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A much needed change

Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 10:11

Unpredictability adds a certain spice to any game. Keeping the opposition manager guessing on your strategies is a great way of throwing the opposition off-balance.

One of the many faults thrown at Arsenal has been their lack of change in their system of play. They have been far too predictable in what they do and that always gives well-organized teams a head start.

Arsenal, over the last five years has traditionally employed a 4-2-3-1 formation. This is one of the most compact formations and offers great adaptability and in-game variations. But then most teams know that to counter this formation they need to put out more physical-defensive minded midfielders against the Arsenal midfield and hit them on the counter.

The current Arsenal squad throws up some interesting insights and intriguing possibilities. The appointment of Steve Bould as a defensive coach and the frugal Arsenal defense this season has been one of the highlights of the team.

Teams rarely have three good center-backs. Arsenal is in possession of three of the best in the game. So, why not the 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 formation? Here is a part-by-part explanation of how Arsenal can line up.


A 3-5-2 is built on two fast center backs and one sweeper. Arsenal has that in Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny who are very fast and Per Mertesacker can play the sweeper. Mertesacker’s height and understanding of the game and his height are a perfect fit for this. These three will definitely be very hard to beat under any circumstances.


This is by far the most important position in this formation. In Bacary Sagna, Carl Jenkinson, Keiran Gibbs and Andre Santos, Arsenal has four wingbacks that can defend well (Santos not so much) and support the attack with width from the flanks.

Central Midfield
Depending on whether to play two or three in the midfield, Arsenal can line up either of Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby and Francis Coquelin. In the event of 3-4-3, Arteta and Wilshere will be ideal and in case of 3-5-2, Arteta, Wilshere and Diaby will be the perfect fit.

Attack Midfielder/Player in the hole

There is no doubt that Santi Cazorla will play here. Even in case of an injury, Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey or Oxlade Chamberlain can play here. This has to be by far, Arsenal’s most creative midfield in recent years.


In a 3-4-3, the three strikers will have Santi Cazorla as the person behind the striker (the exact role Marek Hamsik plays for Napoli). The choice of the two strikers will undoubtedly be Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski. There is also a chance that Cazorla and Walcott can play on either wing as a wing forward and Olivier Giroud can play through the center.

Plan B

If Arsenal trail, then it still has the option of playing a more direct style of football. As was seen in the game against Reading, when Giroud was substituted in, there were two tall strikers and a more direct approach was taken. Chamakh, Giroud, Vermaelen, Diaby and Mertesacker are certainly good enough in the air.

Jose Mourinho, the Real Madrid coach was quoted as saying, “I like what Arsene Wenger is doing with this team.” When the entire team is fit, I certainly think there are some interesting possibilities thrown up and if they manage to keep up their good performances, we may see an Arsenal team challenging for the title in April.


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