Will Arteta look to switch up the formation after the latest injury blows? (Opinion)

Mikel Arteta has shown on a number of occasions that he is willing to change up his formation to get the best out of his side, and on the back of two straight defeats for Arsenal, now could be the time.

We look set to be without both Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey for at least the weekend’s fixture, while the Scot is reported to be out for most if not all of the remainder of the current campaign. With that in mind, and with Nuno Tavares’s defensive liability being exposed on too many occasions, it could be time to shore up our defence.

While Tavares could well profit from being deployed in a wing-back role, the LWB slot is one that Bukayo Saka has previously excelled in also, and it could well give us the opportunity to bring Nicolas Pepe back into the fold.

Partey’s injury means that Granit Xhaka centrally, while Lokonga has deputised previously he has found minutes hard to come by in 2022 and it remains to be seen whether the manager has trust in him at this crucial point in the campaign, and the manager has previously shown a keen interest in a back five.

Possible Arsenal XI this weekend:

White Holding Gabriel
Cedric Odegaard Xhaka Saka
Pepe/Martinelli Lacazette Smith Rowe

In this system, ESR would operate somewhere between the midfield and front three, similarly to Mason Mount during Euro 2020 last summer, while Odegaard would also come out from his deep role and operate in the hole as Emile pushes up the field, while Saka would also use his energy to get up and down the field to give us an extra man in both defence and attack.

Looking at those available at present, the alternative is to stick with the current formation, with this XI:

Cedric White Gabriel Saka/Tavares
Lokonga Xhaka
Martinelli/Pepe Odegaard ESR/Saka

The more I look at our options, what fears me the most is seeing Nuno put in a similar performance to Monday at LB, not that he was the only player to fail to bring his A game. Saka simply has to play on the LW and track back his utmost if we are to stick with the system in use at present.

Another potential selection if sticking with the same system could be to shuffle a number of players around, which could mean a lot of training this week to adjust, and could well be too risky is to complete switch up the back four, with Ben White moving out to the right, Cedric coming out to the left and with Rob Holding slotting in at centre-back, but will that completely break up any cohesion which we have built up in recent months?

How would you line up against Brighton assuming that all of Tomiyasu, Partey and Tierney remain unavailable?


Tags formation injuries


  1. When Arteta send all our backup on loan and gave some away for free like Chambers, Niles and aubamayang, some fans said that was the best thing but I knew then that sooner or later that decision is going to cost us, now Tierney is out of the season, partey alos might be out of the season, all of a sudden that decision look stupid. I will always be an arsenal first before supporting any coach or player, so I’m going to say if we failed to get top4, Arteta should be replaced, I mean this season is the best time to get it, no European football no cups football for over 3 months now. And to cap it off we spent over 150 million on signings

  2. IMHO I think going to a back 3 with wingbacks would be the best.

    White Holding Gabriel
    Cedric/Tavares Lokonga Xhaka Saka
    Martinelli Laca Pepe

    I also wouldn’t mind dropping Laca and replacing him with Martinelli as striker and ESR on the wing.

    I’m not in favor of dropping Laca for Nketiah, because team-wise we are better off with either ESR starting or Pepe starting. Nketiah just hasn’t shown enough, and why give the chances to someone who is off in the Summer?

    I would even give Martinelli a run as striker, something that was reportedly happing in Dubai. We would be better off giving opportunities to ESR or Pepe, give chances to players who are here beyond the Summer.

  3. No tavares he is completely out of his depth just can’t defend and is all over the place cedric has to play left back now!

  4. I think if everybody played to their usual standards on Monday and we lost 3-0 then maybe change the system, but it wasn’t the system that did for us it was so many poor performances in one game

    So I think we should go for same again but with the enforced change(s)

    So Tavares in again at left back and either Sambi or Elneny in for Partey if he doesn’t make it

    Personally I would like to see Eddie in for Laca as I have for a while but I think Arteta will stick with his Captain again for that reason, he is Captain

    Playing people out of position now because we have lost one game doesn’t make sense to me either

    If we lose again to Brighton then it needs a bit of a shake up but for that game I think we need to give the players a chance to put right their wrongs and start another run

  5. The 4-3-3 formation worked well before the long international break ruined the team’s cohesiveness

    We shouldn’t change it just because our main pivots in the front line and in the deep midfield area didn’t make good passes in one game

    This is a chance for Nketiah and Lokonga, to prove they can also be our main pivots

  6. We won’t get top 4 with Lacazette upfront, he’s 33 going on 65. I would try out Martinelli or Pepe upfront or even retry ESR as a false nine, and not judge him after a tricky semi final away game in Spain.

  7. Well, I for just one, would certainly not waste SAKA, OUR MOST IMPORTANT AND DANGEROUS PLAYER, BY PLAYING HIM AS WING BACK. I would also relegate the completely ineffective and fast tiring Laca to the bench( to be got rid off in the summer for sure).

    I’d give Eddie a proper chance up front, even though he too is not good enough for next year. But he looks far more likely to score than non scorer LACA ever does!
    Saka wide right, as usual. Pepe left wing on his natural side, Martinelli joint striker but played slightly deeper than Nketiah.

    Back three, with Holding coming in and Cedric RB and Lokonga as left wing back(OR switch Cedric to LWB and play SAMBI on other side. ESR, MA and Xhaka (groan but of necessity) in midfield.


    1. Yeah because I guess we should be challenging for the league with the youngest, most inexperienced squad in the league!

      And I guess if had kept the likes of Ozil, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Chambers, top four no worries is it? Hahahaha!

  8. I suspect white to move to RB and Cedric LB,

    I would love a back 3

    Wings backs Cedric and Smith-Rowe , with Lokonga and Xhaka,

    Forwards Saka Lacazette and Martinelli

  9. Ramsdale
    Cedric White Gabriel Tavares
    Odegaard Elneny Xhaka/ESR
    Saka Laca Martinelli

    Will prefer to drop Xhaka for ESR but Arteta will surely pick him. He may play instead of Elneny as the defensive midfielder provided he can keep his cool.




  11. Ramsdale
    Cedric White Gabriel Ogungbo
    Odegaard Sambi Xhaka
    Saka ESR Martinelli

    Leno, Holding Tavares Swanson Elneny Azeez Pepe Nketiah Lacazette

    Don’t make too many changes to a team and formation that had won 5 successive away matches until Monday.

  12. Looking at the players available, Arsenal are going to have to specialise in winning ugly. Will take the points any which way they come, but you can only ride your luck so far. Hope that’s not too negative for those of you with faint hearts.

  13. For me, the players that almost ended the match against bar Nketiah should start.
    Cedric, Gabriel, White, Xhaka
    Odegaard, Lokonga, Smith Rowe
    Saka, Lacazette, Martinelli

  14. ————–Rams—————–
    Cedric Holding Gabriel Xhaka

    Strange team I know but that puts 2 of our 3 best finishers at the club up front and keeps White out of the backline and Laca on the bench. Ode to actually stay in the middle and not be 1 meter from Saka the whole game. Will never happen I know but that’s a solid defensive unit with a ton of attacking ability up front, no need for full back to bomb up the pitch too much and be out of position.

    1. Nice formation but We would be overrun in the midfield, Odegaard lacks strength and speed, I think Smith-Rowe should be added in the middle,

      Cedric. Holding. Gabriel Tavares

      White. Smith-Rowe

      Saka. Lacazette . Martinelli


      Where’s Miguel Azeez, he should be on the bench,

  15. Notice the usual suspects are out in force now we’ve lost 🤦.

    Anyway, disappointing result but against a very capable team in particularly at home, I had a L down for this one. Due to the fact we alway perform badly after a international break for some reason, we were away to palace, we were missing out 2 first choice full backs and I don’t/didn’t think Lacazette could cut it up front.

    But let’s not forget, they have beaten Spurs 2-0 at away, beaten and drawn with both Man city and Utd. Somebody said a few weeks back we have had an easy run of games to get to 4th and have an easy run in, absolute bollocks. Spurs have probably the easiest run in and if Conte can’t get them 4th with that squad at his disposal should be sacked.

    Lets put things into context, as I said above we were missing our fullbacks. This is a massive issue in our system, it’s like taking both Robertson and Trent out of Liverpool’s squad and we witnessed this this season and they struggled. The defense is less solid, there are less quality options to pass out from the back and there’s less width cause teams don’t fear Soares and Tavares ability and intelligence on the ball.

    Palace were awesome Monday, they did everything right. Pushed and pressured our poor back up fullbacks, closed down Partey as quickly as possible cutting off supply to Odegaard, ESR and Saka and isolated, highlighted and benefitted from the fact that Lacazette is not a player who can hold up and link play.

    If we get 4th it will be a massive over achievement because we were doing it with a back up striker. But now weve lost or 2 fullbacks for the foreseeable it’s made that task even more difficult. Start of this season Europe was the target and thats still there but so is the top table of CL. It will take alot of work to come up with a system that will carry us through to the end of the season.

    343 for me Ramsdale GK Gabriel, Holding, White Three man defence, Lakonga (If no Partey), Xhaka, ESR, Saka as our 4 midfielders Martinelli, Odegaard as false 9 and Pepe. With the from three Ode can either drop into the position he occupies now leaving Pepe and Martinelli as a 2 up top or push up and create a 3. We need to get Laca out of this team tbh he plays okay sometimes but he flatters to deceive.

    Brighton home sat 3pts and back on track please

    1. The reason some people are out in force is likely due to the manner of the loss. Palace looked like they were fighting to keep 4th, while Arsenal looked 2nd best in all facets of the game. Even Arteta said we were “deserving of a slap” in his post match interview.

      Losses happen, but the manner of the loss is the point of contention. Fighting and losing a tough match is one thing, being 2nd best in all aspects to Palace is another.

      We never matched their intensity, physicality, or will to imposes themselves on the match. Preparation is called into question, but Arteta is not to blame for woeful performances by virtually everyone on the pitch.

      Tavares was the worst of the lot, but White and Gabriel were also bad, Laca did nothing, Partey was giving the ball away, Odegaard had no influence, and the rest just ran around accomplishing little.

      1. Agreed fella, You have to give credit to the other team they nullified all our strengths. That’s not the managers fault the players should have adapted and they didn’t. The brunt of the blame should be shouldered by the players for letting the fans and manager down.

        As I said the outlet ball for Gabby and White is normally Partey, Tierney or Tomiyasu. 2 were out and the other was man marked and often had 2 or even 3 players around him when in possession. The manager can control that, the only other option to combat that is play over the midfield. Lacazette cannot play like a big 9 so that would also mean pinging balls to nowt all game.

        Crystal palace were on it simple as that

  16. Lather stick to Ramsdale,
    white Holding Gabriel,
    Cedric Odegaard Xhala Saka,
    Pepe/Martinelli Lacazette Smith to avoid disappointing results.

  17. I think with the absence of Tierney and Partey, it will be imperitive for MA to go with a back 3.
    White Holding Gabriel
    Cedric Elneny Xhaka Tavares
    Saka Laca ESR
    Bring on Martinelli as our first sub and play hm as CF.

  18. ESR and Saka are the main goal treats in this Arsenal team. Moving Saka to the left back/wing position will further weaken the already weak goal scoring record of Arsenal. Saka should stay at the right wing and Mikel Arteta should look for other options to replace Tierney. We have seen what Tavares is capable of when he was playing regularly(until his mistake at Anfield). I think he should be trusted and given again the chance to help the team, otherwise, and if he is fit, MA may consider deploying Tomiyasu at the left back.

  19. If it were up to me,I wouldn’t make too many changes.i’d stick with Nuno but would make our midfield physically stronger. I’d like to see Holding as our DM or White and Rob as a CB to deal with Brighton’s aerial threat especially on set pieces due the size of their defenders.

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