“This is fluidity in the extreme,” announced the Telelgraph considering the game.  “Look closely, Arsenal’s forward line are not always where you think they’ll be,” says The Athletic… “Xavi says friendly is ‘like a Champions League tie’,” says the Guardian.   

It was another sloppy start from the Gunners says the Mirror.

Mind you the Mirror aren’t the only publication to go for a wander.  “Man City scandal is not about fair play – it’s about fraud” says the Independent.  Which is not about Arsenal but rather interesting that they are still intent on running that story which first emerged some months ago.  Worth a read too.

But my point is that a lot of the publications that have journalists who notice things rather than those who just repeat the party line, notice that Arsenal are engaged in another transformation.  Which is itself a transformation for the media, for they didn’t notice the initial transformation that Arteta made when he took over the side, in terms of how the defence played, nor the transformation in 2021/2 (that’s the one where everyone got excited about three opening defeats), nor that at the start of that season (that’s the one that… well, no, you’ll remember that one ok)… So having looked chumps three times (or four, if you count them all predicting that Arsenal would finish 5th or 6th last season).  So they are determined now to make sure that we know all about transformations, now they have realised they are there.

So what have we got?   For the game against Barcelona, Arsenal had Trossard on the left Gabriel Jesus in the middle and Havertz running midfield.   15 minutes in,  Trossard had appeared to be running midfield.   Gabriel Jesus took on the other two positions at different time, and so to Havertz.   Saka meanwhile popped up at centre forward.  (Yes, honest.  Watch the video).

Now that can confuse commentators somewhat, but when it comes to being on the pitch, it confuses defences quite a bit more.  No one quite knows where the attack is coming from.

Of course, over time the players will get more used to it, but by then the game is usually at the one-hour mark, and a couple of substitutions can throw the defence into chaos once more.  And while everyone is sorting that out up pops Odegaard to score from 35 yards out.

And guess what, none of that mentions Gabriel Martinelli, who maybe isn’t destined for three positions this season, but that doesn’t matter because he has already perfected playing on the wing and as a central goal scorer.

Now what is good about the reporting of this is that the media are actually not only recognising there is something to report other than endless transfers that won’t happen but they are also admitting that it is likely to a) be effective and b) make life difficult for commentators and reporters.

Forwards not making the breakthrough wanted – never mind, put Havertz in the middle running forward.  

Now no one could say that last season was one of a rigid formation, but it was one where, as we have noted before, the same players were used quite a lot.

There are in fact going to be multiple lineups and even Declan Rice, is not guaranteed to be on at the start of every game.   This could be fun.

5 Replies to “Variation and the confusion is now the key for Arsenal”

  1. Tony,
    This is all very exciting. The additions to the squad and the ability of veterans to move about the pitch will be hard on the opposition and easy on the eyes of Arsenal supporters. I won’t repeat your analysis, but well done! You certainly have more tactical nous than most of the experts plying their ‘trade’ in the various media. I’m chomping at the bit for the season and the commentary here. So let’s enjoy the talent and performances to come. COYG!!!

  2. Kaya Kaynak’s butchery of English grammar is at a level where it is often impossible to glean any meaning from his words, such as they are.

    The other media are almost as bad. Why would their publications allow articles out without first proof-reading them?

    I haven’t even discussed their factual content, although disgust may be more appropriate.

  3. Here’s to the new fluid 6 – 4 formation maybe those chief football correspondent chaps will get this sussed in time for the 2037-38 season , just after our 10th consecutive championship.

  4. A rason we fell short last season was in my humble opinion that we ran out of steam. We needed too many players playing too many games. We droppend on intensity at the end. We couldn’t keep up the high pressure we did in 3/4 of the season. As you say Tony with the new boys and with Trossard and Jorginho having a full preseason with us we are well covered an all places. I do hope that Partey will stay. On his days he is resembling to Patrick Vieira but he gets older and will need more rest. Rice, Havertz and Timber look promising additions and certainly Havertz and Timber can be put in different positions. Players will have to push themselves more this season because they know there is someone waiting at the bench who can step in their shoes and take their place. Bring the season on!

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