Cesc Fabregas was spectacular against Braga on Wednesday night; from his position in a 4-2-1-3/4-2-3-1 he dictated play, and was involved in all 6 goals for Arsenal.Arsenal lined up similarly to Saturday, in a 4-2-3-1 with Samir Nasri drifting in a lot, making the 4-2-3-1 become a 4-2-2-2 when either Arshavin or Fabregas pushed on. Braga also lined up in a 4-2-3-1, but a wider and deeper 4-2-3-1 than Arsenal’s.
Arsenal started the game off extremely strong and were pressing the ball and passing the ball extremely well and could’ve had a penalty 3 minutes in. The breakthrough finally came through, and it was Fabregas playing in Chamakh.
All Through the Left
A lot of Arsenal’s attacking play came through the left; with Samir Nasri replacing the injured Theo Walcott, Arsenal lacked width as Nasri liked the come inside. This was pointed out last week where I mentioned that Arsenal seemed to be playing a 4-2-2-2 at times. Tonight it looked like a diamond 4-4-2, with Wilshere, though at times defending deep, given license to move forward on the left of midfield, and with Arshavin prefering the left.
(Picture from soccernet.com. Arsenal’s defenders are in red, Alex Song is the deepest midfielder, Wilshere and Nasri play on the left and right of the centre midfield, with Fabregas playing ahead of them, behind Chamakh and Arshavin (in black)).
Braga’s strongest player was Alan, but as he was on their right, most of their attacks came down their right where Arsenal were strong in numbers, while if they had switched to the left, Arsenal could’ve been more exposed.
The Joy of Cesc
Braga found it difficult to mark Fabregas, as he was constantly moving between the lines. Fabregas was everywhere, either coming from deep, or appearing at times higher than Marouane Chamakh, and Braga couldn’t cope with Fabregas’ great all around play. Not only did he have 2 assists and 2 goals, but his pressing was very good, creating his second goal from it.
Chamakh’s movement was again key for Arsenal, as he dragged defenders, creating space for both Fabregas and Arshavin.
Arsenal won’t find many games easier than this, but it was still a fine attacking performance, and when called upon, they defended well. As Thomas Vermaelen pointed out, Koscielny “goes for the close marking style” and Squillaci is similar. This, as well as defending deep, countered Braga’s counter attack threat. All in all, an excellent, joyful performance from Arsenal, and one that should make clubs across Europe take notice.