After yesterday’s 4-1 win over Premier League strugglers Sunderland, Arsenal fans and pundits alike questioned whether the two goalscorers for Arsenal could effectively play together.
Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez where Arsenal’s goalscorers for the day, with two goals from both. Alexis played the full 90 mins, whilst Giroud a second half substitute, scored two goals with his first two touches in the game. Arsenal were drawing 1-1 with the bottom placed club until Giroud made his impact on the match. His performance suggested that perhaps the Frenchman deserves to regain his place up front again, instead of being named on the bench. The issue is that Alexis Sanchez is also continuing to blossom in front of goal, in his new converted position for the Gunners. Should Alexis really be removed in order to accommodate Giroud up front?
A few have suggested that both players could be positioned up front, in a old fashioned 4-4-2 formation. I don’t however think this would be entirely effective for the Gunners. The issue in my opinion is not having the pair partnered up front, but rather what the formation does to our midfield. It would mean that Ozil has to drop much further back in the middle of the park, instead of being able to play behind the striker and support the wingers. This means there’s more defensive duties required from this role. Defensive duties would also increase for our wide men, possibly Walcott, Chamberlain/Iwobi, who would no longer be wingers but wide midfielders. There would be a lot more ground to cover and playing as midfielders rather than wingers would mean that their positioning and movement for attacks may become more restrictive.
Finally we’d also lose a CM or CDM from our lineup. There would no longer be places for two out of Cazorla, Xhaka, Ramsey, Coquelin and Elneny, but rather just a single player to partner Ozil in midfield. Due to the competition for midfield places, I don’t think that would be highly effective either.
Of course Wenger could utilise a 442 diamond, which keeps the widemen as wingers and Ozil as a CAM, but it leaves Arsenal with just one central midfielder to cover a lot of space in midfield and to protect the back four. I think that could be a risky move with Arsenal’s passing style of play.
At the end of the day, we won’t know if 442 works for the Gunners unless Wenger decides to try it. However just by looking at our first team regulars and the style of play we are used to, I’m not sure Arsenal would become any more effective by playing two strikers instead of one.