On paper both the teams started with 4-2-3-1. Arsenal first time clearly played two pivots, in earlier games we played one DM and a box-to-box MF and AM . In this game Arsenal had both Wilshere and Denilson playing on the same level. Where as spurs midfield was more towards 4-5-1 than 4-2-3-1. Spurs tried to do what Sunderland did on Saturday by pressing our deep lying midfielders. But unlike Saturday we had two midfielders stayed together and was available for a pass, so we were not struggling too much to keep possession. Numerical advantage in the midfield meant both Denilson and Wilshere had almost 2 Spurs players when they got the ball , but both of them came out with flying colors in keeping possession. Denilson went forward at every opportunity , Wilshere mostly stayed back on the left . Deep position of Wilshere meant he had space to run and pick a pass. Once our midfield kept the possession it automatically pushed the Spurs players deep into their half. Spurs defended with two banks of players in a 4-5 formation. see the screen shot below. This meant Pavlyuchenko was isolated upfront.
Both of our full backs had lots of freedom to attack, in particular Gibbs took advanced positions too often and made very good use of it. Rosicky and Lansbury had lots of defensive responsibilities and they did really well in those situations. Spurs defended deep but could not construct a counter attack fast enough to trouble Arsenal . Gibbs showed great dynamism in attack his attacking was as good as a winger . Gibbs did not just try to hug the touch line he made very dangerous runs into the box. Another slightly different thing we did was to switch wings very effectively this directly resulted in the goal. Rosicky and Lansbury moved central often and created space for the full backs.
Denilson won the ball in midfield held off pressure from two Spurs players and passed it onto Eboue. Eboue spotted Gibbs in space and switched the wings. Gibbs played it to Rosicky on the edge of the box who played it on to the rushing Wilshere who delivered a low cross in to the box. Lansbury ran into the crowded box to apply the finishing touch. It was a typical Arsenal goal. After the goal although Arsenal dominated with possession could not create many chances. This is where we were missing Cesc , without Cesc we were afraid of loosing the ball . Nasri who is supposed to be the one who had license to loose the ball chose more conservative option every time. It could also be because Nasri was failing to see the runs made by Vela and Rosicky , even when he made great runs into the box he eventually made a simpler pass back. For this reason i feel Rosicky would have been a better choice for the AM role.
Since Spurs defended deep and in two banks we struggled to break them down . Often runs from midfield from Wilshere and Denilson were more dangerous . Also we had lots of space to try few long range shots (see screen shot below) . I was a bit disappointed that this was not used. I would have liked Denilson to have had more shots.
Spurs’ most likely attack was down the right and exploiting the space between Eboue and Djourou. Theoretically the same thing could have happened in the left hand side also but there was nobody who is going to beat Koscielny yesterday. But this did not happen too often since they were chasing the shadow most of the time. Spurs meaningful attack in the first half was through a ball down the right between Eboue and Djourou . Djourou was skinned by Pavlyuchenko and Arsenal were 1 vs 3 with only Koscielny holding but thanks to Bentley’s selfishness it came to nothing. Koscielny’s positioning and calmness in that situation was impeccable.
Same pattern continued in the second half, Spurs got a goal thanks to Ref and to some extent Fabianski. Once Chamakh and Arshavin entered the field it was more likely we will get a winner. Chamakh was always ready to make runs into the box but Nasri was not picking him . The most likely source for an assist was Arshavin since he was the one who likes to lose the ball 😀 . Arshavin spotted runs from Chamakh and Nasri, both were felled in the box and we got penalties which Nasri confidently converted. Arshavin made one goal for himself the game was over.
Individual player comments:
Fabianski: Could have pushed the ball away for the goal. Made a good save after Nasri’s goal line clearance. Did not have anything else to do.
Eboue: Was decent in offense and defense. Got into promising positions couple of times and his touch let him down.
Djourou: Easily the weakest link the team. Got beaten by Pavlyuchenko all day . Very suspect positioning gets pulled by ball all over. Made some nice tackles.
Koscielny: As good and important as Cesc , enough said. I dare say he is the best CB in the league.
Gibbs: Almost flawless game. Was great in attack and took up his defensive game once Lennon came on.
Denilson: Typical Denilson simple, effective. Made some attacking runs but could have tried to stay on feet in those positions since Refree was not going to give fouls for Arsenal. Should have tried for few more long-range shots he had enough opportunities.
Wilshere: Too good for Spurs midfield . Great maturity , skills, tactical discipline. He surely has come off age. He is going to have few more Sunderland like games but he is going to be frighteningly good.
Nasri: Could have been bit more risk taking. Well taken penalties . Once we have led we need Nasri in the team to kill off time 😀 .
Lansbury: Great engine . Great run , finish, anticipation for the goal. Defensive part of his game was top-notch. Made few yellow card tackles.
Vela: Isolated upfront . His role became tougher when nobody was tracking his runs also by the ever filled flanks.
Rosicky: Had a good game. Great cross to Vela , where Vela’s header went wide. Let Gibbs attack freely and covered him well in defense.
Chamakh: Typical Chamakh, hard work + won a penalty.
Arshavin: Lost few balls and misplaced few passes. But his willingness to lose the ball and play risky passes created 2 goals and one he made for himself.
Wenger: Great touch by dedicating this victory to the Jack chester . This is why i love this club it is much more than a football club.