Arsenal Tactics – Should Wenger persist with 4-1-4-1 formation?

Are Arsenal struggling because of the change in system? by SE

For a whole lot of reasons — acceptable or aberrational — Arsene Wenger decided to adopt a new system, 4-1-4-1, replacing the in vogue 4-2-3-1 system. Two and a half months into the new season, and the Arsenal players are yet to adapt to the new system, which subsequently is failing to produce the enviable results. So what really is causing the problems for Arsenal? Is it the players who are failing to come to terms with the system deployed by their manager or, is the system incongruous to Arsenal’s style of football given the kind of players Wenger has at his disposal?

What is the 4-1-4-1 system all about?
This particular system is not much different to the 4-5-1 which is a defensive formation deployed by managers who want to play on the counterattack. The problem with playing 4-1-4-1, in Arsenal’s case, is that it is less fluid when compared to the 4-2-3-1 system and, more importantly, the lack of a No.10 can be sabotaging. With the presence of a No.10 it becomes easy to link up the play in midfield, as there’s always an extra option to pass the ball to.
Why the North Londoners are struggling to play effectively?

Unless and until yours is a well-rounded squad, with players being able to play in more than one designated position, it does take time for any crop of players to adapt and assimilate their way into a new system. This process can be tedious, which is exactly what is happening with Wenger’s wizards. In addition, players — Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck, Mathieu Debuchy — coming into a new club ought to be given time to settle into the style of play, as much as to their new environment.

The big question would be why Wenger didn’t persist with the 4-2-3-1 system, for which the answer is very simple: If you want to accommodate all your stars — Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Welbeck and Olivier Giroud — in your starting XI, 4-2-3-1 is not the best possible answer. Playing 4-1-4-1 neither is, but it enables Wenger to get the very best of his attack-minded midfielders who like to be freed of their defensive duties and just thrive on motoring forward.

What is the way forward for Arsenal?
I doubt Wenger reverting back to playing 4-2-3-1, albeit the newly adopted system isn’t currently functioning as well as he would have liked. The problem for Arsenal is a mixture of the players finding their way into the new system, which can work well when played to perfection, and the number of newcomers who invariably will take time to get used to their new surroundings. But the bottom line is that it will take a bit of time before we get to see the Gunners flourishing in this new system.


  1. Considering our crop of players I would say yes.
    Ramsay and or Wilshire can’t really play as part of the 1 next to the DM because Wilshire likes to come out with the ball, whilst Ramsay likes to make them late runs.

    1. Dont know about wheelchair but ramsey did it just fine last season, you know the season he had the most tackles in the prem till his injury and where he was our best player by a country mile.

    2. I prefer a defensively naive midfield with Wilshere and Ramsey over a midfield with Flamini. He may have been transfer free but he costs us a lot of money every game again.
      Look back the games against Tottenham (error Flamini, Chadli Scores), Man City (marking error, Aguero scores), Hull City (maybe a FK but still very weak), Southampton (Very bad timed tackle that costs us the Carling Cup).
      What is the use of a DM if he can’t defend at all and makes errors all the time? It is ridiculous that we haven’t had a decent DM since Giberto Silva.

    3. The big question would be why Wenger
      didn’t persist with the 4-2-3-1 system, for
      which the answer is very simple: If you want
      to accommodate all your stars — Sanchez,
      Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere,
      Aaron Ramsey, Welbeck and Olivier Giroud…..arsenal has only 2 stars which is Ozil and Sanchez Walcott can be added but the rest are mere squad players but wilshere is below even average and selfish bench him and Wenger Out

  2. The thing about formation is that u don’t have to be stuck with just one. The kind of formation that should be used would depend on the kind of opposition team u are facing or the kind of players u wish to use at any given time.

    U don’t use one particular formation and the same team selection always.

  3. it doesn’t matter what formation we use….. Wenger’s tactics are rubbish and his game approach is sh*t …… BTW: what’s all these stupid rumors about sanchez getting tired and frustrated with the lack of support from team mates?….. This better be wrong, else ……….

    1. if Sanchez leaves because of lazy team mates and an old school manager, i’m assassinating Kroenke!… OT: don’t understand the reason we changed formation, there was a time last season where we looked like world beaters, so why change Mr Wenger, eish!

    2. @SoOp. Such rubbish rumours come from people of sick mentality as yours. In the past week you have been writing articles comments aimed at isolating alexis from the rest of the squad. Your stupid strategy has been to try and make alexis feel greater than arsenal and his team mates. Now you are making a spin on the rubbish outpourings you have been make and claim that he is frustrated etc. Grow up

      1. @ the Analyzer… you must be an idiot if u think i’m the author of these rumour based blogs…. Just so you knw, i called em “rumours” cuz they are not validated ….. You should learn to understand statements before replying…. Now, do urself a favour n swerve

    3. the rumors are just used to stir some shit among the gunners 🙂 i think its rather clear that during the match itself the whole team is pressing especially when sunderland is attacking. just go to look at the analysis. there are plenty of tackles and interceptions and it’s spread out among all the players 😀 this pretty much shows that everyone is putting in a lot of effort.

      the only difference is the work rate of sanchez is one notch above the rest. he will always be doing that no matter which team he is playing for. i think he is actually enjoying himself here 😀 scoring goals for fun~

    4. Watch his celebration after the second goal against Sunderland. Watch his facial expression after he turned and saw his teammates just standing there as if they wasn’t happy he scored the goal! I fear the worst could happen if Sanchez’s enthusiasm isn’t rewarded. Shameless players.

      1. i would say its the realisation of the plunder was made by an ex arsenal player and really big one. look at how they celebrated the 1st goal 😀 everyone was jumping over him.

      2. Because everyone have seen the ref blowing the whistle. It was basically the lasy action of the game. You fear what? The worst? It is not very clear.

  4. sometimes i think AFC have got a problem and its called “WENGER” ….sometimes known as “GAZIDIS” , otherwise referred to as “KROENKE”

  5. Stop Sanchez, Stop Arsenal

    Will be the instruction most coaches will be dishing out to their players very soon…

    1. spot on!……. Tell it to em….. That will be their basic game approach which will leave wenger completely rigid on his seat

    2. That’ll be great as they will bunch up the flanks leaving the middle open. I say yes, leave them stop Sanchez. Shouldn’t be easy anyway to stop him.

  6. I just hate hypocrites who come on this site seeking to sound impressive and supportive always, at the expense of the truth.

    What do u mean “fans” are another problem Arsenal has got? Factually, AFC ticket costs more than every other club’s yet fans still don’t mind paying just for the luv of the club. AFC fans still turn out massively to watch their team play, despite some of the embarrassing outings. AFC fans put up with an insensitive coach and board that constantly snub the pleas of the fans, yet the never turn their back on the team during games.

    For how many years, we remained trophyless, watched some of our best players get sold, even get sold to our rivals, and get replaced by average ones, or sometimes never replaced at all, yet AFC fans stood by their club.

    What more can u ask from fans of a club? That they should never speak their minds? What’s a club without the fans?

    Screw ratings, they don’t motivate me, neither do they discourage me from speaking my mind. All I’m saying is, at the end, we are all fans of this beautiful club and we ain’t bound to share the same opinions but we luv this club equally. Managers come and go, players come and go, membership of the board aint permanent, but fans remain forever.

    Whether we lose or win, no matter our position after the season, I’m condemn to support Arsenal forever.

      1. hey 😀

        regarding tickets,
        i cant rem the stats accurately but one of the reason why our seasonal ticket is more “expensive” is the tickets cover 27 games while other cover 19 games. looking at per game basis, our ticket pricing is comparable to rest 😀 so dont be misled by the media that we are paying more than all the clubs 😀

        and what i meant by fans is those who constantly moan and groan, even a win. but thats not the worst, the worst is constantly condemning the players not to mention some want this and that players to be sold. As fans, we support the club and at most, provide some constructive criticism. i remember ppl saying ramsey should be sold and not be played and guess what, wenger continue to play him and it pays off.

        selling players and not winning trophies are something that happens during the transition period. i think this is extremely clear for everyone to see. now instead of selling our best players, we are bring in better players: ozil and sanchez is just the beginning. i dont think we will reach the level whereby we spend >50 on a single player but we are able to bring in top top quality players.

        As for our squad, last season the main problem was lack of pace and injuries + dead wood who aint good enough. this season that was addressed by bring in sanchez, welbeck. with 7 1st team players out we are still able to field a quality team out. look, our defence aint that shallow: taking 3 defenders out (debuchy, gibbs, kos), we are still able to field a functional defensive line up. dont get me started abt the midfield and front line… for the 1st time in many many years, our back up isnt the likes of… lord bentner(actually he have huge potential…but a even bigger ego and belly :P) …

        am i satisfied with the squad? no. simple. the football they are playing are far from what they are capable of doing. we know and wenger knows it even better. we can see from the way he behave during the matches.

        all i want to say is no one is happy with performance of the club at the moment. All the more we should continue to support the players, the manager and the club. they are doing their best to bring out the best performance, what we can do is just sit back, and enjoy this roller coaster ride with arsenal 😀

  7. Our formation should be adapted for the team we are against,for example this weekend against burnley we should go for an attacking 4-3-3 .

  8. Off topic
    When wenger goes I pridict a toothless manager
    It won’t be Anchlotti
    Or Martinez why
    As they will want to spend money
    I predict a manager who is hardly known but can be controlled

  9. @Ardano.
    Was the Southampton error Flamini’s or Rosicky?
    Yes, Flamini isn’t probably physically/mentally up to it. However, he still is the closest thing to a midfield battler that we have at the moment. I wish to see Ramsey/Wilshere play alongside Khedira next season.

  10. if Arsene buys a defensive midfield general and an actual left winger, we’d have a perfect squad for 4-1-4-1 honestly. But it really doesn’t work when we keep starting Ozil/Cazorla on the left and Arteta in front of the defence.

  11. Off-Topic

    I read yesterday about an Arsenal fan who died while doing a good Samaritan act. He tried to help someone who was assaulted and was hit by a car while in pursuit. His name was Kevin O’Donnelll. He was a loving father of 3 and husband. RIP Kevin

  12. The tactics of 4-1-4-1 has led the players astray, meaning they do not know crap about the formation so the run around the place without any direction> The players role in this formation have not been define, what i am basically saying they do not know what is their function(what to do)

    Now the 4-4-2 or the similar 4-2-3-1 would work nicely for arsenal dependent on the opponent and the players use, i would love to see a welbeck and Sanogo in the first formation against teams like chelsea, stoke, mancity, liverpool these teams do not like playing against two strikers against the other teams i would use the latter formaition, in both formation we need to holding MF, preferable a quick physical presence is needed for one while the other is more creative

  13. We changed the formation in response to those heavy defeats we suffered at the hands of big teams. Wengers should have just added a very good DM and another quicker defender to treat those kind of problems but eish he is too stubborn to drop his new captain or Flamini and he had to change the formation to make sure the midfield players defend and attack in numbers with one DM to always protect the defense but this is not happening and Wenger will not change that until maybe 2 or 3 years because he is not under any pressure to do well after all!

  14. no… We need a midfield (as proved against sunderland) thats why we’ve been playing poor football. if he plays 4-1-4-1 we should play it like a 4-1-2-2-1 formation. Where both the attacking mids will drop back as center mids we’ll be able to control games and provide more cover for arteta and the defense.

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