Many Arsenal fans now believe that they have seen Cesc Fabregas pull on the famous red and white shirt for the very last time. There can be little doubt that the formation that Arsenal currently use is tailored primarily to make the best of the Spaniard’s abilities.
With the team failing to play anywhere near as well as we know they can since the disastrous Carling Cup Final, it may well be that Cesc’s desire to return to his hometown club now outweighs his desire to stay.
Working from the assumption that he will be leaving in the summer, here are a few suggestions of formations that Mr. Wenger could go for next season and beyond:
NB. The personnel I’ve stuck in may well not be first choice for next season [dependent on summer transfers] but are just the most appropriate players currently at the club.
1. Stick with the 4-2-1-3
The current formation may well be set up to allow Fabregas to shine, but in Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, we have a ready-made replacement. Some of the best performances of the season (Chelsea and Barcelona at home spring to mind) have shown that this shape can work with the players we currently have.
2. Switch to a 4-1-2-3
This may seem to be a small change from the formation that we’ve seen regularly this season, but includes one vital change. In moving one of the central midfielders deeper (Alex Song or a new signing), the midfield three is rotated to allow a true defensive midfielder to man the zone in front of the defence.
This would also allow Wilshere and Ramsey to alternate who is the foremost midfielder and potentially make the build-up play less predictable.
3. Switch back to 4-4-2
This is the formation with which Wenger’s Arsenal won so much. It would allow Robin van Persie to assume a slightly deeper role (a-la Bergkamp), and also mean that Arsenal could play with an out-and-out striker. This shape would probably necessitate the signing of a true wide player, someone who could play a similar role to that of Freddie Ljungberg.
I personally would like to see Henri Lansbury given a chance in the first team.