Abou Diaby profits from Arsenal’s excellent forward movement

Abou Diaby scored two goals in Arsenal’s 4-1 rout of Portsmouth, the Gunners displaying a mastery of movement in the final third.

Arsenal 4-1 Portsmouth

Much has been made of the lack of goals from Arsenal’s recognised strikers – only Eduardo has scored of the twelve Arsenal goals – but if you’re creating chances and most crucially, scoring them then there really is nothing to worry about.

Indeed Robin Van Persie could have had a hat-trick while Eduardo was at his magic best as the Gunners put in a comprehensive display to defeat troubled Portsmouth. But at 2-1 down the South Coast where left ruing their luck as William Gallas’ ‘trip’ on Utaka when through on goal went unpunished and the the Frenchman subsequently scored the third. Gallas is likely not to score two more ugly goals following his deflected goal at Celtic as his shot came back of his face.

The other three goals however were altogether less controversial and all signifying the direction that Arsenal are going through.

All the talk is about the new 4-2-3-1 system but it is the attitude of the players that has made it a premature success. Their understanding of each other and also their roles has seen some of the signs of weakness in pre-season ironed out and in turn produced a few strengths. The side is closing down quicker and making the pitch look big while the passing and movement is now more calculated, getting into position as the situation so desires.

The first goal saw Eduardo skin past Marc Wilson on the left before finding Abou Diaby’s runs at the edge of the box who scored with an accurate finish. The French midfielder then made it two after a quick break away as Eboue latched onto Fabregas’ long ball and fed the unmarked Diaby to slot past James. The goal came from a Pompey corner kick and Arsenal’s willingness to break forward quickly into the opposition box was particularly welcoming. Aaron Ramsey made the game secure with a calm finish after a fantastic through ball from Robin Van Persie.

This is a system which will only be a success through good forward movement and so far the Gunners are doing that. Modern football has shown goalscoring must be shared and with the physical development of the game meaning midfielders are expected to do more. Robin Van Persie’s ability to drop deep and find space creates gaps behind for the midfielders by dragging defenders with him. Wenger is hoping also that the Dutchman does develop his play higher and produce the two roles complementary.

At the other end Portsmouth did produce their moments of danger, particularly down the right hand side. Celtic had much joy from the wide positions also and there is a feeling that this is an area where teams may be able to profit from, particularly when the wingers remain high up. However such a question has been posed to Barcelona in their 4-3-3 and time and time again, the defenders have come up trumps.

Man of the Match: Abou Diaby – Had Fabregas stayed on it would have been him nevertheless Diaby was consistent and composed, thoroughly deserving his two goals.

Arsenal: Almunia (6), Eboue (7), Gallas (7), Vermaelen (7), Gibbs (7), Diaby (8)*, Fabregas (8) (Ramsey 8), Denilson (7), Arshavin (7) (Merida 6), van Persie (7), Eduardo (7) (Bedntner 6).
Subs not used: Sagna, Mannone,, Song Billong, Clichy.

Portsmouth: James, Wilson, Kaboul, Distin, Belhadj, Utaka, Mokoena, Mullins, Kranjcar, Kanu, Piquionne.
Subs: Nugent, Begovic, Vanden Borre, Hughes, Basinas, Ward, Ritchie.
Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent)

Arsenal Team Statistics Portsmouth
4 Goals 1
2 1st Half Goals 1
12 Shots on Target 3
3 Shots off Target 5
7 Blocked Shots 2
8 Corners 4
9 Fouls 12
5 Offsides 2
1 Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
89.3 Passing Success 82.6
19 Tackles 22
84.2 Tackles Success 77.3
60.8 Possession 39.2
58.9 Territorial Advantage 41.1

11 thoughts on “Abou Diaby profits from Arsenal’s excellent forward movement

  1. Wait. what? It is not a 4-2-3-1. If anything, it is a 4-3-2-1, which really is a 4-3-3… I thought you where a tactical blogger (in fact, I am sure) but this is just not true…

    1. Well, maybe if you weren’t too quick to be sure I would be able to answer this question in tomorrow’s article. It’s only subtle but where the players are meant to operate in an attacking sense is a 4-2-3-1. It looks a 4-3-3 which Wenger will not be too unhappy to see as it all adds up to fluidity and flexibility.

      1. I can not agree. You would perhaps say that yesterday it was a 4-2-3-1 with which I would agree, with Diaby as AM, the middle of the three. But without Diaby it is a genuine 4-3-3, cause neither Cesc nog Denilson plays as high up as Diaby does, we all know Cesc as an AM or SS was bollocks last year, so perhaps I am wrong, but both matches without Diaby so far this year have seemed very much like genuine 4-3-3’s (or 4-3-2-1’s)…

        Also: I was being sure about you being a tactical blogger, not about the formation….

        1. i’m not sure if diaby is the difference.he seems to play further upfield cause he is an attacking player who is not shy to burst up through the middle, unlike denilson who is comfortable to sit in the middle.

          i think whoever plays in the midfield three the formation will still be 433 (or 41221 if you want to be more elaborate).

  2. well..i think a lot of people are confusing 433 (or 4321) with 4231.
    Even Wenger himself in pre-season post-match interview said it was 4231, while on the pitch evidently we play 433 or 4321 instead, with one DM and two more expansive CM. Anyway it was a good result i hope we can beat the Manchesters to send our rivals a strong title warning.

  3. I’m pleased to see Kieran start and finish a game with relative assurance. While he was caught out of position a couple of times, the last tackle he made to prevent a clear cut goal was sensational. It’s not just great strength and technique but also tremendous confidence and calmness. We saw last season Gibbs can be great at crossing the ball into the box. His dogged attitude is also a big plus.

    It seems to me playing 4-3-3 with Denilson in the hole and 2 attacking midfielders is taking too much risk. We had enough chances to finish off the game by half time but also allowed enough chances for opponent to turn the game in its face. On another day, the game could have turned out a less pleasant outcome.

    I think Denilson-Song-Cesc have been working out better than Cesc-Denilson-Diaby. This is not to say that Song is better than Denilson at the bottom of the midfield triangle. It is saying that to afford Diaby’s powerful possession of the ball and running without it, we’re sacrificing Denilson’s reassuring passes and ability to unsettle opponent’s launching of counter-attack.

    I’m betting that Arsene will come back to Denilson-Song supporting a play-maker (Arshavin/Ramsey in case Cesc is not fit) in the Utd game because it looks like the most robust “spine” we have against opponent of sophisticated attacking options.

    1. yes! this is exactly what i said the last post. look at my comment there.
      i was afraid that denilson and song would not do as well on defending on their own. that’s how we played often last year and those were the games in which we showed less defensive solidity.

  4. i did not see the game, but i am glad that arsenal are counter attacking more regularly.
    last year, we held back counterattacks because of a tactical decision to keep possession. i think this year, our strength is in our tactical decisiveness.
    tho 442 is very “efficient” with space, it is too compact sometimes. our passing game requires more space for each player and the 433 supplies that space. i think our(and barca’s) strength with the 433 is a direct result of this – just as brain was talking about the fluidity and movement.
    @haho: i think you make too big a deal abt a mistake, if you are correct that is.

  5. We were not as good as previous games, but I guess it’s down to the fact that AW rotated the players a bit. That’s OK against Pompey at home. What worries me is the games that we have to play with a similar staring 11. I wouldn’t want Gibbs playing at Anfield with all his clumsiness.

  6. Hi,

    I believe Van Persie was the best player on the pitch – even if Diaby scored twice, it was Van Persie (and Cesc on the first half) the one who moved the team. His movements across the pitch, allowing for the creation of space, as well as his passes and shoots, were awesome.

    I think he deserves a rating of an 8 at least 🙂

  7. I wouldn’t read too much into this game; Portsmouth played like a team that were already relegated.

    There was little pressing against us, as was the case against Everton, so it’s hard to gauge how good we really are this season on the basis of the first 3 games.

    Manchester United will be a huge test.

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