Why a Back-Three worked for Arsenal

After losing four away games in a row, Arsenal finally returned to winning ways on the road with a 2-1 win over Middlesbrough. Prior to kickoff, Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger surprised everyone by going with a back-three formation, playing Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and young Rob Holding at the centre with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Nacho Monreal playing as wing-backs in what seemed like a 3-4-2-1 formation.

Despite an edgy start, the North London side gradually grew into the system and into the game, winning it through goals from Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. It is safe to say that the change in system was successful, at least in regards to the game against Boro. With that being said, there are a number of aspects of Arsenal’s game that were enhanced as a result of Wenger finally tweaking his tactics.

Firstly, while the defence wasn’t exactly rock solid, there was definitely an improvement compared to the game against Crystal Palace and games prior. As a result of the formation, the team had more bodies at the back and were hence better equipped in dealing with edgy situations. Surely, if the defenders get a little more time to get used to the system, the Gunners can build a more compact backline.

Second, playing this formation really got our wide players into the game. While Monreal did not have his best game, Oxlade-Chamberlain really took his chance and was good going forward and at the back for Arsenal, and could have even ended up with a couple assists and a goal. Considering that our squad has players like The Ox, Bellerin, Gibbs and Walcott, this system can really get the best out of them as the ball is more likely to get spread out to the flanks.

Also, this formation allowed the utmost creative freedom to the team’s most creative players, Sanchez and Ozil, with the latter having his best game in a long time. Both men had a big impact on the game and their link-up play was excellent, despite Sanchez being a bit careless with possession. While it remains to be seen whether Le Prof will stick to this system, it surely a sigh of relief that the Frenchman has a Plan B and is willing to change things.



  1. eazyarsenal says:

    it worked because middlesborough are crap

    1. ArseOverTit says:

      And we were lucky not to concede more before we scored..

  2. The troll formerly known as robin vanpayslip says:

    They are ****. Wenger could have gone 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 and we would still have been in with a chance. Not a great one but neither were we yesterday.

    Do some people seriously not get it. He is playing you. He has signed a contract that he won’t announce because he needs good form. So what does he do? Changes his system against a team that is atrocious in the PR possibility that people will accept him.

    He hasn’t learnt anything other than how to play fans. If he wanted a system change then it wasn’t like the bad firm isn’t 3 & 1/2 months old yet he never thought this up earlier……….

  3. mark says:

    Clearly I was watching a different game. We looked disjointed and lacking belief.

    There were a few good points, but as a team, no. We looked mid table.

    How that man is still in his job is beyond me. Absurd.

    1. ArseOverTit says:

      It’s because Satan Kroenke only loves money ball and not football or Arsenal!

  4. Break-on-through says:

    I don’t think I’d want to see Walcott play wing back, no way. The others named look suited to it, Gibbs would certainly suit it more than Monreal. I remember when we first left the four four two, we were the last of the big clubs to finally switch. For Arsene to want to use this more often he’d have to see more than defensive solidity, that’s not enough for him, he’d need to see a free flowing game were we dominate midfield. On the back of that result I don’t see him thinking about a change. If he is still around after this season I can see him use it again versus a long ball team.

  5. RSH says:

    Did it work? We achieved more useless passes across our defense, thats for sure. I also noticed we were able to get back quicker and press better. Is that down to the formation, or Arsenal players realizing they have to put in effort to win, because you can also press in 4231. I think a better team would punish us just as harshly as we have been lately.

  6. SoOpa AeoN says:

    Same players…..different formation and we think a miracle happened!

    Revel and gloat for now…
    Just you Wait till we play a half decent team…….

    See you soon!

  7. luvdaguns says:

    it worked becuz of a phenominal free kick, vs a 19th place team, otherwise that match was a disaster…

  8. SoOpa AeoN says:

    This is not the best time neither is it against a proper team to know if 3-4-3 works

    Work that magic against chelski let’s see LoL

    Even wenger is unsure of the tactics cuz he probably thinks that hey it’s the same crop of average players on the pitch which changes nothing….this explains why he stated that the tactics could be used punctually in a game ……crooked dictator!

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