Is Wenger a Big Game Bottler?

Is Wenger a Big Game Bottler?


So why the change of tactics in big game.

We have been playing 4-4-2 all season and have been playing well, Scoring loads of goals and top of the league, So why did we play 4-5-1 away to liverpool? We only really looked like scoring onces Theo and Bendtner came on and we went to our values of playing 4-4-2.
The first time Wenger did this was the FA cup final vs Man Utd and played Bergkamp as a lone striker in a 4-5-1,Even thou we won the game on pens for 120mins Man Utd battered us and we never had a single shot on target.

Yes I can understand the thinking behind this away from home, But Wenger even did this at home last season to chelsea which makes me think he would rather draw the big games then risk having a go and losing.

My point is this.
Playing 4-5-1 it makes us more solid in midfield yes but you take away the attacking flair. At times the lone striker has no support and we create nothing.

I would rather us stick to a 4-4-2 and having a good go at the big teams rather then pay them too much respect.

Let them worry about us, Why wait to we go 1-0 down and then change back to 4-4-2?

42 Responses to Is Wenger a Big Game Bottler?

  1. PHW says:

    I think you should apply for the job.

  2. shedzy says:

    Totally agree

    I was gutted when I saw the lineup for yesterday

    I think that Eboue has been poor in Midfield, but yesterday Rosicky was almost completely absent – very disapointing.

    Given that Theo had done so well midweek, I wanted to see him up front yesterday with Ade, and Rosicky on the wing instead of Eboue, but it was not to be.

    One hting I do know though – Arsene knows far better than me!

  3. Larry says:

    Can’t agree with this at all.

    The big teams know our strengths and weaknesses as well as we do. They play to counteract our attacking game.
    Remember losing 4-2 at home to Man U or losing 2-0 at home to Chelsea? Both games we played 4-4-2. No -one complained about the 4-5-1 when we beat Real Madrid away either.

    Arsene knows what he is doing. We don’t have a God given right to steam-roller any team we play. That IS arrogance, something we have suffered from in the past.

    Good to raise the question, though. I think he expected Liverpool to come at us a bit more than they did.

  4. Radgoon says:

    Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. Against Bolton at home we were average until Wenger through Hleb into a free role for the second half and we destroyed them. We had the best record against all the top 4 teams last season so the answer would have to be NO, Wenger is not a big game bottler. Yesterday we completely outplayed Liverpool at Anfield, hitting the post twice, missing two open goals, having a great penalty shout and missing a one on one whilst Liverpool were restricted to a couple of half chance.

    Also, who exactly deserves to play up front? Theo is still to raw and lightweight, Eduardo is injured and hasnt convinced and Bentdner is too similar to Adebayor so Hleb in a free role is the best option at the moment.

    Seriously dude, bad article.

  5. G10 says:

    The run to the CL final wasn’t that long ago.

    It’s the only European Cup final we’ve ever reached.

    What formation did we play?

    If you ‘guessed’ 4-1-4-1 / 4-5-1, give yourself a pat on the back.

    Also, what formation did we play when we beat Man Utd 0-1 at OT last season?

    Any takers?

  6. Armory says:

    And this is why you are not a football manager. It may have gone past you but we are missing our nr 1 striker RVP and we don’t have a ready made world class striker to take his place, Walcott and Benthner still to raw and Da Silva has not yet geld with the team mabe in a few months they will be ready for the big games but not now.

  7. thegoonerforum says:

    Radgoon when was the last time we beat chelsea?

  8. dan says:

    i was disappointed as well when i saw the team, with hyppia saw poor and slow we should have had theo up front. i think it shows more of a lack of faith in the other forwards rather than a need for a change of tactics, which it self is of concern. with ade currently having a poor run of form having no one else forward certainly reduced our effectiveness up front, (he was very poor yesterday). i thought despite our possession we didn’t really look like scoring as the shots on target show. however still was a great result and would have gladly taken it before kick off.

  9. dan says:


    you go through the options he had and wrote them all off. don’t you see that as a problem?

  10. Rob says:

    Totally agree. 4-5-1 makes sense if you have an effective striker, not our ADEbyebye, who needs 15 chances to even test the keeper once. But like shedzy says, Arsene knows.

  11. thegoonerforum says:

    Agree with you Dan, hyppia is superslow the pace of walcott could of really won the game for us.Thanks for the comment

  12. Fabrestuta says:

    The only problem I had with yesterdays lineup was Eboue in midfield. He makes decent runs, but he couldn’t pick out a player in the final third if his life depended on it.
    Not too mention his theatrics any time he’s touched.

  13. dan says:

    not sure why wenger seems to be playing eboue every game when he is so second rate in midfield, especially when there were so many other options available.

  14. thegoonerforum says:

    Eboue is not the problem IMO Adebayor has not scored in 7 games.Thats more of a headache

  15. dan says:

    i can see the same team playing next week against utd as well unfortunately.

  16. Old skool Gooner says:

    We were playing one of our rivals we can`t afford to lose against them. To go away from home and get a point against Liverpool at any time is a good achievement. Sometimes you have to change formation or personnel to get the result. That`s what Wenger did and we got the point. Good enough in my book. We played well and maybe deserved more from the game. I could understand you moaning if we`d gone their with two up front and lost but come on lads. Still unbeaten, top of two leagues. Don`t knock Wenger. He knows…..

  17. thegoonerforum says:

    I really hope not but I think you might be right on that : (

  18. Rob says:

    This Bentnder kid should now shut his gap about not getting a look in. Had he taken his chance at Blackburn at the death and kept his head at Anfield, AW should have had no reason to have kept him out. HE’s the bottler. Had he scored on both occasions, Goonerforum would not have had anything to say, we would have been celebrating maximum points by now.

  19. dan says:

    i agree about ade, but the reality is the options are limited. it is very hard to complain at wenger however personally i think he made a mistake when not buying a more established forward to replace henry. should have been anelka. thankfully the midfield are scoring so it has not been a problem yet. but no doubt without RVP we look light up front

  20. gazzap says:

    there’s no question that 4-5-1 has its place but I do think that at 1-0 down we had to change to 4-4-2 sooner. I mean almost as soon as we changed to 4-4-2 the game opened right up and then we scored but ran out of time to score again. I think 4-4-2 is better for our fluidity but 4-5-1 restricts the opposition attacks so its horses for courses.
    at OT later in the season, I think a 4-5-1 is wise becasue we dont want to be blitzed. The best option, is to have a hard working deep lying striker who can do both jobs without affecting the team. Arsenal dont really have that at the moment. But at home I hope that wenger uses 4-4-2 on saturday with walcott or EDS with Ade up front.
    Is Eduardo injured?

  21. Radgoon says:

    thegoonerforum (15:08:21) :

    Radgoon when was the last time we beat chelsea?

    When was the last time Chelsea beat us? not last season – despite our injury crisis. I could just as easily pick out a stat and say ‘which other teams did the double on United last season’. You cant pick out one stat and try and win an argument with it. Look at Wenger’s record in the big games together with our performance yesterday (despiite a few players having below par games) and that is evidence that your hypothesis is very wide of the mark.

    Also Dan, yes I do see that as a problem. We only (at the moment) have one established premiership goalscorer in our team but the way the midfield are pitching in, we have gotten away with it – hence why 4-5-1 is not too bad an option!!

  22. Fabrestuta says:

    Adebayor is still young, and young forwards will get a lot more frustrated than a veteran if the goals aren’t coming. I wouldn’t worry too much, he’ll be okay soon enough. Eboue was rubbish yesterday imo, his most memorable moment was lying on the ground for 10 minutes when Carragher shoved him in the chest.
    I have to agree with most people about Walcott, Liverpool were run ragged as it was, and Theo’s pace would have caused them all sorts of problems.

  23. Amos says:

    Wenger played 4-5-1 because Liverpool played 4-3-3. Our 4-4-2 relies on the full backs getting forward which wouldn’t (and didn’t) happen as easily against a 4-3-3. The consequence was we dominated possession (63%) to an extent that we wouldn’t have done had we not played 4-5-1. We still had chances to score though Ade had less room to play than if he had someone alongside him. Far from being a bottler I would say that if we had gone 4-4-2 we would have lost the game.

  24. thegoonerforum says:

    Or maybe if we would have played 4-4-2 from the start we might have WON the game?

  25. Radgoon says:

    or maybe we would have lost the game.

    Your arguments dont seem particularly logical or to be supported by any sort of evidence.

    Maybe if Bentdner or Fab would have put the balls into an empty net we would have won the game? WITH 4-5-1

  26. dan says:


    i think your analysis is incorrect as wenger certainly was not to know that both vorinin and kuyt would be playing out of position on the wings in a 4 3 3 formation, especially as he had babel and benayoun available. i think he played as said above because one he doesn’t trust theo, eduardo and bendtner and secondly he really didn’t want to lose the game. psychologically the draw was a fantastic result as the media spent the week hyping up what would happen if we lost. if RVP was around there is no way he would have played 4 5 1. in general he picks his teams based on the players available and not team tactics.

  27. Ojariko says:

    Boy i guess u miss the basics here, going against big teams in a situation where we dont have a sufficient point cussion requires that we hold them at bay and keep the status quo, then pick up points against the minors. 4-5-1 against liverpool was certain the right strategy considering that the Manures the other end had won on saturday and were top of the table. Once we went 1-0 down there was no more to protect but something to salvage and hence the change of formation to a more attack minded 4-4-2. I guess that definesd the Gaffer’s strategy. In a situation with a sufficient point cussion i am sure Arsene would go for glory by deploying an out right attack force with a 4-4-2 becasue there is nothing much to lose but some glory to enjoy, any blip in such a situation has no adverse effects. Imagine what the headlines would have been if Manure stayed on top. “Arsenal Cramble begins” , “The gunners are not up to the challenge”, “Arsenal Miss THiery Henry” are some of the headlines that you see.

  28. dan says:

    i think you are correct, he didn’t want to lose and therefore coupled with the lack of RVP went for a more defensive line up, which is where the debate started ie did he really go for the win or not to lose.

  29. Clarky says:

    The formation was not the problem, Adebayor was (plus a pitiful wall for Gerrard’s free-kick and some wayward play by the ever-embarrassing Eboue).

    If Adebayor had taken his one-on-one (someting we could say for lots of games this season) or if he could have made a simple pass to Toure (when Kolo had run the length of the pitch and would have been one-on-one with Reina) we would have been much more comfortable by half-time and would probably have won the game – and thats ignoring the open goal misses from Fabregas and Bendtner.

    Adebayor hits form too infrequently (his blinding goal at Spurs was a one-off and he would normally miss that 99 times out of 100) and thats the weak link in my view – we are relying too heavily on midfielders to score, which on the one hand is good (as they are stepping up to the plate) and on the other hand is bad because what is a striker if he cannot score?

  30. Goonoo says:

    Wenger picked exactly the team I thought (and hoped) he would pick. Admittedly, in the event, Eboue was our weakest link but we outplayed a supposed championship rival on their own ground and had the chances to win it. Hleb in his free role was the best player on the park. I thought Wenger’s strategy was spot on. Hitting the woodwork twice and not converting two open goals are all that cost us the three points. Manyoo will pose a stronger test though. 4-4-2 is definitely the way to go for that match.

  31. Number8 says:

    I think his formation would have been different if RvP was available.

  32. Simmzy says:

    Wenger’s hardly made a mistake all season.. save your critical analysis for when he truly f*cks up. In my opinion, the formation wasn’t wrong but certain players within it were. Adebayor needs to stop impersonating Titi and get better at holding up play and bringing in others.

    I think you’re confusing big matches with ordinary matches here. You’re expecting Wenger to be perfect, or play the same formations regardless of the opposition. His record has been pretty good against big clubs over the years. If he loses, say, 70% of big matches I’d say he’s a bottler. But he probably wins as many as he loses, with the exception of Mourinho, whilst Chelsea are on the same level as when he was there with a second-rate manager.

  33. dan says:

    you would think that if man utd are going to be a stronger test than 4 5 1 would be more applicable rather than a weaker liverpool team that were there for the taking.

  34. AusGunner says:

    Haha, what’s the point of this then? Sack the manager? Ridiculous. He’s not the best man for the job? Also ridiculous. Liverpool started the game with a 4-3-3 formation, playing two hardworking, grafting strikers out wide. Our 4-5-1 formation made their attack almost completely ineffective and reduced their 4-3-3 to a 4-5-1 itself. To contain Liverpool so expertly away at Anfield is a great achievement for any team and to keep them on the back foot for large tracts of the game is also impressive. The important thing with this game was not to lose as that would have been a terrible result, and we didn’t. Chances are that with this team’s excellent fitness that we would have scored in the last 20 minutes, it’s happened enough times this season for it not to come down to chance, and so it was. The important thing is during these 20 minutes we still managed to contain Liverpool and limit their opportunities and not let them find a way back into the game. Your argument seems to have a foundation on a series of ‘what ifs’ that could in no way be substantiated. Sure we could have won playing 4-4-2, but we could have been soundly beaten 3-0, who knows? Oh, that’s right, no one. Incidentally, the notion that Theo could step up from Slavia Prague at home to starting at Anfield away in the league is absolutely ridiculous. I realise how exciting he is but let’s be sensible. Screaming ‘he’s fast! Hyypia is crap!’ as loud as you can doesn’t account for the other 3 Liverpool defenders not to mention the Liverpool midfielders that were giving absolutely no quarter.

    Top of the league with a game in hand, unbeaten in all competitions, and still some of the Gooners find something to bitch about. Ah well. The rest of us are having fun, right?

  35. AusGunner says:

    Wait, I’m not finished. The original question: Is Wenger a big game bottler? Honestly, fuck off, what a pissweak backhanded insult to the club’s greatest manager. I’m not one for being a complete sycophant and giving Arsene praise for the sake of it but this sort of sentiment I find truly insulting.

    ONE instance of evidence that he isn’t: Check his head to head record with SAF to start with.

  36. sean says:

    Dan you are intelligent, u know more bout football

  37. I would never accuse a manger of Wenger’s stature of being a big-game bottler because all the top managers seem to do it.

    However, the way both United and Arsenal are playing at the moment it would certainly be a shame to see one (or both) adopt a defensive approach. Unfortunately, I have a feeling United will play a 3-man midfield with Hargreaves, Anderson and Giggs so I would not be surprised at all to see the Gunners head out with a very similar system, probably Fabregas, Flamini and Gilberto.

  38. Fabrestuta says:

    I don’t think the article was meant to ridicule Wenger…though the title may seem to imply otherwise.

    Of course no one knows what would have happened if we played a different formation, and to be honest I had no problem with 4-5-1, my only issue was playing Eboue in midfield again. He had some decent games when he first broke into the team, but sometimes he makes me cringe with his passing, and more often with his Robbie Savagesque flopping.

  39. One_Touch_Genius says:

    RVP seems to be very injury prone, i think we should (if we can) bring Carlos Vela into the squad in January. Ok he’s not world class (yet, mind you) but he is another option. At the moment we have Bendtner, Ade and Theo who are fit to play. Though i tell you i like the look of Benzema and Ben Arfa, probably won’t get them but boy they look like the real deals

  40. arsonandarsenic says:

    As long as they beat the other 16 teams home and away, they’ll win the title. Liverpool is worth the same 6 points as Derby.

    I would rather this then the previous seasons of bottling to minnows.

  41. jeebs says:

    It is better to get a point than getting thrashed 4 – 1 no? win against manutd with the same formation and wenger is a tactical genius…. fickle fickle “fans”

  42. I don’t think there can be too many complaints about the formation against United because it clearly worked – up to a point anyway – and it was only the fact really that Adebayor was pretty ineffective against Vidic and Ferdinand that made it look like there weren’t too many Arsenal chances.

    On Eboue, as Andy Gray pointed out during commentary Eboue is most likely played right wing against United to combat Evra and as soon as he was taken off then Evra arrived in the box to set up Ronaldo, so I think it is fair to say that Wenger chose the correct system.

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