A change in formation?

Posted: October 28, 2012 in Arsenal

4-2-3-1 – how many times have we seen this modern formation flaunted by the Arsenal?

In all fairness, when it works, it’s a fantastic formation. Fluidity, quick interchange of passes and a lot of movement from the forward line. Despite it being a good formation it can actually turn on the team. The main focal point of this formation is the attacking-midfielder who sits just behind the striker; so, in our case, Cazorla. Cazorla is absolute magic, he’s unpredictable and such a creative player. If you keep him isolated throughout the game, Arsenal’s potent attack loses all it’s venom. That’s just the first reason why I believe this formation shouldn’t be used so religiously by Arsenal.

The wingers – more like inside-forwards. This formation suits a player like Podolski, he’s quick, great crosser of the ball and according to Steve Bould “I’ve not seen many finishers as good as him – ever. Right foot, left foot, they always go in at 100 miles per hour”. In my opinion, Podolski is the only player at the club who can truly flourish in that inside-forward position. Gervinho’s end-product is always horrific when he’s deployed on either flank; he looks like he confuses himself with his own dribbling. Ramsey, Chamberlain and Theo are, arguably, not wingers/inside-forwards. So that’s point number two – we don’t have actual wingers/inside-forwards at Arsenal therefore the 4-2-3-1 can be a bit of a let down.

Then there’s the most obvious point: we need to be unpredictable. If teams come up against us, they know we’re going to hit them with the same tactics and formation. We should be looking at games where the magic isn’t going to happen and just change the formation around. Most of the time, when nothing is going right, we just make a swap-for-swap substitution and keep our fingers crossed. Why don’t we just alter the formation? Many have been raving on about how Arsenal should give the 4-4-2 a chance – when used last season (very rarely) against Blackburn away, we brought on Chamakh and he paired Knobin up-front; we instantly scored and the two strikers were linking up quite well.

That’s what we’re missing: an old-fashioned strike partnership. Too much emphasis has been put on wing-play in modern football to influence everyone on the field to get involved in the action. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love it when teams come out with wingers and play some beautiful stuff (like we do, at times), I’d just like to see a bit of versatility when it comes to the formation choice. Who remembers the Alan Smith & Wrighty partnership? I can’t because I was a mere sperm cell at the time. But from what my Arsenal supporting family members tell me, they worked for eachother quite well. If Wright didn’t score in one game it was likely that Smith did and Wright set him up; vice-versa. Call me crazy, but I think that Walcott is one of the best finishers at the club and our quickest player; why don’t we pair him up-front with Giroud? I can just imagine Giroud rising for headers and flicking it on to Walcott who shows a defender a quick pair of heels and slots it into the back-of-the-net. To be fair, Giroud loves an assist – he gets more than your average striker. Why don’t we use that to our full advantage and pair him with Theo?

The formation I’m thinking would suit us is a diamond 4-4-2 with the central-midfielders drifting out wide when an attack starts. Who remembers when Chelsea won the league under Ancelotti? They used that diamond 4-4-2 and a 4-3-3 throughout the whole season. That’s what I’d like to see us do – 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 diamond depending on what team we come up against.

Of course, there would be some rotation up-front. We can’t forget our German who’s been capped over 100 times by Germany. I reckon Podolski would rotate with Theo or Giroud depending on who’s more fatigued or who’s on poor form.

Let’s cut to the chase, here’s how I’d line-up when we do play that diamond 4-4-2: 

It’s hugely debatable on who will play where but this is what I’d like to see us play. I’m basing this on hints that we’ve had from the past. Wenger said that Chamberlain will be developed into a central-midfielder. I feel Chamberlain’s pace would go to waste if he wasn’t used in this formation where he can get forward every now and then. Wilshere rotating with Cazorla is based on Wilshere getting the number 10 shirt and the fact that he used to play in that attacking-midfield position for the reserves and youth team. Most of you will know that I’m a massive fan of Ramsey; I think he’s class when on the wing in away games but better centrally at home. That’s why I’d start Ramsey in this role where he could get forward if needs be.

The last reason in which I believe this could work is because of the versatility in our midfield. If Cazorla is having a game where he can’t conjure up any magic, play him on the right-hand side of the midfield where he could drift out wide; bring Ramsey further forward or even Diaby/Chamberlain/Wilshere. This could work for any place in the midfield as every one of our midfielders can play anywhere in that midfield.


  1. […] will do a shortened version, but @GB1886 wrote a fantastic piece about this and other things here http://gb1886.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/a-change-in-formation/ . I envisage Arteta playing the Gilberto role- breaking down attacks, setting up counter attacks […]

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