Balance

– Now that the buzz from the Champions League victory has died down, it’s time to observe a couple of things to be aware of when it comes to Arsenal.

– While it was a magnificent display offensively, there were a few things to take note of when it came to our defensive organization. When we were up 2-0, Alex Song would frequently win the ball and dribble it into the opposition’s half. He misplaced a couple of passes, but those mistakes led to breaks for Porto. Were Hulk not rusty and if Porto were a better side, something could have came from those attacks.

– That’s the thing with this Arsenal side. It’s attack, attack, attack. I was standing next to a Barcelona fan that I chat with, and I asked him, would Barcelona do this? When we were up 2-0, Rosicky would look to get the ball, quickly turn towards the opposition’s goal, and dribble mercilessly towards it. I love the sight of Rosicky dribbling forward, but we showed no signs of slowing down and creating a sense of calm over the game. That’s something both to admire and be concerned about with Arsenal. With the game at 2-0, we needed to take the sting out of Porto and ease our tempo to a pace where we can simply out-pass and out-possess, especially in Europe. Today, against Hull, such a relentless attack will be most welcome, both for our goal difference and adding to Hull’s goal differential.

– When Alex Song makes those runs forward, pay attention to what Abou Diaby (or the second central player who is not the main offensive cog) does. Does he look to protect us from a possible counter attack? Does he join in the attack? That balance needs to be maintained. Wenger has tightened things up a bit by using the other two central midfielders in a more protective sense. Not necessarily like the axis that Liverpool had with Xabi Alonso and Mascherano, but it’s somewhere near there. Diaby plays a deeper position than he used to for us.

– Sometimes our balance is affected by the fact that our best headers of the ball are our center backs, even Alex Song has a good spring. So, when we have a corner, we have both Vermaelen and Sol/Gallas forward. When that’s the case, we need both our full backs, neither whom are very effective at scoring from corners, to play back and play the numbers game. Alex Song or Denilson should also patrol the middle of the park to prevent these counters.

– Once we get this part of our game right, we’ll be an incredibly strong team. For Europe, this tactical shrewdness needs to be maintained. Against Hull though, I’d like to see an all out attack and see Hull bleed all over the pitch.

– That being said, it will not be easy. We cannot afford to halt our momentum. Arsenal thrives on momentum, and no doubt Sam Allardyce’s disciple Phil Brown will want to derail that. We must make them suffer tomorrow. More improvisation from Nasri will be most welcome.

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