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The Arsenal Blueprint: how to improve as a team

By Walter Broeckx

As I was reading the article from Fishpie and the reasoned comments from most of the wise people who visit Untold I got struck by one comment from  Swissgooner.

Sometimes you get this “you took the words right out of my mouth” feelings.  This was such a one. I think his comment was worth more attention and if he doesn’t mind I will take some pieces from his comment where I got the aforementioned feeling.  Come to think of it….now what if Swissgooner would mind? Oh well take the risk anyway. So here is what he wrote:

We can achieve more with our current squad. period.

Well I do also have this feeling. But that is not really a novelty for most Untold readers I think. But I continue to use Swissgooner his words:

I do certainly believe that we need to strengthen in some areas but basically our club policy is good, very good imo. But our team lack something that’s more than “just” lacking belief. Yesterday, we lost against Bayern. Last year, we struggle against Borussia Dortmund and won our home game only thanks to an unusual Song’s dribbling cameo. These two teams showed us what we have being missing the most: forget big name players (although some can make a difference).

Agree a bit with the big name players completely.

Look at how the aforementioned sides defended: tight on our players, compact as a unit, dynamic and aggressive in the duels. It wasn’t the dynamics of a single or two players, you could see coordinated moves of a team, a unit.

This is where you took the words out of my mouth. I noticed on a few occasions that the way they ran to cover ground when they needed to defend was amazing. When needed, they provided double marking on the ball carrier. And when they needed to defend every single player defended.

When Arsenal defends it is more a case of us running a bit close to the ball carrier but don’t put too much pressure on him. Bayern just went on to him and pressured him. With one player, two when needed or three when it could be done without losing position or shape of the team.

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All the players their defensive duties were fulfilled with great determination and desire to work for the team. How many times do we see Arsenal do this? You can sometimes see 2 or 3 players chasing the ball a bit  but not on a constant way all over the pitch or when you can put pressure on the opponents.

Of course such things cost energy. It is hard to do this for 90 minutes. In fact it hardly can be done for 90 minutes. But there are moments that a team can take a rest for a while and drop a bit deeper. But once Arsenal neared the halfway line the pressure started on the Arsenal players. Over and over again. It disrupted our game.

Yesterday, as we were down 0-2, you could suddenly see that our players were able to work this way: aggressivity, attacking the ball, closing down space. Some people call that character. If you got this once or twice, then it’s character. but if you can do it regularly then I believe it’s organisation. When you lack that, individual shortcomings are more likely to be exposed. Because of our lax marking, we invited them to score the first. Because of our passivity, we watched as they scored the second. Their third goal was the only one where I wouldn’t fault our team’s attitude.

We defend too much standing still. We watch how they work the ball and then we will see what we can do. And that is something that is done by most of the players. In fact it might be that our players love the beautiful game too much to revert to such defending. They might only want to do the art of attacking, and forgetting that we also should be aware and perform the art of defending.

But why can’t our team shows this “character” ( what I call organization) in the majority of our games. You can understand if there’s one day off. But the lax marking, be on-the-back-foot attitude is too often there to be ignored. I am a Wenger supporter and I hope he can finally fix that. Barça is not the role model. The way Bayern and Borussia played is very closed to our style. We can be there or very close to that with our current 18 first choice players. If the lax marking and problem in team structure can’t be fixed, yeah then there is a coaching problem. I am a ‘Wengerian’ but I must finally acknowledge that… here on this blog i really like to read.

During the game it became clear to me that because of the difference in defending some players lost confidence (and maybe also because of going behind yet again) and they started hiding. I remember Vermaelen having to make throw in and only 2 players came even close to him to receive the ball surrounded by 5 or 6 hungry vultures of Bayern players ready to take the ball away with their massive majority of players around the ball.

Now the thing is that it has to be done by all the players on the pitch. Because one or two players not doing it and the whole effort is worth nothing. And we have a few players who don’t really like doing it or can’t do it or whatever. And thus you get the reaction by players who try to do it and after running around like made a few times seeing that the others don’t join in, they stop doing it and at the end nobody …does it.

If we could get the energy levels that the German players can deliver in a game we should be better. And apart from some hidden things that we don’t know about in their diet, we also should be able to run like that.  But this is demanding from  all the players that they  are constantly running and working for the whole team.

And for those who say that it is the manager who must be blamed for not being able to do this or for doing this, I would like you to remember his words during January. And I think that the goal Wenger is working towards is a mixture of the Barca style that was mentioned by Swissgooner and the German style.

Wenger said that Germany and Spain were the countries to look for if you wanted to bring in good players.  German players have a great stamina in general (oh generalisation) and a great work ethic.  Spanish players used to be technically gifted but didn’t like to work hard. But this has changed the last 10 years and they still are technical very superior but are also hard working these days.

And that is why I think that Wenger is looking to add players who come from those countries.  He is trying to mix a few hard working German players, adding a few hard working technical Spanish players and then finishing the whole thing off with a home grown English core of young guys from our own academy who want to play for the Arsenal and who have Arsenal DNA.  With what we have now I think maybe 2 players who possess these attributes could be enough to turn on the rest of the team in to this way of defending more as a unit.

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41 comments to The Arsenal Blueprint: how to improve as a team

  • CIN

    We need two things to improve.

    One right Attitude. Club doesn’t have right attitude then how can we expect from players.

    Second we need right players with good talents. Lot of positions we are playing with average players. What more expect from this team playing without a good striker and powerful defensive midfielder.

  • Gerry Lennon

    I said as much yesterday(elsewhere), Walter. I watched the match and thought that their players weren’t being’organised’ on the pitch by other player. Instead, that organisation came from hard word on the training ground. Getting a better understanding between players, which we see in Arsenal in some areas, but not as an entire unit?

    Unfortunately, getting there requires both time and a settled squad? Perhaps next season will be the first time where we haven’t lost key players, whether by exit or injury? So the future is bright if this can start now?

    I agree, this is the way forwards, rather than talk of formations and playing styles, although important, basic organisation as a team must take precedent?

  • Rupert Cook

    Agree CIN.

    Very good Walter. I have thought this has been a problem for a while. People have often claimed that Wenger has copied Barca’s style of football but the one thing that Barca do is harass players when they (Barca) don’t have the ball. We only do this sporadically. It is hard work to keep this up for 90 minutes but Barca have most of the possession during a game so it doesn’t require the whole 90 minutes applying this tactic. And we often have the majority of possession during games so we should be able to execute this tactic successfully.

  • Rupert Cook

    Agree CIN.

    Very good Walter. I have thought this has been a problem for a while. People have often claimed that Wenger has copied Barca’s style of football but the one thing that Barca do is harass players when they (Barca) don’t have the ball. We only do this sporadically. It is hard work to keep this up for 90 minutes but Barca have most of the possession during a game so it doesn’t require the whole 90 minutes applying this tactic. And we often have the majority of possession during games so we should be able to execute this tactic successfully.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Have to agree with youy Walter and with Swissgooner – some of the players are slow to track back when we lose possesion and a time there are clear gaps forming which the opposition exploit .
    I would love to see us move more quickly to defend as did BM
    in the clip you had posted on the other post .It was awesome the way 7 defenders when on hand to cut out the move.
    We have also have lost the speed in attack which was crucial for many goals from AW’s earlier teams .

  • Steve

    After watching the last two games it is becoming clear that the balance of the team is not right. I don’t for one minute clame to be some expert on football tactics but against Balckburn Giroud was isolated and when he recived the ball 9 out of 10 time it was with his back to goal with 2 or 3 players around him. Against Bayern Walcott was also isolated with no support. At one point on Tuesday we had TV5, Podolski and Ramsey running the left flank to try and help defend. What shape does this leave the rest of the team?
    This balance problem Arsenal have reminds me of 1996(ish) when the balance between the midfield and defence was wrong. Wenger needs to change how the team sets up. The starting back 5 are ok, but the midfield offers no cover/help when we are on the back foot especially when the full backs have pushed on.
    Arteta is not a Gilberto, Podolski is not a winger who can track back, Theo is not a one up top striker, Ramsey is not a wide midfielder and Sagna is not the attacking fullback he once was. So unless Wenger goes out and buys what can we do?
    Do Arsenal go back to a 442 but then who plays wide and which 2 play centre midfield?
    Do Arsenal go to a 4312 formation so we can get Cazorla & Wilshere into the same team?
    I don’t know but what I think is 2 from Giroud, Walcott and Podolski need to play together as a strike partnership to support eachother and not be an isolated 1 and that the midfield needs to help the defence more.

  • naked goon

    AW said we were not confident. So the question is “why not”? because of this general lack of organization. This is the foundation, we know what we are doing, we feel more confident in our game as the opposition threat is minimized, players improve over time as their game develops.
    When you know what you are doing and are confident those around you are, it is less mentally draining, and so what remains is a greater stamina level.
    Remember our teams of a decade ago, and how often,with ten men, they outplayed the opponents and won the game.

  • nicky

    Agree and disagree with your 8.26 am.
    Agree totally that in certain positions, particularly in defence, only average players are being employed. We can’t do anything about that until May, but we mustn’t delay until the end of the Summer Window.
    You and others keep criticising the Board for having “the wrong attitude”.
    I would like someone to tell me where it has gone wrong.The members are not there to make money. They will only do this if they sell their shares for more than the original cost. The Chairman keeps saying that money is there for Wenger to spend on new players. The Board has no say on the quality of new signings, tactics and directly associated football matters, so what is the basis for criticism?

  • Fishpie

    Perhaps I’m misreading what Walter and the subsequent thread of comments is suggesting. I get the impression you’ve all only just realised, having seen Bayern, that Arsenal players are not organised enough or trained as a unit to close down the opposition and if they were this would be a good basis for going forward. If I have misread you, forgive me. Assuming I haven’t just for a second, to my mind (and I’m not a football coach just a fan) this has been a problem since we moved from a ball-winning midfield (Viera, Palour, Petit, Gilberto, Grimandi, Edu) to a ball-possession midfield in which we’ve sacrficed muscle and physical effort for passing and playmaking. The likes of Denilson, Diaby, Hleb, Fabregas, Rosicky, Cazola have shown they don’t have the inclination or physical make up to do that kind of job. To my mind, while we’ve been trying to keep the ball and pass our way to victory, every other team (and even those trophy winning teams with big money) have had a much better pragmatic balance between keeping and winning the ball. A bit like we used to do. You know, when we won things. In my failing attempts to offer a rational explanation of why people like me have turned against Mr Wenger, this long standing and, i have to say, obvious flaw in Arsenal’s game has been one of the single biggest contributors to lost games and lost points since we moved to the Emirates. If you guys have spotted it, why Didn’t Mr Wenger on his vast salary spot it? If he didn’t spot it, is it unfair of me to suggest some degree of incompetence on Mr Wenger’s part? If he did spot it but decided our attacking, possession game would win out in the end, he got that badly wrong each year for eight years. Again I make the point, rightly or wrongly, I just feel had Mr Wenger got to where you guys are on this idea of greater team co-ordinated closing down and effort earlier , he would have won trophies (or a lot closer to doing so) in the last eight years, even without extra cash to spend on players. I admire your positivity and search for ideas to go forward but I think you’ll find Mr Wenger has had such ideas suggested to him before, and ignored them. I know this for a fact cos its been pleaded for in many many blogs for many many years. Tell me, if Mr Wenger went for, let’s say, two more years of not getting his team to do what you suggest, would you continue to support him or would you ever reach breaking point?

  • Tasos

    Agree with you Walter, we need to follow the German route. Although IMO the better comparison with Arsenal FC would be Dortmund.

    One point you have failed to recognise in this article is the importance of a “Winter break” and the obvious benefit that can have on a teams performance in the new year.

    Whilst I accept at this moment in time Bayern are simply a better team than Arsenal, its also no coincidence their players looked fresher, sharper and stronger than us all over the pitch.

  • major

    i do not want to see arsene wenger go. i do feel that he needs
    more support, in the sense that alex ferguson does, he seems to delegate more technical play these days through his assistant coach and probable fine tunes and motivates the players himself, he should not have to run the whole club on his own.i watched the milan barcelona game last night and noticed how similar we play to barca maybe not quite so perfect
    perhaps but milan were so defensive and robbed barca in the end, this is what the premier league teams are doing to us

  • Tasos


    You make a valid point although I have to ask why you have left out Alex Song in your list?

    From the outside I would suggest Arsene Wenger put a lot of faith in Abou Diaby this season. Unfortunately for him this hasn’t worked out but I personally thought we looked a far better balanced side earlier on this season with Diaby’s power in the midfield.

  • aaronz

    I had to chuckle to myself this morning as I picked up the paper and turned swiftly to the back page. So the board backs Wenger. Of course they do. They’ll be £150 million at Wenger’s disposal this summer. Oh, is that so? It was a £70 million ‘War-Chest’ on Monday. We’re already being linked with everyone who’s ever kicked a ball. And the players back Wenger too. Fine. This should all have been a great source of comfort, given the past few days results. A ray of sunshine, a lifeline. HOPE. But guess what? It’s the death knell for this club. We are going nowhere fast. And we will continue to go nowhere fast and continue to be fed lies and BS and continue to win absolutely NOTHING whilst that ego-crazed bare-faced-lying lunatic is still in charge of the team.

  • aaronz

    can we stop the fear mongering? im talking about those who say ‘be careful what you wish for’, as if arsene is some miracle worker and the fact we are in 5th place in an achievement. we have some decent players, we are one of the better teams in the league. however, we are playing so bad and are devoid of any confidence. can it get any worse? the fear mongerors say yes. although how do the explain david moyes is in 6th position, 2 points below us with an inferior squad? based on that, can the fesr mongerors say if david moyes were our manager, we would be worse of than we are now? we are not some small club punching above our weight. wenger is the manager at one of the best clubs in england and is doing marginally better than everton/WBA/swansea. there are fans who really believe, that if arsene went we would drastically fall to mid-table. it couldnt be more wrong. if we get a competent manager in, then this this squad, and the clubs capabilities, 5th place would be as low as it gets. one of wengers greatest achievements in convincing so many arsenal fans, that the club only exists as long as he is manager

  • wrighty

    @Major: My stance on Wenger is simple – change, adapt and take charge of the situation, or leave. It’s very simple. However, regardless of what you think of the man, I don’t think he deserves the witchhunt he’s currently experiencing. He’s a man who is down, as low as he’s ever been in two decades, and everyone’s queuing up to have a kick at him. Is it his fault? Maybe. In fact, definitely. He’s made a right b@ll up of our squad and transfers, giving himself (or the new manager) a mountain to climb. However, I still think that everything he has done, he’s done because he thought it was right for the club. So, in effect, it owes more to incompetence and poor judgment than ill-will that he’s put us in the mess that we’re in. Now, for me, if he can realise that it’s not working and remember what got him his success in the first place (a good, solid defensive foundation on which a strong, quick and effective attack was built) then he’ll haul himself, and us, out of this mess. Personally, I just don’t think he has what it takes – the landscape of football has changed (some of it, especially the hunt for young talent, because of him!) and he’s allowed himself to be left behind, thereby exposing his astounding managerial deficiencies. The only other option is to vacate the post for a better, hungrier football manager – and, purely on his FOOTBALL managerial ability, there are quite a few out there. The question is how much we’ll suffer in the absence of his transfer market clout. HOWEVER, with all that considered, he deserves a lot more respect than he’s being accorded, that’s for sure!

  • M. Thomas

    Being a skilled footballer doesnt mean that you are an intellegent footballer.
    Some of the most skillfull players dont have top football brains . Daniel Sturridge is a classic example but I am afraid Walcott and Sagna are two obvious examples of displaying this flaw.
    Chelsea were able to “park the bus” against Bayern but I think you all would agree that the Arsenal team that played on Tuesday could never adopt the same tactics.But if it was just a matter of coaching then it could be achieved but its not making plans is one thing and carrying out those plans is another or having the type of captain on the pitch that not only plays their own game but also sees what is going on and barks out diretions.

  • JohnW

    I wish sometimes, the coaches review some of the superior teams in Europe and try to copy a few good attributes from them.For instance, many of us agree that Theo would not make a good centre-forward in a 4:3:3 ( forget what he thinks). After ten minutes of the Bayern game it was evident that he was struggling, all Arsene had to do was shift it a bit, Podolski goes centre, Theo on the wing.
    I also noticed that we have a lot of negative ball posession, whereas when Bayern got the ball, all of a sudden they became dangerous.As someone who watches the Bundesliga on a weekly basis, I know Arsenal can score lots of goals against Bayern, but only when you find a way of reaching their box.When you posess the ball in your half, you give the other team time to organise at the back. Besides, slow build-ups in the modern game rarely result into goals.
    Finally, we missed Gibbs, very much. Someone who although not yet a great left back, but one who can apply pressure on Lahm. May be playing a faster Coquelin at left back would have been better than TV5.

  • menace

    There are several areas that need improvement in the way Arsenal approach the game. Their passing has been good but their transition from defence to attack has not been consistent. The transition must be with forward momentum in the quickest way possible and must complete with a shot on target. The shooting by Arsenal generally leaves a lot to be desired. There is neither an understanding of direction or trajectory. The use of the inside of the right foot as opposed to the outside when passed from the right wing turns the ball (when crossed) away from the goal. Yet it seems to be the norm even when there is no player there to receive the cross. The outside of the foot would make the ball turn goalwards and could result in a goal off the far post.

    The number of bookings that Arsenal get for tackles that are within the laws of the game need to be addressed by behaviour in the same vein as the opponent. Bayern go to ground on the slightest touch and get given a foul and Arsenal get the card. The same type of foul by Bayern does not draw a card because the Arsenal player stays on his feet. The Laws of the Game can be manipulated by both players and officials.

    The biggest farce was the round the waist holding that had Koselney red carded in the EPL, was not even noticed by the UEFA referees. Arsenal players were being held in the love embrace each time the goal area was attacked with a free kick.

    However, Arsenal have sufficient coaches to teach the technical aspects. Sadly they don’t have the intelligence to diagnose the failings.

    @aaronz you are so right about the obvious. The truth is that financially we are way above the rest of the teams around us in spite of some very clever manipulation of a very crooked FA.

  • asd

    And that is why I think that Wenger is looking to add players who come from those countries. He is trying to mix a few hard working German players, adding a few hard working technical Spanish players…….

    Podolski is German but he did not track back on tuesdays. The club has a culture of giving excuses and no accountability.
    Using Bayern as an example, the got to the CL final last year but still went out and bought Martinez. They weren’t worried that buying Martinez would “kill” Gustavo.
    Arsene needs to be ruthless and not worry himself about the players feelings. If you are slacking, you get dropped.

  • uk

    Walter for the 1st time in a long time i agree with much of your article, and a lot of people have said it over and again that this is how the good teams around hav played. It is the key to barcas succes, was the key to milan’s’success against barca yesterday, as they out hussled barca wen barca had the ball, el-sharawy and boateng spent so much time shielding the defence, yet when they were with the ball showed great energy levels to cover ground and be in attacking positions. However, wher we disagree is on who is at fault. The AAA and me say wenger is 110% at fault for this. For a team to play thet way, you need the rigth personnel(mobile and skillful players) and they need to be motivated. Their eyes have to be made to be on the prize, any iota of lack of focus is swiftly dealt with. Now u need skillful and swift players, who understand each other and the manager has the option of cahill, samba, mertesacker, in the same price range, he wastes two months of bonding time and finally gets the slowest of the lot, that to me is either not knowing his job or purposeful sabotage. Its the managers job to keep the focused on the prize. Wen guardiola took up the barca job, he promptly got rid of egos and ageing stars like ronaldinho and deco, made a mistake wit zlatans ego, but promptly rectified that, and wen he felt he cud no longer motivate and drive the team hard enuf, resigned. While we hav wenger openly petting his kids, telling them 4th is gud enuf. According to d’AAA,That is the difference between a big club and arsenal. Heynckes, mourinho, etc hav won things but management feel they can’t focus/motivate the talent at their disposal well enough, so their jobs hang in the balance, while we have the opposite scenario in our case. You cant eat your cake and still have it

  • Mandy Dodd

    M Thomas, we did actually park the bus, away against Barca, until undone by a criminal back heel from Cesc and some of the mostcriminal refereeing I have ever witnessed.
    Great points Walter. Yes, Fishpie, this has been a problem with our way of playing. Only my opinion, but I think all changed when Wenger realised Vieira and Cesc did not work together,and chose the Cesc route.Keeping possession can lessen defensive requirements. Yes there was Gilberto..but only for a while. But now, we have some very good players esp in MF but not really a Cesc type…or at least not yet, so we may need a Vieira type, especially against the better teams. Arteta and Rambo work sometimes, notably when things are going well, but neither are naturals in this more defensive role. I keep reading we had good reasons to rid ourselves of Song, can easily see how this may be true, but still think we miss him, really miss him in some games. Diaby has his qualities but also his problems. I expect a lot of these issues to be sorted in the summer, thats why top 4 is now, and all season probably was the priority, as pleasant and cathartic as a trophy would have been.

  • Team work and focus is that is required for a team to excel. lets stop pointing accusing fingers and instead embrace team work

  • createstrain

    @fishpie – lol. you sound unsure even though i believe your spot on. i too was a little curious as to why this was written as if this is new news. we’ve been a laughing stock for too long. why, because we dont win trophies? could care less personally. the joke is the obvious lack of defensive awareness that has insidiously crept in over the years to a point where a bloody giraffe would be able to point it out. but what do we get? dismissed with the old ‘i’ve been doing this shizzle for thirty mizzles, get up off me homie’.

    and song wasn’t the smartest cookie though his physicality was a massive help when he had a good day but really he was always more interested in the lime which hindered his defensive game also. or was the coaching, who knows.

    and dont get me started on the decision making on various players. or the balance sheet thats sitting in a draw in slippers with a pipe on having a brandy.

  • bob

    Mandy Dodd,
    On Cesc’s “criminal backheel”:
    I agree and applaud your breathtaking re-assertion, which others (I think Shard too, and someone provided us with the video clip of it) have suspected/asserted hereabouts. Perhaps that was his signal to both Barca and AW that his time at AFC was now (unofficially, but actually) over.

  • bob

    Mandy Dodd,
    On Alex Song:
    Yes there may be “reasons” that are given for Song’s exit, and surely they are claimed – mostly of the sort that he was a discontent and that he was too undisciplined to be the needed defensive stopper. But there is no hard evidence of that discontent. and it is malicious of those who spread it. Indeed, both claims are only cover-the-arse assertions to justify the man’s unjustifiable departure and our continued failure to have brought in anyone to fill that need. Plus, all the crap ballyhoo about Arteta playing deep, and loyally so, has not resulted in AFC’s/AW’s filling that defensive void. I’ve read a lot on that too, in fairness to Song. That need is not being met. To me, a Song in the Bayern match, for one example, might have helped shut down/slow down/reduce at least some of their knife-through-butter onslaughts through us, that anyone can see is a major problem. For that 6M, to zero out the transfer balance, we did not say no to a player that we still held for 3 more years. It’s one thing to replace like for like; and some of us held our breath for the January move that did not come. Sorry, but I find something (beyond Nick Bendtner) that’s been awry in the state of denmark. Perhaps today’s meeting will sort it out, or, alas, further entrench the something that’s been amiss.

  • dan

    Can’t see any thing happening for along time, the summer will come to pass like many before it.

    The club is all to ready to sell the good players for a profit, but refuse to offload the deadwood at a loss.

  • Adam

    I think the term you are looking for is “collectively denying your opponents space”. To use a basketball term it’s the half court press and is very effective and a delight for someone like me to witness, just not against Arsenal. What sets Bayern apart from other teams who drop and deny, is their ball retention skills and the ability to find space (for me Bayern have set themselves up with the sole purpose of meeting and beating Barcelona). This is something that Arsenal have been lacking for awhile now and was seriously highlighted on Tuesday. The big disappointment for me was our lack of movement to counter this. When a team is tight like that you have to move the ball fast and take advantage of one V one situations wherever they occur on the pitch to pull the opposition out of shape creating more space.
    The few times Wilshere penetrated their midfield we witnessed Bayern close the gaps without our players moving to occupy any dangerous space opened up by Jacks burst.

    We witnessed Milan adopt a similar strategy against Barcelona last night and again was an interesting game for someone like me, the differences in the games and strategies was Milan started to press in to Barca’s half when they took the lead and tried to deny them space in and around their own half which resulted in the second goal.

    You cannot deny these tactics are solely designed to stop a team gathering momentum, there are ways around this but both Arsenal and Barca where guilty of not moving the ball quick enough or finding space through player movement.

    All said and done, well done Bayern and Milan.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Arsenal have not defended well for 8 years now. Cause?!

  • AL

    Absolutely spot on with this article Walter & Swissgooner. We have the team to achieve this, and I think its only time that’s needed to start doing this effectively.

    Rupert, I never imagined I’d see the day when I would agree with a post of yours, but you summed up what I was thinking reading Walter’s article. Barca are quite good at hunting in packs to get the ball back when they lose it, and this is what we need do too; have the lion’s share of ball possession & press the opposition when we lose possession. So far we aren’t doing too badly on the first part, we just need to work harder on regaining possession. We aren’t far off, personally, I wouldn’t want to see a drastic change of personnel on the pitch or off it.

    On a slightly different note, but related, am I the only one miffed by the outcome from the Milan v Barca game? I mean, I was neutral, hoping for a cracking game and wanting the best team to win. But Milan did a chelsea it was sickening in the end, barca had over 70% possession but I don’t remember a single shot on target from them. There was no room even for a worm to get through. I’m concerned we will be seeing more & more of this tactic from teams that don’t believe they have a chance; just park the bus & do a smash & grab. This was somewhat akin to our loss to Blackburn, not exactly identical but the fundamental reasons were similar.

    I don’t wish to see another chelsea in the final again this year, and won’t watch the final should a side employing this tactic get to the final. I’m afraid this tactic is killing football if left to go on.

  • Sav from Australia

    February 21, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I think you are missing the point mate. You are not taking context into consideration. How long have this Bayern Munich played together? Team work is not built in half a season. The entire post is just one rant of doomer speel. Seriously, get a grip!

    I thought you were not a doomer with your post the other day, but I have to change my opinion of you based on the following:

    ” If you guys have spotted it, why Didn’t Mr Wenger on his vast salary spot it? If he didn’t spot it, is it unfair of me to suggest some degree of incompetence on Mr Wenger’s part?”

    All managers are earning good money these days in the EPL. What does Wenger’s salary have to do with anything? Suggests only a feeling of entitlement.

    If Arsenal Football Club never win another trophy for the rest of your life (a long and happy one I hope) – but still play the lovely attacking football for which the team is world reknowned – will you:
    A) Continue to moan for the rest of your life?
    B) Give up and support another team?
    C) Stop moaning, stop feeling entitled to a trophy and just enjoy the football?
    D) Jump ship and get your trophies somewhere else?

  • Sav from Australia

    I agree with Walter and Swissgooner. And Al.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Sorry, off topic, but a we just cannot keep out of the news!
    Is this a bizarre attempt to get the establishment onside with us and our ffp aims, and maybe a better deal with the refs? Maybe the alleged striker in question should have chosen a euro parliamentarian though

  • bjtgooner

    Good article Walter.

    I think part of the problem is that AW is trying to change the way we play to achieve the defensive cover you have described, but then when that happens we seem to lose the ability to launch the quick deadly strike – except when we really are at our very best, and no team can be at their very best every week. I think we will get it right, but a DM reinforcement would help.


    I have no time for the person who made the claim, but it would be very funny if the striker was someone who couldn’t hit a barn door!

  • Mark

    The key question at this point is what are they going to do with the rest of the season to get into 4th place? If they continue to play as they have up to this point it does not look likely. They need to defend better as a team. This means closing down faster, more consistently and working for each other. To often we are defending without any help from 4 attacking players and this just gives to much to the opposition and puts to much pressure on the others. They need to attack more aggressively or directly. I think against many teams that “park the bus” they seem afraid to run at players with the ball and they pass to the feet and not into space to often. Walcott does best when running onto a ball so more passing into the open space would help.

    The current players are under preforming. When they under perform then they need to be taken off and let one of the younger players try.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Know where you are coming from bjtgooner! But a very silly headline,,and shows the media obsession with arsenal!

  • bob

    Mandy, bjtgooner,
    Surely you mean another afc striker who was not a good finisher… 🙂

  • dan


    Possibly be Ian Wright, he’ll gladly auction his dignity these days, or another boozy episode on Nick Bendtner’s behalf.

  • bjtgooner


    Yes,I was thinking of a former player who could not hit a barn door, not that I think he is that way inclined, but it would add some comedy to an alleged sordid revelation.

  • M. Thomas

    @ Mandy

    My commen about parking the bus was that the team that played against Bayern wouldnt be able to park the bus.

    I agree that your game away against Barcelona was the sublect of poor decisions but spookily enough the worst display from a ref I have ever seen in a Chelsea game was against, you guess who Barcelona!

    But going back to Arsenal the team you put out on tuesday is a pale shadow of the team that played Barcelona ,what was it 2 seasons ago?

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    To be perfectly honest, watching some of our players, they seem to play in the knowledge that the refs are looking for any excuse to produce a card. Start from the assumption that if one of our players even breathes on a player from certain teams they’ll be looking at a sending off and everything just falls into place.

  • Gord

    I suspect most football fans haven’t a clue about the name “Wayne Gretzky” or the original “Edmonton Oilers” ice hockey team.

    The Edmonton defence had good players, but it typically leaked like a sieve. Most teams Edmonton beat because their offence wasn’t as good as Edmonton’s was. They would just out score you. And this was because, all 5 non-goaltender players were typically offensive. It was not unusual That the goaltender had to deal with 2-1, 1-0, 2-0 or other situations (basically, no defenders to be seen). In ice-hockey, the goal is small enough that a single person has a reasonable expectation of stopping shots, even if all the defenders are away.

    I think this is a partial explanation of what Arsene’ has been doing. People do not watch football to see one team park the bus. Or worse, for both teams to park the bus. Spectators want to see goals being scored. Arsenal gets lots of shots in, unfortunately not all make it to the target, or are on target. We have players getting chances, but in large part (keep in mind, we are only a couple of points out of the “money”), they are missing.

    Are the players missing on purpose? Just to spite the fans and incite turmoil? I don’t think so. I think at some point, they are all going to start finding the onion bag. They may not all be hitting at the same time, but they will score goals.

    Wayne Gretzky scored a LOT of goals. But more than that, he assisted in significantly more goals. It is because Wayne had vision on the “ice”. It is easily possible that Wilshere can develop a similar vision for football, and assist in many goals. Just having the vision will occasionally put him in the position where he scores the goal. The goals will come to him. He doesn’t have to go looking for them to prove his worth.

    I think things will come to Arsenal.

    And if some fans feel they need to cheer the opposition, by all means continue to cheer for that opposition for the rest of your life. Cheer for Chelsea, Tottenham, ManU, ManCity or whoever. And don’t ever think about coming back to Arsenal. You were never a fan to begin with.