Ah formation. That one word that sends shivers down the spines of every single Arsenal fan in the world. Arsenal have problems that come and go, get solved and then (somehow) unsolved but this is one problem that is ALWAYS there for us and we are ALWAYS have to deal with. I think all Arsenal fans, and hopefully Wenger himself, have realised that 4-4-3 or 4-3-2-1 or 4-2-3-1 just isn’t working for our club and this is for a number of reasons. In this blog post, I’m going to discuss the problems, the potential solutions and another question that is on the lips of all arsenal fans, who will fill that formation. This should be fun …..
The image you see to the right and up a little is the formation I believe Arsenal should be playing next season. Good old 4-4-2. This is a view shared by the majority of Arsenal fans I believe and hopefully Wenger will see reason and make the switch. Our current formation has a few too many problems. The main and most noticeable one is that our solo striker is always way too isolated. Whether it be RVP, Chamakhattack or Super Nik (Yeah, I do nicknames…) whenever our striker gets the ball he has no option but to pass backwards. Fabregas or Wilshere etc may make the occasional run forward but that’s about as good as it gets. It is a huge credit to Van Persie the amount of goals he has scored this year due to the fact he has been playing in a role where it is actually very difficult for the striker to score. RVP always has to drop deep to get the ball and although it can produce goals like the one he scored vs Bolton, most of the time it just means we are left with no one up front. Sigh, does any other team have these problems?
Also, I feel when we play 4-2-3-1 or any variations, we become WAYYY too narrow. Our play is concentrated so much through the centre of the pitch and I think the formation has only increased this. No wonder teams can park the bus so well against us because they know they just have to stand in the middle of their penalty area and there will be no problem. We don’t get the ball out wide enough and that is strange considering that Walcott could get past the full back in his sleep and Nasri/Arshavin could easily dribble past a full back. It’s not even as if the delivery of crosses is THAT bad from anyone so there is no excuse not to go wide. Well, except from Clichy. His crosses scare the life out of me.
Switching to a 4-4-2 would definitely benefit our wide men. Not only when they have more of a chance of getting the ball out wide and running down the wing, but they would mostly have two to aim for in the box which is compared to normally one or zero. Actually, normally the latter. I’m pretty sure that part of Arshavin’s dip in form this year is that he never really gets a great chance to play as a winger, which is his position after all. Both him and Walcott cut inside way too much when playing. Every now and then is fine but when it is happening every time they get the ball, it gets a little tedious. Switch to 4-4-2 and this problem gets partly solved. Let our wide men be wide men, simples.
Another way in which I believe switching to 4-4-2 would help us is in the centre of the midfield. Yes admittedly, there would only be spaces up for grabs between Song, Nasri, Cesc (presuming the last two stay), Diaby, Wilshere, Lansbury and maybe even another if we sign someone. However, a little bit of healthy competition never hurt anybody and limiting the amount of central midfielders we play could ensure that we are always playing the two form players. No one should be guaranteed a place in this side and that is sometimes our downfall.
I personally feel Wenger is too lenient in the way that he will constantly play a player who is out of form just because they are established. Good form = a starting place and 4-4-2 would help us in that respect a lot more I believe. There is also the fact that the African Cup of Nations will see Song depart for a while next season and with our injury record, we need at least 4 players who can fill a position. Choosing between the likes of Song, Wilshere and Cesc would be very difficult for Arsene I know but if we want to win a trophy, he needs to sometimes be a bit more brutal. I still love you AW though, of course.
Right, now onto another issue. To 4-4-2 you obviously need two strikers and hopefully, these two strikers can play well together. I’m 99.9999999% sure that one of these strikers should and will be Robin Van Persie, until he injures himself eating a packet of crisps or something like that. So, who should partner him? At the moment, the only likely candidates would be Mr. Nicklas Bendtner and Mr. Marouane Chamakh. Each have their pros and each have their cons. Both also have their critics as well so this is something that does divide the gooner population. Personally, I believe Nicklas Bendtner is a top, top player and is underrated quite a lot by some Arsenal fans. He has a pretty decent goalscoring record for the club and its not his fault that for some unknown reason, Wenger insists on playing Nik on the wing. Bendtner is a striker, not a winger. End of. On the other hand, we have Chamakh. Chamakhattack is a good player and did well when RVP was out so credit to him but he has one major fallback, he isn’t really great at attacking (Poor nickname choice in the end …). Chamakh is incapable of scoring from outside the penalty area really so this is why, if one of the two is to be sold in the summer, I’d rather us keep Bendtner. I do feel for Chamakh though, as Arsenal was his dream club. Sadly, he wasn’t our dream player.
There is also the (quite strong) possibility that Wenger will sign another striker to fill the position upfront next to RVP. We were linked heavily with Karim Benzema of Real Madrid a few days ago but them rumours seem to have died down now. However, I do believe the signing a well-known, proven goalscorer will boost the confidence of the team and the fans so much more. Anyone who has a good track record and is at a reasonable price would be a great asset. We need someone who can score 20-30 a season. RVP can but the chances of him staying fit all season are very slim.
Because of what I’ve said, I believe our strike force next year will consist of RVP, new signing, Bendtner and/or Chamakh and Vela. I may have forgotten someone but I think that’s it. The rest of the 4-4-2 will be very similar to our current crop of players IMO but maybe with a few new signings scattered about. I don’t think the players we have are as big a problem as our tactics and formation, but I do believe we could do with a few new signings to bulk up the squad. Experience is needed to fill out the 4-4-2.
So, I’ll end this here. I’m sure Wenger has realised that a change in formation and maybe tactics in some ways are needed but if he hasn’t, take a read of this Arsene. I’m pretty sure what I’ve said sums up the views of most Arsenal fans. We don’t need complete change, we just need tweaks here and there. That will win us the league, I’m sure of it
Bring on Villa. Please win Arsenal, can’t take much more disappointment.