By 1970’s Gooner
Arsene Wenger has been changing his way of thinking in his transfer policy in recent years by bringing in more mature players. Gone are the days when anyone over the age of 23 or so would not make the short list of possible transfer candidates. Ok I am exaggerating a little bit but you get my drift.
What has not changed on the pitch however has been his playing philosophy.
He plays a game of ball possession, uses only one defensive midfielder and the other midfielders as well as BOTH full backs play their game in the opponents half of the pitch.
That’s why whoever plays in defence for Arsenal will always look vulnerable as protection is at a minimum. And that’s why Wenger’s teams always look frail at the back.
Yet against Bayern there was a change of philosophy and therefore tactics.
Firstly the defending mentality adopted was one that had all the four defenders keeping a tight line, moving together in unison and the midfielders dropping back to form another line of defence.
This kept the opponents mostly outside the area having to shoot from that distance. As the full backs, at least in the first half, were more often than not where they should be (at the back ready to close the avenues on the wings) there was some proper defending going on.
Secondly Arsenal defended from the front. When Bayern’s defenders had the ball they were immediately closed down by Arsenal’s forwards as well as the more offensive midfielders. Tactically this meant that their defenders had to play the long ball forward or at least play passes under pressure.
The result was that Bayern could not play their normal passing game taking the ball from defence through the midfield onto their attackers. That’s how Arsenal’s first goal was scored when Bayern lost the ball in midfield.
Lastly Wenger decided to bypass the midfield and Arsenal’s passing game. When Mertesacker or Koscienly had possession they often chose the long ball on Giroud’s head with our midfielders working hard to win the second ball.
Quite a radical change if you ask me as it goes directly against Wenger’s philosophy.
But what it achieved was to render Bayern’s strong area rather superfluous even though it was an admission that our midfield is not as good as theirs.
Which is true but Wenger does not usually face up to this fact does he? He normally plays an open game with the same ball possession philosophy and tactics whoever the opponent is.
Will he adopt the tactics employed against Bayern in the Premier League?
I believe that he should carry on with the defensive tactical changes and the pressure on their defenders when they have the ball. We don’t need both our full backs bombing forward all the time however.
And our midfielders should be more aware of their defensive duties. The long ball to Giroud is not something that I would suggest as we can compete in midfield with our passing game especially with Wilshere in the team.