A Matter Of Form Rather Than Formation

This morning’s media seem to suggest that the problems besetting the squad at the moment have baffled the brains of the outfit. So much so that this morning sees the news that Arsène and the coaching staff are contemplating with returning to 5-3-2 or 3-5-2, depending on your inclination.

It isn’t a new formation for the club, Rioch used it during his season in charge, George Graham to greater effect in the 1988/89 title run-in. It seems a radical solution for Wenger to be thinking this way, focussing on the defensive duties, the myth has been built that he never bothered with defensive work during his time at the club. Which is curious given the playing careers of himself and Pat Rice. It was something I never bought into although I would not have argued if someone had said that they appeared to be not very good at this aspect of training.

Goals conceded has been steadily rising each season for the past few years and whilst it is easy for the blame to be apportioned at the feet of the manager and coaches, the players are as culpable. My memory fails me on occasion but I can’t recall that many goals which have been as the result of outstanding football on the part of our opponents. I can think of plenty where the defence has been at fault, collectively or individually.

With the personnel that he has, 3-5-2 might be the best solution. Each of the centre backs has attributes that, on paper, suit such a set-up. Mind you, each of the centre-backs on paper is an outstanding defender with little reason to believe their fallibility is as much of an issue as it is. Perhaps if we took the best of each and put them into one player we could build a perfect defender, a Robocop defender if you like. I quite like the idea of Arsène as Emmett Brown, having this sort of “Eureka!” moment in the dismal cellars under Highbury House.

The full-backs seem suited to this change with preferences to attack, or in Andre Santos’ case, do anything but defend. Hints of Kieran Gibbs return are welcomed not just for the release of pressure on that side but also for the necessity to address the central issues this creates. Podolski will possibly benefit as well, his relationship on the left side with Gibbs was a reason for the relatively strong start to the season, something which seems a distant memory.  Gibbs growth as a player is reminscent of Alex Song’s. For a long time, the youngster was condemned as not good enough. Now on the verge of an England call-up, he is seen as something of a saviour.

Changes to formation are going to help solve some problems but the players need to improve their concentration as well. As I mentioned earlier, we don’t concede many great goals but we do seem to fail to stop a great number of sloppy goals. Look at the matches this season, the goals conceded against United, Chelsea, Schalke, Fulham. Lapses of concentration pulling one player out of position or goalkeepers not keeping an eye on the ball. Once one link in the defensive chain fails, the rest become kinked or rusted themselves, unable to fulfil their own functions without compromising the situation further.

It is my view that the players lose concentration, almost like a poison slowly seeping through the body of the side. Collectively those mistakes are punished and to some extent there is a lag, with the defence used to being bailed out by a forward who scored for fun. There’s a mental issue that they have to address but more importantly, if genuine title challenges are to happen, they need to get to grips with their focus. The problems which beset them at club level are seemingly forgotten when they turn out for their national teams although it might be that the individual cracks are papered over. However, when they come back, so do the problems.

All it simply underlines is that there is much work to be done to restore the fortunes – and I use that term relatively – of the club. Do I have the answers? No, otherwise I’d be working on a training pitch at Shenley rather than sitting typing a blog.

’til Tomorrow.



114 thoughts on “A Matter Of Form Rather Than Formation

  1. And on comes young Carl – good lad

    I am old enough to recall the spark of pride an Arsenal player turning out for England caused

  2. Very impressed with our lads contribution

    Given the anti Arsenal Meeja bias however I expect all we will here is about the – in my mind at least – lucky goals from Ibrahimovich

    Was it ever thus ?

  3. wow did you guys see the list over shirt deals in the mail today?

    Arsenal – Fly Emirates (airline company) ends 2014, £5.5m a year
    Aston Villa – Genting Casinos (gambling company) 2013, £8m a year
    Chelsea – Samsung (electronics ) 2015, £13.8m a year
    Everton – Chang (brewery) 2013, £4m a year
    Fulham – FxPro (foreign exchange) 2013, £4.2m a year
    Liverpool – Standard Chartered (bank) 2014, £20m a year
    Man City – Etihad (airline) 1922, £20m a year
    Man Utd – AON (insurance) 2014, £20m a year
    Newcastle – Virgin Money (finance) 2013, £10m a year
    Norwich – Aviva (insurance) 2016, £1m a year
    QPR – Air Asia (airline) 2013, £2.5m a year
    Reading – Waitrose (supermarket) 2013, £500,000 a year
    Southampton – Aap3 (IT services) 2014, £1m a year
    Stoke – bet365 (gambling) 2015, £1.3m a year
    Sunderland – Invest in Africa (non-profit organisation funded by oil company Tullow) 2014, £20m a year
    Swansea – 32red (gambling) 2014, £1.1m a year
    Tottenham – Investec/Auresma (financial services/augmented reality multimedia) £10m a year
    West Brom – Zoopla (property) 2015, £1.5m a year
    West Ham – SBObet (gambling) 2013, £1.7m a year
    Wigan – 12bet.com (gambling) 2014, £1m a year

    surly if Sunderland get 20m a year we must be able to get the same in 2015. also we should be a more sellable brand than Liverpool.

    Its crazy to think that 15 years ago we did a decent deal with those 5.5 m a year. Now its almost the lowest deal in the leaue.
    Emirates pulled off the buisness deal of the century there…

  4. Given your encyclopedic knowledge of the topic could you just cross reference the data above with £figures for each club you list at the date the AFC / Emirates sponsorship was signed

    Now I might have some form of memory deficit my dear chap but I don’t think that the current Liverpool deal with Standard Chartered was in place six years ago

    Do you see the point I am getting at ?

  5. Some papers have reported we’ll go with Adidas for the manufacturer deal at £25 million a year but as we’re Nikes second biggest sellers behind United you’d assume they’d want to hold onto us so we’ll see on that one. That should be an indication of the area we’ll be looking at for the sponsorship deal – around the £30 million mark perhaps?

    £25 million would be a huge improvement but don’t get too impressed, United are supposedly expecting £60 million from Nike for their next deal which get’s signed in 2015, only a year after ours. As I explained to you yesterday Poodle (where you were slightly confused) our brand power doesn’t come close to Uniteds but the gulf between £25 million and £60 is ridiculous and we should be looking to be closer if these rumours have any footing in reality.

    I don’t have much confidence in Gazidis to get us the top deals we could get.

  6. Given your encyclopedic knowledge of Gazidis’ performance in the commercial contracts he has negotiated and signed off on perhaps you could specify the precise deficiencies ;

    Please list below the deals you are talking about and where you feel, and what reasons, you base your opinion on ?

  7. first of all…well this blog updates faster than anything i saw before, i wanted to reply on the older post and was swarmed with activity, congrats to everyone, having a good conversation online about football isn’t easy

    second, good article, but i think i disagree…the strategic plan on Arsenal’s side the last days is more like a 2-4-4 than a 3-4-3 or a 4-4-2, a very fluid an fast 4-4-2 with an offensive side than resembles a 2-4-4, i think this is whay he had that many “stupid goals” on our side…now, changing to a 5-3-2 or something like that may be a good idea, but, i think like you, is a matter of form..maybe skill. Our midfielders breathe talent, Cazorla is on a great form, and arteta is good doing this “defesive-ofensive” thing…wilshere is back and i think he will get to the top again, but, offensively i think we got good players…(as i said before, i don’t like giroud that much, and to answer the question i think zinc asked, no, i don’t think we need another Chamack in giroud, but why can’t we exploit his good “field skills” i explained before with a better finisher as companion? the good ol’ 4-4-2 similar with that piece of art known as “the invincibles” may return if we use a podolski-giroud or giroud-cavani couple on attack…is hard to explain, but i still think we need a center forward that really scares the other teams. when we had rvp on the field he dragged some of the defenders making spaces for arshavin, wallcott or arteta…now we don’t have one “arrastramarcas” (there is no word on the english language that can translate that, but i mean a player that is so dangerous he drags the defenders away)

    Giroud doesn’t do that…maybe with a partner, but alone i think he is not enough, and results back my opinion. but is just an opinion…

    more beer and lots of respect to everyone here from Chile (By the way, my name is not Chile, lol)

  8. long story short for my long post above: i don’t think is a matter of form only, our players had shown good form, but lack of experience or skill. Saying that our midfield or our defenders aren’t in good form is kinda of cruel, they do a good job, but they are making mistakes. Stupid mistakes.

  9. anicoll5

    November 14, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Given your encyclopedic knowledge of Gazidis’ performance in the commercial contracts he has negotiated and signed off on perhaps you could specify the precise deficiencies ;

    Please list below the deals you are talking about and where you feel, and what reasons, you base your opinion on ?

    You don’t need an encyclopedic knowledge of Gazidis’ performance, you can just look at the growth of commercial revenue since he has come to the club and compare what he has achieved to other teams.

    The nitty gritty is that our commercial growth has only gone up £10 million since 2007, this is where Gazidis and his team are supposed to be expanding the club and have awarded themselves bonuses for their performance – £4 million commercial growth for us since 2009, but United have registered £48 million on commercial growth in that time, not to mention teams like City, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Liverpool (even Spurs have grown their commercial income more than us in that time) who have all streamed ahead, all on bigger commercial income in the first place and when the new accounts are posted it will be even worse.

    In 2007 we weren’t far behind United, now there is a huge gulf – part of that is down to the shirt sponsor and manufacturer deals we were locked into but if you look at all the creative ways United have been bringing money in it makes our commercial team look a bit naff and to be honest because Wenger is so in touch with the financial side I think this keeps him from spending as much as he could, I think he knows there’s pressure to keep the club financially viable so while commercial growth barely growths and gate receipts shrink he’s selling players to keep us in the black.

    I’m not saying Gazidis will fail with the new shirt deals, I’m saying he has done little to instill confidence so far – perhaps he’s got a lot lined up for this year in which case I’ll be happy.

  10. It is no shame to behind the likes of Manure in this regard. In truth they are a “bigger club” and have a much bigger worldwide draw. But we should not behind the likes of the Spuds and Liverpool.

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