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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Facts back up why I'm not convinced by 4-5-1 Arsenal in the EPL

Since the start of the season Arsene Wenger has gone all-out in using the 4-5-1 system. After ten years of 4-4-2 which saw two doubles, an unbeaten season and loads of goals why would Wenger completely change to a new system?

I see the merit of the 4-5-1 in the Champs League where the aim of the competition is more to avoid conceding goals rather than to push for goals. In this context the extra midfielder can benefit the team by protecting the defence and maintaining possession of the ball. Equally, I don't see the advantage of it being the Plan A system in the Premiership where the importance of gaining three points every match means having two strikers playing centrally is often the better option, as borne out by the Premiership history of Arsenal under Arsene Wenger.

The startling facts of the AFC 4-5-1 are that despite playing excellent football in virtually every match we have our worst points total in the opening 13 games of an EPL season under Wenger, and have fallen one-nil behind in eight of these matches. I'm not saying that the 4-5-1 is completely at fault for these facts, but I do think there is a connection and that we just don't look as lethal in this system.

For example, in the seven home Premiership games we have played this season we have scored just two goals in the first half (one a Watford OG) as teams have piled men behind the ball. The repeated difficulty in getting a breakthrough in home matches highlights to me that the 4-5-1 system - with the excellent Henry uncomfortably restricted and isolated in the centre and VP forced out into a wide left position - should not be Plan A for the Emirates where the onus is really on us to attack and score plenty of goals.

Against Hamburg it wasn't until Wenger decided at half-time to place Robin van Persie into a conventinal central role alongside Henry that we looked more threatening, and it was VP from a central position who opened the scoring. For me this match simply reinforced my belief in the benefit of playing with two central strikers and I hope it has revived Wenger's admiration for the 4-4-2 system.

It is the system that not only has bought us a lot of domestic success in the last decade but maxmises the attacking talent of Henry and VP and personally I hope to see its return at Fulham tomorrow evening where a win is a must.

Preferred team line up at Craven Cottage:

Eboue Toure Senderos Clichy
Hleb Fabregas Gilberto Rosicky
-------Van Persie Henry


Anonymous Sam said...

We played 4-4-2 against Watford at home.

I agree a 4-4-2 formation is a must and should only ever be used against teams that are possibly better than us.

11/28/2006 8:59 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

we deploy 4-5-1 to control teams with our superior technique in the middle and I think its only since Porto that we've adopted it on a permanent basis...i don't think any team should be bound to a particular formation which makes our insistence on the 4-5-1 all the more baffling... I would prefer to see Rosicky playing wide left with licence to roam inside and forming the relationship with Clichy that Pires had with Cole and that Hleb has with Eboue...however our real problem this season has surely been a lack of continuity in the defence

11/28/2006 9:21 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Thanks T and posters for comments. It is extremely frustrating to see that as the team struggles...seemingly there is no flexibility by Wenger to change back to "Plan A"!! Funny as it sounds...we've now assumed Plan B...and it doesn't really work like we want it to! Ah...the joys of analysing a "struggling" team...where victory is expected in most games.

Given that we all critisised Arsenal for last season when we didn't change..not it is apparent that we haven't got back into real gear...T you could be right and formation might be part of it...luck may play a part...but essentially...a lot of porblems were just COVERED in my opinon by GOOD luck..

Goal in champs league final? Eboue faked a fall and Sol got his head in the way for the goal...not like we do it that much in the league! Point is...better use of set plays both defensively and offensively is a MUST...and we don't do that as emphasis is placed on the dynamic game...not the static one.

I think that is my main criticism...there is no fear in opponent's hearts when we get a free kick...except when Henry is on target or VP strikes a good one...that's it...on the other hand...every time opponents get a corner...I EXPECT us to allow a soft goal...crap crap crap...this is definitely a mentality thing...and our players have not overcome this hurdle yet.

Chelsea, Man U...anywhere do not EXPECT to have the ball in the net when defending on a corner..and you DO expect to score when you get an attacking corner yourself...a HUGE mental difference.

So...I won't rant about changes, transitions, etc...but Wenger must take some responsibilty for the mental side and improve on set piece play. Our players will eventually be more on target, have the pace to go past defenses...but without taking EVERY SINGLE advantage...that is where out "luck" turns and we lose out.

11/29/2006 12:06 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

4-5-1 is useless unless we have a super striker,which we currently don't have one.Our main striker usually find himself hopelessly isolated or being marked out of the game by ultra defensive teams or when we conceded the first goal. as the opponent built trenches at their goal.

11/29/2006 12:37 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

4-4-2 has also produced many negative results over the course of the last two seasons.

11/29/2006 12:41 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We were hit early from bad defending at a corner because not all of us were marking like Cesc did on Kevin Nolan, Lehmann flapped about like an idiot and moaned again, Anelka well didnt expect that from him and we didn't fight hard enough and get an equaliser before that ball for Anelka again. Who was marking him for their third goal? We have TH 14 up front and Cesc with Gilberto in midfield, but who is in charge at the back? Thats who we need looking out for the marking. Lehmann should make sure the marking is done himself.

11/29/2006 7:55 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are better at 4-4-2, forget 4-5-1, bring on VP and TH14 at the same time or two strikers, dont see why Ade and Theo couldnt have gone up front together.

11/29/2006 7:57 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete says......its sad to say that nearly all the adverse comments made here are correct in my opinion.

I hate also to say it but AW must not only take the blame for the formations, the eleven he picks, and the lack of dead ball tactics, but also the mental state of our players.

To read that with no VP, Rosicky , (knowing all this) Aliadierre sent on loan he still plays 4-5-1 with our third rated striker up front on his own. Henry poor lamb has a sore neck ?????

Today I read he is resting a man (Baptista) after playing 60 minutes in last three games????

I quote" he has trouble with the pace of our game, and needs work" let me get this straight....he only comes on for 10 minutes as a sub and he needs a rest BUT HE NEEDS WORK??????????

As Ive said TOO MANY TIMES...AW must play our best eleven at ALL times......stop playing games with the Psycology and get back to basics like....(A) Get Bould & Keown to coach our back five. (B) Use the same pair to design tactics for all defensive corners and then offensive corners..(C) Play all our top defenders in the same team ie; Eboue, Senderos Djurou, Gallas

with Kolo in midfield.

Come Arsene show some thought and initiative, otherwise these website moans are going to increase rapidly.

Sorry 't' but we must stop plating so many 'technique' players, it does not and has not worked, because the Hleb's & Rosickys all want to come inside all the time, and we end up with the farcical sight of the opponents box packed with most of our midfield and not one striker.

I must say that one of the three must be benched especially on away games with a minder sitting in front of our back four.....just look at Manure & Chelski for proof.

11/29/2006 12:06 pm

Blogger EL said...

Wotchya peeps,

Would some of you mind taking the time to post your predictions for the result of next sunday's emirates match.

Cheers, EL.

11/29/2006 4:45 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, they cant because they are too busy workingo ut what went wrong when their precious Gooners got shot to pieces on Saturday!!!! Ha ha ha and without Henry on Saturday (not Sunday), you may have half a chance with Spurs with Defoe, Berbatov, Keane and Lennon in force. henry didnt even make it for world player!

11/29/2006 4:54 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Anon of 4:45...thanks for gloating.

Gloat a bit more now that we've lost at Fulham...sheesh...a trademark corner goal conceded.....AGAIN! Near post...looped over Lehman...

Ah well...thanks's in the hand of the Gods now...we'll probably just win the Champions League instead...*groan* when Arsene figures out what we need to do.

11/29/2006 11:10 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaaarghhh!!! "GunnerPete says......its sad to say that nearly all the adverse comments made here are correct in my opinion"

"Come Arsene show some thought and initiative, otherwise these website moans are going to increase rapidly."

"I must say that one of the three must be benched especially on away games"

Adverse comments, website moans, they all tal frustration when our lot start playing so stupidly. Who should sit on the bench? Fabregas did today and I just dont know why. Bolton and Fulham...... I dont know so pissed off about it all. We cant play 4-4-2 because Wenger wants 5 in midfield to play around for Henry to get the pass he wants but I want Henry up with Walcott, because we cant fucking lose to the Shites on Saturday, not at home. No way.

11/30/2006 12:11 am

Blogger EL said...

Yes way.

11/30/2006 10:05 am

Blogger T said...

Thanks everyone for the comments - not had the time to catch up with them until now.

I did not see the Fulham match but I know that we again played 4-5-1; again conceded the first goal; again conceded the first goal from a corner; again had to play catch-up football; and again could not quite complete a comeback. This is like groundhog day and its very frustrating!

At the same time I want to say congrats to Fulham, the radio commentator on talksport said they played an excellent game and deserved the victory.

GP, I agree with the point of starting with our best team so was apprehensive to see that Song was starting in a game that we really had to win after no wins in our previous two matches. Song is for the future, not for the present. I also agree about Baptista... I can't comprehend how he needs a rest after such little match-time and it concerns me that Wenger feels he requires a break.

Nturtle- you are spot-on about set-pieces. This is something me and GP have also mentioned in the recent past... and Wenger needs to recognise that practising set-pieces is very important... we have gone one goal behind to Villa, Everton, Bolton and now Fulham by poor defending at a corner... and he only needs to look at the most recent examples of one of the many set-piece goals from Chelsea (who drew to Man Utd on Sunday and beat Bolton last night courtesy of two headed goals from corners) as evidence of the importance of working on attacking corners.

I sincerely hope we start 4-4-2 against Spurs and start with the team I suggested for the Fulham match (with Djoruou in for Senderos). We need to get back to basics and for me the best starting point is to discard 4-5-1 in the Prem.

EL, as for a prediction... I never do predictions for Arsenal matches so I'll have to duck that one. But no doubt there'll be much to ponder and write about after the match!

11/30/2006 9:41 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a lighter side of things; visit this site :

Check out their Arsenal and Man U commerials. (Click on the tv on the top left of the webpage).

Now we really know what goes on in the dressing rooms at half time.


12/01/2006 8:37 am


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