Arsenal’s formation conundrum

The draw against West Brom was not a bad result, far from it. However with the current position that Arsenal find themselves in they were heavily favoured before a ball had even been kicked. Many Arsenal fans saw this as a chance to acquire some breathing space between themselves and Liverpool at the top of the table. However, the Arsenal fans watching the game felt a little bewildered that this team that had destroyed Napoli (a top Italian side) were struggling to break down a dogged West Brom side. The lack of wingers was a common agenda on most of Arsenal fans lips after the game, but what is Arsenal’s best formation.

It was widely acknowledged that against Napoli Arsenal were somewhere close to being back to their best. The interchanging of positions with the three between accompanied by the solid base of Flamini and Arteta made the balance look almost perfect. The 4-2-3-1 formation with no out and out wingers looked ideal for the abundance of centre attacking midfielders that currently are on the books at Arsenal. The fluidity of the three behind Giroud looked unplayable at times with the Napoli players perplexed as to who they were supposed to be picking up. Arsenal were able to dominate possession (63.4%) and seemed to be able to carve Napoli open at will.

Contrast  this to a few days later against West Brom. Arsenal were virtually unchanged for the game but the fluidity with the three behind the striker was not there. Mulumba and Jacob did a great job stopping this but there was a lack of width in the team.  The bench looked thin with no wingers available to call upon (except Miyaichi ). Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are currently all sidelined and would be players perfectly suited for the 4-3-3 formation. Santi Cazorla has also been used on the wing recently but there is widespread debate over his effectiveness in this position.  The 4-3-3 would allow Arsenal to counter attack with a greater deal of pace and would allow for more width. However ball retention may have to be sacrificed.

The January rumours have already starting circulating around Arsenal.  The main area the press and many Arsenal fans have identified is a new striker. Giroud has been in top form this season with a flurry of goals and assists but one injury could leave Arsenal very short in that department. Nicklas Bendtner is a player the majority of Arsenal fans thought they would never see again in an Arsenal shirt. The Danish international has never lacked confidence but has never really inspired confidence either. Additionally the summer signing of Yaya Sanogo has done very little to suggest that Arsenal do not need another striker.  The out of favour Benzema has been heavily backed to join Arsenal in January with a £20 million price tag well within Arsenal’s price tag. The arrival of another striker could mark a change in formation.  A 4-4-2 would leave Arsenal at the risk of getting overrun in the midfield department and so a 3-5-2 or 5-3-2 would be more suitable. Having been adopted by Liverpool and many Italian sides over the years the 3-5-2 would allow Arsenal to have a greater attacking potency whilst not being outnumbered in midfield.

The overflow of midfielders means that a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 is more than likely here to say for the near future but with the possibility of a new striker in January offering a new dimension who knows a 3-5-2 might be the new way forward.

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