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Monday, January 23, 2006

Three reasons why the AFC 4-5-1 should be abandoned by Wenger

I wrote about the terrible 4-5-1 after the Man Utd match, and produced the stat that it averages AFC only 0.166 goals per match. Since then, AFC have had two more matches with the 4-5-1, and true to form the team did not score in either (a 1-0 loss to Wigan, and a 1-0 loss to Everton), nor barely created a chance worthy of the name in the 180 minutes of play. The stat now reads 0.125 goals per match, or in other words just one goal in eight games dating from the FA Cup final.

Here are three core reasons why Wenger should abandon the 4-5-1:

Opposition teams love the AFC 4-5-1

I have always believed that anything about AFC that the opposition loves is something that needs immediate rectification. A record of only one goal and one win in the eight games employing the 4-5-1 is ample evidence that the opposition must love to see the recent 'invincibles' in the AFC 4-5-1.

4-5-1 neutralises Henry

Thierry Henry has won the European Golden boot in the previous two seasons. More than that, he has produced loads of assists in the same period. Yet the AFC 4-5-1 has seen no goals for Henry, nor is he creating chances for others. Instead we see Henry confined to the centre of the park putting in a really unconvincing impression of a target-man. Henry is no Drogba, is no Beattie, is no Davies. A system that destroys Henry and tries to re-construct him into someone he isn't is one that destroys Arsenal.

4-5-1 betrays the Wenger legacy of fantastic, fluent, positive, winning football

Since 1996, Wenger has transformed Arsenal from a defence-first team into an attack-first team. He has produced a fantastic style of play that has won championships and broken magnificent records. And it has been achieved by drilling an attacking 4-4-2 system into his players.

Conversely, the 4-5-1 is a relatively negative system, favouring a team that primarily has a defensive mentality and a strong target-man. This is mainly why AFC players have no fluency in the 4-5-1: they do not have a defensive-first mentality nor a target-man. Moreover, it sets an alien, negative tone into their mentality in comparison to the attacking spirit they are used to when setting up in a 4-4-2. In other words, it is a totally wrong fit for the AFC players- and it shows in the 4-5-1 performances and results.


So on a number of levels, the 4-5-1 is a wrong system for this AFC squad. I reckon Wenger has persevered with it in preparation for the match in Madrid because the extra midfielder theoretically provides added protection to the defence. Yet this protection has now consistently been proven to come at too high a price.

I hope Wenger now realises he can't go to the Bernabeu playing this system because away goals are a crucial asset: and the 4-5-1 holds out very little hope that Arsenal can gain away goals.

Overall, the Arsenal 4-5-1 system frustrates me because it is self-inflicted damage on the Arsenal players who simply can't find any attacking fluency playing within it. I was happy to see it changed on Saturday at half-time, but by then the damage had been done as Everton had a goal advantage, self-belief and the bit between their teeth.

Post-Everton, I hope Arsene's analysis comes to the same conclusion as me: don’t go back to the 4-5-1 because it is simply a wrong and failing system for this AFC squad.


P.S. Kerrea Gilbert was fantastic on his league debut: pace, tenacity, kept things simple and solid, made constant overlapping runs. He created AFC's best chance just before Everton's goal with a deadly run and cross that Ljungberg took away from a better-positioned Reyes. For a few months I have been anticipating his break-through, and his peformance on Saturday underlines the fact that he has a lot of potential to be a right-sided Ashley Cole.

9 Comments:

Blogger Borehamwood Gooner said...

great post

great Stats

One question is there an Arsenal XI that could play 4 5 1?

Also what do you think to putting Bergkamp in the middle of a 5 to replace Vieira?

Would 3 5 2 be a better formation for AFC. Three strong centre halves, 5 in midfield with Lauren and Cole as the wide men and two upfront, Reyes and Henry or Van Persie and Henry. With Diaby, Hleb and Fabgreas in the centre of midfield.

1/23/2006 2:59 pm

 
Blogger Begeegs said...

Lauren should go back to midfield. Gilbert played so well to warrant another start and Eboue should be given some opportunities as well.

Lauren in the midfield would give us more tenacity which is lacking right now with Gilberto...

1/23/2006 3:17 pm

 
Anonymous MoW said...

nice point. however, i think it's a little more complex than that.

our problem is that we do not protect the back four away from home. this has been a perennial arsenal problem under wenger. so why does playing a third man in the middle of the park not provide the extra stability? why isn't gilberto sitting in front of the back two?

why do we lack so much bite and muscle across the whole middle five?

maybe henry should play on the left away from home. that might free hinm up

we have players that would fit into a chelski style 4-3-3 i reckon, but tactically wenger is getting in hopelessy wrong away from home....

1/23/2006 4:18 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

Agree that young Gilbert had a good game on Saturday and should have had his run rewarded with a goal. But Everton had overall done that which they did to Utd, close down on players and prevent them from creating much on the ball. It is debatable that the 4-5-1 didn't allow Arsenal to flow in the manner that could have opened up a defensively harrying Everton.


RedsMan.

1/23/2006 9:32 pm

 
Anonymous Nturtle said...

Good post T. Unfortunately...only the last paragraph excited me...about Kerrea Gilbert (pronounced Kerry apparently)...and you are right - WE heard it FIRST here on EFT from you that he would be good!

HA!

As for the 4-5-1...good points above fellas...but a bit confused about the Gilberto comment by begeegs...he played marvelously CRAP I felt, but that is a reflection on him...not on your comments! I don't understand how in a tackle he can go flying a few metres...after the opponent has pushed him a little...so light-weight! He need to play some rugby.

Adebayour looks to have a set role then...maybe HE can be the CF in a 4-5-1 system. Having said that...we DO need a plan B...and THIS 4-5-1 system is not it still...

1/24/2006 3:00 am

 
Blogger T said...

Thanx for your comments everyone!

Borehamwood Gooner- nope I don't think anyone at AFC is suited to the 4-5-1. When Bergkamp is fit he plays as a deep striker in a 4-4-2... so I don't think there is any need to put him further back into a Vieira role. As for 3-5-2... at present I would place it above a 4-5-1 but my preference is still for a solid, settled, successful 4-4-2.

Nturtle, Begeegs, I agree with your questions marks over the power of Gilberto. He is not a sturdy player.... and to imagine him on a rugby pitch makes me worry for him and his family!

Begeegs- Lauren in midfield can become a possibilty when Wenger feels Eboue or Gilbert is ready to supplant him at RB.

Nturtle, I reckon you misread Begeegs beause he was complimenting young Kerrea.... whose surname is remarkably similar to our Brazilain world cup winner. You know that after writing about the 4-5-1 I felt I had to cheer myself up and any readers... so thanks to Kerrea for putting in a performance that allowed me to end on a bright note!!

Finally, a full team will be out tonight against Wigan. If the players have the right mentality and are up for the contest than they can win... but I stress they must have the right collective mentality because I know for sure that Wigan will!

1/24/2006 11:05 am

 
Anonymous Nturtle said...

Mmmm...first of all...apologies to begeegs - indeed you were talking about Gilbert...and I didn't click it in my mind. He played another outstanding game I hear...rushing over to the right and crossing for Henry's header.

But...to no avail...UEFA spot gone...and ANOTHER defensive error by Senderos/Campbell...what will it take to wake them up?!?!? After such a great free kick by VP...*sigh*

Can't do much about such a "naive" goal as Wenger says...play Djourou and some reserve player pls...take those two out to dry for a while...

1/25/2006 12:42 pm

 
Blogger T said...

Nturtle, I sense from your post that you didn't see the game.

Sure the goal was a massive negative but I tell you that was the most attacking and most committed AFC performance I've seen live for some time and the positives to come out of it far outweigh the negatives of Senderos and Campbell again being dumbstruck by a straight long ball over the top.

Young Kerrea Gilbert was outstanding (and great touch as TH made sure he got the acclaim of the North Bank); Van Persie's run-up and technique for his free-kick backs up why I feel he just won't stop scoring... and his overall play after coming on was fantastic to watch; Dennis was majestic and played the whole 120 (will probably mean he'll now be injured for a few games cos he's not very good at putting in back-to-back games these days!); Diaby looked a very good-fit alongside Gilberto (but was taken off at half-time... noy sure why?); and Hleb had his best game since his return from injury last month.

Overall the 4-4-2 was back with Henry, Dennis, and Reyes presenting a very fluent and positive threat... and this was the AFC I love too see. More of the same pls Wenger.

Final note- Robert's goal MUST underline to Wenger the importance of gaining an away goal in Madrid... which means that we must play an attacking 4-4-2!

1/26/2006 9:34 am

 
Anonymous Nturtle said...

Thanks for the commentary T - I did indeed miss it.

It was no surprise to see we lost to Bolton with another slip-up at the back...too bad. I dont want to be toooooooo critical...but maybe the opponents are just outsmarting us every time.

Just when 7-0 says you've turned the corner...BAM 3 losses on the trot (albeit with different team makeups).

Maybe this all means we will do a "Liverpool" and win the Champs League! HAH!

Definitely like our chances of getting an away goal T at Real...but I fear we will let one in as well!

1/30/2006 12:30 am

 

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