Tactics – The changes Arsenal must make to win the “Battle of the Managers”


It’s clear, next season we must have a team that is so radically different from what we have now – because we will be facing superb competition. Man City have brought in probably the opposite personality of Wenger’s last decade in terms of fortunes – Pep Guardiola, a serial winner, from the last decade. Man United should be announcing the arrival of the Special One into the coaching deck, Jose Mourinho carries with him special distinctions for that extra oomph over the upcoming season.

First, he and Guardiola would carry on a rivalry from La-liga into the EPL when they were in charge of the two poles of the La-Liga top two fight, and Jose holds a record of never losing to Wenger, yet. That, added to what Leicester with Claudio Ranieri and Mauricio Pochettino with Tottenham have achieved this season, plus an expected tough challenge from Jürgen Klopp with Liverpool, next season’s EPL is a battle of the managers like never before.

Arsene Wenger stands the elder of the crop with 20 years in the EPL and would want to show the way. Had opportunities been taken, then Arsenal would be starting the new season with the trophy in cabinet as this season has seen the teams that normally dominate the EPL losing out big time, leaving Arsenal with the best possible chance to capture the elusive trophy, but Arsenal too blew off steam and never recovered in time.

That said, Wenger has been in the search for players to sort out the messes that his team has had for quite some time now. He seems to be preparing for the tough battle ahead with some definite resolve. Already Arsenal have acquired the services of Granit Xhaka who is touted as the Patrick Vieira we have been missing for quite a while. Perhaps what readers would like to know is that Xhaka has been followed for a year and watched 30 times making it not such a rapid fire acquisition by Arsenal as many would want to believe. That may suggest that the other acquisition that will arrive would be players that we have tracked for a long time. I know that suggests that we would be in for Alvaro Morata and maybe the other player would be Medhi Benatia and if things break for us we may get to steal Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Suppose Wenger manages to bring in these players to add on to the arrival of Granit Xhaka, how does Wenger get the best out of them? Here are my suggestions of the pattern we can deploy to get the best out of the set of players we will have. Pattern 3.4.3


The above lineup suggests that Cech gets the armband and Koscielny gets sold based on his last season performance where he looks to be losing a bit of his defensive solidity. Pattern 3.4.3 with Sanchez and Mkhitaryan playing wing-striker roles much like Messi and Neymer are playing for Barcelona. It’s a role that Alexis played before during his day at Barcelona. The midfield is a diamond arrangement with Ozil at the north of the diamond, Carzola and Xhaka on the sharing the deep lying role in the west and the east of the diamond and Coquelin on the south of the diamond as defensive midfield. We end up with a 3-man defense.

This side should be frighteningly efficient at finding the net and the numbers of chances created will increase and the goals should be high, with the three forwards each going over 20 goals in the season. Add on to other goals from the rest of the team and we should be over 80 goals, easily. With the likes of Ramsey, Iwobi, Campbell, Wilshere, Elneny, Gabriel, Chambers and Walcott, this kind of a setup would get replacements across the pitch with much more efficiency. I would however be worried about the defense. So far the three man defenses have not had a good life in the EPL. But of course those teams did not have Carzola, Xhaka and Coquelin playing ahead of them.

The other setup has the following line up: 3.5.2


In this arrangement, Sanchez is converted into the second striker much like Thierry Henry and Van Persie were converted into strikers from the winger’s roles. Cazorla and Mkhitaryan explore the wings and Coquelin and Xhaka are in the defensive midfield role jointly. The three-man defense still features. If Morata and Sanchez get into the 20 goals, then Cazorla and Mkhitaryan will get another 20 done and the rest of the squad will weigh in with more goals. Again, the bench is more efficiently complimentary with the setup.

Perhap we would go with 4.4.2 where we drop Coquelin and bring in Gabriel or Konsienly to partners with Benatia for a 4-man defense.


But the most likely set-up will be the predictable one of that we have used for the 2015/16 season. The lineup would probably be.

————-Cazorla —Xhaka————-

There would be plenty of goals with the upgrade of Morata and Mkhitaryan coming into the squad and Xhaka with Cazorla providing the defensive midfield anchor would make us a solid side defensively. However, Morata will have to cross above 30 goals and the rest of the squad to provide the balance of goals.

I personally would love to see the first pattern 3.4.3 deployed. What would be your pattern for a different season for Arsenal?

Tags Guardiola Klopp Mourinho


  1. Based on what we have right now


    Sanchez Ozil Walcott



    Monreal Koscielny Mertesacker Bellerin


    1. Really don’t want to see Walcott and Giroud as starters. Opponents will have no fear when seeing them.

    2. You can’t play that 3-4-3 formation. You are just inviting the team to stroll down our flanks. You need to play with Wing backs. That said, I would like to see us experiment a little more with formations… how long has everyone been saying this?!?! but now that I have seen Leicester and Southampton try out formations (442 and 352 respectively) i think we should give it a go. let’s try out a diamond.

      Sanchez – Morata / Janssen
      Cazorla – Elneny (with ramsey and wilshere stepping in)
      Xhaka (coquelin cover)
      Monreal – Koscielny – Manolas – Bellerin

      if we get Mkhitaryan he can step into one of the midfield three no problem or at no 10.

      4-4-2 (or 4 – 4 – 1 – 1)

      Morata or Janssen
      Iwobi – Xhaka – Elneny/Cazorla – Mkhitaryan or Ramsey as RW or midfield.
      Monreal – Kos- Manolas – Bellerin

      3-5-2 / 3-4-3

      Alexis – Morata/Janssen
      Monreal Cazorla/özil – Elneny/ramsey Bellerin (or Mkhitarian as RWB – has played there for dortmund)
      Monreal -Koscielny – Manolas

      (he could even move into the middle of the back three!!)

      or the good old 4 – 2- 3- 1

      Anyone up front!!!
      Alexis Özil Mkhitatarian
      Xhaka – Cazorla
      Monreal – Kos- Manolas – Bellerin

      If Iwobi keeps his place in the team- doesn’t get loaned out I can imagine Alexis starting up front a lot more. I think he should given he plays as a striker/ second striker for Chile. He would thrive with a strike partner as we saw earlier in the season with walcott. We are very predictable to play against and we aren’t taking advantage of the tactical flexibility which our group of players (and potential ones) gives us. Alexis and Mkhitarian as Wing backs? why not?!? Xhaka dropping into a 3 man defence? why not??? – although that may go too far. but you see what i am trying to write.

  2. First of all, we have the same manager still, which means the same tactics, and philosophy as always. Secondly, what’s with this obsession with Morata!

    Morata has scored a pathetic total of 38 goals in his last four seasons for two of the biggest clubs in the world, and most dominant teams in their respective leagues. Giroud got 43 goals in just his last two seasons, playing for a less dominant team, in a much tougher league. I’m not a Giroud fan, but I’d take him over Morata all day long.

    I feel that Morata is such ridiculous target, that admin should nip this in the bud now, and ban the name Morata! Haha!

    1. But that’s not an excuse to rely on Giroud as our main CF. He’s proven ever season that he’s only good as a back up striker and not one that can carry the team to win the title.

      1. Recognizing and stating the facts about Morata is not the same as wanting Giroud as the #1 striker. I don’t know why fans continually assume this falsehood.

        I have read many comments about the Arsenal striker situation over the past year, and many of the them defend Giroud’s actual scoring rate. But I can remember none that suggested Giroud should remain the #1 striker. Not one. Ever.

        1. Last paragraph is very true, lots of fans defend giroud but none say that giroud should be no 1 striker.

    2. Giroud is one dimensional and average at best, Morata has a much more versatile game and gives us hope.

      (mind you he would not be my first choice but I would take most strikers over Giroud – including our own Theo or Sanchez)

  3. in no team or club in EPL will 3 defenders work. with the standard 442 or 4231 we have only 3players that are 100% defensiveminded (CBs and DM).
    so playing 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 you have just 2 players defending; the lone CB and DM. thatz suicide.
    Playing a 442 stretch ll limit Ozil as he ll have to play as a wing-midfielder where he is limited.
    playing 442 diamond means we are short on d wings n play all through d middle.

    we don’t need to change from the 4231.
    I xpect Koulibaly instead of Benatia and I dnt see Wenger getting another RW with Ramsey,Wilshere,Campbell,Ox,Walcott,Iwobi all fit to play there.
    we however need a better n proven striker. Morata is still a bag of potential that is yet to be proven, he hasn’t scored 15goals in a cson yet so it’s hard to imagine him coming in to bang in 30 plus goals.


    1. @wilshegz……. I know a quality team in the EPL that are masters in the art of playing 3 defenders….

      It’s called “SOUTHAMPTON”

      [not that i’m in support of the idea anyway]

  4. don’t know what to make of this Line-ups…….but something’s just not interesting bout it

    and based on the tactics to adopt next season…….if we play like we’ve been playing in previous seasons…. I could boldly tell ya we won’t be crowned 2016/2017 champions

    the secret is being defensively strict and extravagantly potent in attack!…..charge! charge!! charge!!!

  5. As an aside, can we please not pay any mind or give momentum to the Hector to Barca rumours, those Spanish thugs are using their dirty mouthpiece [Marca] to fan the fires as usual. If he wants to leave, let it be because he wants and not because we turned against him for no reason.

  6. I think no need for changing the formation because it was actually working with right players in the team,
    So I suggest we maintain the
    ————-Cazorla —Xhaka————-
    Its more balance and every player’s role is practically known.
    I believe with upgrades we will shine.

  7. Ludicrous formations and non-existant line ups! ?
    At least wait until we actually sign the players before adding them into team… What’s the point in this? ?

    Wenger needs to add some strategies and game plans into his team, before anything else. ?

  8. 1. Morata an “upgrade??” Seriously? This article suggests/assumes Morata is a far better striker than he has been thus far. For Juventus he had 12 goals in 49 appearances – not at all a good scoring rate.

    Nothing wrong with taking a chance on potential talent but then the price must be low and we cannot just suddenly pencil him into the starting lineup as a sure-fire star.

    The media have hyped Morata so much that many fans now think of him as a 35 goal striker when he was 12 goal striker for a top club. Let us deal in reality even if the media does not.

    2. The article is correct when, near the end, it suggests a 3 man defense is actually very unlikely to be used. I can find little in Wenger’s recent history to suggest he would suddenly use a 3 man defense – something that is difficult to organize and maintain even for managers who are in love with it and build a team around it.

    1. Let’s just wait and see how Morata performs for Spain,
      in the Euro’s…. before we hang him. ?

    2. Do you remember Dennis Bergkamp? He scored a total of 5 goals for Inter Milan the season before he arrived at Arsenal. Statistics don’t say everything.

      Just as Giroud’s and Adebayour’s statistics made them look much better than they were, Morata’s stats might not tell the true story of his talent.

      Morata is not at the top of my list but would I would take him over Giroud any game. Giroud hurts us in so many ways and limits our tactical flexibility. It is near impossible for Morata to be worse.

  9. With what we have, I’d love to see this line-up grind out 1-0 wins against tougher teams

    Ozil Sanchez Ramsey/Campbell
    Xhaka Coquelin
    Monreal Gabriel Kos Bellerin

    1. If we don’t sign a quality striker, I would like to try Sanchez as striker for one whole season, as your formation suggests. I would not like Ramsey on the right but Campbell would do with Theo as back-up.

  10. A 3-man defense with only 1 centre back!? Have you seen that anywhere? Thats unthinkable. Bellerin wolud have to be used as wing backs in that case.

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