Arsenal’s Road to TrophyLand: Part 1


A few observations and thoughts on what Arsenal should do to win the league again

Arsenal need to do a few things to win the English Premier League Title next season. This frequently discussed subject has two very distinct yet interrelated aspects to it; Firstly, The tactics on the pitch, of which Wenger speaks very little, even in his press conferences, where he tries to simplify what these may entail for those present, perhaps in order to avoid explaining  the complexity of the science of sport and the tactics of the game, (which are in actual fact infinitely larger and complex than they are made out to be on television, newspapers and the internet) to those who are not familiar with the same .

Secondly, the  team additions, as well as the development of some of the current squad members, namely the younger players, who have either not had a chance to play in  games or are not ready, or those who have featured regularly earlier but have not made an impact this season. Both these implications, in whatever capacity they are being talked about the world over, occupy a set of things in my mind.

Tactics on the pitch: Arsene Wenger’s is known for not taking tactical advice from non-professionals too well. He has been quoted more than once, saying that ‘We live in a world of opinions’ and that ‘those who have never managed a single game in their lives too have opinions of their own’. To me, it is understandable that people in the business of football management are many a times not able to explain the complexity of the game and the hardships they face. Regardless, this is one of those  rare statement made by Wenger that I do not agree with. I do not think that it is wise on his part to be condescending of all those opinions on football and tactics that come from outside the world of club management.  This is not to say that he has a low capacity for criticism. On the contrary, no one has tolerated the same for this long in the game. However, even as a lay spectator, without claiming to preach,  I think it’s important that Arsenal and Wenger address a few tactical issues regardless of who comes in;

De-stabilize opponent’s defence: Perhaps one of the key reasons Chelsea’s victory in games they won ugly had to do with the fact that opponents could not figure out how to pull their centre backs Terry and Cahill out of position. In the pedagogy of football, I must admit I have close to no idea how this is done, but my sense is that with their strength in depth in attack, it is Arsenal who can do it. For this, they must play with two strikers up front against such top quality centre backs, so that midfielders like Wilshere, Rosicky and Ramsey, can make those beautifully timed late runs. Arsenal Legend Thierry Henry, has many a times stressed the important of moving around a small radius constantly, especially in times when one can gradually build up play on the offensive. Usually, when Arsenal or other teams have tried to do this, opponents with versatile full backs like Chelsea or even Southampton have had them to cover the central defensive zone. Arsenal have the advantage in that they are quick passers and with very precise ground ball movement. So, having an extra centre forward instead of a lone striker could allow a player like Cazorla more space to aim for the goal,  from different ends of the 18 yard box.

Faster and strategic on the counter: In Wenger’s own words, a good counter attack is dependent completely on the ‘Quality of the first pass’. Many a times the positioning of players in such situations where a counter can arise is unprecedented and requires exceptionally fast decision making. However, if and when Arsenal play with  say Walcott and Chamberlain on the flanks and Alexis up front, especially in situations where there are very opponents in their half to stop play, a faster counter could definitely result in a good finish. With Alexis finding the net on so many occasions this season, it is hard to imagine that he would not find it once more from such a situation. Additionally, I also feel that Walcott has previously centered ground balls into the box from the flank quite accurately (The pass to Giroud against Spurs last season at the emirates and again in the second leg of the champions league in feb 2013, in the 2012-13 season that Arsenal won 2-0 against Bayern Munich)

Cohesion: Wenger has continuously stressed the importance of the cohesion of this squad over additions in the summer. I would think that is true of most teams in the premier league. One need not be an expert to witness that team chemistry is central to doing well in this league. The FA CUP final against Aston Villa was one of the finest example of how well the current players are well versed with one another. This must continue and amplify, or else no amount of tactics would be useful for winning games.

What do you say Gooners?

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