Breaking Down Stubborn Defenses – Plan B Required?
A slow week this, with Arsenal only being involved on the League front. A visit to inhospitable Stoke City is up next at the weekend – I guess the players must be training for scrums and line-out tussles this week.
Arsene Wenger believes the defensive tactics of Wigan and Chelsea have cost us points in the last two games. He felt that while we kept going against Manchester City and got a result, we lacked a bit of sharpness to penetrate the defenses of the Latics and Blues.
It opens up the debate once more of whether we need a Plan B to score goals against teams adopting this approach. As Chelsea showed against Barcelona and then against us, defensive tactics can get results and more teams will attempt to play this way to nick a point or three.
In the second half against Chelsea, we lacked the sharpness to penetrate behind a wall of 10 men in front of the ball. Most of our chances in that game came from balls over the top, whether from free kicks or open play. Against Manchester City, I thought we consciously adopted the tactic of whipping balls in and putting their defense under pressure in the first half.
It’s something to consider for next season. While we should have more creativity in midfield with the return of Jack Wilshere and a fit-again Abou Diaby, a target man may become a necessity against teams looking to stifle us by sitting deep.
Arsene Wenger is obviously aware of this and hence the arrival of Marouane Chamakh in 2010. After a brilliant start to his Gunners career though, the Moroccan’s form has fallen off spectacularly and inexplicably – to the extent that he’s not trusted with 15 minutes on the pitch when are winning 3-0 at Wolves.
With the shisha-smoker likely to leave in the summer and question marks over Ju Young Park’s involvement, Arsenal would surely invest in another striker besides Lukas Podolski. A tall, strong, physical player up front to ruffle the opposition’s defensive feathers and pose an attacking aerial threat would give us better resources to get results against different kinds of opposition. Nicklas Bendtner anyone?
Our offensive game is heavily based around quick, sharp passing combined with good movement off the ball. Not only does this require a high-tempo high-energy performance, it also requires players to be on top of their game in every match. Invariably as the season enters its final stages, tired legs and tired minds lead to low-energy less-creative performances which are unable to secure results against defensively motivated teams.
Barcelona are a prime example of how a couple of niggles to key players at the end of the season, physical and mental tiredness and the dogged determined tactics of the opposition can affect the outcome – even if you keep the ball 75% of the time.
But that’s a discussion for the summer. At the weekend, we will encounter a different challenge altogether. The Potters under Tony ‘Classless’ Pooless play like a group of thugs intent on literally leaving their mark on opposition players. More than a Plan B, we will need our now-famous mental strength and determination to bring back something from the Britannia.
And oh, we have to remember to take the hand brake off first – of course.
Enjoy your day, back tomorrow.