Tactical Analysis: Where did it all go wrong for Arsenal?
Lagging behind at 6th place with 16 gone and 22 more to go in the Barclays Premier League. 4 won, 1 draw and 1 lost in the group stage to finish second behind below par Borussia Dortmund. Also, being dumped out at the very first hurdle by Southampton in the Capital One Cup is something neither the Arsenal players, nor the coaching staff and nor the fans would like to really be proud off.
But the major question is where is Arsenal going wrong. Arsenal has a classy midfield that creates and creates numerous chances. The forward line with the acquisition of Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck looks potent and the defence if all are the players are fit is very strong.
However, the performances have not shown the real Arsenal people around the world used to know. Quality is there, Intent is there, but more than often than not, Arsenal are outdone by teams from England and Europe as well.
Arsenal fans have been divided upon the performances of Arsene Wenger since a long time now. Although this season, the raised voices are of real concern. There is debate going on whether Wenger can reinstall the winning mentality, the toughness and the mojo to challenge the so called top teams. But one cannot deny to the fact that many fans have lost faith in Wenger.
Many say the blame should be levied on players as they are the one who are performing on the field and not Wenger. Although, if results are viewed thoroughly then it is quite clear - Wenger has been undone this time around and not the players.
The reasons for such dismal performances are:
In the very first match against Crystal Palace, the fragility was shown by Arsenal. Wenger has been always been backing the zonal marking at set pieces even after failed results. Zonal Marking plays an advantage for the opponents now which was quite evident when Hangeland scored at the 35th Minute through a corner.
The game was won late very late which though brought smile on every fans face but also made opponents aware of Arsenals fragilities at the back. The same was seen on many more instances like in the matches against Newcastle United where Ayoze Perez was free to score the header. Demichelis scoring the equalizer at Emirates, Equalizer scored by Ulloa against Leicester, First goal by Coleman at Everton and the list goes on.
Wenger needs to address the same. Whenever there is a set piece or a corner, all the fans and even players get worried about what will happen. Wenger needs to instill the confidence and also look how to improve the defending at set pieces.
Putting the game to bed
Other problem for Arsenal is that they have failed to close the game when they have the lead and all of the sudden the score line changes in favour of the opponent. Against Leicester, Arsenal took the lead but could not protect it even for 5 minutes. Arsenal thought to have scored the winner on the 74th minute against Manchester City but again they failed to close the game.
And the most embarrassing result against Anderlecht where Arsenal threw 3-goal-cushion to draw the match. Had Arsenal held on their nerves and just put the game to bed scoring another or keeping defense tight then most probably Arsenal would have topped the UCL Group and would have been at at least 32 points just 7 behind leaders at this moment of time.
Arsenal starts playing after half time. 80% of Arsenal goals have been scored in the second half when the opponent has already taken the lead or has already put the match to bed like against Stoke City, Match against Borussia Dortmund at Signal Iduna Park, Hull City where they had 2 goal cushion, and Everton are such examples.
The same was the reason Arsenal lost the ploy at the dead end of the last season and from title challengers Arsenal turned to 4th place challenger. Arsene Wenger and his coaching staff need to work a lot so as to get the best out of the players in the first half itself like Chelsea do.
What is Arsenal’s best formation?
Arsene is yet to find the best formation which suits all the Arsenal players. Whether Arsenal should play 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 or try 4-4-2 is of big debate. Arsenal has clusters of good midfield players and just to accommodate all Arsene Wenger played midfielders as the Wing Forward position. Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla are prime examples of failures due to Arsene Wenger’s experiment.
Arsene Wenger shall revert to his old 4-2-3-1 and play to their strength and understand Ozil, Thomas Rosicky and Cazorla are best at CAM, Lukas Podolski , Theo Walcott, Alex Ox Chamberlain, and Sanchez are best at Wing Forward and Olivier Giroud and Welbeck shall be left to play as Forward and not wingers.
Jack Wilshere has shown his capabilities as Deep lying midfielder and Aaron Ramsey as the one who plays along with the DM and Arsene Wenger shall play them together at CM.
The best Arsenal team once a Koscielny, Ozil and Walcott return from their respective injury is Wojciech Szczesny – Mathieu Debuchy – Per Mertesacker - Laurent Koscielny– Kieron Gibbs – Aaron Ramsey – Jack Wilshere – Theo Walcott – Mesut Ozil – Alexis Sanchez – Olivier Giroud and the best formation is 4-2-3-1.
The bench looks strong and can create magic at wish with players like Welbeck, Podolski, Cazorla, Chambers, Ospina, Monreal, Rosicky, Chamberlain, Serge Gnabry, Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta and others.
Inactivity in the Transfer market
Reinforcements. Reinforcements and Reinforcements. Arsene Wenger let go Thomas Vermaelen and Johan Djourou along with Ignasi Miguel without bringing in a single replacement. It was very fortunate of Arsene that Chambers settled at Centre back, because had he not then Arsenal would have been at worse position than they are currently. But even now, with Koscielny struggling with injuries, having just Mertesacker as a recognised CB along with make shift Chambers is a big risk.
Wenger shall break bank and get the best defender because not only Mertesacker is getting old and Koscielny injury prone, but also he has to replace a commanding figure of Sol Campell which is yet to be replaced ably.
Arsene sold Alex Song in the hope of having Diaby for the full season, but he was not available last season and still Wenger did not learn from the mistake and did not bring in a able replacement. Arteta and Flamini are getting old and are not the DM Arsenal need. Arsene Wenger has 2 bright prospects in his hand in Wilshere and Chambers.
He can either develop them or can just get an established DM because without an enforcer in the midfield Arsenal defense looks very fragile. And not to forget Arsenal will be having Carl Jenkinson back next season after his superb loan spell with West Ham, so Wenger can actually convert Chambers as DM and let Jenkinson fight Debuchy for the RB role.
Apart from not buying replacements, Wenger has been very suspicious this season and making fans and pundits wonder why Podolski, Campell, Rosicky have not played even when Arsenal are very light upfront with just Yaya Sanogo upfront or are over burdening players like Sanchez, Cazorla and Welbeck.
Injuries and more injuries: Why always Arsenal?
Ozil never got injured for such lengthy periods and with such consistencies when he played for Real Madrid and Werder Bremen, Walcott injuries are mystery to be solved after the puzzle of Diaby injuries is solved. And add to that reoccurring injuries to Ramsey and Wilshere is something of the concern.
In one of the articles, Raymond Verheijen claimed Van Persie looks much older than 31 due to damage done to his body due to training at Arsenal for so long. What is wrong is not known to the common people but yes something is wrong with the training methods. The rising amount of injuries are surely going to raise many eyebrows and can actually ruin some young talent like Wilshere, Ramsey, Gibbs, Chamberlain.
It is very clear that the problem lies within Arsene and not the players. Players are abiding by Arsene orders and he has to rectify the mistakes. Arsene made history with Arsenal in his initial years and now it is time for him to finish his book of Management with getting Arsenal back to the top and one of the most feared team within 3 seasons and then retire by giving the next manager and able and good team with winning mentality.