Arsenal fans have been calling for Arsene Wenger to adapt the tactics of his team depending on who our opponents are, but for 20 years Le Prof has been saying: “We just have to concentrate on playing our own game”. But finally, after our worst run of form in his 21 year reign, he decided to line up with a 3-4-3 formation which has been used by many of his younger rivals this season to good effect.
Arsenal fans looked on in wonder at Middlesbrough as Wenger lined up with Laurent Koscielny, alongside Gabriel and Rob Holding for the back three, with Monreal and, surprisingly, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as our wing backs. There was no place for Mustafi and Bellerin was also left on the bench.
After the 2-1 win, Wenger gave his opinion on why he used the new formation. “I felt that we were recently a bit vulnerable defensively and to give a bit more reassurance to the team.” Wenger said. “Recently we faced many direct games, I thought before the game maybe they’d play with Gestede and Negredo and go for a very direct game. Those are the reasons.
“It worked well in the first half, we didn’t give any chances away and we were quite solid on set-pieces. In the second half on one or two occasions, I felt we could have been a bit more dominant in the air, but overall yes.”
The boss then went on to admit that he had never tried this formation before. “The first time in 20 years, that shows you that even in my age you can change. But sometimes when a team lacks confidence, just to add something new to believe helps to focus and overall the fact that we conceded three at West Brom, three at Crystal Palace, I felt it was needed.”
Something was needed, and although we finally got an away win after 4 defeats in a row, the team still seemed very disjointed in the second half. I wonder if he will keep this formation against the attack-minded Man City next week?