In spite of not winning a trophy for the sixth consecutive year, there will be no disagreement that Arsenal play the most beautiful and attractive football in England.
When our forwards and midfielders are in form it is a nightmare for any team around Europe – Birmingham City, Shakhtar Donetsk and Blackpool can testify to this.
When the momentum is generated, the beauty of Arsenal’s attacking moves is hugely impressive. But I’ve noticed that several teams have realized that sitting back and allowing Arsenal to play in front of them is really effective – Manchester City at the Emirates is a perfect example. They put 10 players out to defend in order to pick up a point.
For the first 25-30 minutes Arsenal tried their best to break them up (referring to Manchester City game). But as the match progressed, Arsenal just ran out of gas, and in the final 15 minutes it was just a procession as Arsenal failed to create any clear cut chances. Man City got what they came for and Arsenal were left disappointed.
Though I agree that our defence is extremely weak and needs strengthening, looking back at matches such as those, I felt that the lack of goals was the main reason for our failure this season. And as in past seasons, one cannot give an excuse that Robin van Persie was out injured. Our best striker started the entire second half of the season and so lack of personnel wasn’t the problem. It is pretty evident that our one dimensional play of always trying to pass and move did affect the results. A team with Barcelona’s quality will be effective by playing the passing game in all situations, but Arsenal will have to realize that working the ball into the box every time will not yield results, especially in the premier league.
Teams have tried taking advantage of this weakness in Arsenal – inability to adapt to different situations. I am not advocating us adapting a rougher approach or anything. One of the best things about Arsenal is how we play. We’ve got our brand of football that is mostly effective, but when teams have decided to park the bus in front of goal, our lack of penetration has cost us dearly. We need to try something different during these situations.
First of all, players with such good technical ability should be brave enough to take chances. Players like Samir Nasri, Van Persie should be confident to try and shoot from outside the box. You might miss nine out of ten chances, but there is always a chance of that tenth strike winning you a match. Also, we need to be more direct with our passing in such situations. Players with the ball should look for the best option forward and not pick out the easier pass. Then is the tempo of our play. When we regain possession we have to move forward quickly. This will allow the opposition less time to regroup and get men back to defend. Our second against Barca is the perfect example. Within a couple of passes we had three Arsenal players charging into the area against three Barca defenders. The quickness of the counter attack is extremely important. It creates the space that can be exploited.