November 14, 2012
The Daily Mail seem pretty pleased with themselves this morning, running as they are an ‘EXCLUSIVE!!!!’ from the Arsenal training ground in which they claim that the club are considering a change of formation.
According to the article Le Boss held talks with the rest of his coaching staff ahead of the Schalke game about the possibility of moving to five at the back in order to tackle our defensive issues. Now I’m not questioning the newspaper’s source. It’s quite possible that they have some kind of in with the Arsenal set-up and a mooted change in formation wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility considering the club’s form in recent weeks, but the idea that this is something we’d be doing to improve defending seems a bit unlikely to me.
For a start, going into the Schalke game we’d just come off the back of games against Manchester United, Norwich, QPR and Schalke at home in which we’d only managed to score twice. Two of those games we were completely shut out and aside from that fact we’d barely mustered a shot on target in any of them. Yes we’d conceded five goals but if I know Arsene Wenger – and after 15 years I like to think that I do just a little bit – I don’t think our defending was what would have been keeping him awake at night.
Secondly I’m not exactly convinced that playing three centre backs would do a lot to improve our defensive record. You could play eleven centre backs, if none of them know where to stand in the penalty area you’re still going to concede goals. Look at the goals we let in against Fulham. It wasn’t a lack of defenders in the box that allowed Berbatov to get in and nod home unmarked from six yards out. It was the fact that three of those defenders were standing in the wrong place and nobody attacked the ball. Would having three centre backs have prevented Mikel Arteta from dawdling on the ball on the edge of his own penalty area and then pulling down Ruiz? I doubt it.
If there was talk of a change of formation at the club I know one or two Gooners who would be angling for a 4-4-2 above all else. And not because it would improve the defence. Because while we were all very excited about the prospect of Steve Bould turning us into the shut out kings at the start of this season, I’m not sure any of us ever really believed that AW would change the profile of this team and turn us into a lean mean defending machine. With Wenger at the helm we’re always in some respects going to rely on scoring more than the opposition. Yes the defence needs a shed load of work but so does the attack. And the fluidity going forward just isn’t there at the moment.
Still not a lot else going on. Loads of papers are carrying this story about Steffen Freund who thinks that the gap has closed between us and our opponents on Saturday:
Spurs are definitely in a better position to finish above Arsenal than they were in my day. We are really close to Arsenal.
Err…well yeah? In Steffen Freund’s day we were winning or coming second in the league every season. Spurs’ best finish was tenth and their players of the season for that period were (I kid you not) Stephen Carr (twice), Neil Sullivan and Simon Davies. So yeah, I don’t think anyone would argue that they’ve closed the gap since then. Good work.
Finally, Jack Wilshere gets welcomed back into the warm bosom of the England squad this evening for the friendly in Sweden. Mixed feelings for me obviously. On the one hand don’t you dare let him play more than 20 minutes tops you dicks, on the other do I really want to sit through an entire England match without at least something to get excited about?
But no. Stay strong. Switch over to Junior Apprentice if you have to. Think of the weekend. Think of the weekend.
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- Arsenal 3 – 1 Olympiakos: Vermaelen’s grim warning + a striking dilemma