Arsenal Tactics – Are we too defensive minded?


When it broke into the media outlets that we had captured Alexander Lacazette, I was elated. I wondered after Alexis Sanchez’S exploits in the 2016/17 season, what it would mean for Arsenal to have someone else as effective in shaking the net as Sanchez, the prospects of a new season, despite missing out the Champions League, looked mouth-watering.

However, as the new season unfolded, things have not really gone according to plan. In the last season, the top performers for Arsenal were Sanchez with 24 goals and 10 Assists. Giroud had 12 goals with 3 assists. Walcott had 10 goals with 2 Assists. Ozil had 8 goals with three assists.

This season, it does not look like our top scorers will match these numbers. After 13 matches we have we scored 23 goals and conceded 16. By this time last season, we had already scored 28 goals and conceded 13 goals. The saying goes that the best defense is to attack. In my opinion, if you score more frequently, the chances of conceding less are high as the opposition, especially those that are not of similar quality, will misstep and stay away from attacking you. There are already some games that we lost points because we did not score when we should have. Games like Chelsea, Stoke city and Watford comes to mind. That for me is seven points lost. It was even possible to draw the game with Manchester City. There are also games we have won but not as convincingly as we would have liked. Burnley and Swansea are such games that we had a meal made of our nails as the game proceeded.

Which brings me to the question in the heading, are we playing with the handbrake on this season?

Last season, we played and changed sometime towards the tail end of the season to This season, the system means that we have 3 players closer to goal mouth while last season we have 4 players in there. The new system means we have doubled our force in the defensive midfield area from 2 last season to 4 this season. Where we had six defenders, we now play with seven.

Somehow, with more personnel focused on stopping goals from going in, we are conceding even more. Makes me wonder, did Wenger somehow bring in two Alexis Sanchez (With Lacazette coming in) and therefore decided to sacrifice a man in attack with the hope that we will score even more goals anyway?

What this has done, is that someone like Sanchez is now further away from the opponent’s goal. It has also meant that those passes that find the extra offensive player and are converted are no longer being followed up on. There was also the need for wingbacks to add something more to attack which granted they are doing, but last season players like Bellerin and Monreal were sensational. This season they are looking just slightly above average.

What has remained the same is that we are still having two anchor men playing in the central midfield just like last season. Which makes me think we probably need to readjust something to get things right. Perhaps, we are still learning to gel with the new system change. But that argument would be feasible if we started this season with the new system. We started last season with no less than 10 games, which should have been enough time. Secondly, Wenger had enough knowledge of the system he was to deploy in the new season and should have signed more players with this in mind.

What therefore is the solution?

Here is how we line up in the pattern


Maybe, we should consider tweaking it a bit to have a pattern. This would push Alexis to the front closer to the goal of our opponents and help give assistance to Lacazette. It would of course give Ozil an isolated Attacking Midfield role, but Ozil in my view thrives in such situations and I wouldn’t worry about his isolation. An isolated Lacazette and an underperforming Sanchez are a worry though. In the pattern, this would be the lineup.


Or maybe we should consider a more adventurous pattern. In this one, we will need to have one anchor player given the role of utility player and depending on the pattern of approach in attack and defense at the moment in play, this utility player would move to become the second Attacking midfielder, which would be his natural position or move back to become the second anchor player or even move forward to attack. In my view, this is a role Ramsey would thrive in if he keeps a disciplined display and does not stick too long attacking, he would. With the pattern, this would be the first XI. Wilshere too can match with our needs.

——————-Cech—————— will require a very focused approach with Xhaka required to keep his cool and execute an almost flawless transition with Ramsey and Kolasinac and Bellerin would need to come into the assistance of Xhaka and Ramsey occassionally. However, Arsenal is usually a very mobile team and this constant transitions in the centre of the filed may just be a good thing to get opponent defenders out of position.

I would go with this generic What do you think would work to get Arsenal scoring more freely again and release the handbrake?



  1. Semon says:

    Easy to put in theory

  2. Eddy Hoyte says:

    Lol.. I can’t help but ask what is the Admin smoking??

    Are we too defensive minded?? no!!
    Am I sad that it seems we are??

    When we play bad n conceive more goals, you guys will blame the players and question why Wenger can’t change tactics.

    Now we are using a new system, and you’re questioning the system.
    its a case of what the hell will you guys ever appreciate

    1. Godswill says:

      Maybe he’s smoking mosquito coil.
      He wants us to be leaking goals?
      Am happy for the clean sheet in last few league matches.
      5 -0 yesterday and we are defensive? Are you high on something.
      The system is working at least for now.

      1. Lexynal says:

        Why did we even bother read this useless article?
        AW has definitely improved tactics and the results are there to show. Just look at what has happened to the team in the last 12 months -including some modest trophies – then make your judgement. I suggest that whosoever isnt pleased with the trend of progress should feel free to go support Suprs. WestHam, Everton etc (big investments…zero results?). Ride on AW!

        1. Admin says:

          Why do you always tell people to support other teams? Are you a spy or something?

          1. jon fox says:

            Totally agree Mr. Admin. The arrogance and self conceit of those who actually think they have the right to tell dyed in the wool Gooners to go and support someone else, simply because those Gooners happen to say something their overbig ego hates, is pathetic. Who the hell do these egomaniacs think they are? Donald Trump? Cos they sure as hell behave like him! I will take issue – and often do – with comments I disagee with, as is my right, indeed anyones right – BUT I will never, have NEVER told them to go support another team. That sort of language is supremely arrogant, bordering on Fascism! I do NOT however accuse them of Fascism, merely of using a type of Fascist LANGUAGE attempt to control how others write and think. That is so very thick and low IQ. If you have a gripe, be man enough to argue your case in print BUT NEVER think you have the right to say “go and support elsewhere.”

  3. Balogs says:

    Lovely article. It’s really worrisome cost with our lineups it always looks like we’d find it hard to score in every game with that lineup. Anyways, we haven’t done too badly but we could have done better. Do we really have to use a formation all through?
    I believe there should be room for flexibility in tweaking our formation to our opponents. Now that Lacazette is injured, will wenger trust Giroud? We’d have to wait till Saturday to confirm that.

  4. Robin Vanpayslip says:

    Erm last season was a disaster bar winning the Fa cup.

    In the league we were pathetic. I sure hope we don’t really repeat out Jan to May 2017 form in Jan to May 2018

  5. McLovin says:

    Huge game on Saturday night.

    Same team, except Giroud/Welbeck in for Lacazette.

    Ramsey’s got 3 goals and 7 ASSISTS this season in the league, placing him second in assists.

  6. AndersS says:

    Strange deliberations as the facts show, only 1 team in the top 7 have conceded more goals than Arsenals 16 (Liverpool with 18 goals against). Why have we suddenly seen progress in the league? One of the reasons is clearly, we have kept clean sheets 3 games in a row.
    Anyway, the secret doesn’t lie in number combinations. It lies in the manager motivating and requiring the players to work hard, when we don’t have the ball. Not really one of Wenger’s strong sides for many years, but maybe things really are changing.

  7. ibkemmanuelson says:

    3421 and 3412 are what we use during games, we only switch depending on situations. the other 3322, meaning Xhaka ll be on his own, u suggested is suicidal. Even with Ramsey with him in the middle, Xhaka has always made errors leading to counter attack or even a goal..

  8. Jimmy Jazz says:

    Stats are often misleading. The fact that we have let in 16 goals in 14 matches isn’t good, but 8 of those came in the first 3 matches. Conceding 8 goals in the past 11 matches isn’t so bad and suggests we have improved quite a bit defensively. 3 of those 8 goals came in the game against ManC when we had 4 of our CBs out injured. The Manu game will be a good yardstick to measure ourselves by. Bring it on.

    1. Tristan says:

      good stats breakdown

  9. Lexynal says:

    Why did we even bother read this useless article?
    AW has definitely improved tactics and the results are there to show. Just look at what has happened to the team in the last 12 months -including some modest trophies – then make your judgement. I suggest that whosoever isnt pleased with the trend of progress should feel free to go support Suprs. WestHam, Everton etc (big investments…zero results?). Ride on AW!

  10. jon fox says:

    My take on the whole business of systems/ formations is that yes, of course they are relevant -only a fool would pretend otherwise. But more important still, by far, is the quality or lack of quality of the players in that formation. MAN CITY ARE NOT ROMPING AWAY BECAUSE THEY HAVE A FAR BETTER FORMATION but rather because they have star players throughout the team and squad depth to die for. Not forgetting the vital necessity of a , young, dynamic, brilliant and hungry, pro-active manager in Pep. ONE WHO WORKS CLOSELY AND INTENSIVELY, with individuals and team sections (as the great George Graham did so brilliantly with the legendary defence, which Wenger inherited) Formations are like shirts , useful, (esp in cold weather). But top players and manager are like trousers; leave them off and everyone will notice your predicament immediately.

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