Arsene and Jose had an interesting chat on Saturday in their CL pundit work or BEIN sport, where they, mostly Arsene, talked about a team’s identity, it was about Liverpool and Spurs, but it touched on the wider issue. Both went for a Liverpool win, cos Liverpool has a team identity, “you know what you will get from Liverpool”, both tactically and formation wise was the consensus from both of them. Liverpool have their preferred formation and tactics, yes there are slight tweeks in games, but by and large Klopp sends them out with little tactical or formation change. While spurs change both.
Arsene and Jose implied that teams that change tactics and formations constantly only confuse the players, and also play with a small mindedness, they are signally their fear of the opponent, instead of trying to impose their game plan on them, be that game plan attacking or defensive and playing on the break. Both Jose and Arsene said a team should have a vision of how it wants to play, its formation and its tactics, without this it has no identity, and players are confused.
Many saw this conversation as Wenger having a pop at Emery for his constant changing of formation and tactics, and so have dismissed it as just sour grapes, but Jose was in full agreement. I would say that what these guys said was very similar to what Martin Keown said earlier in the season when talking about Arsenal’s defensive problems, namely when you keep changing from a 4 to a 3 to a 5, at the back, the defenders can’t get settled in a formation, too much alterations from game to game, or even half to half or every 20 minutes, only confuses your team, not the opposition. The old saying of the less a player has to think about the easier his job is.
I thought early season Emery was a man of his convictions, he was set on playing out from the back no matter what, but despite the 22 game unbeaten run, he jumped ship, of course he had to change it so often at half time that he had to do something, but how can you go from a thing being a main tactic to it barely being used at all. We went from playing it out from the back to cut back FC.