Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Return of the Libero?

"But looking further ahead, there is also another player who has space, and that is one of the centre-backs. A single central striker is marked by one central defender, leaving the other one as a spare man. Of course that is useful defensively, but there is no reason why the extra player should only be useful defensively... Why shouldn't that extra defender stride forward into midfield as the likes of Franz Beckenbauer and Ruud Krol once did?"

- Jonathan Wilson, on the evolution of tactics

Is Vermaelen our new libero?

I got this from gunnerblog. It's such an interesting idea that I decided to steal it. I don't think they'll miss it much. Anyway, the idea is that the evolution of tactics has to do with finding and exploiting space. At the moment, most teams play some form of 4-5-1. Which means that the spare man in the team is often the second central defender. At Arsenal, that spare man is Thomas Vermaelen. And what is a young man with time on his hands going to do?

If he's Vermalen, he's going to roam up the pitch, a la Beckenbauer, Krol and the liberos of old. He's been doing well in the role this year. He's comfortable on the ball, has an eye for goal, and is defensively hard. We could do with someone like that in midfield.

So what's the implications of Vermaelen as a libero? I suppose it means Clichy and Sagna have to be more defensively minded. It'll be crazy if we turned into a 1-3-3-3, with only Gallas staying back as a defender. It means Song and Denilson have more help in midfield. Song can drop back to centre-back to cover Vermaelen. He's had practise with it, what what Kolo Toure's rampaging runs and Gallas' attacking proclivities.

So far, we've been good going forwards. Vermaelen's top scorer, and that's got to be due in part to his relaxed defensive duties. But we're poor at the back. That's down to a combination of an inexperienced goalkeeper, really complacent defending from the full-backs, and inadequate protection from the midfield. But there's the start of something special here. Vermaelen striding forward to bolster the midfield has possibilities that should be investigated.

Arsenal under Wenger has always been about crazy attacking football. So why now the return of the libero?


Vertino said...

Interesting concept, Vermaelen an auxillary striker.

I defintely agree about Clichy and Sagna being more defensive. They've also scored 2 goals between them which is not good enough. As far as I'm concerned they should be defending 80% of the time and be in defensive position.

Connolly's agent said...

The blackburn game was crazy at times.