The Short Corner: Playing into Arsenal’s hands

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AFCB’s tactics guru Andrew Enloe underlines Blackpool’s naivety against Arsenal…

This is going to be a short one.

Honestly there was very little tactical interest from an Arsenal perspective in this game; it was a match between a title challenger and last season’s favorites for relegation from the Championship.  Diagrams and chalkboards are going to be pretty pointless.

Blackpool came to The Emirates looking at what Hull City and Aston Villa had accomplished in previous seasons; come in playing a pretty attacking formation (4-4-2, 4-3-3), press aggressively, and hold a high line (which requires a lot of concentration regarding the offside rule).  And on a few occasions it worked, notably when Gary Taylor-Fletcher headed Stephen Crainey’s cross wide – though it’s worth noting that the cross came from the right side of the defense while Sagna was off the pitch after receiving treatment.

In theory, Blackpool’s strategy sometimes works.  But all they accomplished was the formation (4-3-3/4-5-1).

I don’t like it when teams foul Arsenal incessantly, but I have to admit that in the past it’s been a pretty damned effective tactic (though last season’s matches away to Stoke and Hull showed that the team is showing a bit more resiliency).  Blackpool fouled 5 times over the course of the whole match.

And they seemed to be relying quite a bit on the offside rule without appearing to understand it.  Arshavin, Chamakh, and Walcott frequently found space on the outskirts of the back four and exploited it.

And that pressing?  It just didn’t happen.  Blackpool lined up with a bank of four and a bank of five when defending, which allowed Rosicky to find a slightly embarrassing amount of space between the lines.  Rosicky was excellent, and his directness is something Arsenal need at times, especially when the team as a whole tends to take too long to release the ball.

Ian Evatt’s sending-off made things even worse.

I know why people like Ian Holloway.  He’s an honest positive character.  But he killed his team when he brought off one of his three central midfielders, Ludovic Silvestre, to add a central defender.  The already open midfield was made even more spacious for Wilshere and the already-rampant Rosicky.  Diaby was completely shorn of his defensive duties and got to take as many touches as he wanted.  Taking off one of the Blackpool wide midfielders would have been a much more prudent strategy.

There’s a difference between “having a go” and “playing into Arsenal’s hands” and Holloway did the latter.

Tactics took a back seat at The Emirates on Saturday.  I seriously doubt many other teams are going to play Arsenal with the naivety Holloway’s troops did.  But that’s not what this match was about; it was about boosting confidence.  Job done.

Have your say on Andrew’s tactical analysis of Arsenal v Blackpool by leaving a comment.


6 thoughts on “The Short Corner: Playing into Arsenal’s hands

  1. Why are people still boasting about this blackpool match? Its done
    Arsenal have always done well against the teams who don’t have class players and and not a hint of tactics it’s the midtable teams with a bit of class and some tactical awareness that we have problems with. NOT TO MENTION THE TOP TEAMS
    By the way we hit everton for 7 last season then lost at United and city so I’v seen this before that’s why am not getting carried away, even newcastle are beating people by six goals

    Rovers next, a more physical team with manager who has beaten wenger many times lets see this weekend if the team has matured as wenger and some arsenal fans think.
    no keeper yet and no defender Still waiting…….

  2. Actually it was 1- 6 against Everton last season. But then you’ve seen it all before haven’t you, kel… 😉

  3. Thanks for this interesting piece – I take it you are saying that Blackpoo were a clean side – not too clear from what you say. I am Blackpool. I have read a bit of analysis and seen some on the TV. One of the thngs that Ollie said was that Arsenal stopped our keeper throwing the ball out. He has to teach them how to cope with that as we had no plan B. Your point about defender Evatt being sent off was also interesting as the substitute defender was only signed on Thur. afternoon from Israel (free transfer) and the team travelled down Friday morning. So they had never played together – it may have been safer to stick with midfield player who is also a new signing but had played for 30 mins. with the team in the previous game. I do think that we will give you more of a game next time we meet and it may have been more of a game this time without the sending off. It may still have been 6-0 to you but at least you’d have had more of a practise session. We have all learnt a lot. As a supporter I have been stunned by the Emirates and what Arsenal is. Total class. Fantastic place and fantastic players – a privilege to be there. We are light years behind. But we can hope. Maybe one day we will be able to compete – our whole team cost £1.2 million which is about the cost of a finger for some of your players! Thanks and I will be back to read this blog. Very impressed by it.

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