Arteta’s choice of right-back will be key to this season’s tactical approach

Rightback Signing Will Tell Us Everything We Need to Know

Fans are not, for the most part, tactical visionaries. They simply want their club to win irrespective of the coaching. But Arsenal are trying to get back to the top next season and the coaching will have a lot to do with it irrespective of who we sign.

Ironically, signings also inform coaching. If you have Mohammed Salah at your club, then we know that you need an overlapping fullback to maintain the width and a defensively capable midfielder to hold things together. Mikel Arteta is an obvious tactical nut. His signings will be carefully calculated to fill in carefully calculated roles in a carefully calculated scheme. Of course, most coaches are like that nowadays. They play specific systems and want specific players for those systems.

This is where things get a bit murky with Arteta. Given the state of the club he inherited in December, midway through the season, one can say that he has not executed his full tactical vision yet. He only signed 3 players in his first full season. Now, the rumours are that we might sign as many as 5 players. This is the season in which he will have a solid chance to execute his tactical vision in full.

Mikel Arteta first used a 3-4-3 system which later changed to a 4-2-3-1 system. Since then, we have also seen a 4-3-3 on several occasions. It is not controversial to say that the most successful system so far has been the 4-2-3-1. It is also not controversial to imagine that Arteta likely wants a 4-3-3, given his education at La Masia, under Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger. But this begs the question: would you ditch the successful for the new at a club where your job is on the line?

It must be noted that the most successful clubs in the world mostly employ managers who have historically preferred a 4-3-3. And if Arteta thinks that is the right move for us, then we will move forward with it. However, the current 4-2-3-1 system is a specific system that demands something special from our rightback. It demands that he moves in field and protect the space left behind by the No. 10. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Calum Chambers have both functioned in this role. In a 4-3-3, this is not needed as we’ll be playing with two 8s instead and the fullbacks will provide width down the flank.

Our rightback signing therefore tells us all we need to know about Arteta’s preferred system for next season. A player like Tyler Adams who is a central midfielder we have been linked to who plays at rightback tells us that we stick with the system as it is. While a link to a dynamic, overlapping rightback like Kieran Trippier tells us that we are moving to a 4-3-3 system.

I suspect that Arteta wants both options, however.

Agboola Israel

Predict the score of Arsenal v Inter Milan and win a copy of “Caviar and Sausages – Arsenal in the time of Wenger”

Tags Arteta tactics


  1. Personally, I suspect Arteta wants more than just both options. Especially after seeing that our soon to be new signing Ben White and back up left-back, both can play at RB. With Bellerin, Cedric, Chambers and AMN already in our books, soon we will be able to field a team full of players capable of playing RB. Our future looks the brightest at the RB position.

    RBs win games! RBs win trophies! Viva La RBs!!! COYG!!!

    1. VasC, and I thought Arsenal with all the CB’s was intending to play a 9-1 formation.🤔

      1. Wow! That’s an upgrade from our last season’s primary formation 10 – 0, when not in possession of the ball.

  2. I think Arteta wants a dynamic RB who can change his role frequently, instead of just an overlapping fullback like Tierney

    His approach would likely be similar to Mancini’s left overloading tactic in Euro, where Di Lorenzo didn’t move forward as often as Spinazzola. Di Lorenzo was obviously instructed to stay back and cut inside to help Bonucci/ Chiellini occasionally

    Tuchel and Conte also used a dynamic defender as an element of surprise in their three-CB formations. But the dynamic defender is their right CB, instead of their right wingback

    Southgate also used similar approach when playing against Italy in Euro final, with Kyle Walker as the element of surprise from the right CB position in Southgate’s 3-4-2-1

    1. Cedric has all the dynamism we need. He’s such a great player yet most of the fans see him as a back-up RB.

      Hope Arteta makes him first choice next season. I really enjoyed watching him play for Portugal and was overjoyed when we signed him.

      1. Soares is skillful, tireless and seems smart, despite a bit lacking in pace department and being short. He can definitely be our ultimate RB, but he won’t be a starter as long as Bellerin stays

  3. I’m afraid your use of the word “dynamic” in describing Trippier, escapes me.A decent crosser of a ball, like Cedric,but dynamic, he is not.Poor in the air, not particularly quick and lacking in defensive capability.The first ingredient to consider in assessing a full back, is not the ability to attack, but to defend.

    1. Grandad,it’s the same reason why they keeping on fielding him with walker to play games when they’re on international duties yet both play RB

  4. All proposed by Arteta and his boardroom staff to give us victory towards winning the PL would be welcomed.
    Tactical approach to ensure that we don’t drop points against the top five (both home and away) and picking maximum points against all other PL teams would only guarantee our qualification back to EUFA competitions and as well actualize our goals.
    All over to Edu and Arteta to do their best in this transfer window to get us the best legs.
    Koroenke family should be responsive to release fund. Good luck to our beloved team.
    Up Gooners.

  5. Just to reiterate what I said days ago, Granit Xhaka to AS Roma is a done deal. The deal has been struck at 17m. He’s not staying. 100% gone.

    Noone should worry themselves about Locatelli. His move to Juventus is a done deal. He just preferred Juventus, not that he rejected Arsenal. Once he goes there, the club will push for Neves who they have already tried to sign but the deal will not happen at Wolves’ quoted price of 37m. I believe Bissouma is behind Neves in priority too.

    Trippier to Arsenal will not happen. Ridle Baku, Max Aarons, Mert Muldur and Tyler Adams are just some RB targets. They can only be signed when Bellerin leaves which is looking very likely right now. Inter may sign him on loan with an obligation to buy with Arsenal demanding 20m for him. Lets see what happens.

    Aouar saga continues. Will soon know if bid(25m) has rejected or accepted

    1. I won’t be surprised if we end up with Saul Niguez or Thomas Lemar in the end of the transfer window. Arsenal like to surprise us sometimes

  6. Kev, thanks for the updates, I’ve always been an admirer of your transfer titbits. Personally, I think we should go for Max Aaron irrespective if we sell bellerin or not, he has impressed me so far and I am very optimistic that the kid will go places with us.

  7. I’m still not sure what Arteta wants to do from a tactical point of view. I am still confused. Playing Xhaka at LB while Saka was left on the bench, ESR on the wing to accommodate Odegaard, Willian for Pepe, Auba on the left, Runnarson in goal when Leno was free – in summary a deluge of extremely poor tactical decisions (unforced errors) from the the very start of the season to the end. We are right to worry about RB for sure, but we’ve got bigger fish to fry.

  8. Arteta likes to complicated things a times. He overthinks just like Pep.
    His decision to take off Aubameyang in the europa league semi final second leg still surprises me. He took him off for Willian and brought in Nketiah later. lol.

    I would suggest we go for a 4141 formation.
    We need to go back to the Wenger era when we dominate teams and overload the midfield.

    4141 formation

    Chambers White Gabriel Tierney


    Pepe Aouar ESR Martinelli


    Aouar signing is key.
    The right back is sorted. Chambers, Cedric and AMN can play right back.
    There are no European competition next season for Arsenal. Rather than waste money on another defender, we should rather buy Raheem Sterling. Good attack wins you league title. Goals win games.

    1. Successful Arsenal under Wenger played Gilberto Silva at DM and Patrick Viera as B2B in midfield.
      Thomas Partey alone, with Aouar and ESR as the ACM’s will not be physically strong enough defensively. Wenger also had physically strong tall combative attacking midfielders like Dennis Bergkamp, Emanuel Petit, Freddie Lundberg and Ray Parlour to call on, who dropped back to defend and win the ball back.

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