Tag Archives: Arsen Wenger

Wenger’s tactics, Hector Bellerin & Back to the Future


One of the biggest criticism’s over the last decade or so about Arsene Wenger is his tactics and in game management:

  1. He does not consider the opposition enough when setting out his team
  2. He does not have a Plan B
  3. His substitutions are predictable

Last night, and over the last few games, he is possibly turning a corner.

On the first point, he has always been of the opinion that if he sets his team up to play how he wants them to play, and they play to his game plan and to the best of their capabilities, the team will win, no matter who the opposition are or how they set up. It is arrogant.

It means we do not expose other teams weaknesses, and are not prepared for their strengths. And time and again we have lost due to clear under preparation.

But last night was different. There was a clear game plan different from normal. Let Munich have the ball, and hit them on the break with our pass. Rope a dope. It was like watching us play under Graham in the early 90s.

It take’s some luck. Giving the opponents a lot of time on the ball means they will create chances. You need to hope your keeper is on form, and if one gets away, it go’s the right side of the post. And then up the other end, you need to take your chances, and get some luck going your way.

And we had that last night. For a striker in such great form, Lewandowski should have buried that late chance. But great work from Koscielny and a great save by Cech kept it at 1-0. On another day, Munich would have had an early penalty (Sanchez hand ball) and Koscielny would have clattered into the back of Lewandowski giving away a second penalty and a red card.

Up the other end of the field, Walcott had a great shot saved, and then our first goal had a massive element of luck to it as Neuer repeated Petr Cech’s error earlier in the season against West Ham by coming out for a ball and getting no where near. 2 World Class keepers doing an identical error. Shows we are human.

Essentially, Wenger got his tactics spot on yesterday. As he did against Manchester United. Hopefully he continues to look at the opposition when deciding his game plan, rather than resorting to type and wrapping himself up in the arrogant egotistical bubble he has been in for 10 years.

As for substitutions and having a Plan B, Olivier Giroud is quickly becoming Arsenal’s Super Sub.

Olivier Giroud was never bought to be Arsenal’s number one striker. He was always signed to be Plan B. Back up originally to Robin van Persie, he found himself leading the line. It should have just been for a season, but Arsenal’s failure to capture Higuain or Suarez meant he was up top for a second season.

Alexis Sanchez was bought in, originally, to do the same role he does for Chile. Striker.  It did not work, and for the 3rd season in a row, Olivier Giroud was our 1st choice striker. Then this season again, a failure to land Benzema left Wenger relying on the big man again. Until he decided to staqrt Theo Walcott upfront.

What that mean is Giroud began to do what he was bought for. An impact sub.

At 6 4 and strong as an ox (not the Ox, who for me is the most overatted player in England), he causes problems when he comes on against turned defences. He is able to bully them. Win every ball, and provide a great outlet. His lack of pace is not as exposed as much, playing up against two centre backs who have spent 65 minutes chasing Walcott. He is a great asset to have.

Whether it is to close out the game, or to chase the game, bringing on someone like Giroud in the last 25 minutes is a game changer. It is nice to finally have a Plan B.

Hector Bellerin

What a star he is becoming. Way back in 2013 he first came onto my radar as someone who could make the step up from talented kid to potential first choice right back. Since then, he has come on leaps and bounds and has now established himself as not only Arsenal’s best right back, but the best right back in the league.

It is little more than a year on from his full debut against Borussia Dortmund where he looked shaky and out of place, to say the least. Last night he was the best full back on the pitch.

Yes, Douglas Costa gave him a few problems and did made him look a fool once, but that happens when you are playing up against someone with a bag of tricks. The importance is that after he does you once, you do not let him do you again. And for most of the game, Bellerin had Costa in his pocket. So much so that Costa swapped wings in the second half.

This season, with us playing Ramsey at right wing, Bellerin has had a big task on his hands. Both defending and basically being our right winger. And he has done well.

The last few seconds of yesterday’s game sums up his season. His ability to get forward at pace, beat the opposing full back, and put in a good cross is an asset to have. He did it against Watford as well. He is a talent.

I jokingly said that yesterday showed his naivety. In the last few minutes, winning 1-0, our right back is bombing forward and putting a cross in, rather than either sitting back so we don’t get exposed, or running for the corner. Obviously I was jesting (and got some abuse), what he did yesterday was class. To have that pace left at the end of the game and energy to get his head up and play the ball shows his brilliance. Just remember though, if he does it again, plays a poor cross, and the opponents go up the other end of the field and score, do not criticise Bellerin. You can not celebrate yesterdays brilliance then moan if it go’s wrong.

Hector Bellerin is secure as Arsenal’s first choice right back. Debuchy will leave this summer. If he continues in his current form, he will be starting for Spain at Euro 2016.

Looking in my crystal ball

So we are back in with a chance of Champions League qualification. Just 1 point off second, we are back in the game. So looking in my crystal, this is what will happen:

Arsenal will travel to Munich, and lose. Meanwhile, Olympiakos, having stolen a victory in Zagreb, will do the double by winning at home.

Bayern Munich 9
Olympiakos 9
Dynamo Zagreb 3
Arsenal 3

Up next for Arsenal is a home match against Zagreb. Surely we will not see a repeat of Olympiakos. 3 points to The Arsenal. Bayern Munich host the Greeks. A win for the German’s see them qualify, and get top, with a game to go. They will go all out for the win. And get it.

Bayern Munich 12
Olympiakos 9
Arsenal 6
Dynamo Zagreb 3

So that brings us to the last round of games. Arsenal away to Olympiakos. Winner takes all…

One thing is for sure, the club were struggling to shift tickets for the Dynamo Zagreb game before yesterday. I bet the sell out ASAP.


Failing is not an Accident, Wenger please leave now

Been a rough few weeks, everyone knew it was coming as the fixture list was very kind to us at the start of the season but left us playing some top sides In February and March and like the last half a dozen years the wheels fell off. Some will blame the bad luck we have had with injuries, some blame oil money but there is one common factor with this and every season, the manager.

Every TV pundit, journalist and the educated fans of The Arsenal out there knew we wouldn’t win the league this year, the main reason is down to squad strength. We have very little depth in the positions that really matter. We have been crying out for a forward for the last 3 transfer windows. Defenders save you points, but forwards win you trophies. and this years league winners would have scored either 5 or 6 goals against us. But the goals aside the manner in which we lost away at Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea has been nothing short of a disgrace and the buck stops with the manager.

The money has been there to buy a top class forward or even take a punt on a half decent one, £100mill plus didn’t just appear by magic in the clubs bank this winter, its been building nicely off the back of high ticket prices and increased TV money for the last 3 years. Come this summer there will be even more available with the Puma and Emirates deals and of course a 3% ticket price increase. Besides a forward we have been missing a bit of forward going pace and a bit of steel in the middle, the money has been there, the club have said the manager can spend it, so why hasn’t he.

Tactically I have had an issue with Wenger for some time, its been well documented that the club do little or no research on the teams we play, the manager just  set’s the team out the same way no matter who we play or who is fit. How much stick did Ramsey get when he was played down the right, he gets a chance in the middle and he’s suddenly the Welsh Messi. Flamini doesn’t start away at Chelsea, but joins Arteta at home to Swansea, a baffling decision again by the manager and hardly the first time he has got the starting 11 wrong. Our Zonal marking system ? yep that too was bought in to save having to worry about who to mark at corners, lack of preparation from the manager. The first Sub comes on bang on 70 mins every game, predictable Wenger.

Injuries, we have a few short term and a few long term which no question have hampered our season, but every club get’s them it’s part of football always has been always will be. It’s the cover and depth a club has that will determine how it copes and we haven’t. Now I’m not going to moan about injuries, if they are caused by training methods or have been a fluke but they all have one thing in common the type of player Wenger buys all too often. Light, fast, skillfull, tippy tappy players get injured more than the less mobile brickshithouse. Giroud and BFG have both had an injury free season. Whilst both types and something in-between are all needed when you have too many of the former gaps in the squad are more likely to appear.

Now Wenger has had ample time to get the youth side of the club sorted out and his record is appalling, the best English London kid that has come thro is sadly Ashley Cole and he was at the club before Wenger. Those old enough to remember the great Graham teams they were a mix of London lads at the club since kids who LOVED the club and smart buys. My theory in life is that if you truly love something, be it a job, a partner, The Arsenal then you will give a bit extra.

Motivation, now personally give me a shirt I will run about on the pitch until I puke blood for The Arsenal (i’d last 5mins in reality) but sadly millionaire players need a kick up the arse to perform at the top level. Some need a cuddle (Reyes), some need a good kick (Arshavin), some need to be wound up (wrighty), some need to be calmed down (Vieira), the point is a great manager knows his players and knows how to get the team ‘ up for it’ both individually and as a team, the manager can no longer do this. Players also respond to managers they like, I don’t see a lot of love towards Wenger this week.  The lack of belief players show in big games is staggering, we always go out of the Champions League to the first decent team we play and it seems we never beat any of the top 4 sides. Even Man Utd took 4 points of us this season.

So there you have it, the reasons why I think Wenger is no longer the man to take us ‘Forward’ and not a single mention of how many years without a trophy. This isn’t some knee jerk reaction, those that read the facebook.com/shewore or my twitter @shewore know I would of changed manager a few years ago. I would now prefer it for him to go out on a high after winning the FACUP, a trophy he often rests our better players from but if it was left to Bould I wouldn’t be bothered. Wenger is getting old, his training methods stale, it’s time he stepped aside for a younger fresher man, I will always applaud his achievements in the past, but Enough Is Enough, time to move on.