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August 2021

Sunderland / Arsenal – the tactical review.


Been a bit busy with a few things so couldn’t write. Here’s an article on our game against Sunderland.. better known as Ozil’s first game.

Arsenal attack:

Largely, it was a really really scrappy game. Wilshere was easily our best player offensively in the first part of the game, driving forward from midfield.

The first goal came early and there’s not much to write about as the goal was a near route 1 goal. Thanks to Ozil though, even that looked beautiful. The take down from Gibbs’s excellent long ball was as close to perfection as one can get..and Giroud had a another near post finish. A classy well struck finish…but I wonder if teams will start to work him out and start to close his angles down and force him to shoot far post.

He does seem to be a better near post player than shooting across goal. He can hit them.. he did hit a great goal in pre-season but I’d love to see a few far post goals too. Still as long as he’s scoring..who cares.

Ozil gave away a few balls by the way this game… but no one’s going to notice it for a while and as long as he keeps producing those moments of magic, I don’t even think any one will care that he’s not had perfect games.

Aaron Ramsey did plenty of ball hogging this game. I mean.. in a good way. He seems so confident and wants the ball all the time but a ton of stuff went through him.

The result of this was that Wilshere wasn’t getting the ball enough. Or maybe enough is the wrong word..maybe everyone felt there were better options for the pass at that moment. The point being… I’m interested to see who continues their development and whether we’ll see a Jack – Aaron – Ozil partnership for the next 3-4 years.

Jack’s in the same position as Ramsey was..without the injury. But development wise..I’ll be watching with interest if he works through this period and improves his game. On the flip side.. I hope it doesn’t become a Gerrard Lampard partnership. I think that says it all.

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Theo Walcott had a very poor game, sadly. Luckily the team won… or the AAA would have been out in full force talking about how he earns 100K and should do better. The first Ozil through ball, he has scored tons of such it’ll come. The second is really a half chance.. keeper’s come out quickly. The third is a header from a loopy Wilshere cross where the technique is all all wrong … he should be heading that back towards goal. The fourth is a chance where he’s in the box and he’s tried some kind of weird dink pass. Add a couple of poor corners and first touches in.. all in all a bad day.. but really he’s still making those runs… he’s getting into position .. the goals will come. I’m not too worried – he’s a good finisher.

Jenkinson interestingly was an impressive outlet on the right this game .. specially in the 2nd half. He seems to start the first half nervously and then grows into the game. He’s still young.. I think we all forget that at times.

The 3rd goal is a thing of beauty. The weight of those passes has to be very very precise.. Ozil into Giroud and then Giroud into Ramsey. And the big man has a fantastic first touch…strangely. I’ll call it again.. he’s very close to being as dominant as Drogba. And will enjoy thinking ‘I told you so’ at the end of the season when Bayern Munich start making eyes at him and he hopefully rejects them and signs a new contract.

Arsenal defence

There’s very little to say about the defense as Sunderland were very poor offensively. Jozy Altidore has a quite terrible first touch, I must say. Although…I have watched him just 1 game and Sunderland fans may know better.

Overall though..I wanted to point out a couple of things. This game is a good game for watching:

a)      Why I’m reluctant to call Flamini a pure DM due to his positioning in the opposition half and range of passing many many times. He’s not Pirlo no… but he isn’t a limited 5 feet passer either. He’s got a decent passing range on him.

b)      Why it’s really necessary for a keeper to be good with his feet these days. Szcz was really good with his feet on a couple of occasions. You can’t have just an awesome shot stopping keeper – not with how Arsenal way.

Kieran Gibbs tends to get dragged central a lot. I’m not sure (need to watch more) if that’s because most of the attacks tend to come from Sagna’s side leading to overload there. The problem with him being dragged… is that the moment the play is switched with a precise diagonal ball.. and the LWF whoever it is… is not tracking back… it’s a cross into the box which means more danger straight away.

So.. it’s something to watch out for… if you’re in the centre ..fine, but watch the ball and try and close the cross down quickly. And its something the forward has to be aware of too and track back when Gibbs is central but an opposition wide man has stayed wide. That plus his penchant for joining in the attack all the time is a problem at times. It’s a great skill and he’s good at it, but there’s times..much like Wilshere that it’d be better off to just wait for your chance.

The penalty…well I’ve seen them given. It’s a great tackle too..yes but it could easily be a penalty too. As long as the ref applies that rule consistently across teams, I have no problem with the decision. But therein lies the problem.. it never is consistent. Oh well. Someday maybe.. after reading all the ref reviews.

There’s also no controversy for the Altidore goal.. it’s been done to death really – I wont go over it again. Whistle blown – End of story.

Overall though, bar a couple of close offsides, our defense had a very very comfortable game thanks to some poor play by the Sunderland front line.


A very comfortable game really, and Arsenal were efficient without being breathtaking to watch at any point during the game.

  • 31 October 1898: Arsenal 5 Brighton United 2 (United League)
  • 31 October 1932: Racing club de Paris 2 Arsenal 5.  Four goals from Cliff Bastin
  • 31 October 1981: Willie Young last game; 1-0 home win against Coventry City
  • 31 October 1984: Arsenal lose 2-3 to Oxford Utd in Milk Cup 3rd round
  • 31 October 2000, George Armstrong suffered a brain haemorrhage while running a training session; died 1 November
  • 31 October 2010: Arsenal make it 3 league wins and a draw beating Tottenham 3-0


5 comments to Sunderland / Arsenal – the tactical review.

  • nicky

    Is it just me or are others beginning to notice that referees are throwing off the shackles under which they operated during the infamous Ferguson era. Decisions are now being made on happenings on the field rather than the overall effect on Man Utd’s position in the League.

  • Stuart

    Can’t say I have noticed that to be honest. I thought it was business as usual.

  • nicky

    I must be wrong then, which is a pity.

  • Tasos


    You obviously haven’t witnessed Man Utd’s dubious penalty against Norwich on Tuesday.

    Don’t fear, Man Utd are still being helped.

  • nicky

    Grrrrrrr. Sorry I spoke.