Is Emery’s excessive tinkering good or bad for Arsenal?

Excessive tinkering or ingenious flexibility by D$

I don’t think enough has been made of the fact that we played 4-4-2 in our last match. It was reported by many outlets that Welbeck and Iwobi played on the wings with Lacazette as a 9 and Mkhitaryan as a 10. In fact Welbeck and Lacazette played up front with Iwobi on the left of midfield and Mkhitaryan on the right. It worked very well, especially down the left as Welbeck occupied the right centre-back of Fulham’s back three and Iwobi and Monreal were able to to create a two-on-one and exploit the space to good effect. In fact we have played three different formations in our last two matches. We started with 3-4-3 against Qarabag FK and in the second half changed to a 4-3-3. This represents a significant change from the ‘Wenger-era’.

Wenger preferred consistency in the team system and certainly didn’t change too much from week to week – much to the frustration of many fans. It could be argued that this approach could be beneficial over the course of a season as players get used to their roles and the system and they understand their team-mates movements and styles in certain situations.

However, it is fascinating to see the team adjust their system to certain situations and Emery seems to be trying to create a built-in flexibility. It certainly requires ‘footballing intelligence’ from the players and great team cohesion but we can’t complain with 9 wins from our last 9 matches.

Will the constant tinkering reap rewards in the long term?



  1. snowden says:

    How do we know if his changes are excessive or not?
    A case here of much ado on ignorance is my thinking on this.

    1. D$ says:

      Hi Snowden. The point of the article is for you to comment as to whether you think the constant changes to personnel and system is excessive. Please enlighten us.

      1. D$ says:

        ps “much to do on ignorance” is not an expression and makes no sense

  2. Pablo Piccasso says:

    We are certainly less predictable under Unai clearly and may this continue. Towards the end of Arsene’s era, teams knew exactly how we will line up and exactly how we would play.

    1. gotanidea says:

      Yes, Wenger’s Arsenal were very predictable with his 4-2-3-1. He rarely changed it to 4-3-3, but tried 3-4-2-1 for a while

      No matter what formation he used, his attackers were stuck in their positions and it made the opponents able to figure it out eventually

      For instance, Giroud always played as a target man, Ozil was always the no 10, Sanchez tended to cut inside from the left wing, Walcott always played on the right side, etc

    2. Sue says:

      ? Pablo Piccasso

      1. Kenny Rolfe says:

        Love it Sue

  3. gotanidea says:

    If you think Arsenal attackers were stuck in their positions like what you mentioned in your first paragraph, this means you did not pay a lot of attention to the Fulham match

    Watch the match once more. Sometimes Lacazette dropped as a no 10, Welbeck swapped between striker/ winger positions and Iwobi/ Mkhitaryan interchanged dynamically

    The unpredictability of the attackers’ roles made them difficult to be marked by Fulham defenders. Emery and his assistant were actively orchestrating the swap, hence I wish to see the same four attackers play together again, whether you call it constant tinkering or not

    1. Sarmmie says:

      You’re right, they switched so constantly that at some point, even I watching them on screen didn’t know who was playing where, but I’ll prefer to see aubameyang instead of welbeck, any day

    2. D$ says:

      Agreed there was a lot of interchanging of positions, which was my point. But I think they were roughly mainly in a 4-4-2 formation.
      To some extent it was a throwback to the glorious Wenger years when there was much less set structure and positions

    3. Kenny Rolfe says:

      Did you get your degree in coaching at Bisham Abbey or St Georges Park because all we ever get from you are formations, statistics and patterns of play. I often wonder if you’ve ever played football at any decent level. To be quite honest I don’t think you’ve ever kicked a ball in your life, you’ve more likely played football on your computer, what is it ? Gameboy, FIFA19 or Football Manager or whatever these games are called.. You see, football is a very simple game so why confuse it and why, you may say, do I draw these conclusions? Well simple really, often people that talk about the game like you, trying to tell that your some kind of Pep Guardiola usually find are people who’ve never been to a football match in their life. Have you ever tried Subutteo?

  4. Sal says:

    tinkering is a must when you want to be successful, adapt to the opposition especially where they can hurt you, we are a team that is rebuilding itself and the manager is doing a great job off the field and in training , Emery has changed games with his subtitutions he is on the touchline motivating the players and directing them that’s what you want from a manager, i beleive our players will improve under him and we will be more unpredictable lining up.

    When you are the Barca of old, conte’s juve, munich two years ago or city today you don’t need to do much tactically because everyone else must adapt to your system. Basically hard to be beat untill managers found a solution, the tika taka is the perfect example it was unplayble when barca where using it but then came the full press which left little time for those triangles to form and here we are today with pressing a must by any top team so let’s be happy we see tactics used by us to win games, and we won games ugly so full credit to the team manager and staff, let’s keep it up 🙂

    1. D$ says:

      There have been many teams, in recent years, that have won the league by playing pretty much the same side in the same system in every match throughout the season. I don’t think tinkering is a must.
      But it is working for us right now

  5. ThirdManJW says:

    Wenger may have preferred consistency in the first team (which I actually like), but it only works if players are consistently performing well. Unfortunately, Wenger ALWAYS ignored form, which is why I am loving Emery! Whether you’re a big name like Ozil, or Aubameyang, or a prospect like Holding, or Iwobi, you’re out the team if you have been under performing. In fact, even if you’re playing okay, you can still find yourself dropped if you don’t fit into the tactics/system for any given opponent. It shows that Emery is properly studying his next opponents, and making adjustments accordingly.

    Also, we have to remember that it’s Emery’s first season, so he’s still going through that process of figuring who’s good at what, his best XI, what players suit certain tactics/formations, etc. He also has the constant problem of Ozil, Mkhitaryan, and Ramsey, all suited for the same position, and same issue with his two star strikers. Although I think he’s now realised he cannot start Ozil, Miki, Rambo, Auba, and Laca, at the same time.

  6. RSH says:

    its not like there was a set XI when he came in, so he was bound to tinker. I think just about all our players have been given decent chances so far. Anyways, we have 3 games within a week coming up so we’re bound to see him use most of the squad again. Maybe AMN will get a shout if he’s 100%.

  7. kenya01 Ars fan says:

    Emery knows best, as long as we are winning games its fine by me

  8. Break-on-through says:

    I don’t like the description, tinkering. RSH made a valid point, he just arrived, doesn’t know his best team, has allot of things to yet figure out, so is it unexpected him having a look at many different things. To an extent I’d say he’s a manager who does change things up a bit more than the average manager. Some PSG players complained about it but like Kenya01AF alluded to, its not a problem when you win, but if you lose they’ll likely call it tinkering.

    I enjoyed the first paragraph, some good depth. Emery thought the first half was not as good as many AFC fans saw it. The second half certainly stood out more but if it wasn’t for the sloppy equalizer then that first half would’ve looked allot better in my mind. The space Fulham gave us on the wings certainly played into our hands a wee bit. It was a great call by Emery to play for that space all the same, your first paragraph pointed to that. I was also impressed with Emery’s outlook on our performances in the entirety. An earlier article spoke about and showed what he had said. Still much improvement to be made and he asked for people not to get ahead of themselves, called for some calm before giving a very frank assessment. There is allot about this man to admire, he seems of strong working class character.

  9. jon fox says:

    I just do NOT accept that the deliberately chosen phrase “excessive tinkering ” has ANY basis at all in fact. The writers own opinion is his alone. To give your own opinion but to use an all encompassing strapline and therefore premise, is a cheap and unworthy tactic to get folks to accept your own opinion, D$, the writer. Well, I do NOT accept your silly premise at all. You have failed to realise that unlike Wenger, Emery is determined to win the game(and thus earn his money, unlike WENGER!!!) and if someone is not doing the business that game, he will be subbed. I call that positive and correct management, NOT tinkering!

    1. D$ says:

      Ha ha. I’m on your side, Jon Fox. There seems to be a lot of negativity toward the word “tinkering”!! Call it what you want but there is no denying that we have played a lot of different systems in a short period of time under Emery. I was just making the comparison…

      1. jon fox says:

        Good to hear . Then WE AGREE, IT WAS JUST THE WORD”TINKERING”, which has negative connotations, that I did not like. Emery is brand new still and should surely be expected to be and applauded for being a totally different type of manager than the stale old Wenger, of whom every opponent always knew exactly how we would be set up and how we would play. So wonderfully new and dynamic now.

    2. Ingleby says:

      Yes. Tinkering is doing something for its own sake with no end product in view.

      1. D$ says:

        to be fair, the title was composed by the admin. The subtitle: “Excessive tinkering or ingenious flexibility” are my words – I’m asking the readers to discuss whether it is excessive.

  10. Phil says:

    Emery arrived to take over a Club in near turmoil and a team that is described as average at best.The Manager is entitled to “Tinker”as much as he likes as far as I’m concerned.He seems positive with his instructions and very precise with his substitutions.Not something we were accustomed to at all this last decade.With the winning run he has put together I would have thought the last thing he should be accused of is being indecisive.He has a free pass this season as far as I’m concerned and is making a pretty good job of getting results with zero defence and some very average players.
    Let’s hope he continues “Tinkering”

  11. Innit says:

    By all means, Tinker away.
    We are on a 9 match winning streak
    He must be doing something right

    Anyway, isn’t it his job to tinker with the team?

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