October 5, 2008
It was clearly a game plan to come away with a draw or if possible a 1-0 win and one which frustrated the Arsenal play. Arsene Wenger started with a 4-3-3 formation with Walcott and Van Persie on the wings as he looked to counter the number of men Sunderland were bound to have in the middle of the park but didn’t expect the Black Cats would employ the tactic as negatively as they did.
They were very organised and lacked much ideas. The midfield five sat in a line in front of the defense to stop Arsenal from playing through them and finding any gaps.
The fact that Sunderland put 10 men behind the ball and pack the midfield was the reason Arsenal found it difficult to play and hence the outcome of the match. But was about Arsenal? Surely they could have been more intelligent, both from the manager and the players.
Cesc Fabregas played higher up than any of the midfield three of him, Denilson and Song. This meant he had to play in between Adebayor and the packed midfield to try and make break Sunderland down. In theory the Gunners’ most creative force playing more higher up the field would create more chances however a mixture of (mainly) a packed Sunderland midfield and a lack of movement from the rest of the team denied him. The midfield have to do more attacking wise (more on the new strategy used by clubs and the evolution of the striker tommorow) and provide more of a goalscoring threat.
Playing higher up meant he couldn’t dictate the game as he does and would have to receive the ball from Song and Denilson before he could create. Sometimes he would drop back meaning Adebayor would then be isolated and the gap in between midfield and attack where the danger should be becomes vacated. The blame is not shifted to Fabregas at this point, only the players around him should have done more to get involved. There was a lack of runners from midfield and the wide men stuck wide and when they got the ball where there a lack of men in the box. Also to be noted the crossing was poor.
Wenger picked a formation he thought would be best suited to beat Sunderland but he didn’t realise how negative they would be. Was this a case of Wenger showing too much respect to Keane by saying ‘well down for working us out so we’ll change it as we won’t beat you playing our normal way?’ Overall a very negative tactic from Sunderland and one where Premiership challengers Arsenal should do better.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||6|
|3||Shots off Target||7|