A Tactical Analysis of the Norwich Game – What Went Wrong and How To Fix It

I am generally not known for blogging about tactics. I suspect many think I am just a joker, and that my blogs are full of gags and gimmicks – a disposable, cheap thrill.

I will not apologize for attempting to cheer the downtrodden masses. I will not, Sir.

But following today’s 0-1 defeat to Norwich City, there were certain things that just stuck out for me, tactically speaking. So, I am putting the jokes away today to complete a tactical analysis of the Norwich match – what went wrong and how to fix it.

A Tactical Mistake

Arsenal lined up in their conventional 4-2-3-1 today with Giroud getting the start after his recent confidence boosting performances.

It seems to me that upon mature reflection, the mistake the team made today was that they played like shit.

There were a few minor positives today. The main positive was that they pretty much all played like shit so no one needs to be scape-goated.

Our keeper was shit. Our defense was shit. Our midfield was shit. And our attack was shit. Now, we all have our favourite players who we like to shield from abuse. I do too. For example, I might say that Arteta was decent. But really, they were all shit.

I have always thought Mannone was a train-wreck waiting for the right match to happen. I’m not even sure today was his train-wreck game. I think he might be saving it as a future surprise for us.  But for today’s goal, the first half of his save on that tricky knuckle-ball, dipping shot was OK. But the second half of the save, the parry, was shit.

And that look he always has on his face. I couldn’t place it before but then it came to me. He looks like a dude, trapped in the basement cellar under that house from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974),  awaiting his turn to be slaughtered while he listens to the screams of the unimaginable horror unfolding above. That look can’t have escaped the notice of his team-mates.

In fact, I hear Vito Mannone is bringing out a fragrance for Christmas. It is to be called “Terror” by Dior.

But fear not. All four of the top contenders went a goal down today: City, United, Chelsea and Arsenal. And all came back to win. Except Arsenal. In fact, we didn’t even score. Or look like scoring. We never really troubled their keeper.

The center backs and midfielders let that Norwich fellow get off his shot from just outside the box, unchallenged. That was pretty shit.

Our substitutions didn’t change anything. They were shit. The Ox was on for about 1 minute and got injured. That was shit.

Our half-time hair-dryer treatment must have been shit. It can’t have been more than a curling tongs.

Our tactical flexibility was shit, in that we didn’t show any flexibility.

The frantic onslaught on the Norwich goalmouth for the last 15 minutes was shit, in that there wasn’t one. And all our corners were shit.

I Don’t Understand What This Diagram Is Saying. (Probably, it is explaining why we were shit.)

What The Papers Said

I was concerned that I might have missed some subtle, tactical nuance, so I checked what some of the proper football journalists had written about the game:

Michael Cox of Zonal Marking: ” Norwich made a quick, aggressive start and Arsenal were shit.”

And then there was the Guardian. I didn’t read the article, but the Guardian headline for the match read: “Norwich triumph at last as Arsenal play shit.”

L’Equipe even ran a report on a paparazzo who tracked down Arsene Wenger’s mother at a shopping center and asked her if she was disappointed in her son and his team today. Mme Wenger replied: “I do not have a son. I have two daughters. But I no longer have a son.”

Avoiding the Twitter Meltdown

Look, I would like to sugar-coat today for us all. But, have you ever tried to sugar-coat a turd.

After the match,  the smart ones among us got the fuck off twitter as soon as the match was over. Only the brave and the foolish remained.

Fleeing The Twitter Meltdown

The Moment Of Truth

Before the match Arsene had stated that this would be a moment of truth for Arsenal. Gulp.

Arsene had also said that the International break would not be used as an excuse.

After the match, I put on a movie: “The Descendants starring George Clooney.” Shortly after the movie starts, George stands over the bed of his wife, having just been told that not only was his wife in a brain-dead coma but also that she had been having an affair behind his back. “You lucky bastard.” I said to myself. “You got off light, pal.”

This sentiment only became stronger as the movie went on. George at least finds out who his wife was having an affair with and why. We, on the other hand will never get a good answer for why we were so shit. There will be no closure for us.

And for those of you who would say, “But Clooney loses his wife, you insensitive bastard.” Well, a number of years ago I too  lost a wife. For 10 minutes in a Tescos. I was worried sick. And yes, it was upsetting, but you just have to accept that loss, move on and meet new people. Sadly, I was only 5 minutes into meeting new ladies when my wife found me again.

How To Fix It

Going forward, I would strongly recommend that the team should switch strategies and plan to be a lot less shit.