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Scouting Report: Arsenal | Stats & In Depth Tactical Analysis

As the 2012/13 Premier League season draws to a close Martin Lewis looks at Arsenal this week in his Scouting Report. Not only will Arsenal supporters find this interesting but Newcastle and maybe even Spurs supporters will want to know more about their rivals for that fourth place spot.

[box_light]N.B. Please note that the writing style in this scouting report is written specifically as a scouting report. It is not written as an article as we would normally publish.[/box_light]

Initial information:Screen shot 2013-05-15 at 16.35.26

  • Arsenal are currently on a terrific run of results with motivation and confidence high to finish in the top four to be in the champions league next season.
  • They know that winning this game is essential to guarantee that they finish in the top four, but will need Chelsea to fail to beat Everton to have a chance of finishing third.
  • They will look to play with the initiative and are extremely dangerous on the counter attack this season, as James Amey points out in his article here that 10.6% of their goals this season [third highest in the league] have come from counter attacks.

Screen shot 2013-05-15 at 16.22.33

Injury news:

Screen shot 2013-05-15 at 16.20.12

Offensive Organisation:Screen shot 2013-05-15 at 16.25.22 1

  • Team set up in a 4x2x3x1, good mixture of short combinations and direct play in their build up and often look to overload the space between lines in 3rd phase.
  • In first phase from the goalkeeper they will look to go long and direct, with either vertical balls to the striker or diagonals to the fullbacks, usually poor at regaining the second ball if first ball isn’t won.
  • In second and third phase both fullbacks are high and wide to create big and open pitch, 1st ball short from centre backs – medium with – to the central midfielders (if possible) then horizontal circulation between the central midfielders, fullbacks and centre backs.
  • They will look for vertical passes from either of the central midfielders [Arteta/Ramsey] or through the full backs [usually Sagna] with vertical balls up the channel or short 1-2 combinations.
  • Cazorla and Rosicky will drop deep to help vertical passes if needed.
  • Look to overload in the middle in 4th phase & try to penetrate aggressively – with quick 1-2 combinations.
  • One fullback (Usually Gibbs) will be high to give width and allow Cazorla to go inside, where the other will be deeper (Walcott stays wide on the right until late overlap, then inside movements to inside right or to act as second striker).
  • This allows the Podolski, Ramsey, Rosicky and Cazorla to dominate the opposition (numerically)around the edge of the box.

Team Dynamics:

2013-05-16 17.05.39


Defensive Organisation:Screen shot 2013-05-15 at 16.25.06

  •  Defending in a 4x4x2 high-medium block, with initiative to press from the front in first phase short build up from the opposition.
  • They will also continue their pressing to the goalkeeper.
  • After their initial high pressure, they will drop to a medium block with a deep defensive line.
  • Here they leave lateral space either side of Arteta [acting as a 6], but good aggression from the defenders if an opposition player receives the ball in these areas with back to goal.
  • Important to use mobility to appear and reactive in front of them, then quick and short combinations to exploit space behind them [especially behind Mertesacker].
  • As them move into a low block, their formation changes to a tight 4x4x2, with Rosicky moving to the left and Cazorla staying up front.
  • Also possibility to expose Mertesacker’s lack of mobility in various ways, by: long diagonals over the top of him in short build up from the goalkeeper, drawing Sagna in between lines then using either a flick on or lay off then play into the space [left behind Sagna] for the striker to exploit, and in the box he is often very deep which allows crossing movements from both offensive players in the box to create space for each other.

Exploiting Mertesacker’s lack of mobility: 

Long balls into the space behind him

2013-05-14 00.25.49

Drawing Sagna in between lines then exploiting space left behind him.

2013-05-14 00.27.20

Moving inside from wide areas after overlap to create 1v1 [doesn’t have mobility to press space in front of him].

2013-05-14 00.29.43

Quick transitions after their kick off combination. Draw Gibbs and Koscielny then exploit the poor alignment.

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Pushing Mertesacker too deep to allow switching of positions in the box.

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Offensive Transitions:Screen shot 2013-05-15 at 16.25.24

  • Look to make quick and aggressive transitions, with direct behaviours.
  • Exploit depth quickly (usually second ball) with Walcott’s high mobility & Ramsey breaking lines from deep [either into inside right or to the right].
  • Difficult to match Walcott’s mobility, therefore it is important to keep balanced and well organised in transitions & to play a little deeper if needed.

Screen shot 2013-05-15 at 16.22.35


Defensive Transitions:

Screen shot 2013-05-15 at 16.25.17

  • Can get caught unbalanced (with both fullbacks high) in quick defensive transitions.
  • Good pressure and aggression on first ball from Arteta (centre backs ready to drop quickly – poor alignment) & good recovery speeds from fullbacks.
  • Poor tracking from both wide players.
  • Use a defensive mechanism to allow Cazorla to play as a number 10 in defensive transitions,  by allowing him to stay high + between lines (ready to receive and penetrate in quick transitions) by Rosicky moving back to the left midfield position.

Initial strong reaction around the area of the ball.

2013-05-13 23.21.48

Then drop off [4x5x1], poor defensive transitions from Cazorla. Defenders aggressive 1v1 with back to play.

2013-05-13 23.24.41

Change of formation to a 4x4x2 with Rosicky moving out to the left to cover Cazorla.

2013-05-13 23.27.19

Set Plays

Corners – Offensive

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Corners – Defensive

2013-05-14 01.43.55

Frontal free kicks:


2013-05-16 16.11.09



2013-05-15 15.07.34


Free kicks from the side:


2013-05-16 16.05.16



2013-05-15 15.49.24

Pattern and combination play

Long build up in 1st phase:

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1st & 2nd phase patterns [1]:

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1st & 2nd phase patterns [2]:

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3rd phase movements and shape [more quick combinations and overloads in the middle than patterns]:

2013-05-14 00.23.28

Box entry in 4th phase [1]:

2013-05-15 16.09.36


Box entry in 4th phase [2]:

2013-05-15 16.10.41

Other observations:

Substitutions implicate more directness in their play. Gervinho is very mobile and direct & can exploit depth when playing as a striker [especially in transition. Wilshere is more dynamic that Rosicky, but makes the same movements defensively [covering left hand side] & rotates his position with Ramsey more [breaking lines from deep]. Oxlade-Chamberlain always adds energy, intensity and is more direct on the ball than Ramsey [Always looking for penetration].

Kick Off Combination

2013-05-14 00.38.02


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All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.[/box_light]

You don't learn the piano by running around it! Follow me on twitter: @martinlewis94 You can also subscribe to my blog for non premier league reports:
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