Arsenal made a statement early in the summer by signing one of the marquee players Granit Xhaka, the main reason behind this scalp was flexibility Xhaka will add to this Gunners side.
Arsenal predominantly play in an intricate, fast-paced 4-2-3-1 formation with Wenger allowing his fullbacks to move forward and help out their wide players. The two central midfielders act as a shield for three forwards and striker.
The main muddle for Arsenal with this formation was the stability, midfield never looked very stable and sometimes functioned too statically. This allowed the opposition to defend accordingly and mark the attacking players as per predefined tactics. Once they got caught in possession, they never had that backup to counter the break from the opposition, maybe static nature of the shape lead to that.
In general play, the wide players not tracking back on regular basis meant that central midfielders were stretched wide leaving space for opposition midfielders to run in centrally and add up the attacking options in the box. So, maybe a change in shape can solve this long run problem for Wenger and Arsenal.
We take a look at how flexible 4-3-3 can solve Arsenal’s problems and how it can make the Gunners play in a more free-flowing manner and free up the forwards from tracking back duties :-
As we see in the image above, the 4-3-3 which to me suits more to this current Arsenal squad. The wide midfielders here will do the job for tracking back and helping out the fullbacks, this will allow the wide forward players like Ozil and Sanchez to be more free up top and not worry much about tracking back all the way. Coquelin as defensive midfielder will block the run from opposition midfielders, Giroud/Walcott as a striker can drop back a bit to collect possession and play in Ozil or Sanchez who will look to cut inside on every opportunity they get.
While in possession, the fullbacks as Wenger loves to have, will be high allowing the wide midfielders to be more central, likes of Ozil and Sanchez will look to play the gap between centre-back and fullback, especially the German Ozil would love to play in that roaming role for taking possession in between the last line of defence. Xhaka and Ramsey will take that role just ahead of Coquelin because they know they have the solidness behind them, this will enable them to work more flexibly in attack have a fixed duty of tracking back and helping out their fullbacks.
What this formation will do is allow Ozil and Sanchez to be more creative and carve out more openings without being worried of tracking back if they lose it, it’ll make Arsenal more dangerous on the counters.
Suppose a situation arrives when Arsenal recieve the ball while the opposition was attacking, with this formation both Ozil and Sanchez will have an opportunity to attack the space in behind the last line. With the pace of Sanchez and delicateness of Ozil, the counter will be swift and can cause loads of problems for the opposition.
So, this was all about the flexible 4-3-3 formation which Arsenal should opt for this season. The key thing here is stability of play in wide and central areas and defending in a way that forward players are always not involved in defensive duties all the time. By virtue of this shape, Arsenal can be more fluid in their play and can rely on the three midfielders to do the tracking job and leave the three forwards with only attacking duty for them.
With likes of Ramsey and Xhaka, the Gunners have that flexibility in mid line which can work hard and cover the whole length of the pitch, in Coquelin/Elneny they’ll have the protector of the centre-backs, this will allow forwards Sanchez and Ozil to be flexible and very direct.
All in all, Wenger has a wide range to select and with this ‘change’ in system, he can spur Arsenal to a successful season. With other big name managers just about inheriting new players, Wenger has a chance to prove his worth with tactical astuteness and clever changes.
By Mizgan on 26th July, 2016
Twitter – @mizgans