Arsenal’s left side is alive again! – Rotations and adaptations from the first 45 at Fulham examined in detail.

What a wonderful half of football that was! I know that we all have a feeling for why we played so good, no one is blind to that fact. But sometimes you know something from feeling but you don’t know the details of it. I have tried to concretize the rotations and adaptations in that first half to give you a real picture of what we are doing on the field.


In the first 2 minutes of the game we build up in our usual 3-2-5 with Zinchenko inverted. Then you see Partey slot in between White and Saliba to help with ball progression. A few seconds later Martinelli points alot and moves from the left wing to the R8 position while Xhaka goes wide and Trossard takes the L8 role. The attack ends with Martinelli chasing a long ball as the CF.

In the 6th minute Partey does that again as Fulham have their three attackers narrow.

In the 11th minute Trossard comes way down between Partey and Zinchenko for a flick-on and sprints up again to get it back just outside the penalty area. Its him that gets the ball out to Martinelli who just overhits the pass to the onrushing Xhaka.

In the 12th minute Trossard finds himself in the LB position to progress play, while Xhaka does the 6 role.

Already in the first 15 minutes of the game Martinelli has formed a back 5 as a LB to clear the ball from danger. That says a lot about the work-rate in a game where Arsenal dominates the opponent.

In the 15th minute the disallowed goal came. And it came about when Trossard and Xhaka switched positions. The Swiss became the tip of the sphere, while the Belgian international went into the midfield. The ball goes up to Xhaka who plays in Martinelli. Trossard is one of the closest players to Robinson when he puts it into his own net.

In the 22nd minute Fulham have a throw-in on their right hand side. Both Odegaard and Saka are as far as in the L8 area to help box them in. We stress them to a bad switch and we can play through Saka but he gets closed down. Ends up in a corner.

In the 24th minute Trossard leaves his CF role to open up a gap for Saliba to dribble his way into. That was the moment he tried a shot that wasn’t far off.

In the 25th minute the Martinelli goal came. It started with Martinelli being the CF in the R8 area while Trossard was wide left. Xhaka gets the ball, feeds it to the Belgian, who crosses it to Gabi to head it in from close range.


In the 27th minute Martinelli inverts when we build up but he sees that Trossard doesn’t move so they are in the same area. Our No.11 then quickly understands that he needs to go back out wide.

In the 28th minute Fulham tries to build up from their left. All thee of Trossard, Xhaka and Martinelli are on that side of the pitch to close down. Saliba and Martinelli combine to win the ball and the ball goes quickly out to Zinchenko who has taken up the LB role for width when the whole left side had gone over to the right.

In the 29th minute we build up from Ramsdale. Trossard comes down to the LB area to get the ball. Martinelli has inverted. When progressing the ball inwards, our new signing runs up the field centrally while Martinelli comes wide again.

In the 31th minute we build up from the back. Martinelli sprints over all the way to the RB area. We lose the ball and all of a sudden all 10 outfield players have come behind the ball and Fulham have to go backwards. A few seconds later Lukic has the ball centrally in our defensive 3rd. What you see then is that we defend in a 6-3-1 block with Saka as RB and Trossard as LB. Martinelli is the R8 and Odegaard the tip. Just amazing discipline.

In the 35th minute there was the Xhaka chance. Trossard closed down the defender causing him to pass it straight to Partey. He lays it off to Odegaard while our mobile centre forward slides out and Xhaka moves centrally, where the Trossard gives it to Xhaka beautifully but unfortunately the Swiss middielder was caught in two minds.

In the 36th minute Trossard is again down in the LB/L8 area to help out defending, while Martinelli is central.

In the 37th minute, the Belgian is back as the CF position when Odegaard feeds in Saka who lays it off to Martinelli who is also central. It ends with the Trossard chance that went wide close to the post. Who is LW now? Xhaka of course. Unreal movement the last three minutes.

In the 39th minute Fulham have a throw-in deep in our half. Again every Arsenal player is behind the ball, 10 outfield players in our defensive 3rd just sitting in a low block forcing Fulham to just go sideways. This time with Saka and Martinelli as the fullbacks in the 6-3-1.

In the 41st minute Fulham have a throw-in on their right hand side and again Saka and Odegaard are on that side closing the space down. We win the ball easy and we switch it to our right hand side where Saka in a flash has gone out to.

In the 46th minute that situation came again. We closed down their throw-in and Saka gets the ball centrally from Partey’s header and he feeds Martinelli wide who then lays it off to Trossard. The rest is history.

This was one of the best halves of football I have seen Arteta’s Arsenal play. The movement, the passing, the discipline. At the heart of everything for me is Trossard. Without his movement and technique we don’t collectively move this way. Almost every rotation I have written about today involves Trossard.


As we have talked about for some time now the left side was stale before Trossard came into the team. I have written both about Nketiah being the issue and Xhaka being the issue. But based on this and the last few games its safe to say it was the CF role that needed to be changed. Cause when the rotations are like this Xhaka naturally has a feeling for where to stand and it just works.

It is fantastic timing that Jesus made his comeback in this moment of our season cause Trossard has helped us revert to how we played when Jesus was is in the team and now the team can just keep doing that when the Brazilian slots back in. Now, hopefully we never have to play another way again when we have two all-action CF options in Trossard and Jesus.

I am so looking forward to the Palace and Leeds games and beyond. COYG!

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