Cup Stars Give Wenger Food For Thought

Jamie Sanderson September 21, 2011 News 64 Comments

Arsenal traded pessimism for optimism this evening, as Arsène Wenger’s latest batch of youngsters battled back from the brink to defeat Shrewsbury Town in the third round of the Carling Cup.

Wenger made eleven changes from the side that lost 4-3 to Blackburn Rovers over the weekend, bringing in a mixture of fringe first-teamers and promising hopefuls. It was a combination that looked fluid, creative and dangerous in the opening stages, but as the Shrews found their feet, the Gunners’ Achilles heel came back to haunt them.

James Collins took advantage of poor positional play from Johan Djourou, Łukasz Fabiański’s failure to read or command the situation, and naivity from Carl Jenkinson and Ignasi Miquel to head home from close range. The fans showed their instant displeasure, with a section booing. It would be enough to unsettle any player, but two of the youngest players on the pitch began the revival.

He’d teased and tormented throughout the half, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stepped his game up following Collins’ goal, and after being involved in the move that led to Kieran Gibbs’ header for 1-1, the £7 million summer acquisition showed almost zero back lift when smashing Frimpong’s pass into the net from all of 25-yards. It was a goal his performance deserved.

Yet while Oxlade-Chamberlain had put the Gunners into a then deserved the lead, the contribution of the mobile and efficient Francis Coquelin helped them stay there. The Frenchman is currently behind Emmanuel Frimpong in the pecking order, but based on this performance, he won’t be long.

Coquelin embodies the type of qualities Arsenal fans miss. Passion, hunger, energy, urgency, and a desire to throw himself on the line for the team. He misplaced a few passes, and was lucky to escape without a card, but his box-to-box bursts and brilliant timing of tackles helped inspire.

Other notable mentions go to Ignasi Miquel, who was rather untroubled and, while his positional sense and physique needs lots of work, he showed good composure on and off the ball, and sprayed several very good balls out from the back. Oğuzhan Özyakup came off the bench and played in Yossi Benayoun for him to score a much deserved third, and the Dutchman is increasingly becoming a player that excites Wenger and his staff.

It’s easy to get carried away by the victory, but what these latest batch of Carling Cup youngsters have that others haven’t over the years, is maturity, attitude and talent that can be of use right now, not just for the future.

They might just be first-team hopefuls at present, but this performance will no doubt give Wenger food for thought.

64 Comments

  • If needed can’t Coquelin play right back he fill in better than Jenkinson? Also Ozyakup best crosser and set piece and corner taker @ the AFC.

    Future looks very bright J!

  • Chamberlain deserves to start over Walcott, Arshavin. He’s not as experienced as them but he’s much more talented than Walcott and much more hardworking than Arshavin in both attacking and defending.
    Gervinho – Van persie – Alex
    Some of our best players have started for us at 18.

    Coquelin looks like the real deal to me but does he need to play besides a DM or can he play as one?

    • Walcott has been one of the few bright sparks this season. I think it would be extremely rash to kick him out of the team when he’s finding form in favour of a youngster who played well in a Carling Cup game.

      I’d love AOC to have a big impact this year but lets be patient here and not be suggesting he starts games ahead of established internationals/international captains.

    • Gunner from the south

      yes but those who were starting at 18 became very injury prone…

    • I cannot understand the stick Walcott gets. No, he isn’t as good as he was supposed to be, or what all the hype that surrounded him made him seem, but he is nonetheless an excellent young player. And you can clearly see he’s still working hard, his shooting’s improved, his touch, timing of his runs, playing with his back to goal, even his crossing. He is probably the best ever example of being vastly overrated, then underrated.

  • jamie, your back! great article from you after a long time. please don’t get sucked in to writing short and not to the point articles that i saw from you in recent past. You’re a great writer and keep it up!

    As far as arsenal goes, its hard not to be excited, yet, at the same time i’ve always felt the same after watching/reading/listening about a carling cup match but the rest is as we know it…

    Also, can you please comment on the formation and tactics that were employed.

    Pakistani Gunner

    • Thank you very much. Didn’t mean to keep away for a while, just working on new projects on planning an update to the design of the website.

      The formation was a 4-4-2, but changed after Park went off. The defensive line seemed a little deeper, and I was disappointed we didn’t press a bit harder at times. Otherwise, good stuff.

  • I think what separates this carling cup team from the past ones is that most of these players have a VERY REAL chance of stepping up into the first team sooner rather than later and having a positive effect at Arsenal FC.

    I think that’s down to a mixture of now having a slightly lower standard of players at Arsenal now and them possessing more of the qualities needed to succeed at a top club.

    Obviously raw talent doesn’t always develop into what it should have become eg. Vela but I have hope for these guys.

  • Thanks for thw article, watching arsenal at emirates for the second time in my life was realy good experience, coming back to the article I thought that AOC was 12m signinging where did 7m come from, with regards to the match park and chamakh were not inform at all, coquellin showed that he is by miles better than frimpong and AOC is ready to play at the premierleague.

    • 7 mil is the initial fee. It could rise to 12 mil (or 15 mil depending who you read) over time with appearances etc.

  • I read that AW played a 442 formation. Did the OC start on the left or right of midfield? Did he have license to roam?

  • I have always said Frimpong will end up like Muamba.

    COquelin has to be ahead of him now and it wouldnt surprise me if Frimmy went on loan.

    Kid has got too much attention via twitter.

    Thought our two full backs did well Gibbs and Jenkinson.

    Jenkinson still not quite there but his crossing ability is very good wish Sagna could cross the ball like him.

  • coquelin was always better than frim. anyone who follow both player carreer would know that.
    exept power le coq is superior in all other departement of his game.
    frimpong like coquelin need a loan were he would play week in week out to progress.
    i still hope frim make it at arsenal ,we need character like him who love the shirt

    i would love to see the idiot who have come here last ime saying coquelin was rubbish and he was just another denilson

  • Long time reader, great work! You’ve always rated Coquelin much higher than Frimpong, now I see why! He showed glimpses at United, but this was a real shift he put in today.

  • Great write up…missed the match due to throttled internet…and a 4.30am kick-off. sounds like the ox and franny were the talking points, a lot of excitement around coquelin, but a lot of people here are serving it up to frimpong at the moment. he is a beast and a really important player for arsenal this season, clearly needs to work on distribution but he plays hard looks like he has a killer shot, good movement and positional sense…i hope they both keep developing the way they are cause it will give arsenal some much needed grunt in midfield!!

  • I wouldn’t really compare Coquelin to Frimpong. I think that they are complementary players. They worked very well together tonight. Having Song, Frimpong, and Coquelin in the midfield gives the squad depth at that position.

    Thought Iggy did well tonight and seems to get better as he plays more. If Djourou is going to continue to stink, might as well give Miquel more time in the first team.

    Finally, there’s going to come a point this season when Wenger is going to have to made a decision to switch to a 4-4-2 and play Walcott through the middle or have AOC replace Walcott. Walcott cannot stay on the wing and AOC is too good of a wing talent now to remain on the bench. Given the talent in CM, AOC’s quickest route to the first team is on the right wing.

    • “I wouldn’t really compare Coquelin to Frimpong. I think that they are complementary players.”
      Couldn’t agree more. Would be happy to see these two paired together in higher level matches to be honest. Frimpong has already shown he can handle big games, and coquelin looked very capable against Utd (can’t blame him for any of it)
      Their performance could actually stimulate a permanent change back to the old 4-4-2 system (the classic wenger system) where we would fill the centre with power and defensive ability, and shift the creativity out wide and up front.

  • Dont you dream mate . Its just not Wengers way to allow talented and effective young or new players to be in the starting eleven. His way is follow the pecking order.

  • I don’t know where all the dislike for Frimpong has come from. Aside from his discipline issues, I thought he has done extremely well and hasn’t looked out of place at all. In fact he has made the acclimated more quickly than Song did!!! I’m not saying he’s better or is going to be better than Song, I’m just saying he’s adapted even faster than him. To dismiss Frimpong as just another Muamba is idiotic. I’m not calling John an idiot, I just think you’re jumping to conclusions pretty quickly. Frimpong looks to have a bit more of a cerebral approach to the game than Muamba ever did, even though he has discipline issues. To compare the two is pretty lame and lazy to me. It’s easy to say, “oh he’ll just be another Muamba” just because of his size and ethnicity. You should look deeper and see that he can become much more than Muamba ever can be. And IF he does happen to follow the same career path as Fabrice, while not being Arsenal quality, we will have developed a solid player, who can have a solid career in the top flight of British football. You’d be a fool to think otherwise mate.

    • nobody hate him ,we are just saying that coquelin is a better player.i want both to be successful at the club.
      but frimpong have been given too much hype (some of them deseved)and he have too many weakness due to him not having very much first team experience.
      a loan would be the best right now for frimpong.

  • cmon guys remember it was against shrewsbury and at times unconvincing, it was like a reserve game at best

  • Stop dishing Ping Pong. The fellow’s a beast. Naturally he’s game is different from Coquelin’s. Like a comparison between Essien and Toulalan. They both bring something to the team and the variety is most welcome.

  • Frimpong and Coquelin and both very very good. We didn’t have a playmaker in the middle. Instead it was Coquelin and Frimpong who spread the ball brilliantly and was also defensive solid. It was great to watch and both will be very good during the whole season here.

    Can’t believe some of you people.

  • It’s no real surprise that Coq is better and more composed than Frimmers, Coq played all last season in French Ligue 1 for Lorient. He’s basically a player from a mid-level french club! Frimmers on the other hand was injured the entire last season, no wonder he’s a bit raw.

    Also, all these new young players looks set to break into the team soon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of them starters in a ciould of months.

  • cassy de Gunner

    I kno dat both Pong n Coq r good players but u cant throw away d fact dat Pong has missed 1 year of dev 2ru injury. I kno dat if he had not, he wud b far more experienced by now and d Liverpool situation wud not hav happened. Gooners, pls cut him some slack. He might even become better than Song.

  • coquelin is the surprise package.. what a player!! but i feel he’s more a box to box midfielder rather than a def midfielder..

  • We’ve got so many talented youngsters, but haven’t produced a defender of note since Cole. Even the ones we’ve released have faded into nothingness, rather than made careers at Championship level or similar. That to me seems so strange considering the number of players that come through the academy. Is there anyone further down the age groups who looks promising?

  • Le Coq being a better player than Frimpong doesn’t mean that Frimpong is bad. After a long time we seem to have the midfield to play a 4-4-2

  • Coquelin, Frimpong, Song…Seems like a good group of defensive midfielders, and in such a injury ravaged era why should we be already discussing on offloading any of these talented up and coming players.

    I feel without the calibre of players we once had, without a team which can display the world class talent that City and United can, we need to change our approach to the game. Without the proven ability to play such a high line yet fail consistantly to make it a flat one we all remember so well from the Adams, Bould, Dixon and Winterburn years. Playing a high line and perfecting an offside trap and vitally interlinked – yet we fail to either understand, practice or communicate this on match days!

    On the above basis we should revert to a more deep, defensive, and counter attacking play. Maybe a 4-4-2 but without a ‘Cese role’ in CM. Instead two of the initially discussed Defensive midfielders, who can spend their match days tackling, tracking, defending, simple two touch passing football, and the occassional drive forward and long range effort! This will reduce the amount of time we allow the opposition to have in their midfield, thus prevent easy through and long balls. It will make it more difficult for teams to cut us open through the middle, and be forced to attack out wide (which many do anyway), yet with a tradditional 4-4-2 our full backs will have far more cover and support closer to hand than over the past 5 seasons. Plus with two up front this allows our hungry and energetic strikers to chase down the opposing defenders, preventing easy direct balls out from their defence much like the Dortmund pairing stung out time and time again in Germany the other week.

    In this style with possession we should become more direct in passing. That doesn’t mean long ball, it means quicker movement and more purposeful balls, aimed at turning defence into attack, to create an opening before the opposition bring 11 men behind the ball. Pace is the key to this, which is one thing we have an abundence of yet often allow to waste as we instead play slowly slowly maintain possesion and build attacks football, which eradicates space for those speedy players to run into.

    Something needs to change, I just wonder if Arsene used last night as a test?

    Good to hear the young lads had a good game last night and can hold their heads high. I would like to see Chamberlin and Ryo given some 15 minute run outs over the next couple of weeks, inject some fresh pace and fear into the likes of Bolton and Spurs in the closing stages.

  • Could coquelin be the second coming of flamini!? Had high hopes for him for a long time, and it looks like his time is drawing near :)

  • I think Coquelin & Frimpong compliment each other. They both have rough edges to their game, but experience will see them both improve.
    It’s encouraging to see these lads slowly realising their potential.
    Add Ozyakup to the mix as well.

  • Anyone who’d watched Coquelin last season knew he was better than Frimpong. He’s basically a year ahead, having a full season in a good league and impressing everybody. Frimpong is a very good talent too and for the first time in ages we’ve got 3 defensive mids that I’d be happy and comfortbale seeing play. AOC is a stunning talent he really is.

    Djourou has completely lost the plot. Needs to spend more time concentrating on his football and less time on his hair-do.

  • with the emergence of coq and frimmy, perhaps we might have to soon consider who is the best centre back out of djourou, koscielny and song, rather than who is the better dm out of coq, frimmy and song.

    At the moment i would just about choose song over the other 2, but with our current defensive situation and if wenger persists with zonal marking. It may be the sensible approach to copy Barcelona and play our DM’s at Centre Back. Busquets and Mascherano have both occupied that role recently, their composure and technical ability suits the zone marking system. It might just be that Song alongside Mertesacker with TV5 at Left Back when he returns could be just what we need. If not Song alongside TV5, Mertesacker has yet to impress, then again he has done no worse than anyone else.

    • Surely barcelona are only playing busquets and masch in defence out of necessity? Pique is good enough to play in midfield anyway, but he is a much more natural defender, and mascherano in particular can be caught out when playing CB.
      Basically to play like barca, you need very physical defenders some talent on the ball. Djourou is the ideal *type of defender but he has lost his confidence of late. He needs to toughen up mentally. I don’t think there’s any reason he can’t be a great defender for us. Vermaelen and Kos suit our system as well.

  • Coquelin is a year older than frimpong, has a year of first team football in france under his belt too, while frimpong had a year out injured, so give the kid a chance

    by the way where does all this frimpong has disciplne problems, he got sent off once this season yes, but in his youth and reserve career he hardly ever got sent off, picking up bookings is part and parcel of defensive midfield play,

  • Frimpong is a bit lyke lass diarra while coquelin is a bit lyk flamini

  • Going back to 442 permanently isn’t an option. Any high class side playing three midfeilders will completley over run us, it’s why we switched in the first place when both Fergerson and Mouhrinho started employing the tactic against us.

    The best option would be for the side to be practiced in multiple formations, but thats not going to happen, there isn’t the time with the coaching recources we have. Unfortunatley Wenger is just too damn stubborn to consider that he can’t do it all by himself with Pat Rice and Boro Primac, incredibly frustrating. If we had multiple coaches working on deifferent aspcts of the teams performance, (like for instance united, or Englands world no 1 test cricket team) all our attacking flair might have a well drilled base to support it, or we might have different game plans to fall back on if a team decides to throw all it players back and hit us on the break.

    Don’t think this will ever happen while we have Wenger though, the mans arrogance and his stubborn attitude prevents him from getting help, it’s why a man with arguably more talent for putting a team together than Fergerson is a far inferior coach, if Fergerson doesn’t know something he’ll find the best man who does, Wenger essentially wings it.

  • @BC

    Song and Mertesacker at centre back? Dear God no… that would be horrific. Both slow as hell. That would be absolutely tragic with our high line.

    I’ve said it a million times before but if Vermaelen is fit and we play him anywhere other than centre back, it would be complete and utter fail. I’m sure he could do a decent job at left back but he’s our best centre back by an absolute mile. If he’s fit he HAS to play at centre back.

  • When I first saw Coquelin, I thought he was going to break through to the first team with little trouble, he looked like a new Lass Diarra to me, small, mobile, robust and the canny knack of turning away from trouble when he receives the ball. His progression hasn’t been quite as quick but I’m happy that he seems to be starting to make progression into the first team squad.

    In the double winning youth team, he was one of the stand out performers. When we beat Sunderland 4-0, he was arguably the best player on the pitch and we had Frimpong, Wilshere, Jet, Lansbury, Bartley, Eastmond all playing that day. I went to the game and as it wasn’t segregated crowd I was amongst some Mackems and they picked him out for praise time and again.

  • I’m sorry but the fact that Ozzy is exciting Wenger and his stuff is quite hilarious :D

  • future starting 11

    Shez
    Jenkinson-Bartley-Miguel-Gibbs
    Ryo-Wilshere-Ramsey-Alex O
    Afobe-Campbell

  • if red noise can make berbatov and carrick look decent cb wtf our club can make good cb look like amateur

  • what happened to eastmond?

  • All this talk about having Le Coq and Frimmers making us go back to 4-4-2.
    Have you guys forgotten the existence of Wilshere? Where would he factor in your plans? Or Song? Or Arteta?

  • I think Frimpong went down in some peoples opinion when he committed to Ghana. The young, English, Arsenal player thing makes anyone 50% better. That said, Frimpong is immense and will be an Arsenal DM for many years to come. If Coquelin is to get games this season, then it would be ideal to send Frimpong on loan. I know it was “only” Shrewsbury but Coquelin did look very impressive.
    What a talent AOC is, though. The second half especially, he was awesome and even started to showboat a little bit. For the first time in ages watching a game, I found myself laughing at some of the things he did. I think we are going to enjoy watching AOC.
    I slaughtered the Benyaoun signing but I have to say, he looked very together in his play. He is the type of player we needed, experienced, calm, can see a pass and hits the penalty box. I only disagreed with his signing because a last minute loan deal just sums up where our ambitions lie. We are the Arsenal ffs, we don’t do loan signings. I would have been happier if we actually signed him permanent.
    Ryo didn’t impress me, albeit he didn’t have long to get in the game. Although saying that, Ozzy looked good in an even shorter time. I haven’t yet seen what others do in Ryo. I watched a few of his games for Feyenoord and while he looked ok in a weaker Dutch league, he hasn’t wowed me. He is young, though and possibly will eventually be as good as some believe he is now, but not for a while.
    Anyone else notice how comfortable and confident Gibbs looked? I think he feels more at home playing with the younger players, like he might be a bit intimidated by the more experienced players. That is probably not the case but Kieran really impressed me last night, long may it continue.

  • Thankfully none of you Lordgunner, John and company is Wenger who trains with the boys everyday and knows each ones strength and weakness.

    For me I see Frimmy as the typical DM while Coquelin is a box to box tireless workaholic. Unlike Song who as a DM rather wants to play like Messi without the technicality and pace to go with it. Song will be the loser in the end as both players will overtake him.

  • I honestly do not see Ramsey in Arsenals future, the boy thiks he is better than he really is. If you look at his performances hr has been playing average while people are praising him.

    FUTURE LINEUP IN 4 YEARS

    Szceszny

    Signing Bartley Verm/Kosc Gibbs

    Coquelin
    Wilshere Alex

    Silva Miyaichi

    Campbell

  • Frimpong and coquelin are both DM and at arsenal there is only one spot up for grabs.

    In an Arsenal matchday squad your not going to have 3DM in there likewise with 4 FBs and 4CBs

    Coquelin is more versatile as well. For me he’s ahead of Frimpong

  • Vallecano vs Levante tonight: Botelho got sent off, but at least he’s getting a game.. Where is wellington?

  • Well at the moment Wenger rates Frimmy higher than Coq in the DM position.

    Hope you can swallow your dislike now, John.

  • Be very careful to hype young players. Wilshere is the only one ready to play at the top level competitions among all the youth.

    CAM: Ramsey,
    DMF: Frimpong, Coquelin
    AW: AOC

    CAM : Ramsey is not getting the link up role as clearly to see Wenger hadn’t put full trust on him yet. When? Nobody know. Set Up? Arteta was brought for this purpose but can he last for 90 mins as well as throughout the season….I doubt. Arteta engine room and visions are below Wilshere talents IMO. Rosicky falls under the same blanket to last for 90 mins and he became a liability between attack and defense….So my educated guess would probably see Wenger getting a creative attacker player LIKE Marvin Martin to add more competition, squad rotation & qualities here. Not forgetting Wilshere is the most likely candidate to task for in this role but I think we cannot allow to ran him too long otherwise injuries take its toll as seen lately. Conclusion: Diaby would be good to come back from injuries otherwise we shore of numbers, qualities and dynamic.

    DMF: Alex Song can fall into lapse of defensive errors due to the huge amounts of ground to cover and because of his technical ability and Wenger policy to attack he was trust to join in the attack. Frim and Coquelin cannot be at this moment to carry the responsibility as both their games are much to be improve.
    Conclsion: IMO Wenegr should get Fann M’Vila and allow Frim for loan out exposure and hence the youth can continue their football education with the senior squad members.

    AW: We are currently loaded with lots of ammunition but the youth end products are still to polish. Eden Hazard is another older head that Wenger can bid to bring competitions among the squad, rotation and qualities to our game.

    Final: If we are dead serious to even call us one of Europe best football team then we cannot compromise on team defensive work and overall qualities in the squad

    • I actually think we are good if we go back to the old 4-4-2. Creativity is not down to one player in that formation like we rely on in the other. Yes, Aaron Ramsey needs a full year back to get to his top level point blank. Arteta would be fine in the middle or out wide in a 4-4-2 as well. Even Wilshere as I just said, would be great out wide or at the center mid. Flat out tho, we are just not good enough to run the 4-3-3. It is the most balanced formation when ran right but you need that extra quality from midfielders when you only play one up top and I don’t see a 20 assist , 15 goal type of center mid in or team to make the difference so lets get Walcott in his natural position. AOC is one of those central midfield technique and brain but wide midfielder pace that Wenger loves to put out wide. It will at least bring some excitement back for me because all I see is predictability with this current set up.

    • We bought average players so now we have to deal with it. I mean, I would have had no problem with the Fabregas (even tho still a BS price) and Nasri sales if we would have spent a portion of that replacing quality with quality. Falcao and RVP up top would have been deadly.

  • Lets get back to the 4-4-2. Love it. Put Walcott up top with RVP and Gervinho and AOC down the wings. Wilshere would also be great off the wing as well. He is a player that can fit in anywhere.

  • The only player who could make the 4-4-2 work for us is Coquelin. Song and Frimpong are not quick or mobile enough to be the defensive mid in a midfield 2.

    • Yes they are. Song covers more ground then any player on our team and Frimpong is definitely mobile enough.

  • Yes right we don’t have a creative midfielder which can play the through pass between midfield to attack end. Right now Wenger stubborn attitude to stick with 4-3-3 can do the team more harm…Shane I agreed the players brought are not quality replacement and really hope Arsene get a marquee signing/s soon.

  • They’re really not Shane. To make a midfield two work in this day and age you need an absolutely fantastic athlete as your defensive mid. The last time we made a 4-4-2 work was the 07/08 season. When Cesc pushed forward Flamini was an unbelievable athlete so was able to cover the whole defence on his own, Coquelin is a similar type of player. Song/Frimpong are good powerful defensive mid players but they’re not quick. They would be completely overwhelmed and overrun when teams broke on us. You’re kidding yourself if you think either Song or Frimmy is quick enough to cover the whole defence on their own, which is what happens when you play 4-4-2, you can easily get exposed through the centre of the pitch if you don’t have the right players.

    Contrary to you I think when we’ve got our best players fit we can absolutely make the 4-3-3 work. I don’t think we really have the players to play 4-4-2. Unless we play Coquelin we don’t have a DM suited to the role and we don’t have outstanding wide players. Gervinho is a good winger but Arshavin’s not a winger, Walcott’s not a winger and Chamberlain is very good but still just a kid. The 4-4-2 is almost becoming obsolete anyway. Almost every good team now sets up with 3 in the middle of the park and a good midfield 3 would bypass your midfield two with ease.

    I do agree though that we need to change it up and sometimes (especially the home games against the “weaker” teams) we’d be better with two up top. I think a 4-3-1-2 or a diamond 4 would be more suited to our players. It’d certainly get the best out of Arshavin who’s without doubt at his best playing centrally behind the striker/s. Emphasis would have to be on Sagna and Gibbs/Santos to provide the width.

    ————Szczesny
    Sagna–Koscielny—TV–Gibbs/Santos
    ————–Song
    ——-Wilshere—Arteta
    ————Arshavin
    ———-RvP—-Theo/Park

  • Do remember a guy called Gilberto Silva? I don’t think you understand the old Arsenal 4-4-2. Anyways, I have stated my piece so nothing else really to say. cheers mate

  • Wow you’re terrible at debates. If anyone wants to have some proper football discussion feel free to comment/contribute.

  • Gilberto Silva didn’t have as much ground to cover as Song or Frimpong would. He wasn’t expected to attack at all whereas Song is told to go forward and defend. This is why Gilberto could play in the 4-4-2. He was told to sit back most of the time and he did. If Song or Frimpong could just sit back and not be expected to attack, then it could work. But Song just doesn’t seem willing to do that. Frimpong might do it though. When Gilberto was paired with Vieira, Patrick was the one who attacked more, while when we had Petit, Emmanuel was the one who attacked more while Vieira sat back. When Cesc came, Flamini was the one who was expected to sit back more while Fabregas was the attacker. If Wenger stuck to this formula then Wilshere would probably be paired with Song or Frimpong or possibly Coquelin. It will only work though if someone is willing to sacrifice themselves and sit back deeper to defend. If you don’t have the pace, like Gilberto, Song and Frimpong, then you have to be willing to sit back and defend. I don’t know who is right or wrong but it’s pretty simple. You have to have enough contrast in there so that the two midfield players can make up for each other’s shortcomings. I think it can work though. The 4-4-2 that is. If Man United can make it work with Anderson and Cleverly, then surely to God we can make it work with Song and Wilshere or Frimpong and Wilshere or Coquelin and Wilshere!!! That’s how I see it anyways…

  • Also the last time that 4-4-2 really worked for us with Gilberto-Vieira was the 04/05 season. That was 7 years ago. Times have changed, whereas 4-4-2 was the most common formation then, now almost everyone plays with 3 in the midfield in an attempt to boss the centre of the park. Also Gilberto wasn’t quick but he did have an outstanding box to box athlete in Vieira next to him.

    United are making the 4-4-2 work for them this season. But really just by virtue of having a fantastically potent attack. They’re just saying we’ll score more than you and it’s working. I’m sure I read a stat saying De Gea has had to make more saves already than any United keeper for a long time in the first few games of a season.

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