Arsenal to change the line up for Sunderland game: the tactical preview.


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.

To begin…

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.

    P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 4 3 1 0 8 2 +6 10
2 Liverpool 5 3 1 1 9 8 +1 10
3 Tottenham 5 2 3 0 8 3 +5 9
4 Manchester City 4 3 0 1 9 5 +4 9
5 Watford 5 2 2 1 6 5 +1 8
6 Everton 5 2 1 2 7 5 +2 7
7 Chelsea 4 2 1 1 6 6 0 7
8 Crystal Palace 5 2 1 2 7 8 -1 7
9 Manchester Utd 5 2 1 2 5 8 -3 7
10 Middlesbrough 5 1 3 1 4 5 -1 6

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.

    P W D L F A GD Pts
11 Manchester Utd 4 2 1 1 8 4 +4 7
12 West Ham Utd 5 2 1 2 5 8 -3 7
13 West Bromwich 4 1 2 1 6 5 +1 5
14 Crystal Palace 4 1 1 2 5 4 +1 4
15 Watford 4 1 1 2 7 8 -1 4
16 Stoke City 4 1 1 2 4 9 -5 4
17 Hull City 5 1 0 4 3 10 -7 3
18 Swansea City 5 0 2 3 4 9 -5 2
19 Middlesbrough 4 0 1 3 3 6 -3 1
20 Sunderland 4 0 1 3 4 9 -5 1

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
Yellows 3 5
Possession 47% 59%
Pass success 75% 87%
Shots conceded/game 16.5 9.5
Shots blocked/game 3.3 2.8
Tackles/game 14.8 19.3
Fouls/game 11 9.3
Interceptions/game 18.5 16.5
Shots/game 11.8 16.3
Shots on target/game 3.3 5.8
Dribbles won/game 12.3 15.3
Fouls won/game 11.3 9.8
Offsides/game 1.8 1,5

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.

Recent tales from Untold 

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 

Sunderland v Arsenal Saturday October 29th – The Match Officials. Expect serious fouls to go unpunished.

Reasons to be cheerful parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

Reading in the library: watching the EFL cup from the posh seats

Empty seats at the Ems? You should try the Tax Payers’ Stadium!

Alisher Usmanov makes his move – and it is not the one predicted.

Why 26 October is such a special day in the history of football, and of Arsenal (and the Royal Family)

10 things we learned from Arsenal v Reading.



15 Replies to “Arsenal to change the line up for Sunderland game: the tactical preview.”

  1. With Mother Goose Riley supplying select non coloured blind mice to whistle blow, it is quite clear that some aspects of the game will be unpredictable. I would take Defoe to score but Arsenal to win despite the non whistling mice.

  2. Tony Atwood—- Your article above about how arsenal might play against sunderland is the most boring article i have ever read.Well done !!!

  3. an insightful article’ i tend to agree with your tactic Tony. for me’ i think Alexis should start as a striker, Theo on the right with The Ox on the left and Ramsey (doubt he will start as AW mention in pre-match presser that they had to be really cautious with him) will partner Le Coq for the 1st hour. if that doesn’t bring any goal (i really doubt that) then Arsenal should introduced Ollie G and Iwobi for the latter part of the game. com’on Arsenal

  4. Well that certainly convinced me, Tony, tho it was a little tortuous to read through – a bit like doing homework. 🙂

    When you opened the article with; -“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” and thought that is true in part, as I don’t often look at home and away form of Arsenal and their opponents, but I am not sure I ever knowingly pontificate about anything, especially not football.

    So here is the rub — how do you positively know a) when someone is pontificating, while b) they are simultaneously lacking in the consideration of the home and away form of the teams playing each other?

    Please do not say that one glance at my protruding teeth, flacidly drooping tongue and shifty eyes is an immediate ‘tell’ — because that is my normal state of being. 😀

  5. Problem is the this case a certain ” Martin Atkinson” who is right up there with the half a dozen or so incompetent/ crap/ biased,take your pick refs who have a penchant for stitching us up.deliberately or otherwise.take him out of the equation & you might be comfortable…

  6. You know Martin, you really ought to read a bit more. I am sure with a bit of effort you will find something more boring. On the other hand, it has been said that only truly boring people get bored. Others make their own entertainment, no matter what they are faced with.

  7. Recently in the news, is a story about a brown pebble found on a beach near Bexhill. It was found in 2004. Apparently, it is a piece of fossilized dinosaur brain.

    Fat sam?

  8. On the Arsenal website, there is an article about the U23 playing Sunderland tonight/yesterday. Well, I just happened across a game report from the Sunderland FC. It seems the Arsenal U23 defeated Sunderland 4-0. Good work there Yong Gunners!

  9. Martin Hindmarsh…….Your comment about Tony’s article being boring is the most inane, ignorant and ludicrously stupid comment that has disgraced this website in a long time. Well Done!!

    Boredom is a sign of a feeble personality and a narcissistic whiner…….try watching paint dry….that should entertain you.

  10. Tony……after the match (usually 48 hours later), Adrian Clarke does a superb breakdown of the game. You can compare your prognostications with his after-match analysis. Imho, your tactical review is intelligent and possibly right, but too complex for us simple sould on UA.

  11. I looked at gameday 10 at WorldFootball. I hadn’t looked before to see what time we play Sunderland. Grrrr, it’s the early game. Which is 6am my time? Probably means getting up at 5am, in order to have some coffee in the system for game time.

    Anyway, here is hoping that Burnley, Leicester, WBA and CPalace have good games.

    Jack is away to Middlesbrough. There was some kind of cryptic twit from him at Arsenal, and lots of people sending condolences to him. I didn’t catch exactly what happened. I wonder if he is going to play?

    Good luck to all Gunners.

  12. My prediction is Sunderland will play a similar style to last season, sit deep and try to counter, however this time it will be more difficult for them to have a chance on goal as Arsenal has a more pacey defense. AW said the big threat will probably be the set pieces, my guess would be Sunderland chance of scoring will be from that. Sunderland haven’t won a match so they will be under a lot of pressure for points so I guess this could be another difficult game. I predict 2-0 to Arsenal.

    My predicted starting line-up will be: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Kos, Monreal, Coq, Caz/El Neny, Iwobi, Ozil, Theo/Ox, Sanchez.

    If Caz or Theo pass their medical test then I guess they will start.

  13. Good thing I checked. I guess the game starts at 4:30 am my time. Tooo early.

    I seen a hype thing about the game in The Sun. They are predicting Moyes will get sacked if they lose. What a horrible way to go into a game.

    The Sun did have a nice writeup on the U23 game.

  14. It’s these games that make me a little nervous although for this one i’m not so nervous as in previous seasons.

    This is the time when silly tackles cause injuries.

    Something just does not sit right with dinosaurs for me. Never ever trusted the so called “fossils”. Just my intuition.

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