Play Podolski Centrally And 4 Other Things Arsenal Must Do To Beat Schalke
Exploit Schalke’s Vulnerability On The Counter
Huub Stevens’ Schalke side play with real energy and press high up the pitch, but this means the space they leave in front of their back four, particularly down the flanks, can be exploited. Against Hoffenheim this weekend, Schalke lost the ball carelessly in the opposition half on numerous occasions when they had pushed men forward, which, along with some profligate finishing, is the main reason they ended up losing the game. If Walcott misses the game through illness it’ll be a huge loss as this is the situation he’d be most effective in, but Gervinho should get the nod, and maybe Oxlade-Chamberlain could be used as more than a good option to come off the bench. Schalke’s full backs, particularly Christian Fuchs, are dangerous going forward but can be shaky when forced to defend.
Double Up On Farfan
The Peruvian forward has been in great form this season and is a massive threat coming in off the right hand side. Obviously his pace makes him a danger on the break, but he’s powerful and skilful, and is just as capable of making an impact when a team sits deep. After seeing him get roasted by Antonio Valencia on Saturday, Wenger would be a madman to persist with Andre Santos. However, whoever does get the nod at left-back is still going to need constantly help from the midfielder in front on him whenever Schalke get the ball, something Podolski failed to do against Manchester United. Huntelaar’s predatory instincts are obviously a potent threat, but keeping Farfan quiet is the key to Arsenal getting a good result here, and Arsenal’s left hand side is likely to be the one area Schalke will look to exploit.
Admit Defeat In The Possession Department
Arsenal lack solidity away from home and are often guilty of trying to play a far too open game, particularly against the bigger teams. They don’t have a natural defensive midfielder and their defence is still shaky, so they must keep their shape and not allow Schalke to draw them out of position. The home side may well dominate the ball as, to put in bluntly, they’re in better shape at the moment, but the result is all that matters and the Gunners may have to grind this one out as they did in Montpellier earlier in the group stage. They have players who can hurt Die Konigsblauen, and as long as they avoid defeat in Gelsenkirchen they would still be in a good position to top the group.
Play Podolski Through The Middle
I’m not a big fan of Podolski, to be perfectly honest, but this type of game is perfect for him. The reason he performed better for Koln than he did for Bayern Munich is because he was afforded more space to attack; at Bayern teams would defend deep and look to contain, and Podolski isn’t particularly quick or skilful so he’d often struggle. But he can be extremely effective when he’s afforded a bit more time and freedom, and this is something he should get as the onus will be on Schalke with them being at home. Giroud has not quite found his feet for the Gunners, so playing the German through the middle for this game makes sense, especially as he knows Schalke well.
Get Wilshere On The Ball
Roman Neustadter, who usually sits in front of the Schalke back four, will have his hands full watching Santi Cazorla, who is obviously Arsenal’s main threat from midfield. This means that Jack Wilshere should be able to capitalise on the extra attention to the Spaniard and influence the game in a more positive fashion than he did against Manchester United. Expectations should obviously be tempered as he has only returned from a length layoff so soon, but with Ramsey out for this game the onus will be on Wilshere to create from midfield. Mikel Arteta has been surprisingly effective at performing the more defensive duties this season, so this is the perfect opportunity for the Englishman to show the world what they’ve been missing for the past year.
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