Posted on September 16, 2017 by ADMIN

Three or four at back for Arsenal at Chelsea?

It is perhaps fitting that it is a Premier League clash between Arsenal and Chelsea which brings about me asking the question of whether Arsene Wenger should go with a formation of four at the back or three at the back for the Sunday clash with Chelsea.

After all, it was our pasting of the reigning Premier League title holders at the Emirates last season that caused their manager Antonio Conte to abandon their previous 4-5-1 system and that was identified as the turning point in their season.

Later in the season when the Gunners were really in the doldrums and under pressure the Arsenal fans were crying out for something and our manager responded by doing a Chelsea and going to three at the back, with similarly successful results.

However, while Conte’s Chelsea have continued to prosper with the new formation Wenger was forced to go back to the previous system in the Europa League win over Cologne last night and it worked, which begs the question, should we do it again at Stamford Bridge.

In a way the uncertainty about how we will play could be a help, but the boss still needs to get it right, so which system would give Arsenal the better chance of getting the right result?

Well for one thing I think we have to accept that an away point would not be a bad result for us. Arsenal could certainly do with a win but first and foremost we must not lose and three at the back is accepted as being a bit more solid.

However, Monreal has played a lot and is not the quickest so having him as the left of three centre backs strikes me as a bit risky. Maybe we could use Kolasinac there, with Koscielny in the middle and Mustafi on the right. We have no Coquelin in front of the defence, don’t forget, so having two attack minded full backs may not be the safest option.

What do you think, Gooners, three or four?


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21 thoughts on “Three or four at back for Arsenal at Chelsea?

  1. Kedar Damle

    I think we should go for 4-3-3 formation…. It is the best footballing formation…. 3 man midfield can pack up the midfield and won’t allow Chelsea’s midfielders to pass the quickly…. Most important way to defend against 3 back system of Chelsea is that you have stop Chelsea from playing back… If you observe their play then there CBs March upto half line with ball with likes of Luiz and company hence opponent has get on back foot and there is problem…. What you have to do is you need to press there defenders by your 3 man attackers so their defender won’t keep the ball for too long… Chelsea don’t have creativity from center as they play with Bakayoko and Kante so there biggest threat comes from Wings and service is being provided to wingers by their defenders.. I would have gone for 4-3-3 formation

    Bellerin Mustafi Koscielny Kolasinac

    Ramsey Xhaka Elnenny

    Sanchez Lacazzate Welbeck

    These kinds of games are not meant for Ozil… In this games you need blue color football player which Ozil is certainly not….

    1. Akan

      I don’t give a toss what formation is used, its whether the players that are used are good enough simple. So far as I know no donkey as ever won the derby, the two donkey’s in our set up are Ramsey and Xhakha, Kante will own both of them

    2. Lupe

      Exactly, a lot of footballing teams play that formation. A 4-3-3 can also become 4-5-1 when defending and with lacazette upfront, our counter attack and transition from the back to front can be faster due to lacazette pace and movement. If anyone remember the game we won man city away when played 4-3-3 defending and counter attacking, that was one of our best away games at a top team’s home. We won 2-0. It was brilliant, one of the few times wenger actually cared about the opposition. Ozil didn’t play that game and we were very solid. Ozil should be dropped for welbeck and snchez should play too.

    3. Joseph Saleh Australian Gooner from S.A

      I really want to Kolasinac played as a Central Defensive Midfielder. Play a back 3 of
      Mustafi/The Boss/Chambers
      Bellerin. Kolasinac. Monreal
      Welbeck. Alexis
      Ramsey can cover the space between the wingers and get back to help The Tank, also the tank I think would thrive as a DMF . I’m not saying use this line up all the time but away from home against Chelsea/Man U/Man City/ Pool and the Spuds we should go for Defensive solidity and I think this line up gives us that.

  2. JJPawn


    I will stick with the Tank in the Middle with a spine that will break up Chlesea attack and set free the high speed on the wings while the defense can stay at home.

        1. JJPawn

          Interesting that comments get shut down for not being orthodox!

          (I thought we were fans exchanging ideas… especially ones that Wenger will never use!)

          ..Mustafi…..Koscielny…..Monreal.. [Gives maximum ball control at the back… ]
          Bellerin…..Kolasinac…..Welbeck [with the help of the MF. Allows wing backs]
          ……………..Ozil…………………. [to attack down the wings and take the ]
          ..Ramsey..Lacazette..Sanchez.. [focus off Ozil so he cannot be targeted. ]

          And, it allows Ramsay and Sanchez to freedom to attack where they choose. ]
          And, give Lacazette to a threat from any angle.
          I will stick with the Tank in the Middle with a spine that will break up Chlesea attack and set free the high speed on the wings while the defense can stay at home.

  3. BuddReloaded

    How do you beat the 3-4-3? This question was put to Johan Cruyff. He said, play with three upfront. This man was a genius because he dared to speak common sense in a world where every pundit tried to make things complicated so that they can be paid handsomely. It is ovious when you think. Want to break three defenders? Then you need at least three forwards. So the question the article is posing is answered quite simply: does not matter as long as you don’t put square pegs in round shapes. To answer it in more detail (and I based my analysis on what I have read over time in 422 magazine, because believe it or not 3-4-3 is not new at all, Wenger himself employed it in the 90’s) here’s what I think about tactics.
    You can play 4-3-3 to beat Chelsea. You can play 3-4-3 as well, the system Chelsea employs BUT in this case you need to have to at least match the player in the similar position. Do we have better players than Chelsea in every position? I think not. We have positions where we match them but better? I think Sanchez is on par with Hazard, Lacazette is on par with Morata. Bellerin is better than Moses and Kolasinac is probably better than Alonso. In midfield Kant is above Xhaka and Fabregas is above Ramsey. In fact this combo is so superior to what we have that it does not matter how you per mutate it. Central defense is again better than what we have. Therefore, I believe 3-4-3 will be a bit of a challenge even if you play Kos-Mustafi-Monreal at the back.
    Going to 4-3-3 will basically give us the extra man in the midfield matching if not overcoming the advantage they have there. When we played 2 in the middle in 3-4-3 the biggest issue at times was the fact that there was absolutely no one in the mid third from Arsenal. Xhaka was in our third and Ramsey was in their third. Truth be told, I believe that by now every coach and their mother know that play a disciplined 2 in the middle will kill Arsenal in transition. It is just a matter of time.
    Then there’s the elephant in the room: Mesut Ozil. When is Wenger going to learn that he will never defend or press properly? Want to use Ozil? Then you play 4 at the back and enforce the axis Ozil is put. You play 4-2-3-1? Put him as false 9 and enforce the axis by playing 2 diciplined CMs and a tracking back forward (Lacazette). Play 4-3-3? Put him on the right flank and move Koscielny on Bellerin’s side. It is possible to beat Chelsea but you have to take away player’s freedom in the process, they have to be patient because we don’t have to win this game. They play at home and they will not expect a defensive Arsenal. And we know Wenger outwitted Conte on various occasions so he’s not stupid. Here is how I would play myself in two of these scenarios (yes, I would play Ospina ahead of Cech, I know his clearance led to Koln’s first goal but he shouldn’t have made that one, Mertesacker was caught again high and dragging Holding with him):
    3-4-3 : Ospina-Kos,Mustafi,Monreal-Bellerin,Xhaka,Elneny,Kolasinac-Ozil/Welbeck,Lacazette,Alexis
    I am not going to repeat the same mistake on putting Ramsey in the defending setup again. Xhaka is more than capable of passing long distance
    4-3-3 : Ospina-Bellerin,Kos,Mustafi,Kolasinac-Ramsey,Elneny,Xhaka-Ozil/Welbeck,Lacazette,Alexis
    Truth be told, Ozil knows his days are numbered as long as Welbeck is fit. Going forward and pressing from high up, Welbeck offers more in the EPL. In Bundesliga and La Liga he can be a very good asset. EPL is too fast and pressing players come at a premium.
    Alas, I don’t know if Wenger is going to play to our strength or he will go for the glory. I guess it is not long until we will find out. COYG!

  4. citrenoogeht

    Many managers get caught up in and are known for one system especially if it works for them. The Chelsea manager is guilty of this and is a known advocate of the 3 – 4 – 3 formation (especially since Chelsea lost last season at the Emirates) and by and large it has worked for him.

    Up until last season, Wenger stubbornly used the 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 formation (until the latter part of the season when we had a poor run of results and he changed to the 3 – 4 – 2 – 1). Initially, we started picking up results and the signs were good but when Wenger persisted with this formation and we began to play players out of position the inevitable started to happen. We began to look very shaky and we dropped points.

    This is the issue at hand right now. The concerns for a long time about Wenger’s teams have been about formation planning before a game, in-game management during a game and tactics. More often than not Wenger has reacted too slowly to situations that have unfolded during a game.

    A couple of seasons ago, Arsenal where highly unfancied to get a result away to Man City but because Wenger used the appropriate formation, tactics with the appropriate players we went there and won 0 – 2 with a counter attacking game. Opposed to this, Arsenal was recently embarrassed by Liverpool and were duly spanked because Wenger got his formation for his available players wrong and used the wrong tactics.

    In recent games I was encouraged to see Wenger react to in – game situations and change formations when he felt it was necessary. For example he changed our formation to a 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 in the second half against Köln.

    So to answer the question of this article is more complicated than to just say one formation or the other because it is premature to consider using a formation without holistically considering the total circumstances under which the formation will be deployed. By which I mean:

    1) Do we have the necessary players who fit a proposed formation that can maximise its strengths as opposed to using a formation that we shoe horns players into and force them to play out of position?

    2) Consideration needs to be given to the appropriate formation to counter act the opposition’s likely formation (and their strengths and weaknesses).

    3) Do we have the squad depth (i.e. including those on the bench) to implement a “plan b”?

    4) With all of the above considered what will be the appropriate tactics used to get the maximum benefits?

  5. Dan

    We could play 8 at the back and would still concede goals this team is weak and has no leaders from manager all the way down!! Get ready for more missery on Sun we will get beat and everyone will just be repeating the same thing as we have been doing for last few years!! Wenger out!!

    1. citrenoogeht

      Dan: As a fan, you are adding nothing to the conversation if you continually harp on about the negatives without proposing a solution. So the question is are you a true fan or a fair-weather fan?

      1. Dan

        What I said is 100% true the records speak for themselves so if you don’t like hearing the truth then tough you must be as deluded as Wenger!!

  6. chris

    We should match them using the same formation. That’s how we won the Cup Final. And 3 at the back is how we got out of that terrible run in the New Year. With Wenger so obsessed with beautiful attacking football … a flat back 4 too often becomes a back 2 and we get taken apart !

  7. AllDwayfromAfriCa

    we still have a good record with 3 in the back and we are 2-0 against Chelsea playing with 3 at the back so am not changing it. if we get our players right with them showing some grit I know we will come good

  8. Jeddahgunner

    the advantage of Chelsea vs Arsenal
    1) Almost in all positions Chelsea has the better Players
    2) Chelsea has home advantage
    Tactically is not the major issue of this game what is important and decisive for the tomorrow’s game is how strong or weak the Chelsea defence. In the last decade, the few games which won by Arsenal vs Chelsea was not because of the better tactic of Arsenal but because of the weakness and mistake of some Chelsea defence players.

  9. The barrel

    Its not about the record, but team selection. Coyg has hit it spot on. We gonna lose the battle in the middle of the park. Xhaka and Ramsey can’t handle Kante and Fabregas, but all other positions are okay. So, Wenger should not include Ramsey and Ozil. Elnerny and Sanchez should replace the two deadwoods

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