Tag Archives: Liverpool

4312 for The Arsenal is not “too defensive”

Arsenal’s best performance this season came against Chelsea. A 2-0 victory in a game that The Gunners dominated.

The formation we played in that match was 4312. It is a formation we have played numerous times since; and one which Unai Emery has come in for some stick for.

Fans wrongly claim that we are playing 3 defensive midfielders. Lucas Torreira Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi. They are not all defensive midfielders.

Gunners Town recently spoke to a Lorient fan about Arsenal target Alexis Claude Maurice. During the discussion they talked about Guendouzi, who signed from Lorient last summer.

They expressed surprise at Arsenal fans labelling Guendouzi as a defensive or holding midfielder, as he has only ever been box-to-box growing up and was utilised in an attacking free role last season in French Ligue 2.

And that is the truth, Guendouzi does not play as a defensive midfielder. He is more box to box. A proper central midfielder. Like what Patrick Vieira was.

It seems in many fans mind, you are either an attacking midfielder (Mesut Ozil) or a defensive midfielder (Claude Makelele). There is nothing in between. But there is, and that is where Guendouzi sits.

Xhaka has also never really been an out and out defensive midfielder. In fact he struggled at Arsenal when he was the primary defensive midfielder.

For Borussia Mönchengladbach and Switzerland, he always played with someone behind him doing the bulk of the defensive work.

A hulk of a man, Xhaka did contribute to his sides defensively, but his man job was transitioning the ball from defence to attack with his excellent passing. He is not as box to box as Guendouzi, more a deep lying play maker. He certainly is not a defensive midfielder.

Lucas Torreira is the closest we have to a defensive midfielder, but even he is not a Makelele or Gilberto Silva.

The Uruguayan gets forward a lot more than someone who is simply a shied in front of a defence. And he is a much better passer and creator then people like Makelele, Gilberto or Fernandinho.

Whilst for Arsenal he is the deepest of the midfield 3, he is more than capable playing further forward. He is a talented guy.

The reality is, Emery is building a high energy midfield trio who can provide solid cover for the defence, but also push forward and press high.

Playing all 3 ensures that they can push forward backing up the front 3 when they press, knowing that one will still sit so that they are not all cut out with one ball through the midfield.

They also allow Hector Bellerin and Saed Kolasinac to bomb forward and provide extra cover for them.

I like the 12 upfront as well.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both love dropping out wide. This then creates space in the middle for an attacking midfielder to bomb into. Aaron Ramsey would have been ideal for this role with his goal scoring record.

Back to the midfield, I can see us continuing to play 3 in the middle next season. It is why Emery is looking at the likes of Adrien Rabiot and Christopher Nkunku. If we play 3, we need 6.

If we secure both Frenchmen, it will enable us to cash in on Mohamed Elneny and, alongside Ainsley Maitland-Niles, we will have the midfielders we need to play the way Emery wants.

As for those who are still moaning about it being too defensive, let me ask you a question:

Is Liverpool’s midfield too defensive?

Liverpool also play a midfield 3. A trio combination of Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho.

Let’s compare their Premier League statistics to the lads at Arsenal:

Xhaka – 1885 minutes played – 3 Goals; 1 Aassist

Guendouzi – 1466 – 0G 0A

Torreira – 1790 – 2G 2A

 

Fabinho – 1096 – 1G 2A

Wijnaldum – 1774 – 1G 0A

Henderson – 1234 – 0G 0A

Keita – 970 – 0G 1A

Totals:

 

Arsenal midfield:

5140 minutes played

5 goals; 3 assists

Liverpool midfield:

5074 minutes played

2 goals; 3 assists

Yet no one is saying Liverpool’s midfield is “too defensive.”

The truth is, playing Xhaka, Torreira and Guendouzi is not too defensive. It is probably the only part of the Arsenal side that is solid and actually working at the moment.

Keenos

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As Arsenal are changing, some fans also need to change

A great man once said “do you like Arsenal? Or just Arsenal with trophies”.

I was reminded by what Dennis Bergkamp said as I scrolled through social media on Monday following Sunday’s disappointing draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

It was like suddenly we were transported back 12 months ago, with the fan complaining, moaning and criticism that defined the end of the end of the Arsene Wenger era.

One comment I saw that really resonated with was that this Arsenal was the Arsenal they fell in love with. That their Arsenal “were a winning Arsenal not just making up the numbers”. This was amongst many tweets that I read they made me realise that some of our fans will never be happy unless we are winning trophies.

But it is not just trophies that they want. It is these trophies. The Premier League, the Champions League.

These same people complained that winning the FA Cup was not good enough. So it is not that they only love Arsenal with trophies; they love Arsenal with league titles.

We all spent 6 months or more (I saw one idiot saying he has been Wenger Out since 2001!). That change has come.

Arsene Wenger. GONE. Ivan Gazidis GONE. Majority of the coaching staff. GONE. And in his come Unai Emery, with his own staff, alongside Raul Sanllehi and Sven Mislintat. Change has happened, and Arsenal have moved forward.

But some of these fans have seemingly not moved forward. They demanded “Time to Change” but they have not changed themselves.

They are on to the next one. Criticising the players, already on the managers back. Moaning that the club did not spend enough money, and demanding Stan Kroenke to put in his billions or leave.

And it is billions that Kroenke would have to put in.

We have all read the stories about Manchester City and the £2.7bn investment that Sheikh Mansoor has put into the club. It is with that huge investment that has enabled Manchester City to have one of the strongest 25 man squads seen in the game.

Yesterday Arsenal looked short on the bench. On game changers. Manchester City’s starting XI was without Kevin de Bruyne, Vincent Kompany, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus & Ilkay Gundogan. These 5 players would start for every Premier League side. And City brushed aside Manchester United 3-1 without them starting.

These fans who are moaning will not be happy until we win the title. City is what we need to match, need to beat, to win the title. I think anyone who would expect an owner to put in £2.7bn, to write it off, are completely unreasonable. There are two sides in world football doing this at the moment. City and PSG.

The fact that fans also think Kroenke has the spending power to compete shows how naive they are when it comes to business, and net worth.

Forbes estimate Kroenke to be worth $8.5bn (£6.5m). But this is net worth, this is not how much spare cash he has under his sofa.

This worth is tied up in hundreds of investments. From personal homes and ranches, to various sports clubs around the world. The recent buy out of Arsenal shares valued the club at £1.8bn. That is 27% of Kroenke’s net worth.

For Kroenke to be able to put up the kind of money Manchester City have spent, he would have to take huge loans against his businesses. Against Arsenal.

Would you be happy Kroenke mortgaging Arsenal further to the hilt to win a league title? I certainly wouldn’t.

Imagine the outcry if it was announced Kroenke was taking a £1bn loan out against Arsenal to spend on transfers, salaries and more. It is that kind of action that could make Arsenal the next Leeds or Portsmouth. Where you are in debt up to your eyeballs.

Matching Manchester City’s spending power is just not realistic.

“but Liverpool are challenging”.

You are right, Liverpool are unbeaten and just 2 points behind Manchester City after 12 games. But last season they finished 25 points behind them in 4th place.

They were also in 4th place the year before, 17 points behind champions Chelsea (and just 1 point ahead of Arsenal). So how about we judge if Liverpool have put up a title challenge once we are in the business end of the season.

Also, by putting Liverpool as the example of a side competing makes it even more silly that fans are already getting on the back of Emery.

Jurgen Klopp is in his 4th season at Liverpool. He has had 6 transfer windows. Spent over £380m. It we are going to compare Emery to Klopp, should we not give the Spaniard the same time the German has had before becoming critical?

In his 3 completed seasons at Liverpool, Klopp has led them to 8th, 4th & 4th with no trophies won. It is odd that the fans who are moaning that we currently sit 5th. That Arsenal without trophies is not the Arsenal they love; yet they praise a Liverpool side that has not won anything in a decade.

Most sensible fans would have known that it would take Emery more than 6 months and one transfer window to fix Arsenal.

We are still a left back, a centre back and 2 wingers short of being a side that would compete for second (and another £2.5bn off a team that could be champions).

Klopp has had the time to build Liverpool in his vision. He has spent big on the likes of Allison, Virgil van Dijk & Mo Salah. Arsenal will make these signings as time goes on. But we can not expect us to go out and spend £250m in one transfer window to immediately close the gap.

A final thought is right now fans will say but what about Leicester.

It is about time the fans realised that Leicester was a one off. And one of the main reasons they won the league was because of Manchester City’s failure.

Leicester won the league with 81 points. City got just 66 points that season.

To put that into perspective, Arsenal got just 3 points less (63) last season than City did in Leicester’s title winning season.

I am of the feeling that for teams to finish above City, you firstly need them to have a poor season. You could have a brilliant season, get 85+ points, and City will be near or above the 90 point mark.

Emery needs time. The new Arsenal regime need time.

If you are not willing to give the new management team time; or demand that we replicate Manchester City style spending, then you clearly do not love Arsenal. You only love Arsenal with trophies.

Keenos

Arsenal set to face “biggest test of the season”

This weekend will show just how far Arsenal have come under Unai Emery.

The first two games of the season – at home to Manchester City followed by a visit to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea – were a write off. Unfair game to judge the Spaniard on as the club moved into its new era.

Following that we have had 13 fairly routine games against sides we would expect to get a result from.

This does not mean that Arsenal’s 13 game unbeaten run has not been remarkable – 12 wins in 13 games is almost faultless – but it was very much results as how we would expect them.

We have a 100% winning record against sides outside the top 6 since January 2018, so it would not be unreasonable to expect Arsenal to have defeated Everton, West Ham, Watford & Leicester.

https://twitter.com/SheWore/status/1058290964991803392?s=19

Emery should also be hugely praised for turning around the clubs away form. 3 wins and a draw since that defeat against Chelsea.

In 2017/18, we got just 16 points away from home -4 wins and 4 draws. This season we already have 10 points. The draw to Crystal Palace might have disappointed some, but over a 38 game season every side will drop points on the road to a team they are superior too.

The game against Liverpool will be the first against a top 4 chasing side since Chelsea on the second week of the season. It is the biggest test so far of the Unai Emery era. One which will show if we have moved forward or not.

Worst case scenario and we lose, it will leave Arsenal on 22 points from the opening 11 games. At the same stage last season, we were on 19 points after 11 games. So regardless we have moved forward.

After 11 games last year, we had lost to Stoke City, Liverpool, Watford and Manchester City, and drawn to Chelsea. All 5 games were away from home.

The corresponding home game against Liverpool saw a 3-3 draw as Arsenal came from 2-0 down with 3 goals in 5 minutes to go 3-2 up; before Liverpool struck to share the points.

If Arsenal do lose, the media will jump straight on it in an attempt to show that nothing has changed at Arsenal. I imagine their revenue has dramatically decreased whilst we have been on this winning run (one social media channel has dropped from 30m hits a month to just 9m as a result of Arsenal not losing).

Like we saw with the draw at Crystal Palace, the media will use any slight negative result to paint Arsenal as a club still in crisis, still with major problems. They will chase the hits, the revenue.

But anyone that go’s to games regularly will know that regardless of the result tomorrow, a lot has changed at Arsenal. It feels fresh. It feels exciting. The fans mindset has changed. We are actually enjoying going to games again.

I expect Manchester City to run away with the title again. They are top of the league with Kevin de Bruyne yet to start a game. Having already face Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal away from home, the unbeaten season is a realistic goal.

That means Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham are fighting it out for best of the rest. For second place.

Victory against Liverpool will put us into this race. It will confirm that we are battling for 2nd place – a huge step forward after last season and battling for 6th against Burnley.

Failure to win and it will mean Arsenal’s target is more realistically the battle for 4th.

It will show that we are not quite at the level of Liverpool or Chelsea year, and that they will fill the two places behind Manchester City.

That will leave it as a straight fight between Arsenal and Spurs for the final Champions League spot.

It is a race that I would expect us to win, even if we do lose to Liverpool tomorrow.

A 5:30 kick off will mean everyone can have a few beers before, so hopefully the ground is rocking by kick off time.

Up The Arsenal

Keenos