Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Arsene Wenger's offside rule will change how football is played

The offside rule proposal by Arsène Wenger, being considered by The International Football Association Board (IFAB) for the 2024/25 season, will change the way football is played for better or worse.

Figure 1.1 - Illustration of the new offside rule. Visual credit to 433

Arsène Wenger:

For the moment, you are offside if a part of your body that you can score with sits ahead of the body of a defender. I would like it to be that there is no offside so long as a [single] body part which a player can score with is in line with the defender. This could be too much of an advantage for an attacker because that obliges the defenders to play higher up.

Make games more “entertaining.” Create more chaos. Change how the game is played.

Arsène says teams will defend higher up, but I’m not sure that’s what teams will do.

Take the players now, who have mastered timing a run to break a high line. You have to make your run so your entire body is in line with the last defender. That’s a difficult skill for both the passer and the receiver.

Figure 2.1 - Marc Cucurella begins his run while Reece James has the ball on the far side.

You get a very small run-up to make that run, unless you make the run from a deeper pocket. The defender has a better chance at rotating, pivoting, and then chasing the pass.

Now take those same players, allow them to make that same exact run, but with a whole body’s length of room for error. That will not be difficult.

Figure 3.1 - Illustration of the difference between the head start a forward gets with the new offside rule versus the current offside rule.

Defenders will have less time to react, turn, pivot, and chase because players will be at full-speed past them before the ball normally would be played. The passer doesn’t need the same exact timing.

The receiver can start their run next to the back-line and gain a head-start ahead of the last defender.

In my opinion, teams will be forced to defend deeper, not higher. How can you allow players to have the space behind? That will cause teams to not counter-press as aggressively because of the gap that deeper back-line would create.

Figure 1.1 - Illustration of the difference in the gap between the back-line and second line if the back-line does or does not defend deeper.

The back-line would be deep so the space between the second line will always be larger, less compact. That would either force teams to be less compact so they can pressure the opponent’s back-line, or teams will defend deeper as a team more frequently so they can remain compact.

Explaining Arsene Wenger’s proposed offside rule is like explaining what would happen if the Earth didn’t have the Moon for a day. Things would be dramatically different.

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