Where has Arsenal’s urgency gone?

On a night where there were Desmond 2-2’s aplenty, Arsenal came away with a credible draw away at Schalke which showed previous defensive deficiencies, as well as a lack of something which has usually been apparent in Wenger’s teams: urgency.

The point earned in Schalke to leave the Gunners a point behind their German rivals was due partly to the outstanding work by Vito Manonne in the Arsenal goal, as well as a 2 goal lead they were able to establish in the first half – something they really should have hung on to.

The style of play we have seen from Arsenal over the last 5/6 games seemed to suit this European fixture away from home, happy to see little of the ball before hitting the team on the counter attack, and when Theo Walcott is in the side (albeit on the wing rather than his – and perhaps the fans eagerness to see him through the middle) it is certainly not a bad tactic either. However, what if those goals don’t come? We saw this against Manchester United, Schalke, and even Norwich – if the other team scores first, do this Arsenal team have a back-up tactic?

Arsenal have been famous for their defensive inaptitude over the last few seasons, something they seem to have (almost) sorted out looking at the ‘goals conceded’ column in the league. The Gunners have also been famous for their ability to create chances (and often spurning them) throughout the game, whoever they were playing. This was also with tandem with a high line, a pressing style, aiming to get the ball back as soon as possible – Barcelona ‘lite’ if you will.

Arsene himself would probably admit that the system he has used since the club’s last trophy, has been used with an eye on aspiring to be something like Barcelona, this is obvious due to the type of players Wenger buys, as well as the short, patient, passing play; but also what I believe makes Barcelona really special – the team pressing used to force mistakes from the opposition and regain possession.

Recent games have seen this style of defending/attacking missing from the Arsenal side, who have almost looked lackadaisical in their approach at times; a lazy attitude combined with a lack of urgency, grouped with uncharacteristic sloppy passing have made the North London side much less enjoyable to watch.

Is this due to Steve Bould? It’s difficult to say, and unfair to blame a change of style on a man who was brought in to solve defensive problems – something on the whole he has done well. More likely, is this due to Wenger sensing his team would never solve defensive problems – and therefore win trophies/be successful (is top four really a trophy Arsene?) – with the style of play he was using before?

This new style worked well last night, but it is games such as this weekend against Fulham when it will be interesting to see just how many chances Arsenal create – and just how much urgency the team shows in trying to get the ball back.

P.S. Kudos to Tranquilo Barnetta, for this great movember attempt – it’s only the 7th!