The point at Anfield was a worthy result not withstanding the fact that Anfield, though a trophy free zone as Arsenal faithfuls prefer to call it has always been a difficult place to visit. I guess it is more to do with the anfield fans than the footballing at anfield. Get me right i in no way discount the footballing pedigree of the Anfield outfit, but give it to their fans, they are owesome, the envy of every club, every player and coach. So to come out with a point even though i belief we should have taken three points was a wonderful result.
My point today is not about how we played but i wanted to take off some time and comment on the tactics deployed by the Gaffer, a lot of debate has been going on in many blogs as to whether AW should have started with the 4-4-2 formation at anfield instead of the 4-5-1. Both sides of the argument have been very strong and impressive with the proponents of the 4-4-2 arguing that the pace of Theo. against the ungifted(with Pace) Carrangher and Hyppia would have enabled us bambuzzle ourselves to the three points, an argument i find very plausible, on the other hand the 4-5-1 camp believes the Gaffer was spot on, because it is a formation that had served us well in big games a way from home and can even be more effective especially at this time when the middfielders are weighing in with goals. Again a very credible argument, what both arguments do not talk about is the probable reason for AW strategy which i think lies in the basics of winning trophies. It is clear in AW mind this team is too good to end up trophy less(God forbid) and while the boys now men are doing it all on the pitch, in a league where the number of worthy contenders at the start included Spurs never mind them, and the list still remains long with new comers like Man City, tactical astituteness and strategy will define the number of trophies. It is this bit i want to dwel on in this post.
Looking at the basics here, in a tight contest like the one in the premier at the moment with Man.U, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man. City etc all laying claim to contend, we will always go against big teams in the league without a sufficient point cussion like the one Chelsea enjoyed in their previous two seasons when they won the trophy, or the inviscibles had in 2004. In a game like the one against Liverpool, where we did not have a sufficient point cussion, it was neccessary to exercise caution and hold ground when coming against such big teams who we all know can upset the balance. At Anfield it meant keeping Liverpool at bay,and maintain the status quo, then pick up points against the “minors”.
4-5-1 against liverpool was a strategy i believe AW chose with this reasoning in mind, and it was the right strategy considering that the Man. U on the other end had won on saturday and were top of the table. Any blip at Anfield would mean we are to be on the chase and that comes with a new type of pressure which the players will need time to cope, Chelsea suffered this last season and never recovered onc Man.U went top. It is a potential source of distabilsation for the teams morale. However once we went 1-0 down there was no more to protect but something to salvage and hence the change of formation to a more attack minded 4-4-2, in such a situation even if we conceded more goals and lost it would matter less becasue the three points would still go, but by attacking we were taking our chance to mount a recovery and salvage a point or three and Arsenal did exactly that. I guess that defined the Gaffer’s strategy.
The case would be different if we went ino the match with a sufficient point cussion i am sure Arsene would go for glory by deploying an out right attack force with a 4-4-2 because there is nothing much to lose but some glory to savour, any blip in such a situation has no adverse effects because it can be made up for by picking up points from the small “teams”. You will agree that the premier is becoming so tight, all tittle winners in the recent past have done so by picking up points from those small teams, Man.u did that last season, on the contrary we lost the race because we failed to pick up those road side points from the small chaps.
Imagine what the headlines would have been if Man. U had stayed on top. “Arsenal Cramble begins”, “The gunners are not up to the challenge”, “Arsenal Miss THiery Henry” are some of the headlines that you see. To Aw was spot on with his tactical deployments.