I am all for trying things out, in fact a lot of Arsenal fans have been urging Arsene Wenger for years now to be a bit more adventurous or experimental when it comes to playing formations, making substitutions and various other aspects of the game.
I think we were all relieved when the Frenchman finally decided to give the increasingly popular back three system a go towards the end of last season, with no small success, and you could well argue that if he had done so earlier then we may have finished a lot closer to the top of the Premier League.
However, we do not want to experiment or take risks unnecessarily, especially in games that matter like the Premier League ones, so that is why pre-season is a very good time to give young players a chance, have a go with different player positions or team shapes and all, but when the serious business starts you want to be at your best.
So I was a little bit worried to read the bosses words on the Arsenal website about Mohamed Elneny playing in the middle of a back three for Arsenal, as he did in Australia and China. Wenger reckons the Egyptian did well but for me he looked out of his depth and I would not have much confidence in him doing the job for us there in EPL matches.
Arsene said, “Elneny is a player who has a fantastic mentality and attitude, and his main target is to help the team. When he plays there, of course he does extremely well.
“Of course [he needs to learn the defensive side], but I always felt that a good central midfielder can be a good centre back. With the fact of course that when you’re playing in the back four you have to be decisive in the challenges, you have a bit more flexibility in the middle of a back three. He can do that.
“Overall on tour, I played players like Elneny in a back three and he coped very well. Maitland-Niles sometimes played at centre back as well, even in the big games against Chelsea.
“You see their strengths and their weaknesses, and you learn a lot about your players and your combinations too. The advantage we have is that we have a good stability in our squad, so I already know who I can combine with who, more or less.”
Do you think that Elneny is a realistic option for an Arsenal back three?