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Did Wenger Learn Tactics In Time For City?

Holy turd phoenixes we won. Who saw that coming? Be honest. Okay I will admit that I saw a mass of blogs churned out before the game from various sites and there was a faint scent of optimism in the air. That optimism dissipated in seconds as the whistle blew and City attacked, Koscielny picked up a yellow card within minutes and suddenly it seemed like everything was about to hit the fan. Yet we held. It was almost miraculous to watch but we employed the tactics so often used against us and like I said earlier - we held. 

Now to say this this win marks a changing tide is optimistic. I do believe that it is justifiable optimism but I would caveat that with this - we will need to demonstrate our ability to do this again. Only by carving out consistent performances against "big teams" like this can we truly be seen as "challengers" and reclaim our fear factor. Don't get me wrong, I still maintain that this Arsenal team has the potential to win the league (not necessarily this season) and it may have a few problems with depth in certain positions but the blueprint is there. 

Before I get carried away, here are my views on the match: 

On their side no Yaya, Aguero not yet at his best, no £30 million 3rd choice striker (financial fair-play my arse) and most importantly Mr Santi Cazorla on ours. I was hopeful (though I should stress that I never actually predict Arsenal to lose, when we play well I think we can blitz anyone so I'm always overly optimistic) but deep down however much I ignore it and however positive I am there is always a nagging feeling. A nagging feeling that Arsenal might squander their chances and let in a set of poor goals and that has arguably been our problem away to top sides. It is a problem that has been blamed on our mentality, tactics, referees, bad luck and injuries. If we're honest there does sometimes feel like an element of truth in all of those reasons but on Sunday we played like champions (against the champions no less). 

So what (if anything) was changed against City? 

The referee in my view had a reasonably good game, upon seeing the highlights I have no idea how Kompany stayed on the pitch but we did receive a soft albeit blatant penalty so maybe it evened out. I dislike the mentality of only being negative towards referees when we lose even if they have been far from adequate this season but Mike Dean (*vomits*) was better than usual (again not saying much but you get the drift).

Injuries. They make me sad so I won't dwell but looking at our respective benches I thought ours looked stronger, the likes of Rosicky, Flamini, Özil, Walcott etc. Our ability to bring on players of this calibre to close out the game definitely eased our nerves near the end of the match. 

Mentality, tactics and bad luck. My first order of business will be to disregard bad luck, it happens to everyone and there is nothing that can be done about it. With that in mind let's get to the meat of the discussion (it isn't technically a discussion in the traditional sense but the voices in my head often disagree so I'll be sure to consider different views). Mentality and tactics. "Mentality" is a word often used in conjunction with Arsenal, usually preceded by the words "lack of winning" and this phrase in my humble opinion is a load of old hogwash. Mentality my arse. It is easy to say a team has a "winning" mentality when they win. A team's mettle is only truly tested under dire circumstances and this team has been tested before. You need only cast your mind back to the FA Cup final where we came back from 2-0 down to win it. Should we have been in that position to begin with? Of course not, but it takes "strong mental strength" to overcome that kind of deficit. Those kind of games help strengthen the bonds in a team which is all the more relevant when you aren't planning to sell your best players in the summer. 

My opinion on true mental strength, is that it is born in hellfire and is the stuff warriors are forged with. It comes with experience and in sharing moments of adversity. It doesn't help the situation that ours are often self-inflicted but if we can cut those kind of mistakes out (continue putting together a string of clean sheets is a start) then we have team that can compete. 


Tactics! I saved the best for last. 

As I write this piece I realise that I come across as tactically naive and this is probably true but that should make me the perfect person to explain Arsene's tactics because he obviously knows nothing. Oh gosh, this is going to be fun. 

So tactics are interesting and I think the word is thrown around a lot by people who don't really understand what it means. I at least openly profess my ignorance on the matter and if you are still reading then you are here of your volition. I mean, it isn't like someone is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to read this blog though if they are I would like to say this - You my friend have exceptional taste. 

Okay. Enough attempts at humour, time to get serious. 

Point 1

It isn't a failure of tactics that leads to us making defensive errors. Like Arsene is taking them through morning drills and telling our defence, "Hey Guys, wassup? You know what would be totally rad? You should like totes defend badly. Wouldn't that be rad? So rad." (I have it on good authority that Arsene says "rad" a lot. #ITK)

Point 2

It isn't a failure of tactics if we miss chances. Like Arsene walks up to Giroud like a flustered school girl, "Oh hey Giroud, omg your hair like your hair is soo kewl. Like omg, you totally shouldn't try to score like what if you mess up your hair? It isn't worth it. Okay, I need to go now. Bye Giroud. OMG I just spoke to Giroud. *faints*"

Point 3 

It isn't a failure of tactics ... etc etc 

A failure in tactics leads to you not controlling a game. And as we demonstrated (and has been demonstrated against us) possession does not always equal control. You don't need the ball to control the game and this is an area of our game that I feel is sometimes overlooked by Arsene. 

Here’s my conspiracy theory on the matter and that’s what most of the blogs on this subject are. Contrary to popular belief writing a blog does not make you privy to the manager’s thoughts, shocker I know. So my theory is that Arsene has too much faith in his players. Really? You were expecting something original, I write this crap for you for free so lower your expectations. But seriously I think Arsene sees Arsenal as a team on par with the likes of Chelsea and City.

He only plays open attacking football because he believes blow for blow Arsenal can take on anyone and I don’t completely disagree with him but sometimes you have to be realistic (especially away from home). I don’t begrudge attacking football, it has made Arsenal adored by fans all over the world, it is exciting to watch and when done correctly can dismantle any defence, I would just like to see the same levels of pragmatism away from home that we employed in Manchester.

 Tell us what you think! If you agree, or have a different view, please leave a comment in the comments section or why not write a response or your own article on YouWrite?

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Tags: Wenger, Manchester City, Tactics

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