‘Change’ and much needed ‘Rest’

Good morning all and welcome to my first blog not written for another site. No change in style for those who have followed me @gunnersphere but guess here I am my own boss. I wanted to name the blog ‘Remember who you are’ but this name had been taken so I opted for ‘1nildown2oneup.’ I am sure most of you know that in 1987 a Charlie Nicholas inspired Arsenal side won George Graham’s first trophy in the then Littlewoods Cup. The significance was that Liverpool had not lost single game in which Ian Rush had scored in a run stretching 7 years. Rushie did open the scoring but the Gunners broke his record with 2 goals from ‘Champagne Charlie.’ The personal significance being that it was my first trip to Wembley with the Arsenal and also the weekend I got together with my now wife.

Crazy week with the RVP inspired comeback against Villa followed by a tepid performance against Bolton.  The latter has inspired much debate about the future of Wenger, the board, certain players, questioning of the lack of transfer activity, coupled with calls for a black bin bag protest at the Emirates this Saturday against Blackburn. I am not one to get involved in the politics other than to say anything that detracts from backing the players on a match day I am against.

I would prefer to concentrate on players, formations and tactics and will use this blog primarily to that end, although I do enjoy the occasional look at potential transfer targets as well. The news, if true that we have negotiated a pre-contract with Argentinian international Claudio Yacob sounds positive. From what I have read and seen he would challenge Song as a holding midfielder and looks like a perfect long term successor to Gilberto. Fact is if he is being picked currently for Argentina he is a top class footballer and for the accountants amongst us, will come in at precisely £25 million less than Yan M’Vila. Forget the unwillingness to spend, it is just good business sense and hopefully will mean more to spend elsewhere. Whilst I am still confident we can make top 4 signing Yacob now avoids a potentially tricky conversation that others might wish to gate crash in June if we can secure the Argentinian’s signature now.

So what of tomorrow?  Wenger has hinted at rotation, a knock to Oxlade-Chamberlain and has affirmed that Arshavin is going nowhere. So here comes the ‘Change’ and ‘Rests’ bit from my title in case you were beginning to wonder.  For those of you that have read my blogs for as long as I have been writing I have favoured a return to the fluid 4,4,2 or 4,4,1,1 formation that won Wenger all his honours. I hope that this weekend the changes Wenger has hinted at might be this adjustment many of us want and I feel fits our player. There is no doubt at all that Aaron Ramsey is in dire need of a breather and the run of games he has had this term has seen his recent form suffer. None of us want to see another Wilshire.

In between 2001 and 2005 as we won trophy after trophy we operated a 4 man midfield without a natural winger. Neither Pires or Ljunberg hugged the while line and neither Bergkamp/Wiltord or Henry would have been waiting to head in even if they had gone to the bye line and whipped in a traditional cross. Both wide men were as comfortable in the middle or behind the striker and both had intelligent movement, timing of runs and could finish as well. In 2008 we came the closest to winning the league at any time since 2004 and the so called wide men then were Hleb and Rosicky, both of whom if you asked them would call themselves central midfielders. Indeed it was Rosicky’s injury that proved a turning point for the worst that year.

So what does this all mean for Blackburn tomorrow? Well we need to rest Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain and but we have a fully fit Arteta and Song available. For me tomorrow is the day to revert to the four man fluid midfield with just Song sitting, as Flamini did 2008 and Gilberto in 2004. This will allow Arteta more licence to be the player I thought we had signed and we all know he can be. We have not seen the creative side of the Spaniard because he has been asked to sit in our failing, predictable 4,2,3,1 formation, but we all know from his assist record down the years at Everton that it is in his locker. In the wide roles I would like to see a resurgent Rosicky and also Benayoun, both given licence to drift in and out when we are in possession but with strict instructions to work back and support the full back when we lose the ball. Both will need to be more disciplined than they have been with this aspect of their game but both can contribute creatively going forwards.

This leaves the huge question of who should partner RVP.  Long-term I would like to see Walcott at least given an opportunity but not tomorrow. His confidence is low but I hope he will make an impact up front from the bench. Heart of course tugs towards Henry but I think Wenger will wish to demonstrate faith in Arshavin tomorrow and playing him just off the front man where he shines for his country may just be the answer for the diminutive striker. He is not a long term solution but this position is where he would choose to operate and Wenger’s perseverance with a system that is patently not working has not allowed him to play.

Much of this may well be wishful thinking on my part and I am probably reading too much into Wenger’s hint and change and rotation but there is no doubt in my mind that a return to the old system will suit our currently fit and in form players, offer more imagination in the attacking third and crucially take the heat off our skipper.

Until next time and thanks for reading.

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