Arsenal: Steps to Avoid February/March Collapse Next Season

by Stefan Vasilev

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

In the past four years, with some exceptions, Arsenal has been a step away from going through the Premier League finish line triumphant. Losing several key players during the transitional phase of moving to the Emirates robbed the Gunners not only of depth, but also of experience.

Inevitably, results suffered.

But what was interesting was when the negative results were more likely to occur. Logically, lack of adequate depth of the team means limited resources. A player will have to play more consecutive games and eventually be burned out. When fatigue settles in, injuries duly follow.

By mid-February, March, Arsenal’s strengths start to diminish back to a level where they are title-contenders no more.

How to deal with this collapse? What to do to improve the chances of that not happening again next time?

There are ways. Here’s one that might just as well work:


Step One. Strengthen the squad by bringing in a few more bodies.

The first step would be to buy yet another defender of close to world-class ability.

Arsenal has four defenders – a good number for any team out there. But in order for the next step in eliminating the February/March collapse to be put to work, another defender must be brought into the picture. This can either be a defender brought from outside – a very good, experienced defender to partner Vermaelen – or a defender from the youth ranks to cover for the others – like Ignasi Miquel.

On the defensive flanks, the need of good cover for Bakary Sagna on the right side is evident. A player with qualities similar to Sagna’s could be brought in and through step two could contribute to Arsenal’s endeavors.

In midfield, Arsenal will benefit from buying another great midfielder.

With the probability of Cesc Fabregas leaving in the summer, a void would be left, most likely benefiting youngsters as Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey. But with his departure, the midfield line will be weakened minus one body and the skill of the Spanish captain.

A good choice would be a player who is in his mid-twenties and has proven himself – one that has the necessary skill and vision to serve as a rock in difficult times. Of course, that will require some money to be spent, but with the club’s debt diminishing by the month that it’s likely it will happen.

In the front, Arsenal already has a potent forward line capable of dismantling even the most resilient defenses, but if we are to see Step Two put to work, we’ll need another attacker.

Of course, the hypothetical forward would need to possess skills worthy of world-class club’s forward line.


Step Two. Use Rotation.

Give the opportunity for other players to take part in Arsenal’s hunt for trophies every other match. By having a squad with an almost evened out class spread among the players, the opportunity of giving rest to every one of them and creating an atmosphere of “friendly” competition is presented.

In defense, for example, a good mix of central defenders could be rotated depending on the fixtures. The same applies for the defensive flanks.

In midfield, there are plenty of talented players in the squad to make the use of rotation possible as it is, but Arsenal will surely benefit from signing one more talented and experienced player with a slightly more defensive-minded attitude. He could serve as a partner of Alex Song, playing just behind the more creative midfielders – this would also allow Jack Wilshere to develop his attacking game.

Also, in case Cesc Fabregas left Arsenal, the money could be used for buying the aforementioned midfield player and one more to serve as his replacement.

In attack, another striker could be bought in the summer to serve as a cover in case of injuries, or the talent of Carlos Vela could be finally used to its full potential. In truth, he deserves to play for Arsenal, but so far, hasn’t received a real chance to prove himself. In any case one more body in the forward line would also provide necessary rest for the other strikers if rotation is used.


Step Three. Increase the Tactical Variety.

More than once Arsenal has been branded a predictable team. They like to play attacking football bent on possession of the ball. While this has been effective in the past, and in the beginning of the season, it has also become predictable and easy to counter by other teams.

With the implementation of several other tactical innovations results could improve.

For example, more shots from outside the box could be taken; more chip balls above the defense; more individual play; and last but not least, more traps should be laid: passing the ball in their own half could draw out the oppositional team which would present a chance for a quick attack to be more effective amidst their more dispersed ranks.

Consistent tactical innovation along with rotation throughout the season, and especially during February or March, when the second fixtures between Premier League teams are played and fatigue is taking its toll, could do wonders for Arsenal.

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  • billy

    we need a goal scorer, RVP can’t do it on his own.

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