Will Arsène Take His Cue From Germany?
The transfer window has been officially open for one month and eleven days with little but speculation to show. There have been some transfers but nothing yet which has whetted the appetite for the new season, itself a little over a month away. Like a ferris wheel whose motor has just been started, the gossip is slowly cranking up about to reach a speed when it will be whirring and humming in the background.
A minor international tournament has made that the case. Tonight it reaches its climax with the new name of España or Netherlands gracing the roll of honour on the trophy’s base. The Spanish can become World as well as European champions. A minor record will be set if they win, Spain would be the first nation to win the World Cup having lost its opening match.
For the Dutch, the opportunity to live up to the weight of expectation, to put behind them the defeats in 1974 and 1978, a time when they should have ruled the world and would have been gleefully and perhaps greedily accepted as worthy champions. Pragmatism has encroached on the model of Total Football, the missing ingredient from their two previous finals. They can also match Brazil in 1970, winning all of their qualifying matches as well as those in the finals itself.
Three of the last four Final’s has seen an Arsenal player start – Gilberto would have made it four had he joined a month earlier – with Robin van Persie the more likely of the two to be on the pitch at kick-off. Cesc’s World Cup has been less successful personally and any playing time this evening could be considered a bonus. Like many of the superstars of the era, neither has enhanced their reputations; no damage inflicted either. Like the tournament as a whole, they have been rather ordinary.
Rarely does a final live up to its billing. Both sides have major plusses in their midfield and attack; their respective weaknesses are defensive. Neither goalkeeper has covered themselves in glory, spasmodic moments of brilliance have been overshadowed by their nervous opposites, much the same as every other goalkeeper this time around. van Persie has the speed to cause problems for the Spanish central pairing whilst Villa has been a rare striking success at this tournament.
Of the nations who participated in the 2010 World Cup, the one which provided the biggest surprise was Germany. They swept aside Australia, England and Argentina with a glorious mix of style and efficiency, as well as beating a good Ghanaian side. They succumbed to Spain but given that they were dismissed before the tournament began, the achievement of third place should not be underestimated. They are a work-in-progress, Spain are already the finished article.
Last night’s win over Uruguay was probably the most entertaining game of the tournament with both sides loosening the shackles. Arguments can be made either way as to whether or not there is any point in this fixture but it does prove occasionally to be a bright spot, a moment of lighter relief with goalmouth entertainment along the way.
Arsène has been effusive in his praise and provided an insight into the impact that the Germans have had on him:
The Germans were the only ones to give you the impression they could score at any time. They have rehabilitated the dribble. It is a major lesson of this World Cup.
It was a strange position for most of us to be in. Germany has not had an entertaining side for a while. The mix of youth and experience is one that Arsène has sought to develop at Arsenal. The playing style of the Nationalmannschaft is a refinement of the 4-3-3 formation used at Arsenal, more suited to the Premier League than the tiki-taka Spanish play.
Transfer activity is defined as much by necessity as amending the team’s style for the coming campaign. There will be changes to style to avoid predictability, the roles of the players will evolve. Subtleties is this area can be as effective as massive changes.
I suspect Wenger will try to incorporate the defensive discipline of the Germans; the movement on the counter-attack is already utilised. Were Chamakh to play centrally, then perhaps the formation might reflect the Germans more fully. It is not that the Germans were tactically innovative; they were far from it. They were efficient in their application.
The biggest impact upon Arsenal will be in the players minds. They need to learn the defensive discipline, tracking back is not enough, numbers mean nothing if a tackle or interception is not made. At times last season, the defensive work was shoddy, players unable to pick out whom they were supposed to mark. Goals were conceded with a large number of Arsenal players in the penalty area.
Every team makes defensive mistakes. The optimum position is to minimise them, to stop repeating the same mistake time after time. Arsène likes his players to be intelligent on the pitch; this season is the chance to prove it.
Posted on July 11, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip, World Cup 2010 and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, World Cup 2010. Bookmark the permalink. 346 Comments.