Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.

Former Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson will give his pre-match view and you can get his post-match verdict in our Talking Tactics feature on Arsenal Player. We’ll also hear from a journalist who follows the club we’ll be facing.

Stewart Robson

Whenever I saw Udinese play last season their coach Francesco Guidolin played with three centre halves, two wing backs, a central midfield triangle and two centre forwards. Although this worked as an attacking formation against weaker sides, against the likes of Inter and AC Milan they were forced to withdraw their wing backs into more defensive positions, resulting in their creative capabilities being blunted. The good news for Arsenal is that Udinese`s two most influential players, Sanchez as the playmaker and Inler as the dominant midfield player, have both left the club. If Arsenal defend as well as they did on Saturday, Udinese will cause few problems.

Scouting Report - Tactics

Last season they really took Italian football by storm. There was a sense that they were playing the most attractive football, not only in Italy, but in Europe. They played a 3-5-2 with only one holding midfielder. It was a big deal that they were playing with this very attacking approach and they didn’t back down with that approach in the big games. For instance, they drew 4-4 against Milan last season and, where other teams may have tried to be more defensive, Udinese went straight at Milan.

Three-man defences are quite common in Serie A. You quite often see teams playing 3-5-2 but, effectively, when you are defending, it becomes a 5-3-2 because your two wing-backs become full-backs. But what Udinese do is a lot more flexible. We often saw last season one of the wing-backs dropping back to full-back and the midfield sliding across. It can become a four-man defence at appropriate points of the game.

As I understand it, in the first leg against Arsenal they are going to take a slightly more defensive approach. It sounds like the manager has been using a four-man defence in training in the build-up to this game. So they may play with a 4-5-1 for the first leg and try something different for the second leg.

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
16 Aug 2011