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Tactical Analysis: Arsenalona 2011 – How Arsenal Can Beat Barca

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Alright, enough said and done about FC Barcelona. Yes we know they are the best in the business, but so are we.  So what are the best tactics we can use to approach this game? If we use the tactics Inter used last year we are going to get murdered, and we use the Blackpool tactic we are going to get slaughtered. So what do we require :

Let’s start off with Barca. Xavi and Iniesta will occupy midfield. Xavi shall stay deep, passing here and there and then of course the long-ball will come. Remember he was the bloke who found Ibra last time and they scored. Iniesta tends to do the same thing but he comes up more.

Here is what I propose…

Our formation should be 4-1-2-2 [wide]-1. Cesc and Jack should occupy midfield, and should press the 2 Spaniards, giving them as less time as possible. Now the pressing should start if they cross the centre-circle, and not before that. A long-ball can be anticipated, but short through balls can leave one dreaming. They shall tend to play narrow regarding the attack, i.e. they will press with Alves (wing-back) coming up Arshavin’s flank. So if Clichy gets the ball, 2 things must be done:

Firstly Arshavin should stay up, and Clichy should play it long down his wing OR diagonally across Theo’s wing.

Should we press. In all honesty, it is going to be risky. Messi, Pedro and Villa are all Speedy Gonzalez’ cousins so if they get behind our defense, I only see Clichy catching them. But,I feel we should press them, all be it not too much. i.e not like them. Press to the point which will not make our defense look exposed, but make it difficult for them to give a 5 passes out of a possible 5 (I prefer 4 out of 5.)

Don’t expect an open match, just expect alot of pressure from Barca. We have to hit them at times. Hopefully we should score in one of these times. Song should stay back, in case Messi swaps flanks. Then he can help out Eboue. We can play narrow at the back. They do not have that many tall players so they shall prefer the passing game to crossing. But that does not mean too narrow, otherwise we are going to see another Messi Classic !

Jack and Cesc will be crucial. Both can play long balls, and both can pass. When either of them have the ball they have to get it behind the Barca defence to either Theo, Arshavin or RVP. And from that time its go go go! Our attacks have to fast and swift, and yes many of them are going to be screw-ups, but we have to do it via a hit and miss chance.

Jack for me is going to be even more crucial than Cesc. Heres why ? When Barca gets the ball to the flank let’s say, the left flank, you shall always see the over-run made by Alves. If the Brazilian gets the ball, then he may give a low cross, drive it, or enter the box from the right. Hence Jack has to be wary of this. He has to at least cover the RB position, if not LB also.

Personally I prefer Song covers the side in which Messi is playing. Clichy can take the player, but you know just to be sure. Jack should cover the over-run made by the Barca Wing-back, wheras Song should stand his ground incase Messi or whoever it is does not pass to him, and cuts in from the left.

It should look something like this :





Now you may wonder, that if Messi passes the ball inwards to Iniesta, or Xavi. In that case, Cesc and RVP should press. One from the front, and from the back i.e. RVP because he is the front striker. ( its shown below )

Here should be the starting formation :







Key : Wingbacks may come up occasionally, but the Centre-backs should make camp !

* : He should be here when they are attacking, pressing from the back.

Song, Jack and Cesc all have to defend, and ONLY Cesc and Jack can attack. They should not go together, but once at a time. In case they lose the ball I don’t want the entire Barca midfield and attack against us at once. One guy going up is good enough as then he shall be helped by the 3 upfront.

Barca will press, so that is something we have to soak up. They play a high-line, so Arshavin and Theo have to make constant runs hoping that one time the ref has something in his eye!

Arsenal-lona 2011 is not going to be easy Gooners, brace yourself, it going to get bumpy…



PS: This is all in my opinion. If you got any suggestions feel free to comment. Its always welcome…



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  2. kay

    February 15, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I agree with your tactics, this match will require high level of fitness. We must attack and defend as a unit. Our guys must be ready to choke up the midfield and deny barca space for their passing game. Arshavin and Walcott will be our outlets for quick counter attacks and both of them should support their corresponding fullbacks. We must get something out of this game

  3. Charles

    February 15, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Right on point bro. Nice tactics wish our manager will heed to it.

    • DKD

      February 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      thanks mate…

  4. swikrath

    February 15, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Well playing Jack on the right side would be a mistake in my Opinion, i think Song should stay as close to the right flank and double up with Eboue because that is our weakest link and Cesc to drop deep in the center and lil jack pushing on the left flank. Defensively i would trust Dj/kozzer combo to come good.. RvP to play around the midfield mark and team with theo for the counter

  5. Jeansy

    February 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I would definatly go for Sagna over Eboue, I don’t know what has happened to Eboue but he is not the player he use to be, a liability these days.

  6. Jeansy

    February 15, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Sorry just realised Sagna is suspended. Eboue on the right scares me against Barca. Cmon the gunners!

  7. samuel

    February 15, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    If Eboue on the right scares you then Sagna the ball watcher supreme gives me heart palpitations or maybe you haven,t been watching the games where Sagna gets caught time after time ,like last season vs Barcelona where the ball is played behind him allowing Alves to shoot on target or pass to Villa/Messi ,that,s Arsenal,s main problem Bacary Sagna who gets caught out of position game after game with Song having to cover for him ?

  8. samuel

    February 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    When Cesc or Nasri pass the ball to Sagna he,s supposed to bomb forward down the flank and cross the ball for van Persie,Chamakh or Bendtner to score ,but Sagna hardly ever goes forward or crosses the ball ,it,s nearly always a pass backwards to where the ball originally came from ,what are fickle Arsenal fans watching ?

  9. darealgunner

    February 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    i am confident that eboue will not suffer becos theo is playing ahead of him n has more than enough turbo energy to come back and assist him…i only hope Arshavin can do that to cover Clichy .Arsenal should not concentrate on Leo becos it has be proven that a Leo without an Inesta and a xavi is ineffective.Song should be cautious of the diving tactics of the barca players becos they hav done it b4.

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  11. Sly

    February 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Arsenal should play 4-5-1. Clichy & Gibbs should start the game, this what i think arsenal starters should be: schenzy
    Ebou jhorou Koschieny clichy

    Theo Song Cesc Wilshere Gibbs

    When we are attacking, song & gibbs should stay put in case we lose the ball so that they can join defence with ebou & clichy respectively.

  12. lewis

    February 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    these tactics are absolutely spot on. i think that when attacking or especially when on the counter attack, cesc should sit deep and aim for the inch perfect passes to walcott and arshavin which we know he can pick out at will. with song sitting just in front of the back 4, jack should be allowed to sit just outside the barca box with v persie inside and the wingers on either side respectfully. eboue and clichy should not go forward too much, only for the odd cross but otherwise they should sit on halfway with the rest of the defence just inside our half, so the offside rule will still take effect.
    i have confidence in this tie considering our squad at this time last year was awful thanks to injuries and the lack or the one and only jack wilshere. also, i fancy a bet on the barca midfield picking up yellows for their blatant fouling on half way to prevent counter attacks. xavi and busquets are at 4-1 which for me looks like a possible £40 or £80!

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