The best Arsenal formation that could overwhelm Atletico Madrid


Clearly, Arsenal’s season defining moment is here. The Europa League draw on the 13th of Friday for those who are superstitious gave Arsenal a ghastly baddest draw against Atletico Madrid. The worst possible outcome as Arsenal drew the ‘best’ team remaining in the competition.

Arsenal’s away record in the EPL continues, we lost to Newcastle United in a game we started brightly but the same old mistakes came back to rob us the points. Arsenal now have lost in 5 straight away matches on a trot. Which means even the chances to sneak through to any Champion League spots mathematically are now even slimmer.

Unfortunately, Arsenal’s new seasons hopes are rested in winning the Europa which right now most Arsenal fans have equated to beating Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals matchup. It has been branded the best possible final of the 2017/18 Europa League being played at the semi-final stage. First and foremost, I do not agree that beating Atletico is equal to winning the Champions League slot – We will have to beat either Marseille or Red Bull Salzburg.

These two other semi-finalist are not easy opponents, especially because of the kind of adrenalin drive football they displayed to seal their place in the semi-finals. Red Bull were looking so much out of contention having lost 4-2 in the first round and going on to concede first. They then had to recover scoring a goal within a minute of conceding, then scored another 3 goals in four minutes to book their place.

Marseille lost narrowly in their first round matchup and had already conceded in two minutes of the return leg. At one time when the match was three-two for Marseille, it was RB Leipzig who would qualify on away goals rule. Then there was a solo intervention by Dimitri Payet to bring Marseille into the leadership of the matchup. An injury time goal just confirmed their qualification.

The two games, contrasting with Arsenal’s game where Arsenal almost succeeded in replicating Barcelona’s champions League exit feat had it not been a few brilliant moments by Petr Cech and ‘Henry-esque’ solo initiative by Welbeck. The two teams seemed to have wanted it so bad and the one that makes it to the final will be very dangerous at that moment that the trophy is in the stadium waiting to be lifted, at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Deceines-Charpieu, Lyon – France on the 16th of May 2018, facing Arsenal whose wanting it so bad seems not to show very well in the pitch.

However, for Arsenal to get into the final where we will have to play one of the two, Arsenal must get past Atletico Madrid. So how can Arsenal be able to get past a team most Arsenal fans seems to have come to feel will deny us a better next season? I have four points on what needs to be done.

First, the play pattern that we have been deploying is not kind to our squad. We have been playing one striker upfront and restricting the midfield to very definite and predictable roles. We have now effectively settled back to a four-man defense after experiments with both four and three man backs. I think four at the back is more stable and should remain. However, 5-man midfield is allowing for the mistake to having too many players available that one can feel too comfortable to fill all the necessary roles making the players one dimensional in their play. Basically players stay in their positions and failing to take advantage of opportunities they can get in changing positions momentarily.

Every time a defender scores, which in football is many instances, someone took a chance and switched roles. It also means that the opposition can easily counter Arsenal progress knowing too well who is playing where at all times in the match. That is why four-man midfield with three key roles covered and the fourth one free-role makes a lot of sense. The extra man concept in modern football is one that has lost flair. But imagine if you have 9 positions filled out…4 in defense with advancing fullbacks providing wing depth – Cafu, Roberto Carlos like fullback would be great. Bellerin once looked to be headed that direction until a change to three-man defense halted his progress as now he was to operate as a wingback which ideally should have been better for him but somehow his defensive focus seemed to have evaporated. 3 in the midfield – An attacking midfielder, a box to box midfielder anda defensive midfielder; two centre forwards.
Then you have the extra man – He can appear to help out the defense to avoid conceding soft goals and start a potent counter attack; He can help in the midfield defensive roles to break up opponent’s attacks as well as help out the midfield in distress to avoid soft loss of possession; provide outlets for deep lying attack initiations; offer wing support and attacking midfield duties. In attack, he becomes either the third of the fourth dimension attacker supporting the centre forwards or even the box to box midfielder who arrives late but finds the spaces restricted by returning defenders. In the Newcastle game, we saw how well Lacazette and Aubameyang can operate as for the first time they both started together and in 14 minutes they had their goal. Throughout the game Aubameyang looked like he prefers playing from the centre. Time for Arsene to consider the change over and West Ham United is a good match at the right time to put this pattern on trial.

Against, Atletico, the extra-man could tilt the match in favour of Arsenal by causing Arsenal defenders to have that extra boot to stop Atletico from scoring and Arsenal from conceding needlessly like we have been doing a lot of this season. It will get the us starting out on counter attacks quicker and in the midfield it will solidify our grit in there where we need it. The extra man will help shower up the wings and also support the attack to ensure when we have them with their backs on the wall, it will result in a goal mostly. My first player for consideration of this role is Mkhitaryan. The second is Welbeck when Aubameyang is playing (EPL), then Iwobi and then Reiss Nelson. Elneny would be way up there but at this moment until we get sign-ups during the transfer window, I’m biting the bullet to have him in CB position – crisis mode in this area it is for me.

Secondly, ban the following players from the pitch unless we cannot help it. Koscielny, Mustafi and Wilshere. These players have been at their worst possible footballing performances lately. Koscielny looks a shadow of himself and has been defending like he is on go-slow. His partner in crime is Mustafi and together they have ensured Arsenal have their worst defensive records for a long time. If they had been up to scratch CSKA Moscow would have been buried in the first leg and Petr Cech would have gotten his 200th clean sheet rather quicker. Wilshere has been atrocious in losing possession in the middle of the pack, destroying good opportunities, letting us into pressure unnecessarily and generally making up the numbers but reducing the quality of the line-up. Again, it’s time to try the new defensive set-up.

Thirdly, play Welbeck and Lacazette upfront as partners. Clearly, Arsenal fans must be wondering what would have been had Sanchez and Giroud been played as two-man centre forwards. Now everyone is wondering suppose we can play Lacazette and Aubameyang together and now with Welbeck coming back into form, what if we can fit him in there with Ozil, Ramsey and Mkhitaryan…

Fourthly, here is the line-up I feel will overwhelm Atletico Madrid. Pattern 4.4.2, with Iwobi starting off from the free-role as described above.


How does that line-up look to you?

Nicholas Oyoo


  1. gotanidea says:

    Atletico Madrid would set a defensive counter-attack tactic with a 4-4-1-1 formation, because it is Simeone’s style and they know they will play away first

    Arsenal used to beat Leicester City that used similar tactic with Wenger’s old 4-2-3-1. They could use that formation again, because they are more accustomed to it and Ozil usually has less pressure when playing at home:

    Bellerin . Koscielny . Mustafi . Monreal
    ……………Ramsey …. Elneny
    Nelson …………. Ozil ……….. Welbeck
    ………………… Lacazette

    But I prefer if they use Klopp’s false nine, to hit Atletico Madrid from the wings:

    Bellerin . Koscielny . Mustafi . Monreal
    ……………..Ozil ……. Wilshere
    ………………….Ramsey (false 9)
    …….Welbeck ……………… Lacazette

    1. Lanert says:

      The second formation would suit the deal perfectly, knowing how often Ramsey can get into position and utilizing Welbeck work rate and Laca’s creativity.

  2. Iwobi and a gapping hole on the right side of the pitch…to ensure Atletico knock us out and the dinosaur is fired..I love how you think Nicholas Oyoo!

  3. jakseth says:

    Ridiculous formation. trying a new defensive partnership with 2 players that are not real central defenders for a game of this magnitude? really? you wrote all this for that ?

  4. Godswill says:

    Our CBs are so bad that none could be picked in your formation?
    Well, we are also disgusted with them. But that your back line can’t stop AM.

  5. John Ibrahim says:

    so many strategist in here

    1. chris says:

      J.B. Well it is better than leaving it to Wenger !

      1. Lanert says:

        LOL!! We had better appoint the person with the best formation to take over from AW for the two legs.

  6. Ackshay says:

    to beat a strong tactical physical team like we will either need a strong disciplined effort like 0-2 away at man city few years ago or a monster-start with a flurry of attack ala 3-0 man u or chelsea. In short we need to be at our very best to have a chance and you never know what to expect with this team.
    we should play 4-2-3-1 which is the formation that we play the best football most of the time(plus some atrocious ones when we play lazy) but we cant with injuries and suspension so a 4-3-2-1 it will be. kolasinac should start at lb as it will be a physical match up
    ramsey-xhaka-wilshere or elneny

  7. Sue says:

    With Mustafi, Cech & Iwobi in the line up… we’re doomed

  8. McLovin says:

    F*** Cech, he shouldn’t be anywhere near starting 11.

    Nor should Iwobi.

    Nor Mustafi but in that regard we don’t have many options..

    Where is that Greek kid?

    1. Sue says:

      He’s injured

  9. Anthony Douglas says:

    Arsenal is a good football team but they will struggle against Atletico Madrid. Please lower your expectations.

  10. Nikkogunners says:

    @Debuchy is doing so well at St. Etienne. Makes me wonder…whats happening with our defenders’ training…

    1. GB says:

      Yes, player of the month and scoring goals. Your question regarding defenders training, it doesn’t exist!

      1. Phil says:

        Debuchy is playing well.Why are we not surprised?Hoe was always a very good player who had injuries across his whole time at the club.How he was never given an opportunity this season when he was obviously fit and Bellerin was playing so badly?Good player who deserved better from his Manager.

        1. tas says:

          Debuchy was mouthing off couple of seasons ago that he wanted to leave he annoyed everyone and that’s why he was let go, i don’t blame AW for what happened Debuchy had two bad injuries back to back and took him a while to get back to match fit and Belerin was firing on all cylinders at the time and Debuchy pushed for an exit so “F” him

    2. Uzo says:

      It is obvious something is wrong with our coaching system.
      It is not only debuchy, you can see the rest yourself. He was also named player of the league.
      Walcott left and scored 2 goals in his first match.
      Chamberlain is trying to notch a name for himself (though he is playing around very good players).

      We need another coach. IT’S SIMPLE

  11. Arnold says:

    Wish thinking is something we can discuss for the time being but our season was over even before it began even Usmanov on his article a while ago said Arsenal needs two world class players in every position but our below average manager thinks the other way try to prove everyone wrong and keep pushing young players who are not ready for 1st team he has been doing experience for over ten years now and still he can’t see it ! He might be under influence of substance may be

    1. Nikkogunners says:

      The point – We have then good players who we can make world-class, we have made some too and Debuchy is now the best defender in Europe…he just left us, and look what he can do, then we got Oxdale Chamberlain and he too seems to be on the rise, Giroud just did a match-winning brace. We are still unable to pair up Aubameyang and Lacazette while Man City can play so many of their offensive players in the match. Sanchez and Giroud pair up as centre-forwards may have been experimented when we had the chance…

  12. Arnold says:

    Modern attacking football formation is Barcelona,Liverpool and Manchester City Arsenal had that when Henry,Persie,Rosicky, Hleb and Fabregas were playing

    1. Nikkogunners says:

      Hendry – Aubemeyang; Persie – Lacazette, Rosicky – Mkhitaryan, Bergkamp – Ozil, Vieira – Ramsey….(Still looking for Fabregas, Hleb, Gilberto,) (Back four – Lauren-Bellerin; The other three still looking for Ashley Cole, Sol Cambell and Kolo Toure still Missing ( We thought we had Seaman/Lehmann in Cech but no, we still need to search)

      Anyway, the above tells me have players that can become world-class, but we start spoiling their changes by poor fielding…

  13. jon fox says:

    “Overwhelm” , as in “overwhelm Madrid.” Nicholas Oyoo, you are hiding your light under a bushel. You should be giving the great fantasy writers of our age, the J.K. Rowlings, etc lessons on how to REALLY use fantasy at its finest.

  14. Lupe says:

    Just make sure mustafi and xhaka don’t play especially away from home. Play elneny and holding. Another key thing is discipline, especially ramsey and ozil, they must press and keep their shape when they need to. No running forward from ramsey like he does against poor teams like cska moscow. Wenger has never gotten the balance between pressing and staying in shape, the players aren’t coached on it, its clear for everyone to see.

    1. Ignasi M says:

      Agree 100% Lupe. Mustafi and dhaka should lose their place as they haven’t improved and are getting worse. Have more confidence in Holding and Elnenny

  15. Richmond says:





    1. Admin says:

      Aubameyang cannot play. He is cup tied….

  16. King henry says:

    For me our formation has to be

    Bellerin chambers kos monreal
    Ramsey xhaka or Wilshire
    Laca welbeck

    I just prey we sign the players we need and get them in sooner rather than later.. get a full pre season under their belts

    Hopefully the deals we pull of will include

    Gk Oblak prob 80m
    Def Manolas 35-40mil
    Def Gimenez 40-50mil
    Dm nzonzi 35mil
    Dm fabinho 45mil

    Best part of 200mil there if not more but if we want to improve has does a starting 11 of

    Bellerin manolas gimenez kolasinac
    Nzonzi Ramsey
    Laca PEA

    Looks good to me? And a question.. if we are such a big club why is the stadium getting emptier and emptier each week.. clearly Wenger has lost the dressing room and his coaching is out dated and so predictable.. so the board haven’t got the balls to sack him and Wenger feels he is owed loyalty!! TRUST ME when I say this he will be in charge for next season without doubt the only way to get rid of Wenger is by not renewing his contract.. so if that is the case and hopefully Wenger now knows he has lost the fans and will leave.. go and spend some big money in the summer everyone knows where we need to improve.. and stop showing to much loyalty to the players and crack the whip get some hunger and passion into them and we could end up beating athletico Madrid!!


  17. TH14-TW14 says:

    Athletico are hardly as daunting as the media make them out to be. In both legs against Lisbon, they had lesser possession than Lisbon and lost the second leg. They are defensively drilled but attack wise are not as good as we are. We have proven that we can score a lot of goals but weak defensively. I see us getting an unassailable advantage at home against them, like in previous first legs in the knockout rounds. Athletico has struggled this season in Europe, failing to qualify for the UCL round of 16 (losing to Roma and Chelsea, while drawing twice to lowly Qarabag. To put this in contex, Chelsea beat Qarabag 6 -0 and 4 -0). Don’t tell me they were off form then because they were still second in La Liga at the time. I am not afraid of them at all.

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