Would a back-three work at Arsenal next season?

William Saliba has been too impressive on loan this season to be left out of the Arsenal team for the next campaign.

The Frenchman is doing very well at Olympique Marseille, where he is playing on loan and it is hard to ignore the progress he has made in his development this season.

In his absence, Arsenal has signed Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes who have formed a solid partnership at the back for the Gunners.

It would be hard for him to bench either of them when he returns, but that doesn’t have to be the case and former Arsenal star, Kevin Campbell hints that the solution could be a back-three with all of them starting.

Speaking about Saliba’s recent fine performance against PSG, Campbell was very impressed at his progress and remains confident that the defender has matured enough to shine at Arsenal next season.

Campbell said to Football Insider: “It was very exciting.

“The fact of the matter is, it was a really smart decision to send him to Marseille on loan. Mikel Arteta has said that he has a big future at Arsenal. He wants him to be ready though. You can see that he is getting ready.

“His performances have been phenomenal. I cannot wait to see him come back, I really can’t.

“He used to be a midfielder, so he’s very good on the ball. He is also quick and imposing.

“I’m looking at it and I’m thinking Mikel Arteta will go with a back three next season. Ben White, Gabriel [Magalhaes] and Saliba in a back three. That would be something special at the back.”

Just Arsenal Opinion

We have done well with a back-four, especially considering that Takehiro Tomiyasu is a defence-minded full-back.

But a back-three formation with wingbacks is also an effective way to set up a team if you get it right.

Instead of allowing Saliba to wallow on the bench or to send him out on loan again, Mikel Arteta can change his system to accommodate the Frenchman.

Better still, the Spaniard can make the competition for a place in the team open and that could see Saliba play ahead of the likes of White or Gabriel if he impresses in training.

Whichever way the manager uses Saliba next season, the prospect of watching finally play for Arsenal is an exciting one.

Tags Kevin Campbell


    1. I believe it could have but I’ve got a feeling, with only two years left on his contract, he’s gonna leave us in the not to distant future based on his handling by the club/arteta

        1. Yes maybe. Liverpool could have also make progress without van dijk…. We already lost some great players before (bennacer, gnabry) but at least we tried these ones. They just exploded later (while keeping others that never fit). so would be very sad to loose this one and see him become a monster after playing zero games for us.

  1. I will agree with Campbell arteta should use the three of them next season it will be a strong back three.

  2. I like the option of shifting White to DM and pushing Partey further forward. But it’s great to have the flexibility. A back three with Tavares and AMN as wing backs has appeal as well.

  3. The back three system is working for Chelsea, but basically it is set up for counter attacking rather than for controlling possesion.You will find that teams which use this system have a high percentage of possession, in their own half in an effort to lull the opposition out of their shape and hit them on the break.Brighton are a classic example of a very well organised back three side who are virtually obliged to play that way because they lack real quality up front.I believe we still have quality players up top, and in Partey, Lokonga and ESR we have classy midfielders who can provide the ammunition for our front three.For these reasons I do not believe it would be appropriate to adopt the system suggested by Campbell, whether or not Saliba returns next season.

  4. They should all fight for their places.. If a back four is working out and let’s say it brings us European football next season then why change it to accommodate a player we don’t even know how he will fare here, since the manager hasn’t allowed us to..
    He should be replacing either Holding/Mari or even both and not the system..
    I personally do not like a back 3, it seems too defensive and always looks confusing to players

  5. Some on here were saying that they doubted Saliba would wear our shirt next season and criticised the way the club were handling the situation.
    Perhaps, now, when they read what an ex Pro says about it, they should come back down to earth and be patient.
    The player is happy and says he wants to be ready 100% for the PL.
    MA has got things wrong, but I think he’s handled this one just about right.

  6. We are doing well under a back 4 so I dont see the urgent need to shift to a back 3. Also a back 3 stifles the attack. If Saliba returns he could either compete with Gabriel and White for a spot or we could play White as a DM allowing Partey to play more forward. Also, Tomiyasu is more of a defensive fullback so he makes for the RCB position.

  7. Not sure why Cambell (who has no idea of next years plans) is talking about a back three next season. Its all conjecture and if you have a back three, you need 5 defenders at least to cover that 3. You need at least 4 to cover two CBs. He did play for a while at Arsenal (i witnessed him in the flesh) but not someone i really listen too and not someone who was a good footballer either. Sorry Kev.

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