Is Arsène Wenger changing Arsenal formation again? No, he’s not. Perhaps he is doing it…nah, it’s a bluff. Or not? I’m lost! Despite not being a fan of tactical analysis, I would like to enter the debate about how Arsène Wenger is making/should make/will make his choice in terms of formation.
It’s quite an interesting debate as none of us is aware of what Le Prof has in mind but everyone of us seems to have a good recipe to get Arsenal to succeed.
I have mine, obviously. Unfortunately it would only work on FIFA – and I am still not 100% sure – so we will skip it.
I am not a big fan on numbers, neither. I don’t like the 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 kind of combinations and I find diamonds even less likeable; I believe it is pure madness to frame football players into this kind of formation seen how fluent and ever-changing the game is.
Now that you know what I don’t like, we can move to what I do like: I like technically-sound players.
I love insanely gifted player, to be honest.
I would field a team of number 10s if any kind of balance could be found – and I would love to see Arsène Wenger do the same. Not those fat, lazy old-style number 10s, tho. I mean these modern, athletic and aware number 10s.
It would be awesome to see ten equally-talented outfield players move freely on the pitch, adapting to different situations and conditions instead of having each of them assigned to a specific zone and being barked orders from the sidelines.
I find it humiliating for professional, experienced, élite football players to be guided on the pitch by a man standing on the sideline or, most of the time, sitting on the bench and asking his assistant to do the dirty job.
I must say that I am lucky because Arsène Wenger’s approach isn’t too far away from what I like: he gives freedom to players and ask them to go out and enjoy their football.
That’s why I like the way Le Prof fields the team and the reason why none of the formations usually mentioned really applies to the Arsenal.
Some might say we played 4-4-2 for a good number of years, then switched to 4-3-3 to accommodate a certain Spaniard before switching to the very popular 4-2-3-1 in the last three years and finally settle to the current 4-1-2-2-1.
I say that we’ve always played 4-2-3-1 instead.
I might have missed something but I can’t remember us playing a proper 4-4-2 as Dennis Bergkamp has always been more of a attacking midfielder then a striker; at the same time, Robert Pirès wasn’t a real winger but more a player who loved to drift inside instead of going by the touchline and throw crosses to the box – as wingers love to do most of the time.
We could say we already played 4-2-3-1 almost ten years before anyone else attempted that.
When that young Catalan fellow stepped into the team and started to made a name for himself, Arsène Wenger found a way to exploit his skills even more and put him higher on the pitch, close the main striker: again, with Nicklas Bendtner (!) on one wing and Andrey Arshavin on the other, Arsenal were playing the 4-2-3-1 formation – just adapted to players’ qualities.
Pundits started to call it a 4-3-3 just because those playing on the wings were supposed to be strikers but both TGSTEL and McRussia were asked to drop deep when defending. Something a striker won’t do. They didn’t, neither of them, but that’s another story…
Then Santi Cazorla came in and took the #10 spot. He did it brilliantly; he did so well to be named Player of the Year by fans, however Arsène Wenger brought in another number 10 in Mesut Özil, who didn’t replace Santi Cazorla but just move the diminutive Spaniard to the left: does it make Santi Cazorla a winger? No, it doesn’t.
Santi Cazorla is doing what Robert Pirès used to do and what Tomas Rosicky could have done if he stayed fit long enough.
I believe that you’ve got the idea. To cut a long story short, I think that Arsène Wenger is not changing any formation but just making some fine tuning according to players he has.
We have eleven (ELEVEN!) players who could play in any attacking position, both centrally or wide: Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla, Serge Gnabry, Joel Campbell, Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez (shall I count Ryodinho, too? I don’t think so…) and Arsène Wenger is doing what any healthy manager should do: give them freedom.
Play as many of them at the same time and give them freedom to express themselves.
Football is way too fluid to frame it into a series of numbers.
Thirty-something Italian, currently in Switzerland. Gooner since mid-ninties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. Twelve years ago I started my own blog (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Debate, don’t insult or you’re out.