Tactics, I have maintained on a number of occasions, aren't hyphenated numbers but more like a flow chart, and involves a great deal of drills.
Arsene Wenger, I believe, is a constructive-manager-type, which means he focuses mostly on the manner of playing football, with the belief that it can subdue opponents.
This is different than obsessing over a given team with a view of finding destructive tactics to neutralize its play. Lesser teams are constrained to be destructive.
The remarkable way by which Wenger transformed a broken team from a losing position to a challenger for top-of-the-table finish owes greatly to the fact that he has a clear understanding of how his team should play and of what it takes to achieve this.
Wenger builds his teams around particular players, and this explains why Robin van Persie suddenly became the apex of the current team, whereas the recent teams have been built around Cesc Fabregas, with Samir Nasri becoming progressively important.
The loss of the two players therefore was tantamount to breaking up the entire team, hence the early tragedies of the season (allow me to use this word).
With the coming in of Mikel Arteta, Wenger quickly abandoned his preferred 4-2-1-3 (4-2-3-1), in favor of 4-3-3 proper. In other words, the current team is much more balanced, as far as the relative importance of players is concerned.
Here's where I'm going with this, and this will offer an explanation to the baffling losses to Swansea City, Fulham, Sunderland and QPR.
Arsenal tend to lose the plot whenever a team vigorously attacks its strategy. Or, to put it differently, Arsenal find it difficult to overcome teams that refuse to be subdued. A good example is Everton and Liverpool who outplayed Arsenal, even though Arsenal got the win in these matches.
The same thing happened at Swansea, who took control of the match and proceeded to outplayed Arsenal, even out-passing them.
At QPR, a combination of structural discipline and physicality frustrated Arsenal to a defeat. Against Fulham, physicality and pressure on individual players frustrated Arsenal.
It is evident to any close observer that Arsenal do not cope well in overly physical and high-pressure matches. They prefer to exert the pressure themselves, but tend to wilt away when the tables are turned.
This is because Arsenal don't seem to have destructive strategies of their own. It is the reason past teams have tended to collapse, even from winning positions.
Clever coaches have realized that the easy way to subdue Arsenal is to be physical, to man-mark them, to allow them no time on the ball.
When this happens, Arsenal players tend to panic and this leads to errors, such as Thomas Vermaelen's against QPR, or to defensive mix ups, such as has happened in the past between Wojciech Szczęsny and Laurent Koscienly. It often leads to own goals.
Compare this to Barcelona, for example, who when pressured, proceed to segment the pitch and isolate the opposition's possessing player by strategic pressing.
This leads to errors from these players, who then inevitably surrender possession to Barcelona, who then transfer it to another segment of the pitch, causing the opposition to chase shadows. This in turn leads to frustration with the eventual result often becoming red cards.
Arsenal, on the other hand, don't know what to do when their tactics are challenged. This problem isn't something you can solve in a match in progress, nor is it one you can solve in a short time, it requires time to drill strategies to employ for every anticipated contingency in a match.
This is both what I mean when I say that tactics are more like a flow-chart and when I say that the team needs to expand its tactical arsenal.
For the team to become dominant, it must practice several drills and tricks to use when certain problems occur in a match. This ensures total control. It is why Barcelona are rarely ruffled, even when they concede early goals.
Segmenting the pitch is what Arsenal could improve upon. This enables players to remain calm in possession, as they know and can anticipate both what to do next and what their opponents reaction will be.
Please, watch any recent l Clásico match or last year's Champions League final to see Barcelona employ this strategy.
Arsenal can make it their goal to improve and expand their tactical arsenal before next season commences.