Arsenal vs Stoke City: A tactical, positional and psychological analysis
Written by Hunter on October 25, 2011 12:30
As much as I would like to focus yet again on captain fantastic, today we will look elsewhere. There was one player yesterday who showed all of the qualities necessary to be a top Arsenal player for years to come and that player was Gervinho.
What a display from the Ivorian. Scoring a goal and making both for van Persie, he looked ready to make a point to his doubters. On today’s evidence, unless Walcott can keep Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out of the squad then his position is under serious threat.
As it looks now, Gervinho has one wing position locked up so that only leaves one position for Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arshavin to challenge for(although I think Arshavin is wasted on the wing but that’s for another time to discuss).
The positions Gervinho took up today were excellent. He popped up in various places on each wing as well as through the middle. He also worked beyond the striker which is something I have been wishing someone would do for the last couple of seasons.
When you play with a single striker it is imperative that the midfield players get beyond him to provide support and offer a goal threat. If they do not then you see lots of passing outside the 18 yard box but not much more.
Over the last season or two, Arsenal have been guilty of an inability to penetrate the opposition defense when they sit deep. This is primarily because playing with a single striker requires varied and quick movement from outside in as well as movement from the attacking midfield players into the 18 yard box. Gervinho has now given Arsenal another option with his direct running and willingness to take a gamble by getting inside into more dangerous positions.
Let’s have a look at the position he takes up on his goal in the 27th minute.
Here we can see how his run across the defense and beyond the striker causes havoc for the defense. The central players leave him for the next player to track and without communication this does not work. He is therefore free and clear on goal after an excellent chip from Ramsey.
1 vs 1
Another area Gervinho excels is in the 1v1 battle. Aside from Walcott and a few flashes from Arshavin, Arsenal have not had a player capable of taking opposition defenders 1 v 1 and creating mismatches. That is, until now.
Gervinho displayed this ability many times against Stoke causing defenders to pull off their men and in turn opening space for others. On both goals he set up for van Persie he drew an extra defender after getting past the first and getting to the byline.
Then, a simple pull back left van Persie in acres of space to dispatch the finishing touch and provide the goal.
Another excellent display of ability and exactly what this team has been crying out for the last few seasons.
I really look forward to seeing Gervinho maintain this level of form for the entirety of the season. If the club can keep van Persie and add just a few more quality players in attack, I believe there are the makings of a championship side.
Only time will tell.
As always, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments.
Until next time fellow Gooners!