Saturday 25 October 2014

Misplaced confidence at Arsenal?

Much has been said about Arsenal's lack of confidence and I can tell you now I'm lacking it just as much as the players. If Arsene Wenger continues to insist on playing square pegs in round holes and with four attacking midfielders with non-specific roles I cannot see much chance of improvement.

Even against Sunderland! Especially against Sunderland, who be keen to shut up shop after their 8-0 mauling at the hands of Southampton.

Here I go again, warning you of a possible catastrophe! Woe is me, you might say. But also, woeful is the team that turned out but didn't turn up against Anderlecht until the last few minutes.

How Arsenal carved out a win in Brussels is hard to say. A Beckhamesque cross from Chambers and a sublime volleyed finish from Gibbs got Arsenal an undeserved equaliser late on.

Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal's only shining light on the night, wouldn't settle for a point. His efforts led to a chance of a goal that the out-of-favour Podolski dutifully despatched.

Before that clichés like 'knife through butter' came to mind, as Anderlecht broke time and time again through the middle of Arsenal's midfield. It made realise again the importance of a holding midfielder, with Flamini off the pitch and subbed. No wonder former Arsenal midfielder Frimpong took to Twitter to sound off!

I felt like doing more than tweeting, but what can we do as fans? All we can do, is watch on frustrated as our team implodes in front of us. As so many observers have pointed out, it's the lack of a balanced squad that's letting us down.

Fabregas's form at Chelsea is a constant reminder about how ridiculous Arsenal's transfer policy is. It's true, the Gunners have a lot to choose from in the midfield department generally, but I don't see Cesc as similar to the others at the club.

The reason usually cited for not bringing Cesc back is Ozil. I really think the two could have played in the same team. Had Cesc returned, I'd have played him deep alongside Flamini. Then we could have had the so-called wide midfielders, who rarely hug the touch line, and Ozil playing in his number 10 position. Sounds like a good line-up to me.

Instead, we have Ozil crocked, after mostly playing as an out-of-sorts and out-of-position winger, and hotch-potch of creative midfielders with one defensive midfielder. No wonder we've not been in form! The system is all too haphazard for my liking. Yes, it's difficult for the opposition to track our runners, but as we rarely crowd the box it's neither here nor there!

I really believe creativity works best when it's structured. At Arsenal, it seems to be one up front and a free-for-all in the attacking midfield slots. When you've got Joel Campbell having to play on the right wing, as happened when he came on against Anderlecht, it really smacks of square pegs in round holes. To give Campbell his due, he did okay there. However, it's not really fair to play someone making his way in the game out of position and expect him to make it his own. Luckily for him, he's looked more lively than a lot of his team-mates, so the fans seem happy with the glimpses they've seen.

Talking of glimpses, that's all you get of the younger players, like Hector Bellerin. I'm not sure why he didn't play against Anderlecht, when nearly everyone expected him to. Instead, Wenger opted to play Monreal at centre back, a position he mostly struggles in. This meant playing Chambers at right back against an extremely quick left-sided opponent. Surely that was a game designed for the lightning-fast Bellerin, who would have found it easier to nullify the threat than Chambers, whose comparative lack of pace exposed him at times.

Personally, I think Chambers is more suited to the centre back position. I can only guess that Wenger played Monreal instead of Bellerin because of seniority. That's not a valid reason, in my book.

If we want the team to grow in confidence then we should adopt a system where everyone knows their responsibilities. How many of Arsenal's attacking midfielders track back? Do they know who they're supposed to track? That's why we look so open to the counter-attack, in my opinion.

Another thing that would help Arsenal's confidence would be playing people in their best positions. Additionally, it wouldn't do any harm to consider the opposition when we set our team up. That's not the Wenger philosophy apparently, so I don't see that happening any time soon.

Hopefully, we will still have enough to breeze past the lesser lights of the Premier League but, the way we huffed and puffed to beat Anderlecht, I very much doubt. I had to laugh with Gibbs said it's a 'difficult place to go'. Has he seen Anderlecht's results in the Champions League?

Still, no game is easy, as we're about to find out at Sunderland. Wenger will make every match doubly difficult if they don't take into consideration the opposition when selecting the team.

Hopefully, lessons have been learned at Anderlecht. If Monreal starts again at centre back though, we'll know that Wenger is going to continue to select senior players over younger ones. It's a reckless policy that he may one day regret.

Sent from my iPhone

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