There was a moment during the 3–0 loss at Crystal Palace on Monday which summed up Arsenal’s current problems so perfectly, no protest or chant or tweet or YouTube video could improve on it.

Yet all it was, was an ever–so–slightly over-hit through ball.


1. On the overlap

About fifteen minutes into the game, whilst in the middle of one of several lengthy spells of possession that Arsenal ‘enjoyed’ during the game, Alexis Sanchez was on the left wing whilst standing over the ball waiting to pick out a runner.

Nacho Monreal ran around the outside of Alexis, and was given a pass to run onto that just had too much on it, and it went out for a goal kick. Monreal turned around with a slight grimace as he knew that it was almost a perfect pass, and Alexis slapped his hands together with similar regret at the missed opportunity.

This has been a common tactic throughout Arsene Wenger’s tenure at the club. In an attempt to create as many efficient goalscoring opportunities as possible, his solution to seeing the opposition line up with two banks of four or sometimes five players, has been to overload the wings with his fullbacks and create a mismatch for one of his creative midfielders to take advantage of.

Take Theo Walcott’s goal against Chelsea as the perfect example of this.

Alex Iwobi gets the ball on the left wing, the defence comes across the field to deny him space, Hector Bellerin runs around the back of the Cesar Azpilicueta on the opposite side of the pitch and is free to cross the ball across the face of goal to an open Walcott for an easy tap–in.

This ball to the back post is one that both Alexis and Mesut Özil are both fond of and excellent at delivering.

It’s why during large spells of the game, both of them will be within five to ten yards of each other, as they’re trying to bait the defence into collapsing on top of them, leaving space in behind for others to run in.

Sometimes it’ll work and either Walcott or Bellerin will be free on the opposite wing with a chance to score. But most of the time, it doesn’t, and Alexis is forced to pass the ball down the left wing for the oncoming Monreal to put in a cross.

And here’s the problem. Arsenal’s best way of creating space up front is to use their fullbacks as attacking outlets whenever possible.

What happens when Arsenal’s fullbacks aren’t given any space to run into?

3–0 at Crystal Palace happens.

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Gooner and below-average blogger who writes what he thinks, but sometimes doesn't think as he writes. Very occasionally makes a sensible point. Can be found on Twitter rambling away under the username @bradley08. May contain nuts.