Manchester City 3-0 Arsenal: Tactical View

Arsenal lost their fifth league game if the season which incidentally was the first time in 18 months the Gunners had suffered back to back defeats in the Premeirship. The same day also was the first in history that neither side in the top four failed to score. You can see the highlights here.

Arsenal slip outside the top four to fifth in what one must say is an unacceptable start to the season and wonder how they can still be in their position after losing five games.

Arsenal could not get a goal past a side who had let in 22 goals previously is a worrying sign. A number of key players were out before the match; Adebayor, Walcott, Sagna, Fabregas, Eboue, Toure and Gallas not to mention long term absentees Eduardo and Rosicky who could have changed the game but the team selected was short of being good enough.

The defeat to Manchester City suffered the same attacking fate that seems to be the norm when teams play Arsenal; park the defense in front of the box with two banks of four and The Gunners will fail to score. It was made even worse because of the lack of players to choose from. The main problem was with the midfield as it was a selection of four central players; Diaby and Nasri occupying the flanks while Denilson and Song in the centre. Nasri actually had a good first half put not in the conventional way.

The Frenchman prefers to cut in to his right foot but the central area was congested so it would have been better to attack the full back. Neither winger had the willingness to do such that which resulted in an easy task for City to defend. He hugged the left touchline for much of the game but never thought twice about taking on Zabaleta and similarly Diaby on the other side. The one real cross that entered the box from Clichy so nearly found the head of Bendtner while against United the opportunities from these areas showed the greater possibilities of scoring from.

The Gunners’ tried to pass their way through a wall of light blue shirts lacking any penetration or inventiveness to get passed. As a result more energy and players was used (full backs) and when City got the ball could counter attack as those players had committed themselves forward.

A real lack of variety and dynamism has been Arsenal’s real problem this season and realistically only Walcott and maybe Eboue have shown the willingness to attack the full back, while Cesc Fabregas and Van Persie when available look most likely to create any chances. The exclusion of Ramsey was a surprise then as his creative ability was sorely missed.

The imbalance of the midfield and lack of inventiveness resulted in chances for City and exploited them expertly. Song and Denilson were not sure who was meant to be the defensive midfielder and who the more attacking. The first goal was fortunate and one which opened up the game however the two images below show how aggressive Denilson (and Song) must become; a tactic used by Aston Villa against Arsenal and Man United when defending. Ireland is one of the most tireless players and a tricky customer nevertheless more determination would have been suffice at least.

As Benjani picks the ball up Ireland senses the danger and makes a lung busting ran to get to the space. Denilson is neck and neck at this point and is strolling while Song is also far from the action.
As Ireland gets the ball back from Clichy's clearance Denilson is so far away from the action it's too late to stop the Irish man from scoring. Had he tracked him maybe an opportunity to stop him recieving the ball in the build up for the goal.

The season is not over and the best thing is to support the club (but have the right to criticise also) as the club is destined to achieve higher things, maybe the Champions League is a more realistic option (or Carling Cup) this season.

One last note; somewhere William Gallas must be really hurting himself after catching the sight of Nicklas Bendtner’s boots.I also produced an article highlighting a lack of variety here on Goonertalk so head over if you want to read it.bendtner-boots-pink


6 thoughts on “Manchester City 3-0 Arsenal: Tactical View

  1. Good article again.

    I’m disappointed with Song, as I always felt he was our only natural defensive midfielder. Surely, with Fabregas out of the equation and thus Denilson by far the most effective passer of the ball, it was clear that the Cameroonian was the DM.

    Due to this, the gap in between the defence and midfield was far too great, and with the directness of players like Robinho, Wright-Phillips and Ireland, we were always bound to struggle.

    I think the Bendtner-Van Persie partnership is ineffectual. I didn’t see the second half of the game – only listened via the radio – but I know that we did not create many opportunities. The trouble is that Van Persie is not an orthodox striker; he likes to drop deep and find the space to work the ball onto his left before creating opportunities. He is not the sort of striker that leads the line and makes runs in behind defences; instead, he creates most of his chances through late runs into the box – something that relies upon a mobile focal point in attack.

    In Bendtner, we have a player that can hold the ball up, but again does not make runs in behind the opposition defences. I’m not 100% sure if this was the case against City – I’ll watch the full match later – but I have seen on previous occassions that this lack of mobility beyond defences makes us easy to defend against and nulify.

  2. Yes, maybe I should have talked about the partnership a bit more. Bendtner actually prefers to drop deeper too which with RVP is not the most clever thing to do. RVP can do both as he looks to get behind at times but mainly orefers to drop deep. The thing about Bendtner’s is that he doesn’t gamble in the box as much and for a tall guy it would be better if he does. Both strikers are good at headering something which RVP has improved upon yet a lack of crosses or high balls. More variety is needed.
    I still feel the midfield needs to sort itself out both creatively and defensively; mainly the former as this affects all parts of the team attack and defense.
    Regarding Song and Denilson; Song should have been the DM but really it looked like both were playing and not to much degree of success. In fact when Denilson got forward he looked quite good, especially running with the ball but didn’t really show him self when passing.

  3. Yes, Arsenal lost badly. However, what you can expect from the club and Arsene Wenger when Arsenal cannot afford to spend a lot of money like Chelsea and Man Utd. I really wish that Arsenal fans could understand this reality and instead of attacking Wenger, got behind him. The club needs a lot of money and cannot get it at this moment.

  4. Hi Razib. I don’t know if by attack you meant me or not by this is not an attack. I am behind the club fully but there are things we need to sort out and by highlighting weaknesses and strengths we can get better. I don’t agree we need that much money. Maybe another £10million would have been enough this season but in a few years time? Our Carling Cup team cost pennies and a lot of them home-grown; plus what we have currently yesterday.
    Last year we were so close this and unfortunately we didn’t strengthen enough but how much money we need, not easy to tell at the moment. Good luck on your site

  5. A great part of the problem for Arsenal is the defence. We lack a solid defence, and adequate defensive cover in midfield.

    We concede too many, this has been a problem for a few years now, and it has not been resolved. I have said before that part of the reason we didn’t win the title last year was our inability to defend – losing leads at Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool near the end of last season cost us the title and the CL.

    Wenger needs to address this, as we all know that Arsenal could score goals – Chelsea have only conceded 4 this season, if we could do that I’m sure we would be topping the table..

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