My Analysis on Arsenal, our transfer blunders, and our formation problems

My Analysis on Arsenal, our transfer blunders, and our formation problems. By The Iceman

First of all let me start by saying, I don’t think we have done too badly in our work and attempts in the transfer market, but we need to really stop behaving like old men in the market. We learned our lesson by acquiring players on time before (Xhaka, Kolasinac, Lacazette…), but we refused to follow the trend and this has cost us dearly. Because although I do think we have enough to beat teams, we definitely don’t have enough to beat the big boys in today’s game of football. Even with acquiring the services of Lemar (and losing Sanchez), we would still be underdogs in terms of sheer technical ability. Liverpool proved this when they annihilated us recently. But later I will discuss how adjustments in the formation can prevent such things, but right now I think we are under hitting in the transfer market. If you are going to buy, buy quality.

This I can see is what Wenger is about, but he is also far too mediocre in his decisions. Our players are not necessarily mediocre but lack the mentality. They lack the discipline to produce a top class performance, on a consistent basis. Yes I agree we have some really nice wins under our belt, but we also have some really humiliating defeats that we seem to sweep under the rug so swiftly when we win a few games. Let us not deceive ourselves. We are the Mighty Arsenal, We are supposed to be dominating on a consistent basis. Which I think we are starting to learn the habit of what it means to finish the season with some sort of reward except top four, but if we are going to ever get back into champions league and stay there we are going to need acquisitions of pure football finesse as I like to call it. Let me start with what we SHOULD be doing.

Transfer acquisitions.

Attacking: Paulo Dybala, Asensio, Draxler – I know a lot of you are going to think I am unrealistic in wanting Dybala. But how unrealistic is it? Yes he will most likely cost more than 90 or 100M But he is WELL worth it. He is the finished product and he is only getting better. And in this day and age, players are looking for more to challenge themselves with. That’s the same reason Pogba left. He believed he had unfinished business in the Premier League and with Man Utd. Dybala will want more. He will want to become a true legend, and Arsenal have the platform to make him one. Juventus do, but how many people support Juventus? Compared to Arsenal? The revenues in his purchase will easily pay his wages and more. He will enable us to instantly make an impact in the league and Europa League and possibly even win it. He is young, He understands football to the degree of being a world best. He has a huge potential ability margin and he can take free kicks, play deep, central, across the front three. Finally he is a Demon in finishing. What we TRULY need to finish off teams, not this fannying about that we are doing in recent games. We look like a bunch of old people playing football, with no football knowledge at all, at first I was thinking it was a natural thing for Arsenal to lose concentration but now I’m starting to suspect that the team are starting to dislike Wenger as well. So concluding this I believe Dybala is beyond perfect and an improvement on Sanchez and Lemar.

Asensio because he is on the rise and he can transform any team from the attacking/midfield department. He also has a beauty of a shot and wicked free kick too. Finally Draxler, he was cheaper than Lemar and in my eyes a much better product. Don’t get me wrong I think Lemar is good, and he has bags of potential, but that’s all it is, potential. It still is a win/lose situation. Draxler on the other hand is more proven, much more deadly and personally more intelligent. He reminds me De Bruyne with a twist. He really is that good, these are choices we should have drafted down just in case Lemar flopped and in my personal opinion are better choices. This will easily cover and improve us if Sanchez & Ozil decide to walk.

Midfield: William Carvalho, Kondogbia, Grzegorz Krychowiak – Well this is obvious really. Our defenders are easily exposed because we do not have a Titan in the midfield to disturb the flow of teams absolutely strolling through our midfield. Every time Liverpool or any other professional team we have come up against in recent years have dominated us and its mainly from the midfield straight to the wings and we are dead. We lack physicality. We is also why I was kind of baffled we let Gabriel go. I’m sure there are plenty of other players a lot less useful to us. I would definitely prefer him to the unorthodox Elneny. We seem to have to squint our eyes anytime I see him chasing down an opposing team player, from the centre of defence. Any of the three mentioned players will slot easily into our midfield and will give our team the chance to flourish. We would need to probably lose one attack minded midfielder because we seem to have too many. The reason Xhaka & Ramsey don’t work is because both of them think they are playing the same bloody role. Xhaka needs to be groomed and moulded in the shape of Viera, Xabi Alonso, Steven Gerrard. Even Henderson showed him how to do it. So if we do not want to sacrifice the attacking threat we seem to think Xhaka has, then get a DM to partner him.

Defence: Virgil Van Dijk, Wes Morgan, Zouma – These players are not impossible to buy and they will easily improve our defence in leaps and bounds. Our defence lacks confidence that is all. Players like these carry enough confidence for themselves and others. Funny enough I do not think we are too bad in defence, but we obviously lack BITE. Our players look far too timid at times and anytime The Boss or on rare occasions Mertesacker, isn’t there I am worried anytime a team with more than one attacking threat play against us. We have almost been caught sleeping more than once by teams. If it wasn’t for the spark of brilliance from Giroud, Leicester would have shown our weakness yet again. We get away with a lot in the Premier League, Wenger needs to learn that shouting at the referee won’t help you win a match.

I believe with the acquisition of a big name player, like the aforementioned Dybala, Asensio or the infamous Lemar. It can be forgiven if the team is assessed from now until January then make certain adjustments to the midfield and defence. If you look at teams like Man Utd right now I don’t see Arsenal holding players that they have off from dominating a match with us. Unless our team magically happen to grow some balls, then it’s possible. Because although I know our team are capable of surprising us and producing some rather mesmerizing performances, The majority of the time we are shown up and outclassed, in fact most of the time we produce a good performance it is in response to being humiliated the first time. If I think back to some PL encounters and UCL games. So we need start spending wisely, if we are letting so many players go, replace them with a quality that can afford to let them go. Because if you strip Arsenal down to the bones, we can be quite bang average. As we have seen in our injury-filled barren runs of bad luck.

Formation Problems

If we play three at the back, we cannot play three up front, it is pointless, our players are not that technically gifted, and with the loss of Chamberlain, we will be even more exposed if we keep continuing in this fashion. With three at the back we should have two AM and 1 Striker. This is the only way we can utilize our current crop of players affectively and actually win some bloody matches. We lack bodies in the midfield because unlike Chelsea our wingbacks don’t crowd the midfield. Ours rarely cut inside, and when they do it really is not to devastating effect. I like the little David Alaba experiment Wenger is doing with Bellerin but he will soon be found out, Bellerin is good, but when disciplined to his strengths, like beating players and crossing. Preferably low crosses. When I see him shoot, he reminds me of Gibbs, although I do think he can develop it though, but not now, and definitely not in matches against Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea & Man Utd!

If we play four at the back, it really won’t be the end of the world. We seem to be more confident, and we seem to understand the roles better, I do however think we can try a few more back four alternatives, my favourite being 4 4 2. Giroud is a beast that needs to be let out of his cage, but you keep him tame with a few bench sits here and there when other players are performing better, but in most cases he delivers, especially off the bench. So why not try 4 4 2 a little more. What he does with Griezmann in the France National Team is at times mesmerizing and we need to replicate this with immediate effect, because Giroud’s height and drive is sometimes really missed in our matches and I really saw this when he came on in recent cameos from the bench.

Well that is all I have to say, what do you think, are my thoughts well thought out or just unrealistic hopes and dreams? We have a team capable of great things, but in order to unlock the potential we need to be brutal in transfers, formation and finally ATTITUDE.

That’s me. Follow me @onlyoneicefm


  1. ArseOverTit says:

    Dybala was available but wasn’t deemed good enough for Arsenal as we made no approach. I was screaming for AW to get this guy as he is a superb and natural striker (unlike Danny wellbeck) He went to champions league winning Juventus instead.

    Again all your midfield was available to go get but Wenger chose not to enquire.

    Same for defense.

    Wenger (aside from Kroenke on the financial and visionary side) is responsible for assembling, training, organising and motivating ‘his’ teams and he clearly fails on all counts.

    It’s ok to say, ‘if’ we only had so and so and did such and such but the fact of the matter is, Wenger doesn’t do these things and is why we are where we are.

    1. Ignasi M says:

      Thanks for the article – its perfect, but ‘ArsOverTit’ sums it up perfectly. No matter who you buy, Wenger and board are the problem. The problems were persist until he/they are gone.

    2. gotanidea says:

      I don’t think all players the author mentioned are willing to join Arsenal. Dybala is a first team player in Juventus and Asensio has a good future with Real Madrid.

      Arsenal could change the formation as many times as they want, but it will not solve the problems as long as the system is the same. Arsenal play like France national football team, but without having better skillful players.

      Playing with quick tempo like that could work well if the opponents want to attack. But if the opponents are very defensive, they will have problem in unlocking the opponents’ defense and could be hit from a quick counter-attack.

      The Spain vs Italy match showed what is missing in Arsenal, very skillful players and a better system that can make Arsenal dictate the tempo. Spain defenders have good vision and skills, allowing them to lower the tempo and create good chances for the attackers.

      The lack of skillful players in the midfield area could be rectified by getting a versatile and technically gifted player in January. I hope Wenger keep his promise on returning to Lemar in January.

      1. arsenal_champio_neighs says:

        I agree with your comment
        about the Spain v Italy match.
        The ball retention skill level
        was like a world cup semi final.
        Many European teams can come together and click
        because they grow up learning to treasure possession.
        English athletes especially the white athletes are generally
        clumsy heavy footed klutz’s who as kids play kick and chase football.
        The top club teams are dominated by foreigners with
        many English players only being there because of the quota
        and receiving only token minutes.
        If any thing it is only those with black ancestry who have silky skills
        with only a few white exceptions like Kane Hoddle Gascogine and Lineker.

        1. Ivan says:

          I think the English coaching is a joke. For all the money that is thrown at coaching youngsters in this country it is remarkable how few can control a ball let alone beat a man for skill and not just push the ball past and run.

  2. Imran says:

    I think best formation against smaller teams would be:
    Reis Nelson–Ozil–Xhaka
    We must be aggressive first 30 mins and try to score as many goals as possible and pay possession football for last 15 mins of 1st half. In the second half, we must be aggressive again for first 20 minutes and play possession football for next 25 mins. To safeguard our scoresheet we must change the formation and substitute Reis with Iwobi, Monreal with Coquelin (Sead going back at LB) and substitute Ozil with Ramsey/Giroud. If we are trailing then we must go with 4-3-3 formation by substituting Reis with Giroud , Monreal with Coq (Sead going back to LB) and Ozil with Ramsey. All the positions must have limitations rather than playing with freedom and not giving space to the opposition. I dont think Cech deserves to be our First choice Goalie rather I would stick with Ospina and give him more confidence and trust.

    Best Formation against Bigger teams:


  3. Liam says:

    On what planet can we attract the likes of Dybala Asensio VVD? Even premier league players like Evans are turning us down because i feel they believe with our current manager they are destined to fail no matter what. If i was a world class cb and arsenal came knocking i doubt i would join knowing how exposed the midfield will leave me and the fact my cb partner could be a cb could be a lb could be Welbeck you never know.

  4. Arseneout says:

    4-4-2 was sometimes our best formation but there was a reason viera and the unknown soldier gilberto silva. when you have these players with denis and the destroyer theirry henry it succeed. we can try it with
    bellerin mustafi boss saeed
    iwobi wilshere coqlin sanchez
    ozil lacazete
    it might work but it does not have the phisical strength

  5. Grandad says:

    With respect Wes Morgan ? Like many arsenal supporters and AW you need to focus on the facts Arsenal are weak at centre back and defensive midfield . This glaring weakness has been evident for 5/6 years but unfortunately the current Manager and his support team have failed to solve the problem .A team is only as strong as its weakest link and in the case of arsenal we have severe deficiencies at CB and DM. It really is pointless to sign The likes of Lemar and Draxler who are talented young players when we have an open barn door at the back Arsenal are well off for attacking players despite the transfer of the Ox but unless we secure 2 /3 quality defensive players we will continue to frustrate our fans . One other point when will AW learn that you cannot play Ozil and Ramsay in the same team . They are both no 10,s . Only one can play. They are both useless when it comes to defensive duties

    1. Ivan says:

      I agree partly but I think the complete refusal of Arsenal players to track back when the other team attacks is what leaves the defense exposed. I really cannot imagine other managers putting up with that.
      Also the defensive positions when we are on the attack leave us very exposed.

  6. Vijay says:

    Ivan Gazidis: “At the end of the window, reviewing all activity, we have once again improved the quality and depth of our squad”

    1. McLovin says:

      Well on paper he’s right. We got 2 FIRST XI players and got rid of most of the deadwood.

      But being the business man he is, he failed to say how we kept unhappy players in our squad and didn’t strengthen the areas which lacked improvement, exampled by the horrorshow against Liverpool and Stoke.

      1. tas says:

        He also failed to say or didn’t have a clue is that other teams above us strengthened their squad so we have fallen further behind,

        the only good things are that we sold some players that were never going to shine at arsenal and once again we made profit and reduced salaries by selling,

        so now when Sir Chips is quizzed about how much money we have in the bank he should be able to double what he said three seasons ago which was 200M

        1. tas says:

          got to love the new protest strategy by Arsenal fans with the fake 50 pound notes with Arsenas face instead of the quine with the words “BANK OF BULLS**T” if it was the American Dollar it would of said “IN ARSEN WE TRUST” haha

    2. Nothing changed says:

      blub, blub, bulb…

  7. arsenal_champio_neighs says:

    Thank you for your breezy
    wide ranging article Iceman
    Having said that Iceman
    I think you are very hopeful 🙂
    Let see in today’s mad prices.
    Dybala 120m Arsensio 90m Draxler 60 m
    Kondogbia 60m Van Dijk 70 m.
    Only 400 mill, a mere bagatelle my son 🙂
    Even if we sell Ozil and Sanchez we are still 270m short.
    Mind you I probably have 270m in the slot between the
    front seats of my car where I keep my parking meter money 🙂
    As Robbie from AFTV says “We’re gonna do this”……badly 🙂

  8. Nothing changed says:

    TBH on the face of it, I am not sure if Wenger knows how to properly play 3 at the back.

    Yes, we had good results late last year playing 3 at the back but I am starting to think this was more because of our pressing and total team effort than because of the formation. Early last season we had some very good results when played with total efforts like when we beat Chelsea but we played 4 at the back in that game and others.

    I think our problem is more team effort and discipline and tactics rather than formation. We looked lost in our first 3 games with respect to the 3 at the back. If Ramsey is going to bomb forward and our full back as well with no discipline they will leave large gaps to be exploited by opponents whether we play 3 at the back or not.

  9. AB says:

    Thanks for the article but honestly there is nothing new in it. These points have been made by several fans over many years. I am a bit confused when you say that we have a team with potential but still need to add people in each department. To me that means the team in incomplete and hence does not have the potential to be champions.
    I understand your intent and it is well taken. Don’t have any expectations from this manager and the board. lets see how the season progresses…

  10. Arsenal4Life says:

    We cant change anything on this situation now, so we have to deal with it. We do not have proper wingers, so why use wingers? I think we should play with a strong midfield, so we do not get outplayed by others. Maybe we should swap to 4312
    Bellerin Koscielny Mustafi Kolasinac
    Wilshere Coquelin Xhaka/Ramsey
    Sanchez/Giroud/Welbeck Lacazette

  11. arie82 says:

    Just play the players in their best/original position,
    Im still confused, what is xhaka position in wenger formation, a cm, dm, or deep playing midd.

  12. Reagabe says:

    I think it’s high time we reverted back to 4-2-3-1.This is one of the most balanced formations and in my opinion I think it’s only second to the traditional 4-4-2 flat.We played the best football while using 4-2-3-1 but of late, with this 5-2-3 or 3-4-3 (depending on how you view it) we’ve been struggling even against smaller teams.Arsenal is a team that is really rely on triangles for incisive short passes but honestly with 3-4-3 (or 5-2-3 ) you just can’t form the triangles.That’s why struggle against mediocre teams like Stoke,Leicester.I noticed the same thing while we were playing Sevilla in Emirates cup friendly.

    3-4-3 should be used against teams like Chelsea that fancy being ultra-defensive.That’s what Pochetino does whenever he faces Chelsea but against any other team he uses 4-2-3-1.

    In my honest opinion,I think 3-4-3 limits our players, particularly Ozil and other technical players.The formation is too flat therefore in most cases we will always have narrow wins unless we are playing on the counter.But hey, our playing style is based on moderate to high possession.Formations that favour possession based style are 4-2-3-1,4-1-4-1, 4-3-3(holding) and for more technical players 3-2-3-2 (3-5-2).
    If you want to use 3-4-3 then common sense should tell you to abandon possession.I mean the possession should in the region of 45-50% to avoid being caught on the counter.Against Stoke I think we had over 70% but we did very little.Immediately,the team reverted to 4-2-3-1 we created several chances.

    If we can’t use 4-2-3-1 then at least let’s 4-4-2 with Giroud and Laca as strikers.Otherwise, brace yourself for several rounds of chaos if we continue using 3-4-3.

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