There are a couple of things that I felt I learned from watching the Arsenal boys in action during the Euros, and my memories of the World Cup two years previously.
Firstly, Robin van Persie is awesome as an inside forward. He can create from deep, he can stretch defences by pulling wide, and he can connect very well with his counterpart on the opposite flank. Just ask Marco Van Basten and Arjen Robben
The other thing I'll get to in a second, but watching the Dutch and the Spanish during the summer got me thinking about a certain Arsenal No. 4 and how he could become even more powerful within our lineup.
Here's a thought... Why not play Diaby AND Denilson alongside Cesc?
I know this is all very theoretical, so please try to keep an open mind.
Take a look at the formation I've laid out below. The forward names are not too important at the moment, but have a look at the middle of the park.
With two of our three midfielders given the defensive responsibility in a formation like this, Sagna and Clichy may have the cover they (or at least Clichy) needed last year down the flanks, and there will be more protection for the back four as a whole.
Our full-backs love to give us wide options, and our creative players love cutting inside, so ahead of the midfield we have two winger/inside forwards. We've seen the formation work for Manchester Utd and Chelsea in the past, but I really think this year it can work for Arsenal.
Diaby and Denilson are both naturally defensive midfielders but they’re also very good going forward. Potentially that’s been to Diaby’s detriment since Wenger saw the benefit in using him as our left-sided play-maker in Rosicky’s absence, but here he could be a serious box-to-box player for us.
With Denilson in there happy to collect the ball and distribute from the back, here we have two centre-mids who have an eye on the defence, releasing our most potent player to link with our wide play-makers and our line-leader.
I think Bendtner, RvP and Ade are good enough for the lone striker role, so long as they have our play-makers close by and RvP’s legs work for the entire season this time. But in Bendtner and Adebayor, in my opinion we have quality big centre-forwards.
By playing two inside forwards we can keep the link between midfield and attack strong, reduce the defensive responsibility for our wide players and have the flexibility to have our forward-thinking players interchange in a number of positions. We can even revert to 4-4-2 if necessary as Diaby can play wide...
... as can Fabregas.
He is always the first name on the team sheet in the mind of an Arsenal fan, and we know what he looks like when he's at his best. Controlling the game at the heart of the midfield, alongside a more defensive foil.
But Fabregas was never in the centre of midfield during the European Championships, and whenever he played he was one of Spain’s most dangerous players.
He literally can play anywhere across midfield, even behind the striker, if Wenger decides to pull the inside forwards back into midfield and play 4-5-1. Aragones actually did this to good effect in the Euros.
When Cesc came on, every player in midfield interchanged positions with him at some point, and he was popping up in the most awkward places for the opposition.
Fabregas will always be the player that controls the game for us, and it’s his ability to find space that allows him to do this. One thing we learned about the Euros was that Fabregas is dangerous wherever he receives the ball, and he’s intelligent enough to know where to show for it.
Flamini gave him license to push forward for us last year, and it worked to great effect. Aragones always deployed him as a forward-thinking player, and it worked to great effect.
Maybe a Diaby/Denilson tandem could offer him more in the way of freedom AND options? He won't be starved of possession as he'll still be in centre midfield.
Fabregas, Diaby and Denilson are all players who are willing to get back and defend... Cesc also wins his fair share of tackles in there... so in effect Arsenal could have all three of them in the midfield contest, with support from the inside forwards on the flanks when necessary... the 4-5-1.
So long as Diaby and Denilson know that it is categorically not Fabregas' job to protect the back line, the shared responsibility may also enhance their defensive game without leaving us too exposed.
Going forward we have Nasri, Vela, Eduardo, Walcott, RvP, Rosicky... plenty of agile, quick creative players who can do plenty of damage from forward positions AND play wide midfield in a 4-4-2 if we are forced to revert during a game.
All of the attacking players we have can play in a variety of roles, so we have plenty of options as to who would play where, and we can stay true to our expansive, fluid style of football.
This formation has worked for United and Chelsea in previous seasons. If we don't sign a midfielder before the transfer window closes, what do you think of 4-3-3 as an option?
And even if we do, what do you think of using this formation with Fabregas alongside our new signing and either Diaby or Denilson?
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