Why Mikel Arteta should stick with our 3-4-3 counter-attacking system

Why Arteta should not change the system by ThirdmanJW

Despite there being no real evidence, there has been a lot of talk amongst Arsenal fans that Arteta is only really playing the 3-4-3 counter-attacking system, because that was his only real option.

Given what he inherited: A shocking defense, and only one real playmaker (Ozil), who wasn’t delivering, it made sense to sacrifice creativity to shore up our defending. This has worked really well!

Whether Arteta was forced into a more defensive structure, or not, is actually irrelevant. Because the current system is working so well. Even if he wanted/wants to switch to a back four, more attacking system, surely, he’ll be hesitant given the success of his current system? Why change something that is working really well?

It obviously makes sense for Arteta to work on another one or two systems, so he has multiple options for different opponents/scenarios. E.g. If we’re at home against a weak team, do we really need a defensive system? I think the West Ham game this weekend presents a good opportunity to try another system.

My main concern is that the players are fully adapted to the current system. Experimenting too much throughout the season, could have its pitfalls. Players will need to re-adapt, and Arteta himself may have to keep tweaking potential new systems to find out what works, which will weaken us in the meantime. Ideally, pre-season is when you want to be doing this, not during a season when so much is on the line.

When you look pretty much at any manager throughout history, they’ll have their main system, and stick with that. Arteta should keep the current system as his first choice, but find the right balance, and time to switch up systems when a situation dictates. I love the fact we’re more defensive now, and teams are really struggling against us.

I will get behind whatever changes Arteta makes, but for me; stick with what’s working. We’re beating the big boys, we’re outperforming them, and we’re winning trophies. I cannot see a single reason why the current system shouldn’t continue as our number one tactical choice? Yes, work on other systems, but keep the 3-4-3 counter-attacking system, especially against the top teams.

What do you think? Should the 3-4-3 stay as the first choice?



  1. I agree with this write up 100 percent. This formation can get us wins against the top teams. We are playing Liverpool very soon and I am confident we will get 3 points. This 343 formation got us wins against Wolves(away) Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool(twice). There is no need to change a Winning formula. Arteta knows what he is doing. We have to support him.

  2. I’m with changing it.
    I understand it has work so far but this statement “We’re beating the big boys, we’re outperforming them”
    Are we outperforming them though?
    Let’s not put emotions in this, we all love our wins, but apart from the Man Utd game, have we outperformed any of the big boys ? Man City? Liverpool?
    We go toe to toe with Chelsea every season, even Emery beat Utd and Chelsea.
    If he gets all the tools to become more comfortable and flexible why not use it? Do we really need to always allow the likes of Liverpool and City pound us while we wait for counter attack if we really have the option of going toe to toe with them and coming out on top.
    Plus almost everyone complained of this 5 defenders lineup under Emery.
    I understand it’s working under Arteta but that’s only because while attacking, we switch formations and we revert back to 3-4-3 when we lose the ball.
    So really who says we can’t do the same with a formation that allows us to own the midfield and control the games?
    All of these decision will never be ours though, so whatever Arteta decides, he’ll have my full support and cheers.
    This is the least of my worries for now.
    Let Arteta handle it

    1. We led Conte’s Chelsea at half time by 3 goals at half time. Conte in the second half of that game reverted to a 343 formation. And he was solid defensively. He later used that 343 formation till the end of the season and won the league. The truth is if we don’t have a kelvin De Bryne in our squad. Arteta has prioritized Defensive game because he trusts Aubameyang to convert chances that come his way. I prefer a very efficient counter attacking side that gets 3 points week in week out. Winning is all that matters not possession.

      1. Yes I get that point TBH, it’s why I said if Arteta gets all the players he wants, why would he stick to 3-4-3.
        Let’s say he gets Partey and Aouar or just Aouar And he keeps Elneny to replace Partey. I know Aouar ain’t gon be on the bench, Xhaka won’t be on the bench, what about Ceballos?
        Then if he gets Partey too, who sits? Xhaka is important to Arteta. Ceballod could be sitting it out and rotating but that’s it. He’s not going to get Aouar and Partey just for one of them to come sit on the bench because we play 3-4-3.
        3-4-3 makes us solid defensively, but let’s also not forget that it’s because the boys are also willing to work hard to quickly regain the ball.
        I guess all I’m trying to say is, if there’s a chance we can build a team like City. Won’t you take it? I’d take it, it shouldn’t stop our defensive capabilities.
        We do it just like we do now, we switch when attack and going back to 3-4-3 while defending

    2. @Eddie

      I would argue we are out performing the big boys in regards to the system. I am not saying it is 100% foolproof, no system is, but we have been performing so well with it.

      It’s only some of the poor players that have let us down, with some horrendous individual mistakes. It wasn’t the fault of the system.

      We outperformed City in the semi-final, we were very comfortable against Chelsea in the final, even before the sending off, and Liverpool didn’t have a shot on target until around the 70th minute in the Community Shield. They had a far superior team on the day as well.

      There is definitely a trend. We are getting stronger and stronger with the current system. Probably the only game where we got lucky was the league victory over Liverpool.

      Like I said, if Arteta changes it, I’ll still support him, but I think it would be foolish. Beating the best around, and winning trophies is what it’s all about isn’t it? In the early days of Arteta we were still not great to watch, but we’re a lot more entertaining now as well. Sorry even the excuse of we’re boring doesn’t really add up anymore.

    3. If Arteta continues with Tierney as the Leftsided CB then we know the lineup is 343 but he’s actually playing 442 with Auba the left forward…

      You see atimes that Tierney or Holding usually moves into sideback positions so that Auba or Pepe becomes wide forwards…

      It’s a tactical tweak.. Tierney/Kolasnac are been used as defensive fullbacks with Bellerin/Cedric used as offensive FBs.. and then 2 forwards with Auba/Gabriel out-and-out left while Laca/Nketiah are playing in-and-out right.

    4. Also, if we’re really going for Aouar, Arteta is clearly not planning on keeping 3-4-3, as the system would not get the best out of a potentially very expensive signing…

  3. I believe it depends on the opposition and situation. If we are playing City or Liverpool away, a 343 system will work fine because we have to be cautious. However if we are playing a midtable or lower team at home than e have to go all out to break their defence so we would require a 433 system. However, I agree that if we get both Partey and Aouar, Arteta might want to dominate the play and play 433, because with the addition of Partey and Aouar, we will be sound in both attack and defence.

  4. Watch us closely and you will see We only start the game with 3-4-3. During attacking play our Rb or LB pushes up the field to become a midfielder while the other defenders switch to a back 4 so we don’t need to switch formations. With that tactic xhaka and AMN become very important with their ability to take up that vacant rb/lb position when we lose position while attacking

    Yes we suffer more against liverpool or man city because we don’t have the midfield to fight them so we need up more on the defensive. Once we get partey/aouar or any better midfielder we will be more on the offensive vs them.

  5. I could not agree MORE with this mature article . I have had muy own run ins with TMJW, mostly about the early stages of how we should behave under this pandemic but I have come to appreciate his clear thinking in his recent articles and applaud his deep knowledge of our club.

    Well done TWJW, and I support these fine comments 100%! Clearly a lot of wise thought went in before you began writing this excellent article. MORE PLEASE!!!

  6. Nah! You can’t be a one trick pony in this league. We won against big teams by surprise because Aubameyang was very good at converting difficult chances and on defense the ball bounced our way. God forbid Auba gets injured the 3-4-3 is history. That could be true for other formations but you more are likely to score with EN and Laka. Opposing managers did not stay idle by now they probably found a way to take our 343 apart. Xhaka is very slow to recover and our new signees on defense need time to acclimate.

  7. I don’t think game playing formation systems are a concern to Mikel Arteta at this time. For, I believe he knows much about all the game playing formation systems.

    But I think how Arsenal will complete the signings of all the targets that Arteta has identified for the club to sign them this summer is more of a concern to Arteta.

    But those targets he has indentified for Arsenal to sign are still where they are unsigned by Arsenal but are still waiting to see if Arsenal will at the end sign them.

    Whose when their signings are done should improve the quality of the game playing of the Gunners considerably to a larger extent.

    Nevertheless. I don’t think Arteta should be rigid to employ only one particular game playing formation system. But have the Gunners to explore all the available game playing formations even as they have adapted to a particular single game formation system.

    But the Gunners could be varying their options if they are to playing multiple game playing formation systems adapting themselves multiply in game playing formations and apply them appropriately interchanging formations when necessary in games for Arsenal.

  8. Couldn’t agree more. ‘If it aint broken, don’t fix it’
    nothing gives me joy as much as the recent improvements in our defensive displays and this is down to how well Arteta has utilized the 343 counter attacking formation.
    However, to avoid being too predictable, there’s need to explore and experiment other tactical options.


  9. Please can someone explain the difference between Wolves 3-4-3 tactics and Arsenal 3-4-3 tactics? @Barry, is there any smaller team in the PL these days? Which system would you play against the likes of Brighton and Have Albion? Would you argue with me that they outperformed Chelsea before unfortunately got defeated? Teams like Brighton is the reason AT opted for 3-4-3 system. So you had better start loving it and stop the hates…

    1. Our playing style is very boring with this 343 formation, we were known as the Barcelona of England compare to how we played now.

      1. Well Barcelona themselves are shit now, and I respect your opinion but in no way see our current style as boring.

    2. I guess Eddie or Joe Allyson will explain it better. But from the top of my head, we use a false 9 while Wolves use their wingbacks to feed crosses directly to their tall target man. We switch to a different formation (like 4-3-3)when in possesion while I see no such things with Wolves.

  10. Haha, fans, if Arteta loses, fans will complain, he is winning again you guys are complaining again about his formation and tactics, Conte used this formation for Chelsea and they won the league nobody complained or lamented, what matter is that he won, when Arteta joined us, he was using 4231 formation but we played more draws than win because of the quantity of the set of defenders we have, then he changed the formation to 343 to help the floppy defenders with one more man, then one of our worst defenders became our best defender then we started beating teams like solve away( I can’t remember the last time we beat them at their home), Sheffield away( they beat us in league with 4231 formation), Liverpool( first time we will beat klopp in lvfc and of course in the shield), we beat man city( imagine 2-0 without city scoring 1, unbelievable), we beat Chelsea in the final( don’t forget the last time we met in final we were thrash 4-1) and you guys are complaining about it again… I want to ask a question did we use more than 11 players on the pitch? If no then Arteta carry on with the formation, if its the formation that will win us more trophies, fire on am solidly behind you….. May be you guys have forgotten mourhinho parking of bus that won him 3 league title in Chelsea and two champions league in Porto and inter Milan, with that they still regard him as one of the best coach in the world even more than our own Arsene Wenger or you guys also forgot that he used that same parking the bus tactics to beat Arsene Wenger many times…….Arteta please make us proud….

  11. I cant understand what some Arsenal Fans really want !!!

    I remember Wenger in his last seasons when he was playing the most beautiful football in the world afterall we getting humiliated by the big Boys every single fan was craying for Change and now when the Change happened and the same big Boys start fearing us and dream of Scoring a single Goal against us YOU STILL COMPLAIN AGAIN .

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