Good morning, I hope you’re fighting fit and fabulous today, beautiful reader.
Seeing as the Goonerverse is awash with supporters letting their true feelings toward Piers Morgan be known in no uncertain terms, I thought I’d use today to make my case for a little tactical flexibility at Arsenal. I used to be fairly ambivalent towards Morgan as a media figure and couldn’t quite see what all the fuss was about – he really is hated by a lot of Gooners. Over the past week, with the details re-emerging of his participation in a story published by the Mirror from 2002 that lead to 37 Gooners being banned from Highbury, plus his increasingly regular disputes with Emmanuel Frimpong, it’s become easy to see why there is such disdain. The man’s obviously a bit of a jerk and an egomaniac.
During his time at Arsenal, Cesc Fabregas was the catalyst for changing from the 4-4-2 formation that brought us success, to a 4-3-3 that enabled him to be the focal point of the team. Many have stated countless reasons for our recent lack of success, whether it be the manager, the players or a lack of investment. In my opinion, paramount amongst those reasons is the inability for tactical diversity.
The 4-3-3 is the same system Barcelona use to great effect. It works well for us against certain teams, but leaves us incredibly exposed on the flanks – regular starters Gervinho and Walcott rarely provided sufficient cover for their full back. I’m not saying we should change it, I think we should consider using more than one, dependant upon the opponent. At present, our approach to games and set up is far too predictable.
Take the 4-5-1/4-4-1-1, for example – a tactic we put to good use during the Champions League run of 2006:
The two wide players are deployed to attack and cover their full-backs, there are two central midfielders and one operating in the hole behind a central striker. When we play the likes of Manchester United or AC Milan, and we use the 4-3-3, their primary point of attack is to target the full-backs, especially during our recent lack of fit personnel. On numerous occasions this season, we have leaked goals from exactly that scenario. Switching occasionally, and matching up against how the opponents are set up offers us a solid two banks of four in defence and options and variety going forward. Also, it would allow Robin van Persie to drop deeper and feed another striker (if we had one). For someone like Andrey Arshavin, who’s a clever footballer and far more dangerous played through the centre, it could be an avenue for him to exit his current terrible form.
Most importantly, it would allow us to do something a little different, something to keep the opposition guessing. A variety of formation opens us up to ideas such as Walcott playing through the middle, something Theo has long said he wants to do, and enables certain players an opportunity to play in natural positions.
But hey, that’s just me.
Thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. Let me know your views in the comments and follow me on Twitter – @_ArmchairGooner.