Arsene Wenger has seen a breath of fresh air given to this Arsenal team after finally changing his ways for pretty much the first time since 1996. Wenger changed the formation from his classic adaptation of the 442 to the more attacking 4231; but now he’s on board the three at the back train, with the Gunners looking to finish the season with a top four spot.
Arsenal found that after 5 defeats during a spell of 8 games, that something drastically needed to change. Wenger opted for the 343 formation in which has brought Chelsea to light this season and has made them more formidable in both defence and attack. The Gunners have managed to add rotation to the ranks with this formation, but both Rob Holding and Laurent Koscielny have maintained their roles in the team since its introduction.
Arsenal have seen the likes of Holding, Koscielny, Mustafi and Gabriel take shape in that back three, whilst they are well supported by the likes of Monreal, Gibbs, Bellerin and even a converted Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. Wenger has suggested that he had considered the change in formation long before Arsenal’s disastrous spell of defeats this season, but felt the players were not experienced enough to make such a transition during a difficult period.
In a Daily Mail report, Wenger said: ‘We decided against it because we like to attack and it is a bit more defensive minded. We did not especially have the personnel available to do it at the time that we have now. Rob Holding was still lacking experience. I think (we considered it) in November.’
‘It wasn’t because of Chelsea but when you are on the bench such a long time, you feel that in tense, high level situations and games, sometimes you get away with defensive insecurity because you score goals. Other times, you smell as well that if your confidence drops then you can pay for it as well.’
If Arsenal had changed to such a formation earlier in the season, then perhaps we’d be looking at a very different group of Gunners right now. We may not have had these worries about champions league qualification and who knows we may have put more pressure on the likes of Chelsea and Spurs. However that’s all in hindsight and who was to know that the Gunners would be able to adapt so quickly to what seems to be a formation of the modern era.
I suppose the best news we can take from this is that we have seen the high versatility of our players, especially in the likes of Chamberlain playing right wing back and Ozil playing as more of a inner winger/ right sided striker. The Gunners have also shown to also be capable of a Plan B strategy for the first time under Wenger, for when things aren’t quite going right for the club. We’ve also been able to see more of the very promising Rob Holding. The young Englishman looks to be a top talent and will maybe even be the heart of Arsenal’s defence one day. And finally of course we’ve also been able to get back on good form and give it a late push for top four. I think Champions League qualification is slim, especially with United in the hunt to qualify through winning the Europa League too, however despite it being a tough test for the Gunners, the players are giving it their best shot under this new regime.