Tactics Zone: What’s Wrong With Arsenal? Part 1

Few weeks back, many pundits and fans claimed that Arsenal had the most balanced squad in premier league along with Manchester City. Now it’s time for a reality check. With already ten points behind the league leaders Chelsea, Arsenal’s moment of truth looks like they will be just fighting for the champions league spot again this year. Yesterday’s game against Norwich is probably one of the worst games ever in the Wenger era. Norwich not only constrained them, they strangled Arsenal into an invisible vacuum and they never allowed them to breathe.

Arsenal’s mind blowing strike force! Really?

Gone are those days when only midfielders are responsible for creating chances. If you look at some of the present dominant teams in the world – Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and others, their wingers and strikers are not only capable of producing goals they also help bringing their team mates into the game and assist them. But what about Arsenal? Let’s analyze their strikers’ and wingers’ creative abilities,


Chris Waddle made a controversial comment about Theo Walcott couple of years back when he said “Theo doesn’t have a footballing brain.” In fact he got that totally wrong. Theo definitely has a football brain. But this quote will perfectly fit Gervinho. The Ivorian is the top scorer for Arsenal this season but stats don’t speak the true story. One of the basic elements of being a winger is his ability to cross. But I never remember Gervinho crossing the ball in air (not even once) against Norwich. That’s terrible. I am not sure whether he knows how to cross (in air) in first place. What is the point of buying Giroud (who scored recently against Spain with his head) if they are not using his Aeriel abilities. Only support Gervinho can offer to his team mates is some random low passes after some blind dribbles.

Gervinho’s cross attempts against Norwich

Gervinho just had two crosses in the entire game and those two also failed to reach their destination.


Lucas Podolski is not a super duper finisher but he is a kind of a raw finisher like Walcott (ability to finish from certain angles and areas). Is he consistent? Yes he is. Is he consistently world class? No is the answer. Some Arsenal fans may argue but that is the hard truth. He is just short of world class in all attacking areas. If RVP had stayed with the gunners, story would have been different. With two raw finishers in the wings and RVP pulling strings together from the center would have been epic. Lucas is a great team player but he will never change the fortunes of his club single handedly like RVP did. In yesterday’s game he spent his most of his time wandering in no man’s land. He was totally invisible throughout the game. At least he should have used his direct dribbles against the two bank Norwich defense.

Podolski in no man’s land

The pic above is the heat map of Podolski against Norwich. If you look at it carefully, you can see that he instead of  getting into positions in the deep wing areas, he spent most of the game out side of the box. And just like Gervinho he too just had two crosses in the whole game.


He is a typical English striker of olden days with good physical strength and shows good movement inside the penalty box. In short, he is a “Fox in the Box” type of player. Most of the goals he scored last season was from rebounds or being in right place in right time or headers. He will be effective in teams which has excellent wingers and play makers like Ribery. Arsenal already spoiled one striker called “Chamack”, hope the same does not happen to Giroud. He is definitely a better player than Chamack, but why buy him if you are not going provide him with good crosses. In the present squad, only Jenkinson (and Sagna) can cross the ball well. Will Giroud replace RVP? No! Will Giroud & Podolski together replace RVP? Still No! Will Giroud, Gervinho and Podolski replace RVP? Not sure still! This shows how good they are.


This is poor buying from Arsenal. They don’t know what their wants and needs are. Podolski and Walcott need players like RVP to influence them. And Giroud needs good wingers like Ribery or at least like Valencia to make him more effective. And for Gervinho, even Messis and Ronaldos cannot influence him. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what Arsenal Strike force is all about.

In part two, the main talking point will be about Arsenal’s defensive tactics – so called zonal marking.

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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