Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Arsenal 6-0 Blackpool Analysis

This game didn't reveal anything particularly new from an attacking point of view - Arsenal may have scored 6 goals but they were up against a newly-promoted side who were reduced to 10 men early on and failed to close down properly. It was too easy for Arsenal and unlike last week against Liverpool, the attack wasn't really tested with a watertight defence.

What we have learned over the last 2 games is that Arsenal have adopted a new defensive ethic this season, partly facilitated by a change in formation. Diaby and Wilshere continued to play deep, shielding the defence but also breaking forward on occasion to take advantage of the space afforded by Blackpool's lax marking. The 2 wide forwards pressed slightly higher than they did against Liverpool, giving Arsenal a much more natural 4-3-3 shape. As this average position diagram shows, the 3 forwards played on the same line, with Rosicky sitting just ahead of the 2 deep midfielders.

Arsenal's almost perfectly symmetrical 4-3-3

The most impressive aspect of the performance was the way Arsenal harried the opposition from start til finish, recording an amazing 33 interceptions in the process. Of those, 9 were made by the interception king Clichy, and 7 by Vermaelen, who's pro-active approach to defending was criticised last season following several costly positional errors.

Arsenal's 33 interceptions throughout the game,
concentrated along the left side of the pitch

And a video of the interceptions (in case you doubted the accuracy of the Guardian chalkboards!):

It's encouraging that the team maintained its' shape and width even against such lowly opposition (with all due respect to Blackpool). Diaby and Wilshere have struck up a good balance in the middle, but with Song returning and Wilshere unlikely to be a regular starter when everyone's fit, we might see a different system in place over the course of the season.