Arsenal Youth v Liverpool, why a bad run against them doesn’t matter and the sadness of Dennis

By Bulldog Drummond

To begin with the Dennis news, as you may have heard, Ajax have sacked Dennis Bergkamp as assistant to Marcel Keizer (who has also been given the shove) after a cup defeat to FC Twente.   Dennis had been a coach at Ajax since August 2011.   Ajax are second in the Eredivisie and were knocked out in the preliminary rounds of the Champions League and Europa League.   A statement said, “With Dennis Bergkamp, there is also a difference of opinion about the technical policy to be implemented.”    Marc Overmars remains as Sporting Director.

Returning now to Arsenal against Liverpool, and looking at the last ten games between the two we find just three wins for Arsenal, and no wins in the last five.  Worse in the last four we have conceded 14 goals.  Our last win was in April 2015.

Date Match Result Score Competition
02 Nov 2013 Arsenal v Liverpool W 2-0 Premier League
08 Feb 2014 Liverpool v Arsenal L 5-1 Premier League
16 Feb 2014 Arsenal v Liverpool W 2-1 FA Cup
21 Dec 2014 Liverpool v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League
04 Apr 2015 Arsenal v Liverpool W 4-1 Premier League
24 Aug 2015 Arsenal v Liverpool D 0-0 Premier League
13 Jan 2016 Liverpool v Arsenal D 3-3 Premier League
14 Aug 2016 Arsenal v Liverpool L 3-4 Premier League
04 Mar 2017 Liverpool v Arsenal L 3-1 Premier League
27 Aug 2017 Liverpool v Arsenal L 4-0 Premier League

During this period Liverpool have won no trophies, Arsenal have won the FA Cup three times.

What is also interesting though is that in the four completed seasons from 2013/14 on, Liverpool have ended up 2nd, 6th, 8th and 4th, while we have finished 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 5th.   Liverpool’s average position over the four years is fifth, Arsenal on average have finished 3.5th.   It seems the results between the two clubs don’t have much to do with overall finish position.

But I suspect that these defeats to Liverpool are part of the reason why we are seeing so much experimentation with the defensive formations at the moment, with the club switching from a five man defence including two wing backs to a four man defence where the full backs stay back.

One commentator suggested that what Mr Wenger was up to was attempting to counter the counter attack, and that could certainly be the case.  Arsenal have historically been at their most brilliant and entertaining with a counter attacking game.

But a counter attacking team has to have an immaculate defence and a methodology that can beat the opposition even when they have worked out what it is.   Under Chapman the idea was to have a three man defence, who on getting the ball would move it quickly to a defensive midfielder, who had the ability to move the ball quickly and perfectly accurately forward to the attacking midfielder or winger.  It was, in short, the speed and accuracy of what happened to the ball after breaking up an attack that was the key.

Chapman played the same system home and away, which is why in his triumphant seasons at Arsenal the team, unlike any others in the first division, had similar home and away records.

Sadly, most people who talk or write about Chapman today reduce these tactics to talk about WM, but the WM formation was just the basic grid; it was a case of playing the ball forward quickly and accurately that made things work out, along with a determination to play with the same formation both at home and away.

I might be wrong, but I think Mr Wenger is also contemplating another tactical change, moving us towards a new approach which incorporates the ability to move between one formation and another depending on how the opposition is lining up (Chapman didn’t have to worry about that too much since virtually every team lined up in the same way for every game at home, and an alternative format for every game away, in his day).

Some writers feel however that this doesn’t work because the poor little players are not up to the intellectual effort of having to hold two systems in their heads, but I think that demeans the players.  It is hard to change systems, especially to change systems during a game, but it is not impossible, and the ability to get it right really does confuse the opposition.

I think this approach to changing the formations, is enhanced by the ability to bring through young players from the academy.  Jack Wilshere, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Alex Iwobi, Hector Bellerin, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson… the great difference with these players is that if they don’t work out (as many young players don’t) there is far less disruption to the team than when a player is brought in for a huge sum, and there is almost an obligation to play him no matter what his form.

As Mr Wenger said, “You look at the other teams at the top and you tell me who has played with four players who have been educated in the academy.  We do that every time we can. It remains the basis of our philosophy. I agree it hasn’t always come off as well as would have liked. But if you look at the last 20 years, we are still one of the teams that have put out more young homegrown players than anybody else.”

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7 Replies to “Arsenal Youth v Liverpool, why a bad run against them doesn’t matter and the sadness of Dennis”

  1. I think testing Maitland-Niles in the previous games was with the eye on this match. Maitland-Niles is very quick and so could be important to chase the fast Liverpool counter attacks.

  2. @Bulldog

    Arsenal record v Liverpool in the first five years of Wenger:


    Two defeats with a four-goal margin (1997-98, 2000-01).

    Three doubles for Liverpool over Arsenal (1996-97, 1997-98, 1999-2000).

    Zero goals for Arsenal at Anfield in five games.

    Arsenal final position: 3-1-2-2-2

    Liverpool final position: 4-3-7-4-3

  3. I think Dennis will be OK. When there is a true difference of opinion, no one is the victim. Hey, maybe we can create an opening here.

  4. Miles switching off, 2-0 down to 3-2 now 3-3.

    69 minute; Freudian slip by linesman who attempts to keep the ball in play for a Liverpool counter attack, before cognitive recognition occurs and continuous reaffirms control and he twitches and raises the flag to signal the throw. Absolute certainty, NBC (American owned).

    Carragher commontates but the fight back is so good his excitement demonstrates honest enthusiasm for the sport.

    His assessment biased but fairly so today. Gen delights in an attempted auto cue quip but the latter kore experienced pundit quietly sniffs it out.

    Interestingly even Pro Evo which allows the changing of player stats is biased, but the main director is a Man U or Liverpool fan and stated in interview he did exactly not what I have suggested.

    EA have also done likewise without the option to to fix.

    Granit amazing strike, Alexis brilliant finish, and Ozil the play was delightful and the finish iceman Val Kilmer!

    Mustard I features because Montreal needs replacing immediately.

    Jamie is also correct in stating a GK is probably a bog difference with such an easily breached defense.

    Lacazette needs to net a winner, I almost can’t watch.

    Jack has been brilliant and taking the knocks, what do you mean outside chance at the plane Jamie, Garett is no fool, he knows he’s one of the first names behind Kane and Sterling on this form.

    Or comes in…… rash! Let it spur you more than him, nobody comes back and does well, let the boy know Mesut!


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