Tactical talk: Marouane Chamakh

By on July 16, 2010

chamakh_3213

By Basil James.

As the Premier League season inches closer to us, the teams are about to start their pre-season games, with Arsenal playing Barnet this weekend. Arsenal have been particularly active in the transfer market this summer and it will be interesting to see how the new recruits shape up in Arsenal colours. The signing of Marouane Chamakh in particular, has set the ball rolling as pundits and fans alike have put on their thinking caps to figure out how Wenger is going to utilise him.

Having proven his credentials in Ligue 1 and the Champions League last season, I feel Chamakh should definitely be a starter in the current Arsenal squad. But where is Wenger going to play the forward? At the surface, it certainly appears to be a selection dilemma for Wenger.

Last season, the Gunners played a formation that could be described as 4-2-3-1 with Robin van Persie as the lone forward until he got injured. Nicklas Bendtner became his replacement in the same formation. The forward had Fabregas just behind him, with Nasri and Arshavin on the right and left wings respectively, while Denilson and Song were slotted in as defensive midfielders, linking the defence and attack. The lone center forward often played as a false nine. A false nine is a player who starts out as a center forward in a match but gradually slips into center midfield.

Interestingly, Bordeaux used a similar system last season. Chamakh was the lone center forward and he too was used as a false nine, thus providing some man advantage in midfield. He frequently dropped back into midfield and when Bordeaux was firmly in attack, made darting runs forward upon which the wings fed him the ball. He lays the ball off to the midfield which in turn was supplied to the wingers. When Chamakh made his run, the ball was put at his feet. Chamakh’s powerful headers came into good effect through the consistent crosses provided to him.

Now, if Arsenal are to play the same formation as they did last season, chances are that either Van Persie or Chamakh would be left on the bench as the system has space for only one center forward. Unless either of them is willing and capable of playing on the right wing, the role Nasri took on last season, I do not see them starting together in the current system. But that option seems like a remote possibility as neither player has the qualities that define an usual winger. They are much better off playing their usual positions.

Robin van Persie has always been injury prone and Chamakh could be an ideal replacement and cover for the mercurial Dutchman. That would mean that the Morrocan forward spends most of his time on the bench and only comes on as a substitute. I certainly do not think he can displace van Persie, who has consistently started for club and country when fit, in the starting line up.

What if Wenger was to play a different formation? One option is the traditional 4-4-2, but that formation has long been out of question. It does not exactly suit Arsenal’s fluid system of playing and the general trend of formations around the world suggests that it is on the way out. The World Cup is a more than enough example.

Another option could be a 4-3-3 in which both RVP and Chamakh plays as forwards with Fabregas (assuming and hoping he does not leave) as the  third forward slightly behind them and dropping back to midfield in the course of the game. Effectively it would be a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Arshavin and Nasri on the flanks and Song as a defensive cover.

Best of the web

11 Comments

  1. Robert

    July 16, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    This article is stupid – worrying about in what formation RvP and Chamakh will start together.

    The reality is that neither of RvP or Chamakh will start anywhere near all of Arsenal’s games this season, and they will only very rarely play together. Each of them will start 25-30 games, alternating in the same centre forward position, assuming no injuries. Of course some of RVP, Chamakh and Bendtner will actually get injured, so those uninjured, whichever they are, will start correspondingly more games. I expect Chamakh will play the more physical away games at Blackburn, Stoke and Bolton, and RvP will play more European games against top sides.

    RvP and Chamakh are replacements for each other as centre forward in a 4-3-3, not players who will play together often. Arsenal play so many games, and get so many injuries, that in reality two or three players are required for each position, and the concept of a single regular “starting eleven” is a bit out of date.

  2. USA GOONER

    July 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    RVP has to learn that he is not a natural lone striker. This past WC exploited the fact that he needs a second striker next to him constantly in order for him to get the necessary space to take chances. Otherwise it’s 2 center backs with one man marking and the other zoning on him the entire game. Chamakh should start all games with RVP because of his aerial strength and RVP’s lack of. Otherwise, the boss is stating to the world that we don’t plan on crossing the ball at all.

    I’ve never been a fan of a lone striker system because if anyone is familiar with playing it, knows how difficult it can be unless you have a Drogba sort of build. Not a single one of our forwards, Chamakh included can play that role based on physical presence. My dream formation would be 4-3-3 with at least 2 forwards up top. Only on Champs League away games should we revert to 1 striker and 2 natural midfielders in the wing spots.

    • Davi

      July 17, 2010 at 6:05 pm

      “RVP has to learn that he is not a natural lone striker” – I dont like how you phrased that. its not RVPs fault he is played as a lone forward, and I dont think hed choose to really, BUT he is good at it. He did a selfless job for holland and didnt really get recognised for it as forwards are always judged on goals. For arsenal at the start of the season, (as usual) it took him a while to get going in terms of goals, but his contribution was still massive, and by the time he got his injury he had still managed to amass a decent number of goals and assists. He really is a world class player but needs to shake these injury problems.
      As to the general problem of playing van persie and chamakh in the same side, I really dont see the problem. Van persie has been playing as a lone forward lately because he was the best man for the job in our current squad. He started out as a left winger/second forward, and has played many good games for holland as the right sided winger/2nd forward. Its quite simple, chamakh can play through the middle and van persie would start on the right side, assuming no injuries, and they could switch positions throughout the match if necessary. Which works nicely because both players like to move around like that and are good at making space that way. That would mean our best finishers would probably be playing around the main CF (ie cesc, arshavin and rvp), so chamakh’s role would mainly be to play these guys in on goal, or make space for their runs.
      Alternatively chamakh could just have been brought in to give van persie a rest, so as to minimize his chances of injury, which could work out great, as both are very capable forwards. Either way it gives us plenty of forward options.

  3. Sam

    July 16, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Your argument is superflous. You say Neither RvP nor Chamakh are wingers so can play right winger as they’re not true wingers. So are Bendtner, Walcott or Eduardo true wingers? Cos Wenger played all of them on the wings last season.

    Here is how the 4-3-3 formation can be maintained. Chamakh should be played as a center forward/false line. RvP on the right wing (he has played for his country in that position before!) and Arshavin on the left. Both wingers like to cut in and score goals, so the formation can be very effective.

    Fabregas should play just behind Chamakh in centre midfield. While Song and Nasri can play as defensive midfielder (Nasri played DM for some time last season, besides he would do a better job then Denilson/Diaby).

    Here is the line described above (two players for each position, with the 2nd name in brackets being the 2nd choice in case of injury).

    ——————————-Chamakh (Bendtner)————————————

    Arshavin (Rosicky)————-Fabregas (Ramsey)—————–RvP(Walcott)

    —————— Song (Diaby) ————————– Nasri (Denilson)———

    Clichy (Gibbs)— Vermalen (Djorou) —–Koscielny (Campbell??)— Sagna (Eboue)

    —————————— Schwarzer??? (Almunia – a better version pls!)——–

    I think the above would be a pretty smashing line up with each position properly covered (hope Denilson improves though and we get a more consistent Diaby this season!)

  4. Robert

    July 16, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Djourou actually tends to play right CB. Koscielny has often played left CB in France though perhaps he will switch to the right to partner Vermaelen. Unless another CB is signed, which is very possible, I expect at the start of the season Vermaelen will start with Djourou, with Koscielny playing more, on either side, as the season progresses and as he settles in and body-builds up. The pecking order amongst Koscielny, Djourou, and Nordtveit remains to be seen, but Sol is probably off.

  5. peter

    July 16, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I do not think there,s a need crying over something which is ahead of you. Let us all give Asene the benefit of the doubt and hope that things work out well for him and all of us. go Arsenal go.

  6. Henry mulwa

    July 16, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    I am realy awaiting to see what our profesor will come out with hope he plays 4-3-1-2

  7. aran

    July 16, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Thanks for the write-up. I’m surprised by people’s outrage at your taking some time to think about this in a systemic fashion. Not sure what will happen, but thanks for sharing- intriguing propositions. Cheers.

  8. Kilo G

    July 16, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    Yeah thanks for the write up, what is it with some people they just go on blogs to moan and ridicule others. Obviously the article is not based on fact, its imagination and its fun to try and imagine combinations of our play. Surely when you read the title you know what the article is ababout why read it anyway and make such a negative comment.

    It’s probably the same thing but personally I like to look at combinations of play and movement. Van Persie’s set piece delivery is second to none, I see numerous Chamakh headed goals as a result, so I think Arsené will play them together some time. Especially in those games where a bit of extra physicality is required. I’d like to see the line up and formation suggested by Sam 4-2-3-1 which is pretty much what we play now, however I’m not sure they would work hard enough to get the ball back and with Arshavin and Van Persie playing in those position they’d tend to come in, creating space for the full backs to overlap. Hopefully they improve their crossing. Like all Wenger buys Chamakh is a touch play with intelligence, the combinations and the movements should be great. Added to the improvements I foresee for our defense and defensive shield coupled with a new keeper should see us won the league. Well one can hope …

  9. yash

    July 17, 2010 at 7:39 am

    revert to 4-4-2

    with the striking forces (eduardo bendtner), (RVP chamakh)….that would be great!!
    Eddie and bendie were doing fine when they played together…(review the 07/08 to know what i am talking abt)..
    RVP and chamakh would be awesome..we all know how RVP can trick any defender and provide the right ball to chamakh..(who has excellent aerial abilities)..
    In the midfield, play nasri and arshavin out wide with cesc (CAM) and SONG(DMF)..the defence seems logical!
    Yash!

  10. Pingback: Tweets that mention Tactical talk: Marouane Chamakh | Football Talk -- Topsy.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *