Where is Arsenal’s back three? – We certainly don’t look ready for the new season

We still look unprepared for the start of the season. by Konstantin

Hello lovely people. So the Emirates Cup ended and we lifted it thanks to hammering Benfica, but realistically speaking there’s work to do. Most notably there’s a huge liability in defense, raising the question of why we haven’t added a new CB.

Worse, the starting back 3 are increasingly likely to be Mertesacker, Monreal and Elneny as Holding is way out of shape to start and Mustafi is yet to be seen. We might put Kolasinac there too, but it’s still uncertain.

My huge worry is that we don’t know our best squad. We tried out combinations of 2 strikers and Giroud and Walcott looked like a lovely combination, but so far what we tried with Lacazette didn’t really work out, despite him scoring against Seville. We shouldn’t be quick to judge him, because he’s coming to a new league and a new team.

But I feel like Arsene bought him to ease fan pressure, because we did need a new striker, but what’s the plan? We’re mostly experimenting, with the season knocking on our doorstep and we don’t know our best squad. You can probably only name Xhaka and Ramsey as sure starters and they are a liability too.

We really miss Cazorla. Ozil looked really poor in preseason. We lack creativity. Against Seville, the Ox looked like the best player we have and I’m disappointed we haven’t signed him up, because he finally looks like a good player. We looked dangerous on the flank and crossing balls in the box is a strategy that is viable, but why didn’t we bring on Giroud against Seville?

I think we need to snap up that Seri guy to help in CM and get Mahrez, if we won’t get Lemar, so that we can add some more creativity to our side. Hopefully we’ll look better against Chelsea, but we look like same old Arsenal against the 4th best team in Spain and we lost at home. So far we don’t look ready and with the amount of competition in the league, we’ll be paying a high price for any missed points against lesser opposition.


Updated: July 31, 2017 — 8:02 am


  1. I dont understand why we didn’t start Chambers. He was available and had played 20 minutes against benefica. Elneny as CB is a disaster waiting to happen. Wenger seems to have lost the plot and he is too proud to admit his mistakes .He is just coming up with these new tactics to hide his transfer failings.
    If we lose to Sevilla at home, what will happen against likes of Man City , Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool , Tottenham and Everton. Forget about title contenders , getting top 4 looks pretty difficult.

    1. Hey guys, if he doesn’t experiment in pre season games where else do you expect him to experiment? The league? Arsene has stated it categorically that he does not see El-Neny playing as defender in the future, that he is only giving him game time there to give him competition. We fail to realize that Holding and Chambers just resumed training with the team so you can’t use them extensively at the moment. With our available centre defenders comprising of Per, Kos, Monreal with Holding,Chambers and Bielik, I see no reason why this article is suggesting Per, EL-Neny Monreal as our starting centre defenders. Most times we blame our players for having wrong mentality in matches. I think we the fans need to start having positive mentality too. Instigating negativity even before the season kicks off is shit

  2. When we had the chance of Chambers and Holding to play together which would’ve made sense.
    Wenger played Elneny at CB who is a midfielder? Baffling…

    Also playing Maitland-Niles at the back?? look at the boy, he’s a winger all day long!!

    Pre season games yes I know. But it is evident we need a well rounded midfield player to come in and play alongside Xhaka. Ramsey at times looks like a headless chicken.

    Cazorla isn’t going to be back any time soon. Wilshere only need a polystyrene cup thrown at him and he’s injured.
    Surely this is the week now we will see some of the deadwood go in order to bring in new players


  3. Experimenting… is that not what we are supposed to do in the pre-season?
    Our weakness yesterday was Ramsey doing what he does all the time, lose the ball. You are right about Seri. We need to replace ramsey. Keita was the best player at the tournament this weekend. Why not keita? and dump Ramsey to the bench.

  4. I have never seen Elneny perform a successful tackle on theth midfield, not even kidding. So how can a player like that play in defence?

    “We really miss Cazorla.” A sentence which have been repeated for a year but nothing has been done to remedy this.

    Season starts in 11 days and we are terribly short, once again.

    1. Then I guess you didn’t watch the Emirates cup then, just lapping up lies you hear in the media.

  5. Sure bro,we ar not just ready for d new season.Arsene behaves as everything is OK.we need more quality players.but we all know how it will end. same old….same old…..

  6. Our main problem lies in the organization of the midfield.
    Our midfielders are not taught how to and not required to press aggressively to win the ball back quickly and in the opponent’s half. This creates a number of problems:
    1 – Their midfield have too much time to control and pick out passes and crosses
    2 – Too much pressure on our defense, and that is why we for a number of years have too many goals against us to be contenders for the league title
    3 – When we do not win the ball back high up, we do not get “easy” goals
    4 – We are always attacking an opponent, which have had time to organise, and that requires more creativity than almost any team has

    So, the problem is not individual players. It is poor tactics/management and if that area doesn’t see improvement, we can forget about winning the league. It will be same old, same old

    1. Also, have you noticed the vast amount of meaningless and dangerous passes into midfielders when there are opposition players behind them? Our players (mostly xhaka or ramsey) will only be able to one-touch pass back to the defence from where it just came from. Why do this, year after years after year? Its a wasted pass.

      1. Clearly youve never kicked a ball in your life if you don’t understand what a one-two pass is meant to do….. Embarrassing

        1. I mean when the ball is passed as a one-two but the original pass is to a player when he has an opposition player right behind/next to him. Isn’t that dangerous? Just pass to the side or keep possession?

        2. What he meant is Arsenal’s players (especially the midfielders) like to play safe by doing a lot of backpasses. I think most fans cannot see it, because they are so used to see Arsenal’s matches.

          If you want to see how typical Arsenal’s midfielder plays, see how Andre Gomes played last season for Barcelona. Arsenal, as a top and rich European club, should have at least one midfielder that can play like Messi, Iniesta and Xavi.

          1. Brill – Thanks! thats the term i was looking for: ‘back-pass’. Sorry I should have remembered that! D’oh!

  7. wenger needs to play OX on the right wing back position he has the energy and speed and he can also create a lot of chances for us.

  8. Emmanuel Ogundeji

    We are not ready at all. It’s looking like we are heading into another season of uncertainty!!!

  9. We beat Chelsea in the FA Cup Final with a “high press”….never allowing the opposition time on the ball and once we’d recovered the ball moving it forward at pace.We have seen not seen this repeated in our ore-season games.Once again individual players have been allowed to play outside the team structure at their own pace without any discipline…Ramsey and Ozil demonstated this yesterday!!.To make matters worse the Manager selected a boy who was thoroughly out of his depth against Seville and played a central midfielder with no defensive ability to play as a CB.
    Whilst it can be a useful exercise to use pre-season to experiment with formations and tactics this should be reserved for the latter stages of a game once substitutions are made.Crucially Arsenal failed to use game time to acclimatise the players who are likely to start the Season to one another and to continue to develop a team philosophy which had proven so successful in a crucial game at the end of last Season.Reverting to type will only have one end product and it won’t go down well with the Arsenal faithful.

    1. Just read this – well said. And the comment below. Why does Wenger make his and everyones lives so difficult? You’d think he’d continue training the high press work ethic into his players during pre season and then tweaking it for each game. Are the players just lazy??

  10. Mertesacker and Elneny must not near that first team again…..which top clubs can tolerate all this nonsense?…..Chelsea won the league and still strengthened the team, Liverpool are still buying, same with Manchester City …what is wrong with Arsenal, the team is so much packed with average players…Elneny mertesacker Gibbs coquein Ramsey ozil xhaka, that 100meters runner Theo Walcott, Giroud jenkinson……you guys can see nobody is going after ozil Walcott…..it says a lot about them…..they are total liability…..

  11. Arsenal will not make top 4 this season. Sevilla utterly outclassed us in every area of the pitch and if you noticed, changed the tempo of the game depending on how well Arsenal were playing. There was little communication between arsenal players and the defensive discipline was terrible.

    I understand young players need experience but players shouldn’t be played out of position. Wenger should know by now that the Ox is terrible on the left. Also he should know by now not to play Elneny at CB. Why does he keep doing this?

    One thing that is for certain is that Sanchez needs to stay, Arsenal are doomed otherwise.

  12. OX/Bellerin – Koscielny – Holding – Mustafi – Kolasinac

    should be our back 5 against Leicester in 11 days. I reckon Bellerin was horrible yesterday because he literally JUST returned back to training and Sevilla match was his first competitive 45 minutes since last season ended.

    I hope OX signs the new deal. He’s homegrown and the likes of Gibbs and Wilshere are on thin rope and we have a quota to fill in.

  13. Konstantin, i admire your consistencies. You always put out a doom article after each defeat. Like i said in your last “arsenal is not ready” article. No team is or isn’t ready. Chelsea lost to b.Munich and inter millan with most of their first team players. Are they ready or not? I don’t know. Are Manchester clubs, Spurs, Liverpool, Leicester, Everton etc ready considering their preseason games?. Every clubs lost and win one or two even all preseason match putting out mixture of their first and reserve team. Does that indicate anything? No. Being ready or not is all about perspective. Real Madrid has lost all their preseason matches so far and if they win the first 2 or of their first league games can you say they are ready for the season.

    1. Let common sense prevail ???

  14. when is lemar coming am fricking out already…….. arsene has been a mess for the past ten years and fans keep tolerating him….. i wanna ask hw can arsenal fans even jibe at of a fans when we got no trophy to begin with…………just tired

  15. when is lemar coming am fricking out already…….. arsene has been a mess for the past ten years and fans keep tolerating him….. i wanna ask hw can arsenal fans even jibe at oda fans when we got no trophy to begin with…………just tired

  16. Oh we gooners are our own worst enemy, tactical know how, strong mentality, big games mentality especially is what is needed and that’s what sevilla had in abundance and on top of that sevilla were not better individually but what they had was s strong tackling especially not losing possession in ridiculous areas that’s game mentality which under wenger arsenal have always lacked

    1. In that case, you will be surprised to see Arsenal achieve more than Sevilla in the coming season.

  17. I am sorry guys but is there any surprise about what we are seeing? (playing players out of position, seemingly not playing our best 11 together ahead of the community shield, a useless Ramsey playing without aim trying to be Messi, some promising youngsters we will likely not see enough of the rest of the season despite them appearing ready (Nelson) for more time)

    4th this season will be a minor miracle.

  18. When are we EVER ready under Wenger? Typical Wenger, should have changed managers…but amazingly, this is what some Arsenal fans want!

  19. Mustafi… Koscielny… Kolsanic
    Will be the best back 3 in the League

    Substitutes: Mertsacker, Holding, Chambers, Gabriel

    1. agreed all are internationals and experienced … and backup is decent … so its not where we need to urgently strengthen to stand any hope of competing at top this season … without creative midfielder and another attacking option its going to be another long season whether or not sanchez stays

    2. you’re very optimistic ! Especially when the the players in front of those three are all mucking about and giving the ball away

    3. Well let’s look at your back 5. As you said bellerin was horrible, cos he was only just back, yet you put mustafi in who is not yet back.
      Koscielny is suspended for Leicester. holding looked in the same condition as bellerin and as bad as Mertesacker.
      So effectively it’s chamberlain and kolasinac as wing backs, then “heavens help us” as the back 3.

      For me we have no choice but to play Monreal at left centre back. I think it should then be a case of who is the fittest 2 out of Mertesacker, holding, chambers and mustafi, with the other 2 definitely being on the bench. All 4 should get 45min each against Chelsea. However if only one of the 4 is near fit enough, then we should seriously consider going back to a back 4 for this one game and may be go 442. The last thing we need is to lose to Leicester. Also if the season was half way through people would be saying rest your starting x1 against Chelsea, but at this stage we cannot afford that.

  20. @Raj Chambers doesn’t offer no security either he’s nowhere near the accomplished centre back that we need. Don’t know if you saw the emirate cup games at all. There was one time Holding tried to waltz out with the ball and literally got taken off his toes without any effort. I’ve seen Chambers do that many times in an Arsenal shirt.

    Top four is always going to be difficult but it will be a lot easier if we play our most strongest and prolific eleven and play them in such a way that we get results. If we start getting cute and trying to make centre backs out of midfielders or, generally putting out a half hearted team in odd formations where gonna get hammered, not just per game but for another season.

    It ain’t no point as Konstantine and other keep reiterating get this guy, get that guy and thinking we’re gonna be a better team. We need more than just supposedly good looking players (and I don’t mean facially) who can’t play in a structured team, with a specific plan, with guile and endeavour for a whole 90 mins start to finish. Bringing the likes of Mahrez into an experimental team in it’s 14th season isn’t gonna help. It’s just going to be a case of, letting him go out there, do his own thing like many others and see how it all pans out after 90 mins.

    Konstantine also mentions creativity…………we’ve got that in abundance which is the pain in our Arsenal at the moment. Every bloody player wants to be creative and showcase his talents but it’s no good when your creativity allows teams to get behind the ball and shut you down quicker than you can ‘create’. We saw that in the Emirates Cup, where we still tried the little one two’s in and around the box that looked nice but for the majority of the time gave us sod all. We also saw the creative passing that got us two yards forward but seven yards back.

    Attacking players that get forward with purpose and do the most damage simply, are the players we need. Players like Chamberlain, Nelson, Sanchez but to name a few. I’m tired of seeing too much pretty interplay with no end result. I can already see from the EC that we seem to be reverting to our old ways of trying to be too clever and feel justified in doing so just because we’ve got a couple of new additions and some talented young blood in the team.

    No point having the likes of Lacazette if he and the team around him are still gonna be a collection of loose cannons all misfiring, and in the wrong direction. I know it’s very early doors but I don’t see Lacazette as being the answer !

    No point pining for Carzola as even with his ability…………he’d be doing one thing whilst the other 10 around him will all be doing something completely different to him and each other.

    I love arsenal strutting their stuff with purpose when they’re on song and coming up with a fantastic result, but those occasions are few and far between. We need more guile, less experimentation. Find a formation and the strongest, best players that fit into it, add to that a method that works and we’ll see some semblance of a team that is capable of fighting for honours.

    Without Lacazette, Mahrez, this guy, that guy, just about every player and his dog that the Arsenal fans seem to think will make the difference. Will turn out to be of no use unless we can all play together with one……defined method and with each player determined to dominate his opposing number on the pitch

    Forget all the fantasy and notions about signing this player and that player, all the incredible formations and permutations that I see folks on this site putting out. We’ve been living that fantasy for the past several seasons. Let’s get a bit of reality to our team and game !

  21. This weekend we have to stop the experiments.No more 17 years old in the team.(the only exception could be Nelson in a wing position where a mistake is less tragic and he got the qualities for that role
    The back 3 is the most critical formation,considering the physical or readyness of each of the 4 central defenders that we have at this moment:Chambers,Koscielny,Mertersaker,Holding .NO Elneny,NO Monreal,NO Mustafi for obvious reasons.
    In the middle there are only 2 options: Xhaka and Ramsey .Coquelin is injured and Elneny only from the bench.NO Iwobi please;.leave him for the last 5 minutes.
    In the number 10 unfortunately we only have one option Ozil ?????.I think Sanchez could do that job in the future if he become stable in the team in the long term.(dreaming)
    In the stricker positions 3 options:Walcott,Girou and Welbeck (Lacasette not ready)
    In the wing back positions the obvious 2:Ox and Kolasinac;they will provide the good service for the 2 strikers.
    That is my hope.

  22. Gibbs seems to be off, so Kolasinac and Monreal will be LWB (I’m sure they’ll play CB sometimes) therefore our centre backs are:
    Koscielny, Mustafi, Holding, Mertesacker, Chambers and Gabriel. We need another top quality centre back like Van Dijk/Manolas/Tah/De Vrij because Mertesacker won’t be a regular and is retiring at the end of the season, Koscielny is ageing and has injury problems, Chambers seems like he may leave, Gabriel is injured rn and is inconsistent, Holding is class but still quite inexperienced and Mustafi picks up loads of yellow cards.
    We also need to sign a quality central midfielder like Seri/Goretzka/Carvalho/Danilo Pereira/Kovacic as Ramsey is injury prone and a liability defensively. If Sanchez needs then we need a replacement for him as well. Will be incredibly frustrated if we leave our business half complete again. Every summer we always need 4/5 players but only sign 2 or at most 3.

  23. Are we ready? No, but the conciliation is no team is actually ready, still looking players and hoping new players come in.


    If it is the back three we are using the possible candidates are, Mert, Monreal, Holding, probably Chambers, and more than likely Mustafi he has 2 weeks to get ready. I am not thinking of Kolasinac(leftback) or Kos(suspension). I had hoped to see like a set back three for some of the preseason games, but that did not occur, so we are still in waiting.
    Ox and Kolasinac will be the wing backs.


    Xhaka and Ramsay more than likely will carry on from the end of last season, Elneny and Coquelin as support


    Welbeck Walcott, Giroud, Lacazette, Iwobi, Ozil

    If you notice i did not add Niless or Nelson, both youngsters i would consider to be utility players at the moment and can slot in basically the three areas mentioned.

    Arsenal have the players to start the season, the majority have had a decent preseason so therefore we can actually put together a decent starting 11 without some players. My concern is in all the groups of players we know some are not going to last the season so we are still about 2 to 3 players short. I am an Ozil hater and i am not afraid or ashamed to say so, In the 3-4-3 formation, it is the wing backs that has the function of providing assist to the front three, meaning arsenal does not have to depend on Ozil to be our offensive spark. Ozil games has to improve in order to be part of the arsenal starting 11 otherwise he needs time on the bench

  24. AllDwayfromAfriCa

    The only good to ever come out is this crazy experiments during preseasons was monreal at CB..kinda actually made him a better player. but for every monreal are 3 points dropped in d first game because we are never ever prepared for a season..the gist last year was Gabriel, BFG nd kos injury. this year it’s the under 21’s euro cup with kos suspension.. we are just never ready. I really fear for our start this season with our poor preparation, sanchez bring sanchez and OMG don’t let me start with wenger being the picture next to Einstein definition of insanity . right now am just looking for any glimpse of optimism, something to blind me to the fact that we never learn and are never ready.

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