Arsenal can save their season by using three centre-backs


This season, Arsenal have been poor defensively and Arsene Wenger has admitted that getting the ‘attack vis-à-vis defense’ balance right is a challenge. I think Arsenal can become solid enough to see off their challengers in the Europa League and win the trophy if they can deploy their squad more effectively. That would be defending with three in the back instead of four. Four at the back often counts for two on the bustle of the game which often includes counter attacks that Arsenal become more susceptible as the fullbacks move forward to help out in the wing duties as the match proceeds. Under pressure, even serious defenders would crack with some fanciful effort by the opposition.

With a three man at the back setup, the defending players do not need to venture too far into the centre of the game and can make those inspired efforts going out but mostly stay ‘home’ and defend. However, the temptation to have 5 defenders rather than three with dedicated wingers who can operate the entire wings but are more accomplished midfielders and only came back to defend when there is pressure as well as to start off attacks.

Arsenal will not have a problem to assemble three players to play powerful centre back of three from the list of players in the defensive unit. I think Bellerin, Koscielny and Monreal would provide a solid and inspired 3 centre back outing that can shut out any team any day on their good day. This is something that the next premier league match could be a test ground for.

On the solid winger duties, I believe on the left right now in the squad that is fit, Welbeck would play greatly in the Europa from that position. On the right with Mkhitaryan injured Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson should get each a half in that position so that we can weigh who is best in terms of solid output from that point. Solid wingers such as Ljungberg, Pires and Overmars have spurred Arsenal forward and instead of staying back and inviting pressure. By playing defensive minded players in these positions rather than attack minded ones has caused Arsenal to invite too many mistakes in their own backyard leading to them getting punished severely this season. Training young wing attack specialists would be beneficial to Arsenal.
The Wingers will provide support to the three-man midfield of Elneny or Xhaka (I would go with Elneny right now) in the defensive midfield role; Ramsey in the Vieira role – Yes, our Vieira, if well motivated, is Ramsey – and Ozil in the attacking midfield role.

In attack, we need our two-man attacking formation and in the Europa at this moment we can have Lacazette leading the attack and supported by Iwobi, Nkatiah and Akpom. Even Wilshere can be told to try his luck in supporting forward functions until we can transfer him out.

The Pattern is 3.5.2. Europa Squad

The Pattern is 3.5.2. EPL Squad

What do you think?



  1. Eddie Hoyte says:

    You added Iwobi? do you want JustArsenal fans go bite your head off?? They see no good in him, yes while i accept Iwobi needs to improve, we also forgot what he needs is a serious tough motivator coach..
    They’ll bite off Iwobi’s head and say a lot of insulting words on social media but they’ll lick Bellerin’s ass like he doesn’t deserve to be shipped or loaned out too.
    Anyways I love your formation, Mhiki and PEA will replace Iwobi and Niles when available.
    But let’s dream on since you ain’t the coach and i’m sure i ain’t the coach too

    1. BOTH Iwobi and Bellerin are donkeys! One can’t pass the other can’t cross. Everyone but the coach knows it. We may debate all day about their quality and that of our squad but at the end of the day the premier league table will tell us the truth.

    2. Thomo says:

      Have you forgotten already we have been playing 3 cb’s until recently and we were still losing….also bellerin as cb you can’t be serious he’s pony

  2. s says:

    One problem. Bellerin would be even worse in a “right side of defence”. Chambers is more suited to that role and Bellerin can be the actual winger

    1. Sony says:

      Bellerin can not be proper winger…. First of all he can not cross second he can not beat anybody except running faster than them. He is much better without that responsibility ie. just defending and passing to proper wing or Ozil.

  3. Sean says:

    We dont have the CBs to defend full stop or a manager who has a clue how to set defensive tactics that actually only work once in a blue moon. More focused on just possesion these days;
    – Not great forward passing, always sideways
    – Not a proper winger in the squad to open game
    – CBs all prone to 3/4 errors per game, GK too
    – No CDM in the WHOLE squad
    – CMs who cant defend in Xhaka,Elneny,Jack
    – Dont even play well or attractive football
    – Fullbacks too soft & no cover/competiton
    – BOTH GK not good enough

    With all that said we need a new back 5 in the summer… GK, 2CBs, CDM & Versatile Full back. And a Manager/Assistant with Top Coaches in all deptartments of training from GK-Sub18.

  4. Ozziegunner says:

    Welbeck for Iwobi, Ramsey for Welbeck; Xhaka for Ramsey and Kolasinac for Bellerin. Not convinced that Cech is better than Ospina..

  5. Gelz says:

    We have 6 CBs, used Montreal, Elneny and even Debuachy at CB when he was here and we have proved that any combo or formation doesn’t work. If we win the Europa and that’s a big if, that would save our season, but it doesn’t erase the embarrassment we have had to endure this campaign.

  6. john says:

    if u know football, dont write what u dont know about day in day out. laca has been a number 10 his whole football life. so what he does know best is about collecting balls from midfield than standing at the box waiting for balls like auba. wenger doesnt know who plays where or he fears challenging ozil by playing laca in number 10 position. steve bould realised this fact, thats why midfield is lost cause rambo plays more of finishing than collecting and supplying striker. so ozil is left only with passes which cant win arsenal any cup in big games which needs flying balls, unlike when u have wingers bringing in dead balls fast to strikers like auba. so since 2005, arsenal first needed two major running wingers, both rigth and left, and one super attacking midfielder, and even rambo as striker can give goals. have watched arsenal since 1994, and its only mr wenger who doesnt understand the composition of a super soccer team. with the above correction, ozil becomes second team sellection in small games for passes only. plus since beginning of this season if u have watched all matches, what iwobi, ozil, jack, sanchez, xaha did, was never giving a geniune pass to laca. only rambo, welbeck and auba only wish to pass or play to laca. watch all games then count if any. ozils ball to the box playing cska at emirate, was a deflection and not a pass to laca. henry commented abit about auba pass during newcastle, that if ozil played, that pass would never had happened. so arsenal players dont pass to laca, like cska away, only welbeck gave laca one box pass, and u expect arsenal to win. wenger noticed it when season was starting, from sanchez not passing to laca at all, thus the subing of laca started. and if u have noted, all arsenal palyers playing infront start major passes once laca is out. either most arsenal players think each game is thiers, or sanzhes demon is still controling things. truth is some arsenal players dont like laca or fear giving him the glory with super passes to score or creat goals. so please write about what wenger needs to do to correcting by warning plays to start playing together. otherwise the whole season has been wasted. no fromular will work this season cause of this major problem, but wenger needs to put everone first on check before atlectico game.

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    1. Sony says:

      I agree on most parts, especially Ramsey feels more like a another striker than cm sometimes, but saying that nobody give ball to Laca is not entirely true. I noticed Laca is also very selfish (how striker should be probably) never giving right pass all his vision is goal ie trying very hard to prove himself i like that, but it is killing team work little bit. They give him ball. However it is offside lol Not to mention they need to get better understanding. Ozil need someone who can literally read his mind that he gonna pass there like with Sanchez telepathy…… That combo carried us a lot.

      1. Ozziegunner says:

        Sorry Sony, Lacazette is not a selfish player, exemplified by the pass to Willock which Willock stuffed up when goal open against Newcastle.
        However, you are correct about all Arsenal’s attack being about Sanchez before he left and the midfield not being able to find Lacazette with a pass.

  7. AndersS says:

    Funny, how perspective changes. After last season, I think we all would have said, nothing less than getting back in top 4 in the PL would do, and many would also say more than that is needed.
    Now the season is nearly gone, and apart from a few, we have basically been somewhere between very mediocre and absolutely crap.
    We are miles behind not only the PL winner, but also teams like Liverpool, and Spurs, which there is no excuse not to e at least equal with.
    So in that perspective the season is an absolute disaster, and it can’t be saved.
    But winning the Europa League could of course bring us back into the Champions League which can bring some income next year, and for the owners that may save the season. But will it actually save it for us fans? Not in my opinion. We would still be miles from competing in the PL and chances of any success in the Champions League seem further away than ever.

    1. Ozziegunner says:

      AndersS you are spot on – Europa League would not paper over a crack, but a great gulf between Arsenal and the top 5 clubs. The Premier League table doesn’t lie.

  8. jon fox says:

    Nicholas , Your article is fallacious as it means keeping all the dross in the team. Bellerin as a CB made me shriek with laughter that any sane(presumably) person could think this would work. Bellerin and Mustafi are probably the two worst defenders we have had for some years. And to get THAT title, at Arsenal, is an almost impossible feat. They are THAT bad. The plain truth that all realists know full well is that the new manager , who will be announced by end of May or early June, needs to sweep away the entire defence and get some proper defenders, who can ACTUALLY DEFEND! This is his first and most urgent job and he needs to start before the WC. If we still have these sick joke “defenders” like the laughable BELLERIN AND THE ARROGANT AND FEEBLE MUSTAFI, then the stadium will be almost empty. Playing Devil’s Advocate, so it would also be empty were Wenger to remain!

    1. Ozziegunner says:

      Jon fox in defence of Nicholas, I believe he is just looking at Arsenal just eking its way to the end of the season with the player resources available.
      Retention, cleanout and replacement of players in the squad will hopefully be a matter for the new manager.

  9. Mark Kitching says:

    Working on the basis that we play with 3 centre backs the idea of having Bellerin as 1 of the back 3 is nuts.

    You need Bellerin as the wingback, if you play him at all?

    I have grave misgivings about Mustafi and the sad decline in Koscielny worries me. But I still think having a Monreal – Koscielny – Mustafi back 3 would be our best bet in that formation.

    Chambers or Holding might be able to act as a replacement for one of Koscielny or Mustafi, but neither is a great option.

    In the away tie in Madrid I’d have:

    Mustafi Koscielny Monreal
    Bellerin Ramsey Xhaka Welbeck

    Elneny can be the “disciplined” defensive midfielder and sit 10 yards in front of the back 3, allowing Ramsey and Xhaka to play further up the pitch. Ramsey’s ability to get forward into goal scoring positions will be key in the away game.

    Welbeck will run his backside off for the team and he’s been playing well in the last few games, he might inadvertently create something with a scuffed cross or the ball might bounce off his shin into the net?

    Ozil and Lacazette pick themselves.

    If Mkhitaryan is fit then I’d probably have to rethink, but I doubt we’ll see him play again this season, such is the injury curse at the club.

  10. Ozziegunner says:

    Mark, I agree but would replace Bellerin with Kolasinac for the away game as a tougher more rugged defender.

  11. Grandad says:

    Never mind complicating matters by suggesting we use our best full backs as centre backs.In the Cup Final last year Holding did a great job in keeping Costa quiet so give him an opportunity to do so again and to line up as the main ball winning centre back beside Kocielney.The fact that you have excluded Mustafi is a plus point.

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