Re: Official Arsenal Thread
What do you guys think of Arsenal's playing style? Having watched the Spain v. Uruguay game today, I saw some similarities between Arsenal and Spain in the attacking sense. Uruguay were playing super defensive, as many teams to against Arsenal, but Spain were still able to create many scoring opportunities despite Uruguay's stubborn tactics. All in all, Spain had a couple of distinct differences in their playing that seemed to make them much more potent than Arsenal, but it strikes me that Arsenal can take some of Spain's tactics and make them work in the PL too.
Firstly, when other teams park the bus, Arsenal seem to pass the ball laterally about halfway between the halfway line and the opponent's 18, with Arteta and Ramsey combining to switch the play from side to side. Spain, on the other hand, seemed to be passing the ball in deeper areas, closer to their own half, and instead of switching the play constantly, they'd crowd midfielders in the wide areas, passing the ball around, and slowly make their way to the opposite end of the field(with LOTS of one-touch passing). The other main difference is that while Arsenal use Arteta and Ramsey for the bulk of the midfield passing, with someone like Cazorla or Rosicky combining as well, Spain played Iniesta, Xavi and Busquets play very close to each other, combining as a trio, while also playing with the fullbacks and wingers. The virtue of the Spanish game is that as they play with the ball deep, Uruguay had to push up the field a little farther, creating a bit more separation between their two banks of four or five. Consequently, the Spanish midfielders were able to play penetrating balls between the Uruguayan midfield and defense to their wingers or striker, who would receive the ball with their back to goal, and try to combine with their attacking colleagues quickly as Uruguay's midfield dropped to squeeze them out and defend. With Arsenal's midfield playing higher up the pitch on a regular basis, they are unable to play these kind of penetrating balls with pace into the front three, as Arsenal's midfield squeeze their opponents' midfield really close to the opponents' back line, which leaves little space for our front three to operate in.
Secondly, while Fabregas was officially labelled as a winger on the team sheet, he actual positioning was certainly far from it. He was very mobile; he alternated wings with Pedro and supported Soldado almost as a second striker, but also came deep into the midfield to combine with Spain's midfield trio. Fabregas' positioning was really effective in making space for his teammates, as he was always either drawing Uruguay's defenders away from the play, or providing a passing option if Spain wanted to try intricate passing plays through Uruguay's defense. Fabregas' positioning kind of reminded me of how Cazorla played for Arsenal as an CAM, as Santi would often come very deep to pick up the ball, but would also find himself combining with our wingers out wide, and with the striker up front.
Thirdly, with Sergio Busquets often dropping between Spain's CBs, that allowed Spain's fullbacks to advance and contribute to the build-up play, while also providing crossing options from out wide. Linking this back to my first observation, Busquets was able to play between the CBs because Spain's midfield three played so deep, which led to a really interesting offensive setup, with Spain's CBs and midfield in front of Uruguay's midfield, Spain's fullbacks often out wide but in between Uruguay's midfield and defense, and Spain's forward three either on the backs of Uruguay's defenders, playing in the space between Uruguay's midfield and defense, or taking turns coming deep to combine with Spain's midfield. Arsenal don't really have a midfielder who's defensively sound enough to get away with playing in between our CBs on the attack, but if we were to add someone who could do that, I think we'd reap the rewards of increased use of our fullbacks when attacking, especially on the left, where Gibbs' build-up play is quite effective.
All in all, to apply this to Arsenal, I think that those who are yearning for another creative player in the Cazorla mold have the right idea, as adding one more creator would enable Arsenal to have creativity both in the midfield and the attack. While I think that sitting deep and waiting to play penetrating balls to someone like Giroud would really help Arsenal break down teams who are parking the bus, a mobile winger or striker would do wonders helping our sometimes sluggish front three deceive defenses and make nifty combinations. The closest thing we've had to this was Gervinho playing as a false nine, and barring his finishing, I actually thought that he was really effective up there. His movement off the ball was instrumental in making space for the likes of Cazorla to exploit, and he had a knack for drawing defenders into positions where Arsenal could play through balls and send their wingers in on goal. Now, we all know that Gervinho isn't cut out for a the striker role. Therefore, I'm curious to see if Rosicky could play as a mobile winger a la Fabregas, coming central to help out with the play and roaming out wide to link up with the fullbacks.
To make a long story short, the changes I think would benefit Arsenal's playing style are as follows:
1. Play our midfield three deeper, drawing the opposition's midfield farther forward, and enabling our midfield to play penetrating balls into our front three.
2. Find a more mobile winger to play in a free role, helping out where needed in the attack. Giroud would keep his place in the team, however, as he'd be needed to hold up the ball and provide a solid, consistent option that our other attackers could feed off of.
3. Wenger has been doing this, but try to get our fullbacks to offer width, and our wingers to play a little narrower. Playing a midfielder between our CBs isn't the solution right now, but we've seen how effective Gibbs can be when offering width when Cazorla plays as a narrow LW, and we should exploit this when feasible.
4. Play Wilshere deeper, similar to where he was played in 2010-11. Yes, he's not as sound defensively as some may like, but like Fabregas, he can develop into a more well-rounded player if he spends more time playing deep. Right now, as effective as Wilshere's incisive runs are, running at the opposition often leads to the opposition collapsing, clogging up space, and not leaving Wilshere any passing options. This would be fine if Wilshere scored more from midfield, but until that happens, I think we should stick with a primarily passing CAM rather than a primarily dribbling CAM, and let Wilshere do his thing in deeper areas of the pitch.
Sorry for the length of this post, but what does everyone think? Keep in mind that his is mainly regarding Arsenal playing against teams who park the bus and close down space, as we've had some issues scoring against that type of opposition.