Marouane Chamakh: His playing style analysed in detail – Bordeaux and Arsenal Scouting

Having discussed the tactical possibilities available to Arsene Wenger with new signing Marouane Chamakh, it seems appropriate to follow up with a more detailed study of the way Chamakh actually plays, based on matches he played for Bordeaux in 2009-10.

Under Laurent Blanc Bordeaux used a clear 4-2-3-1 formation, relying on attacks from the wings, with Gourcuff running the centre of midfield. The team played good football, building possession from the back, and attacking with three creative players and Chamakh. Their formation is visible in this screenshot of the Lyon vs. Bordeaux Champions League Quarter Final first leg in 2010. The fullbacks are marked orange, the holding midfield yellow, attacking midfielders in blue, and Chamakh as striker in pink.

Chamakh played a crucial role for Bordeaux, leading the line and scoring goals, a constant threat to defenders. His style does not involve running with the ball or outpacing opposing defenders, but rather linking up with midfielders, and holding up the ball, in the ‘false nine’, and converting crosses in the box.


Good movement is a crucial feature of his game. When in possession he looks to drop deep in order to receive the ball and pass. In this scenario he almost always lays the ball off to midfield before and making a forward run, similar in style to Van Persie. In this way he can hold play up whilst support from the three creative midfielders gets forward up the pitch.

This style of dropping deep to support the midfield also made use of Chamakh’s powerful heading ability. This was utilised by Bordeaux from goal kicks, here he actually moves deeper than the three attacking midfielders, attempting the flick on, and then running forward into space.

In image 1. he drops back (pink) to head a goal kick, actually between the lines of the central midfielders (yellow) and attacking midfielders (blue).

Image 2. shows the resulting attack, with Chamakh (pink) running into the space he has created, meanwhile the attacking midfielders pushing forward have effectively created a 4 vs. 4 situation, whilst the Lyon right back is now stuck marking the left midfielder. This allows space between opposition fullback and centre back which Chamakh always looks to exploit.

A noticeable trait is his desire to play behind the shoulder of the last centre back, switching as the ball switches sides, which means that the defenders never have an easy time tracking him, his exploitation of the space between the centre back and fullback  is especially effective when the opposition fullbacks are pinned down by the wide players in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Indeed he popped up behind the last centre back to score against Lyon in the Champions League Quarter Final first leg.

As a single striker he interchanges well with the attacking midfield, creating space, making runs and pressurising within the opponents half. Another feature of his play is to move wide to the wings, looking to create space in the centre for forward runs from midfield.

In the Lyon match Chamakh’s movement across the defence was clear, and this time allowed him to exploit the gap next to the other Lyon centre back. Indeed in this situation the opposite fullback (orange) is outnumbered two to one by Bordeaux midfielders (blue), and Chamakh is able to create space around him whilst Michel Bastos, the Lyon left back is still up field.

His runs across the defence to create space  were also demonstrated during Bordeaux’s 1-0 win over Montpelier in December 2009. Chamakh (pink) is running across the Montpelier back line, taking the adjacent centre back with him. This opens up space infront of the Montpelier goal where central midfielders will not be closed down as quickly (blue box), and additionally provides an option for the fullback (blue) to pass to Chamakh out wide.

Alternatively Chamakh remains on the shoulder of the last defender looking for a lofted pass or through ball. This also means that the central defence are occupied and as noted in several matches, his constant movement across the defence means that they must stay alert to pick him up.

Without possession Bordeaux used Chamakh as the front line of defence when without possession, whereby he pressured within the opponents half, chasing down defenders, but remaining forward of the halfway line.

One of Bordeaux’s main avenues of attack seems to have been spreading play to the wings, and putting in crosses for Chamakh to score from. The striker gets into the box early and will usually challenge for headers, leading to his high success rate for headed goals. This approach could be used by Arsenal; the wide players, especially Sagna can provide quality crosses, which Nicklas Bendtner has occasionally used to good effect. If this method of play is developed then new options open up to the Arsenal side.

The transfer of Chamakh could be seen as shrewd business by Wenger, this is a player with proven Champions League quality, and whilst his style does fit with the Arsenal team, he is actually able to combine aspects of the ‘false nine’ with the ‘fox in the box’ that Wenger eulogised about all those years ago. The opportunity to change approaches, and more successfully convert aerial balls into the box will be welcomed by the team, and critics who often point out the club’s lack of plan B.

All of the aspects of Chamakh’s playing style discussed above are represented in the video of his touches against Juventus in the Champions League 09/10, remember the points about movement and dropping deep and it seems very clear.

If you liked this then have a look at detailed analysis of Theo Walcott – you won’t regret it.

42 thoughts on “Marouane Chamakh: His playing style analysed in detail – Bordeaux and Arsenal Scouting

  1. arsenal fan

    this is a great piece.I think chamakh is just the player we need he can hold the ball for rvp arshavin and fabregas and can score a lot of goals through is head.he is just the muscle we needed against physical opponents.saw training pics of our players on chamakh and kos are giving 200%.i think they are great for us

  2. DW

    This is a great piece. What really impresses me about Chamakh is how often he beats the offside trap. His passing technique is also much better than Nik Bendter and I only hope Nik can learn from him. I think we need to keep this formation, however, we need a better Defensive mid to partner Song as Denilson and Diaby blow hot and cold, we need someone that will be consistently good. Also, RVP can play on the wing as Chamakh can play the same role he played for Bordeaux. I also hope Rambo’s recovery goes well and he can solt in next to Fab as I rate him better than Denilson. Diaby has shown flashes of brilliance, I pray to God that he can do that on a regular basis. He would dominate games if he can do that consistently.

    1. Redwan Baba

      Who would you like for dm?

      I’m thinking van bommel!, we need a hardman like him, also he can still play soccer,
      Maybe Matuidi

  3. Me

    I think we didn’t need this kind of player. We need a player like David Villa, who can outrun defenders, get behind them. The best strikers in the world are just like that: Rooney, Messi, Villla, Forlan, Aguero and so on.. If Vela can fulfill his potential he could do great.

      1. Bergkamp

        The perfect fit for Arsenal is Balotelli. Power, pace, strong in the air, and can play as a proper right winger.

        Your thoughts?

  4. Jonny

    Interesting piece, I still don’t get how he will fit in with RVP. In fact that was the first thing I thought when we showed interest in buying him. Do you see him more as cover with RVP?

    Chamahk’s aerial ability seems to be the one thing that sets them apart. This could be good for flick ons from goal kicks and for free kicks from further out but not much use otherwise as we rarely cross the ball and when we do it’s even rarer that it is with any quality.

    Based on comments today it seems that Eduardo is still very much part of Wenger’s plans – if he came good (though that must still be rated a big ‘if’) I could envisage them linking together well. But Wenger lost al faith in him last term and his confidence was in ribbons. I only hope they have been addressing this in the off-season. Otherwise we seem to have 4 strikers, one tired, one injured, one still recovering – at least mentally – from injury. And one who is new to the team and is, in any case, rather similar in style to our main striker. It’s all a bit of a conundrum to my lay eyes but I’ll trust in Wenger for the time being.

    Do you know what Chamahk’s striking ability like? Is he happy to have a dig from distance? Does he shoot often or do we have another player who will control & pass rather than put his foot through first time?

    1. He doesn’t seem to strike from distance so much, his game seems to be mainly based on movement, short interchanges of passing and making runs into the box for crosses. Of course he does score with his feet too, I think he looks to be a very versatile player – not too similar to the strikers we already have, and he has definite quality. He does control and pass, but I think his aerial threat is an important aspect of his game, which can work at Arsenal with crosses from Sagna, Clichy or Eboue, as well as Walcott.

      It looks like he will interchange with Van Persie and Bendtner for the starting striker role. With the injury problems the club has had it will be enough just to rotate them I would think.

      1. safeer

        hey! Great post . I have no doubt that eboue and sagna have good technique at crossing the ball buri do feel that they are both inconsistent at best. Don’t you they that this lack of consistency will Hinder us from using chamakg’s aerial ability from open play at least

      2. Redwan Baba

        Or he may play on the right side like NikB last year agianst everton and whenever else we had a full strenght line-up
        v.persie could go to the left and interchange constanlty

    2. Anonymous

      I have seen him play for morocco. He is fast and can dribble very well. I think van persie can play off him. After watching the world cup I think I can safely conclude that van persie cannot play as a outright striker but as a Berkemp type of striker .

  5. 24 arsenal

    great post….
    by the way if wenger lets fabregas go what are your views about what he will do to replace such an important player? do you think Nasri or Rosicky, will be used to fill in , or do you think wenger will bring someone in?, and what do you think he will do about our defence?

  6. Another excellent piece, good stuff.

    I partially agree with “Me” above – in recent years I think we’ve missed having uber-quick players who get behind defences (Henry, Pires, Ljungberg…) but I don’t think we need this *instead* of Chamakh, but rather *as well as* Chamakh. The two styles are not incompatible – a 4-3-3 (or 4-1-2-3, or 4-2-3-1) can be used with a “false nine”, and speedy wide players/attacking midfielders who can break behind defences.

  7. P.S. My only criticism of the above is that Sagna, alas, is NOT a quality crosser of the ball – at least not 90% of the time. With this lad prowling, our crossing from full backs needs to seriously improve.

  8. 24 arsenal

    …or will arshavin be used as num 10 behind chamakh & van persie, with nasri/walcott on the wings and song playing CDM

    I think that we should have gone for YAYA toure.. would have been great cover for song.

  9. arshavin23

    Chamakh will be great for us, but is he any good with the ball at his feet, and not with his head?

  10. Hi. I’m gooner from South Korea. I read your analysis well. good stuff.
    could I translate it into Korean to show this to Korean gooner?
    Please give me reply. If you don’t want, I’ll not

  11. simms21

    Good article. You need a better video showing what he does through a whole game. Here’s his game versus juventus.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, the video is excellent – if you watch it and think about it you really start to see his style, playing exactly as he did vs. Lyon too – similar movement and passing.

      I’ll update the article to include this video instead.

  12. Redwan Baba

    Has anyone else noticed we’ll be a real threat from set-pieces next year, with: Vermaelen, Koscienly, Djourou, Song, Diaby, V.persie, Bendtner, Chamakh!
    Also the new cb i’m expecting should be addded to this list 🙂

  13. wenger

    Great analysis. although i dont think RvP will be doing a lot of tracking back if he’s on the left of mid field in 4-2-3-1. So with this formation either he has to be selfless and track back or be mutually exclusive to Chamakh. My hope is RvP can learn a lesson from Podolski’s performances in the world cup. He played great and unselfish

  14. dav

    i like this you should do more of this, can you give some thoughts on the defence of arsenal please where we what wrong , what can done to improve

  15. kingd100

    i like this you should do more of this, can you give some thoughts on the defence of arsenal please where we what wrong , what can done to improve

  16. GunnerX

    Let’s hope both Chichy and Sagna both improve their crossing, as clearly Chamakh’s main strength is his heading ability. I pray we sort out the GK situation though, as its ok scoring loads of goals but our Achilles heal is our inability to defend.

    1. gidy

      wank? evne though the suggestion to wank maybe meant as a good natured ecnouragement to all the male readers of this forum, i must say i have to pass. You see my gf would much rather that i had sex with her than going off wanking all the time.

      But bro, go for it! its good for your mental health to wank. Especially if you do not attract chicks….

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  19. Anonymous

    Thanks, very good post. I knew little about chamakh before i read this. He looks a very tidy player. good skill, great control when he took those 2 balls down that were played over the centre back!
    If you’re asking how he will fit in with V persie, unless arsene changes his formation, he wont, he’ll be on the bench. But if they play together, maybe chamakh’s style will allow RVP to be more of a striker, and he’ll get more opportunities and we know he will them stick away!

  20. matt

    yeh looks very promising, i think that he might start on the bench with a fully fit team, just the stregth in depth we need, after a big world cup for rvp he might not be 100% for the 1st past of the season, of course we get him up for anfield but maybe after that get his body in good shape, while he does that chamakh can get a good run!
    gunners 2010/11

  21. i think we ar goin 2 c a new gunner dis season,jst 2 more signing a shot stopper nd a defender or defensive midfielder wil b enough,4rm a die hearted gunner based in nigeria

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