He may not have done any actual managerial work since retiring from playing football, but the former Arsenal and Scotland international striker Charlie Nicholas does work as a TV pundit and football journalist so he should have a good grasp of tactics and knowledge of the clubs he talks about in the Premier League.
So I must admit to a large amount of surprise when I read his tactical preview of the Arsenal v Chelsea clash on Sunday, reported by Sky Sports. In the report Nicholas suggests that the Arsenal boss is in danger of suffering the same fate as Louis van Gaal did with Man United at the weekend, where the visitors dominated every stat, including over 70 percent possession, but lost the game to a breakaway goal from Eden Hazard. So Nicholas reckons that the only way for Arsenal to approach the game is to match the Chelsea tactics and be more defensively minded by playing two holding midfielders.
The Scot said, “Arsenal should play with two holding midfielders, because that’s exactly what Chelsea will do.
“They’ll come to the Emirates and they’ll stick Nemanja Matic in there and they might stick John Obi Mikel or Kurt Zouma in there too, and Arsenal need to counter that.
“That might mean playing Aaron Ramsey slightly out of position, slightly right of Francis Coquelin, who has been very impressive lately, and I’d just ask him to sit in there when Arsenal don’t have the ball.
“Wenger might have to consider sacrificing Santi Cazorla for that to work, but I’d just like two midfielders to sit and try and control the middle, where Cesc Fabregas will be, and Eden Hazard – the ultimate danger – will be floating about too.”
I see what he is saying about protecting against the counter attack but if we do adopt negative tactics, surely it will make for one of the most boring games of football you can imagine. Dropping one of our best and most creative players in Cazorla will hardly help us to break down a stubborn and defensive Mourinho team will it?
And although we will want Ramsey to help Coquelin out defensively when we have not got the ball, surely we also want his brilliant attacking instincts and goal threat. After all, a draw is not much use to Arsenal so we really need to go for the win. Am I wrong or has Charlie got this one badly wrong?