In-Depth analysis of Arsenal’s formation and each position

New Season Tactics and Lineup‏ by HA

Dear Gooners,

Good day. The transfer window is shut. Arsenal had a good but not great window. Our playing style suits 4-2-3-1 most but for playing 4 defenders in every match for 55 odd games a season we needed 1 or 2 more defenders. Last year, there were some matches, when Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs all were injured and we played with Jenkinson- Sagna – Mertesacker – Monreal. This needed to be addressed in the transfer period. Specially considering Gibbs’ injury record and Debuchy’s disciplinary issues. We can still sign some free agents, but players who are free agents at the end of the transfer window are seldom the quality we require who can push us through. Maybe we should not have loaned out Jenkinson, then our squad would have looked far more solid.

But, there’s no use moaning about the window now. We should look ahead. We have a far better first eleven than we have had for a while. Maybe defensively we are thin but we can still hope for the title. End of the day, if we score more than we concede, job is done for that day. We need to use our squad in a better way. We should play with a formation, which addresses the injury issues. To sustain a title challenge over a season, we should be playing with a 3-3-3-1 formation. Playing three defenders out of six addresses our dire injury issue.


Please notice the goal conceded against Leicester. Have a look at Mertesacker’s movement. He was far too calm and slow for stopping the counter attack and the cross. We needed another defender in front of Sczczesny to defend the crosses coming from the flanks. We conceded a lot of goals last season because of the same issue (corners, set pieces and crosses from flanks). Another thing we have witnessed last season is opponents scoring goals from counter attacks. We often got caught up by the pace from the opponents because our full backs and wide players could not track back, and opponents found us with Koscielny and Mertesacker defending alone much too often. Therefore, we need three defenders all the time covering our back. Another thing we should be doing is rotating better. We could have kept Vermaelen if we had played him more often or rotated better. Just playing in-form players all the time means sad players on the bench and fatigue of the more used players. Also please note that, Debuchy receives cards mostly when he tracks back from attack.

So my choice for playing 3 CB’s are as follows:

RCB :Debuchy / Chambers
CB/ Sweeper :Koscielny / Mertesacker
LCB :Monreal / Gibbs

Holding Midfielder:

Holding MF has been probably our weakest point for last two seasons and also this one. After Song, we have not really replaced him. If Diaby could stay fit, maybe our situation would not have been like this. If Diaby can stay fit for half of this season, he is my most preferred DM. When he is not available (like always!), Arteta and Flamini can cover for him. When Arteta plays, our passing game gets a whole lot better. But he loses possession far too much for our liking against physically strong opponents. Flamini always orders other people about what to do instead of doing things himself. Last season, when he first arrived I thought we got ourselves a leader. But as the season progressed, he seemed more like a boss, not a leader.

For this formation, my DM has to stay in front of the 3 CB’s all the time to break up opponent’s attack. So for DM position, my preferred players are:

DM :Diaby / Arteta / Flamini

Box To Box Midfielders (RCM + LCM):

Undoubtedly we have one of the best B2B midfielders in Ramsey. Wilshere has not been able to live up to his name so far. But this season, I have a feeling he will improve. He has shown more maturity in recent games. With him triggering, we can have a very good season. In this formation, the central midfielders have to protect the attacks from the wing. For covering Ramsey and Wilshere, we can use Ox, Gnabry and Rosicky. Ox has been impressive last year when he was used as a CM. Gnabry played well too and Rosicky still has got the engine.

LCM : Ramsey / AOC
RCM :Wilshere / Gnabry / Rosicky

I have covered 3-3 of my 3-3-3-1 formation. For the final 3-1, the tactics will remain pretty much the same as that of last year.

Right Wing:

For using both Theo and Sanchez, we have to use Theo in the Right flanks and Sanchez in the left. Theo can be played only in the right wing or in CF position. He scored a hat-trick against Newcastle from CF position. But he is clearly better from the flanks where he can use his raw pace. But he is also injury prone and should be rotated. To cover him, we can use Campbell. In Campbell, we have a great potential. Frustrating him by keeping him on the bench will do us no good. We should give him a run every once in a while. He has the audacity to shoot and score from anywhere, something we had in the king Henry. The wingers have to track back to stop the crosses from the wings. Walcott and Campbell both have the pace to get at the end of Ozil’s visionary through balls, which can tear the opponents defenses apart. Walcott lacks finishing ability, which Campbell can offer.

RW: Walcott / Campbell

Left Wing:

My first choice here will be new boy Alexis Sanchez. He can dribble, he can track back, he is strong, and he is an opportunist who can get into scoring position from rebounds. One thing he lacks is passing in the final third. He can be selfish at times, which is not too bad if you consider the contrast in our passing and shooting. Our players pass from the scoring positions at times, which is sometimes wasteful. To cover him, I think we can use Podolski. He has lethal feet. He is a finisher. But he lacks the stamina to play the whole 90 minutes for successive games. And he is not too consistent either. He can be used as our super sub as Sanchez will not be dropped much.

LW : Sanchez / Podolski

Creative Midfielder:

We have one of the best number 10 in the world and we have Santi who can also deliver. It’s far too hard to choose one of the two. But to use our pace in the wings most, I would choose Ozil ahead of Cazorla. His passes can tear opponent defenses in half. But he is someone who needs others to score and play well. His performance totally depends on others. Last year, after we lost Walcott and Ramsey, his performance dipped terribly. So if his performance dips, we can use Cazorla and vice versa. Cazorla was very consistent in his first year but failed to live up to his standard last year. The reason behind it is his preferred position is number 10 slot. So I don’t see any reason to push him on the flanks but to rotate him more with Ozil. This will also create a healthy competition between them.

CAM :Ozil / Cazorla

Centre Forward:

We currently have Giroud out for a while. So our pretty much straightforward choice is new arrival Welbeck ahead of Sanogo. He is strong and fast. He can score in big games. But his finishing is not up to the mark yet. But under Wenger, I believe he can be a much better striker. And when Giroud returns, both of them will have a healthy competition. Something we have missed for a long long time.

CF :Welbeck / Giroud / Sanogo

This is a formation we should be using for most of the season to address our injury concerns, especially against weaker opponents. We can use it against strong teams like Man City too as they play through the middle more. Against Man United and Liverpool, we should offer our left wing more protection with Sanchez and Wilshere as they have Di Maria and Sterling in their right wings respectively. But against a very well balanced team like Chelsea, especially in Stamford Bridge, I think we should revert back to 4-2-3-1 with Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs in the back four and Chambers in DM position. Overall, my preferred formation is 4-2-3-1 but we clearly do not have enough players to play four defenders throughout the season. But we simply cannot use the current 4-1-4-1 formation. It’s not working at all. We are not being able to play the beautiful game we play and it’s also not becoming very effective. It puts Ozil out of position and we still concede goals with our defensive high line leaving Koscielny and Mertesacker alone to defend. This formation will always require the three defenders and holding midfielder to sit on the back protecting our goal.

Hopefully, the boss will address the thin defense line and answer in the right way. But knowing the boss, he will be playing 4-1-4-1 unless he absolutely needs to. Like in the FA Cup final, he reluctantly changed his formation to 4-4-2 and got the result. He should be tactically more proactive this season.

Good luck with the season!

Hasib (Bangladesh)

VIDEO – Arsenal Players Performances in England win over Norway

Tags Giroud Ramsey welbeck Wilshere


      1. We still have an outside chance of winning the BPL, hope we can get some good results by january and then sign the couple of players we badly need and then we are in for the title. Lets not give up yet.

  1. This confused my mind lol, 3-3-3-1? Wenger would never do that. He isnt guardiola who played alonso at CB in an alien looking formation that still worked.
    Lets just stick to last seasons formation, it was effective. And with welbeck it would be even better with all that pace.

      1. Haha trust me, Hasib on ‘just arsenal’ has just created a new revolutionary formation. Maybe he got the inspiration by substituting a goalkeeper in fifa.

  2. Campbell can play the LW. LW has been a problem position for Arsenal. Logical conclusion = play Campbell at LW.

  3. Overall this has been a much
    better transfer window
    than last season. Why Wenger
    did not add a decent CB as
    cover is puzzling. He has a plan?
    Arsenal now has a truckload of
    mid/attack options to cover
    the vast injury toll expected.
    Arsenal has enough talent to win the EPL.
    Wengesr use of the talent will be critical.
    The EPL Managers will be the deciding factor
    in this seasons Premiership.

  4. Cant wait for the gunners to be back in action! Bring on city! “We are arsenal” victoria concordia crecit! Coyg!

  5. Not a lot of evidence to suggest a 3-3-3-1 works for any team, particularly Arsenal-

    I do like the authors thinking, but I think a back 3 would be MORE prone to injuries not less than a back 4. Jenkinson loan (or did we sell him) does look strange given lack of depth. My biggest concern about a 3-3-3-1 type formation is the narrowness, with physically less players across the pitch we would be much easier to pass through, and since we don’t have big strong central midfield I think this would be dangerous for us-

    I look forward to seeing Wengers preferred shape when all fit.

    Personally I like a 4-4-2, because a Giroud to hold up the ball, and a Wellbeck or Sanchez to link with, plus bursts from midfield will provide us lots of goal scoring opportunities

  6. you’re wasting your time, wenger doesn’t change tactics for opponents he said! he plays the way he wants to against every team lol as long as he makes it to top 4 he’s satisfied and the club stays profitable. Wenger deserves to be the CEO not a manager, he’s way too clever to be a manager, we need a manager who’s sole job is to worry about winning titles not a shrewd CFO like wenger.

  7. Does anybody else feel like Wenger keeps the same formation just so he can get Ozil/cazorla/ramsey/wilshere/arteta all on the pitch at the same time?? He’ll say no player is bigger than the club, and then turn around and play the same players every match out of favoritism until they either get injured or burn out. i don’t know what it is, but if you’re a winger at Arsenal, then good luck getting playing time. Podolski, OX, Campbell, Gnabry. ALL players who would add different elements to our lineup but never start the match. Even Walcott was benched for awhile 2 seasons ago and looked to be on his way out of the club because of lack of playing time. Sanchez is an exception because he’s obviously contributing and plays all over the pitch. Just seems like he signs big names, but then massages their ego and lets them start every match regardless of if they’re playing well.

  8. I think that formation will do us good compared to the 4-1-4-1 we’re trying to adapt to.Can some1 tell our defender they’re not midfieders and strikers their is to defend.Look at chelsea defends they barely move forward and if they do they cover quick before their oppenent counter attack them.But par is too slow to do that so better for him to stay in his pole.I think with the city match AW shd play
    ….chambers,debunch,kol & gibbs

  9. John Terry and Gary Cahil played over 100 games between them last season, they are not to different to Kos and Mert in terms of age. I don’t understand why everyone is so worried about our defence, CB’s don’t need to be rotated at all often and Chambers has shown he can play there quite comfortably. Bellerin who I believe is better than Jenks is good enough for 2nd choice RB, Nacho is good cover for Gibbs and Flamini can cover any of the back 4.

    These are my best teams for our 2 current formations:


    Back 5

    Rambo Flam

    Alexis Ozil Ox


    Everyone in this team works hard and doesn’t cop out on defensive duties (bar Ozil), not a bad thing because he is our most creative player when on form and this team accommodates his shortcomings so he has more freedom.



    Doesn’t utilise our best players, the only way this really works is to drop Ozil and play Ox or Campbell LW and play Wilshere in the mid 3 with Rambo and Flam/Arteta.

  10. I think we are a little light at the back but then I look at all the teams that have “done the business” this transfer window and who are apparently going to walk all over us this season and I don’t see any strength in their back-up defensive options. Their quality drops off big time if injuries to the 1st XI back 4 happen. Which back-up defenders from Man C, Pool, CFC or Utd do we rate?

  11. When will people learn that Diaby is not a DM! Wenger has always seen him as an AM, Diaby likes to get forward, he would be a liability as our DM.

  12. @ Hasib,SPOT ON, i said the very same thing on an article day before yesterday in Just Arsenal titled – Arsenal Tactics – Does a lack of defenders signal a change of formation? (If you logged in and checked through the past articles). Looking at what we now possess, maybe a three man defense would be a wise move to make. I know many will not be comfortable with the change of system (in mid season especially) but hear me out…..

    First, in this situation and looking at the players we have, the three man defense would be to ensure utility in the area that we are truly endowed in – the midfield.

    Secondly, I also happen to believe that a football match is won or lost at the midfield. This in my opinion is where a potent attack begins and also the place where effective defending is mounted.

    Thirdly, a well worked out pattern that involves perhaps three CBs and Wingbacks is truly a very mobile system which under our current squad would be enabling us play at our best elements.

    One of those elements is speed. The current Arsenal squad has Ozil, Welbeck, Sanchez, Ox, Walcott and Even Hector Bellerin in its ranks. These are players who are very quick and would move the ball very fast leaving an opposing defense confused and left for the dead in our good day, forcing errors and opportunities for us to score goals.
    The second of those elements is technical ability. Again, the current Arsenal side has some of the most apt players in the EPL in terms of technical capacity. What with a side that boasts players like Sanchez, Welbeck, Ozil, Carzola, Ox, Rosicky, Diaby, Wilshere etc.

    In my view the pattern that would best represent utility of the current squad and best compliment the squad we have today would be: 3 Man defense, 2 wingbacks, 1 defensive midfielder, 1 Central midfielder, 2 Central Attacking midfielders (who I will call Right Wing Centre Forward and Left Wing center Forwards) and a Center Forward.

    For instance, facing Manchester City (at Home) on the September of 13th, I would play the following
    ————————–Welbeck (CF)
    —————Sanchez (LCAM), ——Ozil (RCAM)
    ——————————–Ramsey (CM)
    ———————–Flamini (DMF)
    Monreal (LWB) ———————————OX (RWB)
    ———Mertesacker, Konsielny, Chambers (CBs)
    Key: CF – Centre Forward, LCAM – Left Center Attacking Midfield, RCAM- Right Center Attacking Midfield, CM – Central Midfield, DMF – Defensive Midfield, LWB – Left Wing Back, RWB – Right Wing Back, CB – Center Backs, GK – Goal Keeper

    This is 3 defenders out of six and the only time we may have 5 in the field will be depend on the game…where we are defending a slim lead and need to shut out an opponent (mostly that happens about 30 closing minutes in the game…The issue about Man United’s LvG trial should not scare anyone from looking at our own strengths and playing through them – We are faster, we are younger, we are more technically adept and maybe we can implement this best…Remember guys a wingback is also a defender when the need arises and the questions we should be asking is if Walcott, Ox, Podolski and Carzola can really learn to track back when played in the wing back roles…

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