Arsenal 1-0 Bolton Wanderers: Tactical View

As Arsenal finally overcame a Bolton side who decided to park their defence in front of the box, Wenger’s reaction after the game spoke of a desire to be more effective in the face of the negative style of play of English teams.


The Arsenal style of play focuses on quick passes and movement and although the league is getting more technical the vast majority of their chances are as a result of the long ball (high or low) or on the counter. The latter point is nothing out of the ordinary in world football as teams look to take advantage of transitions.

The long ball tactic can be particularly effective as it negates the early pressure that teams put on the defence and pushed the opponents back line even more back. This is maybe why instead of Chelsea being able to implement a traditional 4-3-3 they are resorted to play 4-5-1 when defending as the ball is play quicker; the time taken to reorganize is less.

Arsenal are a stark contrast from the most of the league and praise must go to Arsene for trying to play to his vision and one which many appreciate. It goes beyond the European style of play when it clicks and teams know when they are open it will destroy them.

Bolton were happy to let Arsenal play and they defended deep to lessen the movement in front and behind. Vela didn’t get much of the ball but it did stretch the game more as he and Bendtner made it a 4-2-4 and the increased support made the difference.

The employment of Nasri in the centre and Vela out wide may be too early especially if it doesn’t pay off. The longer Arsenal play without reward, the easier for the defence to counter it. It may be worth the risk, more in playing Vela out wide rather than Nasri centrally because of the importance of the central midfield position and Nasri’s relative newness. The Frenchman’s balance is good but his positioning will require more work as shown in the last few minutes where the Gunners were imbalanced in the middle.

The story of Diaby is a concerning one; his passing especially when there is no space was disappointing but the talent is there, it may just take longer to be realised. People were complaining Van Persie was a luxury player at the start of the season but after a good run of games and being injury free, he is reaping the dividends.


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