Formations, Formations, Formations…

Morning All…

Kudos to @Kieran_Delaney for yesterday’s blog. Awesome post, over 40 comments when I wrote this, which is a fair amount. Some really good points made by some of the WOA readers. One area I want to touch on is the formation we’re currently playing. For all intents and purposes, Arsene called it 4-3-3. A little bit of a change of format, some questions have been asked to me today, and here are my answers…

Is the formation really 4-3-3…?

Personally, I don’t think it is a 4-3-3. It’s been created to accommodate Cesc – to allow him to play ahead of the midfield, with a striker and supported by two wingers. So in fact, it’s 4-2-3-1. From my point of it’s quite defensive. If Cesc is scoring and playing as a second striker, then it has it’s merits – but if Cesc is deep, then it can and sometimes does turn into a 4-5-1. The formation uses Cesc as the central hub of the team. If he is not playing well, it effects the whole team.

Recently we haven’t had the cutting edge, has the formation got anything to do with it?

I wouldn’t say it has directly, but it has been a contribute. At the moment, a few players are playing within themselves. Nasri hasn’t quite hit the dizzy heights of earlier in the season. Seeing his goal against Fulham in Sky’s showing of the PFA awards was a reminder of what he is capable of – he is a player who you have to think struggles with the formation. He started wide left yesterday and then ended up playing in the middle along side Cesc – he didn’t look comfortable.

Looking at other players such as Arshavin and Bendtner – they don’t excel in the wide positions – Bendtner out wide on the right looks lost. It looks like the formation isn’t right for the players, it looks like Arsene is trying to make it work – round holes, square pegs.

But it’s the same formation we’ve been playing all season, and we’ve done pretty well.

Our confidence has dipped and I’m sure we have an element of mental tiredness – after all, it’s been a long season in all four competitions. And therefore results haven’t been as good as they have been early in the season. Looking through our games, we’ve actually struggled at home all season with the current formation. Against a team that comes to defend, we’ve been unable to break them down – Man City, Sunderland, Blackburn and more recently Liverpool. Even the games we’ve won haven’t been won at a canter. The formation, however, does work away from home. As away from home, teams try to attack us, which in affect opens up more space – which is probably easier to exploit with an overloaded midfield.

But we’ve beaten Chelsea and Barcelona at home.

I’d probably say those 2 teams were the only 2 teams that didn’t come to the Emirates to defend – as a result, they were more like away games. With the opposition intent on attacking, it meant that the balance of play shifted a notch higher up the pitch, creating more space for our players – which does make it more like a 4-3-3.

So, why don’t we change formation?

It is easy to critise the formation and perhaps Arsene is keen on keeping it as it is – we’ve pushed it through to our youngsters and we’ve played it all season, so it’s unlikely the manager will change it. It has been odd that we’ve not experimented with changing it mid-game, but it’s down to the manager rather than anything else.

Why don’t we change the formation when Cesc isn’t available?

That has been a criticism of the manager recently – the reluctance to change formation even when Cesc isn’t available. In the Carling Cup final, Rosicky took his position and for me, the role was foreign to him. Many of the players do seem suited to a more orthodox 4-4-2 and perhaps have experience through their countries – although countries are now adapting and playing more formations including 4-3-3’s. Nasri and Diaby have also played in the “Cesc” role – and whilst they have deputised well, it’s not a natural position for midfielders – it’s hard for them to understand the position they should play.

Do you think we will play 4-4-2 next season?

With the like of Van Persie, Bendtner, Chamakh and Vela on our books, you could easily play 2 up front. However, the manager’s insistence this season to play 4-5-1 no matter what means that he obviously doesn’t like the formation. You have to think that a player like Van Persie would excel behind or along side a striker. Arsene’s quite stubborn in his ways and perhaps he’s determined to make it work.

One thing to think about is that Arsene has often said he thinks Walcott will play though the middle – which in our current formation is impossible. The only way Theo will play in the middle is if there is a change of formation. Changing formations does take a whole pre-season to get used to, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Will we play 4-4-2 if Cesc leaves?

If Cesc leaves, then that could be the deciding factor to revert formations. As the current formation is based around Cesc, if he leaves, we could introduce a striker, move Van Persie a little further back and keep Wilshere and Song holding.


Finally, before I leave… Newcastle take on Man United today, and they do have the potential to beat them. Before we write off the title completely, let’s wait and see what happens tonight. If Man United win tonight, I think it’s gone, but if they lose or draw… then surely it’s game on?

Adios for now, thanks for tuning in…

  • JayJayGooner

    You’ve convinced me that we need a change! Not that you were trying – but I’m sick of playing without a 2nd striker – I remember even Eduardo and Adebayor playing well together not too long ago. It worked – and the team had Cesc in it!

  • JDD

    we have got to win our next two games not just to keep us in the race but also so utd dont win the league at the emirates.this also means il be rooting for chelsea to win their next 3 games so that even if man utd matchematically put the title beyond us at the emirates chelsea will still matchematically be able to catch utd.if this means we end up coming third so be it i dnt really see a difference beteween 3rd and 2nd.however saying that i think we will beat utd. as for the formation i think you summed it up the role is meant to allow fabregas to play behind the striker however he drops to deep to often which results in the formation becoming 4-5-1 which is too defensive.especially at home when a victory is needed.

  • alfie

    It looks like Wenger has finally lost the fans and it has been a long time coming. Its quite obvious he has lost the team (analysing their body language and attitude) and now he has lost us. I must say if we get beat badly wednesday (which I think we will) I personally think this will be the end of Arsene Wenger. Unfortunately all the good he has done for the club may have been destroyed regarding his DREADFUL management over the last few seasons. And i dont mean with the team we have etc. his tactics. Truely dreadful! Anyone that calls themselves a football manager wouldnt display the tactical suicide that he does. Shame on you Wenger. I have now lost all trust in you. I dont trust the man with this team anymore. My team. Our team. The golden years are long gone boys, now we need a shake up.

  • Fo

    @ JDD:
    Totally agree – would hate to see United win the league when we play them at the Emirates. That would be horrible. Key thing is to win our next two games – you never know – Newcastle may do us a massive favour tonight.

    @ Devday:
    Bang on with your post re formations – totally agree with the questions and answers. Would like to see more change IN games when we need to score. Arsene is a little stubborn.

  • Fo

    @ alfie:
    Alfie, I don’t think it’s as bad as that! We have a great nucleus for our squad – money and investment are the obstacles and it’s not as clear cut as we think.

    I am upset about the continual issues at the club – the lack of fight at the end of season.

    I think AW needs to change – as Dev said – formation flexibility is key – but we also have a lot of dead wood.

    Do you think AW or Pat Rice is the stubborn one? I think we need a few changes. Not sure what they all are – but AW out isn’t one of them!

  • Steve

    I never understand why he brought Chamakh and has not played him the 2nd half of the season. He has played Champions league football (has experience) – did great for us early in the season, when we where without RVP & probably overall better than B52.

    As for wingers feeding RVP – what wingers we do not have any so 4-3-3 & 4-5-1 do not fit the tools we have? With the squad we have I’d had thought 4-4-1-1 with Chanakh at CF and RVP in the Dennis Bergkamp role. Would give the oppositions DB’s something to think about – unlike now.

    The other thing is Theo has loads of pace to the point Barca backed off of him – give the lad a chance to run at them use his pace – he is in his element when we play counter attacking football

    As for the transfer market in the summer and speculation. i think some freshening up could be done. One player I’d liek to see have a crack up front is Carlos Vela. Hernandez has cut it for you know who – the lad is very talented. Hope AV gives him and Chanakh a crack at main stike force in the friendlies this summer.

  • alfie

    @fo – It will be very interesting tomorrow to gauge the performance of not just the team but 3 players individually. Firstly van Persie was very wasteful against Liverpool, the majority of his set pieces were terrible and he missed an absolute sitter in the 2nd half which had it been certain other players they would have been pilloried. Fabregas played as if he couldn’t care less on Sunday, if he plays like that against Spurs then I think not only would that be a slap in the face for the fans it would also be an admission that he is off. I’m certain he was forced to stay last summer for one more year on the understanding that we had to win something, we haven’t and we wont so I guess Fabregas will jump what is becoming a sinking ship under Le Whinge. Then there is Nasri who after a brilliant spell has gone back to looking like another Hleb, round and round in circles with no end product. When we play just one up front, and that one is van Persie we are very predictable, more passes go sideways or backwards than forwards. I’d like to see Walcott play up front with Bendtner with van Persie wide left, Nasri wide right and Fabregas and Song in the centre. It might not work, who knows but we have got nothing to lose now, lets try something different until the end of the season. If Bendtner (playing in his correct position) and Walcott playing where he wants to can’t produce then perhaps they need to go, one thing is for certain van Persie can’t play up there on his own and Chamakh is a waste of space at the moment. When you look at it realistically we need a top keeper, at least one commanding central defender to play with Vermaelen, a top holding midfielder and a pacy aggressive striker. Big money required with Rosicky, Denilson, Diaby, Vela, Chamakh and possible Bendtner going. It’s major surgery or more failure.

  • http://worldofarsenal Josiah

    united to win 4 of their remaining games losing to chelsea and us, we win 6/6 of our remaining games, level on points, nick it on goal difference.

  • jhunt

    This is not an Arsenal conspiracy. I struggle to believe many on here who find endless excuses for how we have our own ability to self destruct, but there is a bigger issue at play here. Read this article on then tell me that this is just paranoid Arsenal fans:

  • Steve

    Totally agree with Alfie on the RVP up front and us being predictable.

    On a clean out I also agree with thoses quoted except Vela and Chamakh. They have not had the playing time the others have. I’d keep them and possibly Eboue added to the list. Then let the likes of Ramsey, Lansbury and the other loanees take up the postions.

    Cesc = Cash but when? We all know it’s liable to happen.
    There is too much reliance on him and as described – he has a bad game we do.

    If we copliment the clear out and bring in a quality CB (world class)and another DM I think we can sell. CD (Mertsacker) & DM (Scottie Parker)

    I think Nasri can fill the boots as played well for us and most of it was when he played his game not Cesc’s like he does for France.

    Not so sure about the keeper. I think Szczesny can cut it.
    So backup is more the question. Although If we got Given or Reina…………

    Q. Was it me or did the whole team fear Lehmann when we played Blackpool. You have to admit having a player labelled “Nutter” behind you probably gave the younger lads something to think about.

    BTW – Wenger stays – I’m more concerned about the Pat Rice issues and who’d come in. I think my vote (if I had one)goes to Steve Bould and then look at Dennis B for the youngsters.

  • alfie

    What is any one’s opinion about our captain, Fabregas. he looks a shadow of the player he was, he seemed to stroll around the pitch on Sunday, and to me his thoughts are definitely elsewhere.Some people say he is worried about his continuous hamstring problems,but I am not so sure.We all know he wants to go back to Barca, but they are heavily in debt and don’t have ready cash to pay up front.Cesc,is and has never been vocal, nor is he a leader in the sense Adams or Viera were.Do we have a player who doesn’t really want to be at the Arsenal, as surely this saga shouldn’t go on into next season.So much of our play goes through him and I am wondering if that is such a good idea anymore.Any thoughts ?

  • Steve

    I agree there is a question on him but would rather answer it when the seaons is done. It may be the case he’s seen his goal slip through his fingers. Perhaps there is a clause – Arsenal win the Premiership/ Champions League you can go.

    I see AV’s point of view – after last year every one had us struggling for 4th. If we can claim 2nd and no CL qualifers I think we have improved but how to take the only step left?

    Often the sale of a big player triggers better things.

  • Berth

    To cut the story short- Wenger should go

  • Kodjo

    @ Berth

    Any alternatives to Wenger??? Sure some of his decisions have been baffling….esp when he says that some players look jaded …how about starting other players with less game time…no maybe bcos he doesnt trust his back-up players???

  • JDD

    its easy to say wenger should but who would replace him and win trophies striaght away? wouldnt the new manager be given time to win trophies this cud be another 2 or 3 years.and weve got to remember wenger set the high standards we now compare him with there was times when arsenal would go 10,15 maybe even 20 years without a trophy.wenger came in and won trophies on a fairly consistent basis.of course im angry and upset that we havent won anything because i know we deserve and weve got the squad to do so.yes im angry at wenger because of his stubborness but i dont feel he should be sacked the day he leaves should be down to him.

  • Arsefan101

    @ Steve:
    Definitely something strange with Chamakh.
    He was integral and scored so many goal at the beginning of the season.

  • bayo

    I dont know y some people keep shouting on blogs…just go to the emirates take a banner there and say your mind…I would only judge the team after spurs on wednesday

  • Fo

    @ bayo: Who’s shouting? It seems like a good discussion to me!!!

  • Fo

    alfie wrote:

    I’d like to see Walcott play up front with Bendtner with van Persie wide left, Nasri wide right and Fabregas and Song in the centre.

    Love the idea – but he won’t change it now.

    Where does Jack Wilshere fit into all of this?

  • Tm17

    Hahahagaha that’s how happy I am
    Only way to describe it !!!!!