Gunners in the Lock-up


I was so tired finishing my post Sunday night that I forgot to talk about the magnificent game between league-leading Arsenal and Roberto Martinez’s new look Everton.  Fortunately, lots of others have chimed in since then, making my job a lot easier.

Michael Cox remains the gold standard in tactical analysis, and he happily turned in a full analysis of the game on his Zonal Marking site.  His entire post is well worth reading, but my favorite points were:

  • His explanation of Arsenal’s lack of pressing as a tactical decision based on their packed schedule, this being the middle fixture of three games in seven days.
  • The insight that Ramsey’s league-leading number of tackles is probably a negative side effect of his positive attacking runs rather than a pure measure of his defensive skill.  As he notes, “A side’s strength can also be their weakness.”
  • Wenger’s triple substitution meant that he couldn’t bring on Nacho Monreal late to shore up the left flank (where Deulofeu scored Everton’s equalizer), a frequent late substitution for Arsenal this season.

Tyrell Meertins also contributed a detailed analysis of the game for Soccer Without Limits, and I’d particularly recommend his post if you’re interested in a breakdown of the universally-praised Ross Barkley or of Tim Howard’s performance in goal.

Given how much praise Barkley has received–deservedly, it must be said–it was nice to see an article in praise of James McCarthy at  Gareth Barry also comes in for a bit of by-the-by praise, and I have to confess that he has seemed to me Everton’s most important player in the games I have watched this season.

My own bit is just a small footnote on the game.  While the substitutions of both Wenger and Martinez clearly impacted the game, producing the two goals in the final 10′, the Deulofeu sub arguably contributed to the Arsenal goal as well as to Everton’s.  Arsenal’s goal came off a cross from Rosicky down Deulofeu’s flank, and the newly introduced sub was clearly late in tracking back.  Given his introduction only moments before, it’s hard to fault the player too much for this lapse, but Martinez himself must have breathed a sigh of relief when the young Spaniard scored a single-handed equalizer to erase the error of his manager’s poorly-timed substitution.

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