Arsenal's Formation Formula: 4-3-3 Or 4-2-3-1?

Ismail AyubCorrespondent IAugust 12, 2009

MIDDLESBROUGH, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 09:  Theo Walcott of Arsenal thanks the fans after the Barclays Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Arsenal at the Riverside Stadium on December 9, 2007 in Middlesbrough, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger has been the greatest manager in Arsenal’s long and illustrious history.

Recently, in contrast four trophyless campaigns have led to ‘le prof’ being criticised in ways not previously imagined. Another criticism is that of Arsene’s lack of spending following the departures of two first team players in Adebayor and Touré.

However Arsene believes that it is a change of formation, rather than a change of personnel that will improve the prospects of his young and ever improving squad. During the squads pre-season Arsene has been looking at a 4-3-3 formation.


In this formation, with a fully fit squad Wenger could choose a line up of:

                         Arshavin, Eduardo, RvP

                           Rosicky, Fabregas, Song

                    Clichy, Vermaelen, Gallas, Sagna


With this formation the attack is enhanced greatly compared to last season, by having three forwards, who are supplemented in attack by two playmaking midfielders, who can unleash vicious long range strikes.

However in recent years it has been in defence where Arsenal have so often been unstuck, rather than attack. One criticism from last season is that Arsenal’s backline was all too often exposed by the lack of a dominating midfielder or centre back.

In this formation, the defence looks slightly over exposed. Song, while adequate, cannot offer the backline the same level of protection than that of the same players of Arsenal rivals. Can Song really match Essien, Mascherano or Yaya Touré in the midfield anchor role?

So what to do? While I, and many others would intimate that buying a new player would solve this problem, this path seems like one that Arsene is increasingly reluctant to go down. In contrast a change in formation to solve this problem would be a more likely route that Arsene Wenger would follow...enter the 4-2-3-1.

In this formation , with a fully fit squad Wenger could choose a line up of:


                Nasri, Arshavin, Rosicky

                     Song, Fabregas

         Clichy, Vermaelen, Gallas, Sagna


With this team the attack is still strong, but in addition to this the defence are better protected as Song and Fabregas are working together.

Yes, Fabregas has to play in a deeper role, but Wenger has stated that this is actually Fabregas’ favoured role. Wenger has stated that he feels Fabregas has neither the pace nor trickery to play permanently ‘in the hole’ behind the striker.

With Fabregas’ switch to this slightly deeper position the defence are offered more protection and Fabregas is afforded more time and space on the ball to provide that killer pass.


Also with the switch to the deeper role, Arshavin can move to his favoured position of playing just behind the striker, thus meaning we’ll get the best out of one of Arsenal’s most exciting signings of the decade.

In addition to this with Nasri and Rosicky playing beside Andrei, the ability to interchange is astounding as all three players are comfortable playing out wide or in the hole. This will give Arsenal a degree of unpredictability and will help break down stubborn defences.

Finally with this formation the level of attacking depth is unparalleled. If any or all of front 4 get injured, then Walcott, Vela, Eduardo, Bendtner or Wilshere can come in for them. If the central midfield duo becomes injured then the ever improving Ramsey, Denilson, Diaby or experienced Rosicky can fill in admirably.