There was a stretch in the 2016/17 season where we lost 7 out of 10 games in all competitions, winning only 2.  The fans were confused, angry, and in a self-destruct mode. The players were not far behind us. Suddenly our form reversed. The team changed formations from 4:2:3:1 to 3:4:2:1 and our results switched gears.

Numbers-wise, what stank about the 4:2:3:1 formation was conceding too many goals. The team was scoring enough but letting too many in. In those 10 matches we conceded 26 goals, the same number Tottenham gave up in the entire Premier League season. Something had gone wrong with the team and the subsequent revival showed that what was wrong was the system being used, or, put more accurately, the way it was being used.

The flaw in the use of the earlier formation was that our full backs were operating as wing backs. That means the real formation, identified by the average touch position of each player, was in reality 2:4:3:1, not 4:2:3:1. This gives a front 8 that scored sufficient goals and a back 2 (less the keeper) that let in the huge number of goals. This situation was further compounded by the fact that our central midfield was manned by players who were not good enough defensively, or, when Coquelin (a good defender) played, there were still too many other players who were lacking on at least one side of the ball.

Apart from its lopsided and offensive nature, this 2:4:3:1 (4:2:3:1 on paper) creates an uneconomical on-the-field positioning of players as displayed below.






The above are theoretically the average positions during play. It can be seen that Walcott is in the way of Bellerin and Sanchez in the way of Monreal as each pair occupy the same vertical strip too close to one another. This jam was mitigated by the fact that Sanchez usually cut infield and Walcott frequently used the channels for his off the ball runs. Invariably, however, over 90 minutes, they got in each others’ way, tactically speaking, more often than in the 3:4:2:1 detailed below. The Must/Xhak and Kosh/Rams same vertical strips (refer to the line-up above) did not matter as the central defenders’ vertical movements are essentially to adjust to the space between their lines and the central midfielders. Also, in the central areas, there is greater freedom for lateral movement than at the wings.

On the other hand, the use of the 3:4:2:1 formation employs a front 7 as opposed to a front 8, as well as a back 3 vs a back 2. This arrangement–by numbers alone–increases the defensive security of the team.  Observe that the vertical arrangement of players is much more economical. Below is a 3:4:2:1 formation with tucked-in inside forwards (Ozil and Sanchez).






This gives a perfect use of the vertical strips of the field which gives extra efficiency to help compensate for the loss of an attacking player. Remember, small percentages can make all the difference.

Wenger’s game hinges so much on full backs bumping forward to join attacks and therefore a 3-man defence system with wing backs becomes a better balanced arrangement than our (so called) 4-man defence. Of course, there are other factors at play, but this analysis is focusing on the weak point in our defensive use of the 4:2:3:1.

With this analysis, we should expect Wenger to continue with the 3-at-the-back system as his Plan A. We should also expect him to use Monreal, the only left footed defender we have, as his first choice starter on the left side of our 3-man back line. Kolasinac’s signing as a replacement for Monreal at the left wing back position is therefore a consequence of this tactical reshuffle. That augurs well for Gibbs retention in the squad as left wing back cover.

The 2017/18 Premier League fixture list is out and a notably thorny part appears to be that 5 of our 6 matches immediately following our Thursday night Europa League games must be played away from our home stadium. I am sleeping easy. Wenger is likely going to prioritize the Premier League over the Europa League–at least in the group stage. If you take a look below at what our “B” team might roughly look like, your worries may leave you too. That “B” Team can bloody any nose and Arsenal should be given a relatively easy group by virtue of UEFA’s coefficient of teams in that competition.






BENCH: 3 “A” team players plus 4 under-21s: Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson and Kelechi Nwakali, if I am to guess.

Further signings have not been taken into account in the illustrations and allowance has been made for some players leaving.  (Note, there are a few names missing from the line-ups.) The composition of Teams “A” and “B” tells us fairly accurately the players we need to retain. Of course, adjustments to both squads should be expected with any further top signings.

In my estimation, our “B” team can comfortably see us to the knockout stages of the Europa League, after which a game to game strategy might become necessary. This means that we can afford to keep our “A” team fresh for at least the 1st half of the Premier league season, a luxury the teams in the Champions League cannot afford. Coupled with League Cup games, our “B” players should be kept happy, fit and more able to slot into the first 11 effectively when the occasion arises. Meanwhile I keep hoping and dreaming of Lacazette and Fabinho signing on to help strengthen us.

For me, the 17/18 season is suddenly full of promise.

by Pony Eye


  • HT,
    Thanks for rubbing off my noises.

    Arsenal would enter the Europa competition in the group stage (1st half of Sept). Having the highest UEFA coeficient of all teams in the competition they would surely be seeded. That would reduce their chances of facing the stronger teams. Our “B”team should be able to get us through without much worries. This season, might turn out very interesting.

  • Hi all.. Hi PE.. I love your post..

    About Monreal and Gibbs.. I’m agree with you.. as Wenger said Monreal will play more as a CB, then Gibbs still needed.. but we have Ox also, who play in that position several time to replace Monreal as our LWB.. I loved Gibbs speed and pass.. more than Ox.. hehehe..

    Assumed that it’s true, so we have already 5 CB, with Gabriel and Holding as our backup.. Is it enough..?? Rumours said about another CB.. hehehe..

  • Henry,
    Mert, Kosh, Gab, Musti, Chambers, Holden, Monreal. That’s 7 No. I’d ask for striker and CMF first. To get a new defender we have to let go 1 or 2 first.

  • PE.. Mertesacker said he couldn’t play again, so he will be no longer there..
    Callum Chambers will be a great backup.. hope Wenger also see it that way..

    Midfield will be on his way soon..
    Striker.. we have two option.. Support Sanchez or replace him..

    Ozil already agree to stay.. hope Sanchez also..

  • Henry,
    what I understand Per to have said is that he would start winding down this season and slowly transform his role away from the field. Maybe player cum minor coaching role. Hoping he gives us some 15 games.

  • Hi PE, Cheers for the post… I’m glad you’re sleeping well… 😀 I slept pretty well too so look out (for my response being on the longer side)…

    Editing the post maybe I look at it more carefully than if I were just reading it… To me, it’s kinda two posts in one, the first part being about our formation change and the second about the depth of the squad as it applies to the Europa League, esp. the group stage. Maybe I’m just more of a pessimist, or maybe I’m trying to keep my expectations in check, but I think things are not quite as straightforward as you might…

    In terms of formations… It would be very interesting to move from theoretical ideas about average positioning to actually using such data–which is probably out there somewhere. My guess is the difference between the two formations would be fairly subtle (in terms of average positioning). In the final 10 matches, after we’d switched to the 3 CBs, I noticed those guys pushing forward a lot when we had the ball but that the weak side CB (the 3rd one, furthest from the ball…) was slightly better positioned (i.e., staying back) in case we lost it and the other team counter-attacked. And, indeed, it allowed the wing-backs to get forward with less worry about being out of position if we turned the ball over. The biggest difference, I thought, was that it created more space for the attackers which certain guys (Ramsey and Alexis…) really need because they like taking extra touches on the ball. Ozil and Xhaka also seemed to have more space as well as extra options to use the wing-backs as outlets, and, occasionally, with throughballs in behind wide defenders…

    The thing about formations is that they’re only as good as your most recent result. If the 3-4-3 keeps winning matches, all is good… If not, does Wenger stick with it and (again) face derision for having no grasp re: tactics, being tactically rigid, etc., etc… My hunch is that, if we’re chasing results, there will be more in-match formation changes (from 3 to 2 CBs) to give us more potential goal scorers. Still, if results are not as desired, the pressure on the players AND calls for the manager’s head will get even more difficult (and louder)–if that’s possible…

    This leads to the 2nd part of the post… The extra “easier” matches in the Europa League should be a chance to experiment with different players in different formations. I really doubt that we’ll be using an entirely different squad for these games, though there could be significant changes for them, maybe up to 4 or 5 guys. We should have no problem advancing to the round of 32, but it’s all about finding (close to) a best 11 plus 3 (subs) for when the games come thick and fast in the winter months. As such, players need to show not only that they can perform at the right level, but also that they can do so playing 2 games/week and in combination with each other. So, Wenger will rest some of his most important players for the group matches but will also be watching guys closely to see who can contribute (in a big way) when we get into Jan, Feb, and March. It will also be a balancing act in the various competitions. If we’re doing well in the PL, the Europa elims may see more fringe players. If we’re behind in England, trying to win the Europa League becomes a bigger priority (see Mourinho at ManU this past season) as it’s a route back to CL football. What may really suffer is an earnest effort to retain the FA cup. Of course, all of that depends on the draws, injuries, suspensions, etc., etc…

    Finally–and I know you have caveats re: players coming in or leaving the club– I think the A and B teams look a bit funny to me. My bet is that Gibbs and Wilshere are unlikely to be with us (or feature very much due to their chronic injury problems) and we shouldn’t count our Ozils, Alexises and Oxes before we re-sign them, nor heavily tapped up players like Bellerin. All three of the contract hold-outs benefited from the switch in formation, I thought, but they may need to be replaced by new signings. Also, you don’t include Kolasinac (in team A nor B), who, I’m pretty sure, will slot straight into the first team. The extra “easier” matches should help him and other new signings (and our younger guys trying to make the jump up in level) integrate into the squad, but they also could be tough on them. Different styles of football–and teams we’ve never seen before playing very hard to defend their home pitches–complicates matters.

    All told, I’m hopeful for the season ahead but I also think it will be a major challenge to get used to the new dynamics–as well as the older (very toxic…) older ones.

    Please pardon the wordy response and thanks again for the post…

  • Nicely articulated, PE. It is hard to argue that the change in formation did not improve the team coming to the end of the season and I believe we have enough strength in depth to cope with all the competitions we shall be in during 2017/2018 season, player fitness being the only snag to reaching that conclusion. When you consider that it was our 3-0 win over Chelsea that prompted Conte to change his side’s formation (and to good effect), you cannot help but wonder what could have been, had Wenger made the change much earlier, when we started to wobble.

    Having said that, it is my view that the upsurge in performance had something to do with the introduction of “something new” for the players to believe in, after that bashing by Bayern, than the mere change in formation. The morale was low after that Bayern defeat; clearly, the team had hoped to win and the crushing nature of the defeat must have had them questioning themselves, the tactics and even the coaching staff. The loss of belief is what resulted in that poor run of form, as Arsenal will ordinarily win a few of those games we lost/drew, during that spell, with any combination of our players and with our “4 at the back” formation. It was similar with Chelsea needing a lift after the hammering we handed them, and who seemed to have the personnel suited for the job to a greater extent than we did (hopefully, that will be addressed in the summer since we may have to run with that formation in the coming season).

    Summarizing my point, the 3 at the back formation, as a reaction to the loss of form, was a welcome development that suited the team at the time, being something new to work with and believe in. It so happened that it suited our team and makes us play with better defensive assurance. So, if it works for us, why not continue with it?

    PS: your record of 26 goals conceded during that bad spell must have included the 10 conceded to Bayern, no? Otherwise, that’s a whopping number of goals against and just tells you just how poorly things were for us then.

  • Eris,

    That’s a great point about “something new to believe in,” and the Chelsea example gives it extra credence… That we went on to beat both ManCity and Chelsea in our cup run suggests that we’re not far off–if the team are able to maintain that self belief, or, as AW would put it, the “mental strength” or “togetherness in the squad.”

    Of course, I’d point to the toxic environment among the more hard core supporters. There’s a hierarchy there. The traveling support are spending a major part of their time & income in following the team. The home support, which, of course, has many of the traveling support in its ranks, comes 2nd. That’s a big outlay of money for a season ticket and getting to the Emirates, for many, is a big hassle. Finally, as I tried to argue several posts ago, are those who buy their tickets for the extra cup matches (the two, at Wembley, mentioned above, for example). Better weather, a fun (or unique) day out, lower expectations, etc., etc… It’s much less of a commitment to go into matches like that “believing” in your team, or at least having a measure of “hope.” There’s a resignation–which turns to anger if not outright hate–for those who have committed themselves to paying the big money and following in a more dedicated manner–if things go wrong in ANY match. Even if things go right, there’s always something that could have gone better…

    My view is that it’s almost like a form of penance for many–and how many enjoy that? I guess, like religion, there’s a hoped for (and very big) payoff… You know, life after death, joining god up in heaven, or at the very least, being part of something bigger than yourself and having a measure of community, etc., etc. The big problem is that so many (of the louder voices) have turned against the preacher (Wenger) and no longer are open to being inspired by the choir (the players)… How those guys are able, match after match –in such a rough environment–to keep making the effort to sing, I really don’t know (it could have something with their contracts)… I guess, against all odds, and like you say, they need something to believe in…in order to keep the faith…

  • Nice post, PE.

    I reckon we can go through the groups with our “B” team but I have to remind you about Europa League.

    Firstly, it’s a competition with quite a few clubs from (South)-Eastern Europe. For instance, there is a slight chance for a long-waited revenge against Red Star Belgrade for the defeat in UEFA Cup 1978-79 (won by Borussia Mönchengladbach) or for another duel against Dinamo Zagreb. There is also a chance, however, for an exciting clash with Qabala (Azerbaijani club) before playing a tricky Premier League away match.

    Secondly, our League Cup performances with the second string don’t give us too many reasons for optimism. Whilst it’s true our B team looks better on paper than most Premier League A teams (which is down to many factors including a Moses-split-sea-size gap between two classes in Premier League), that team deprived of our best players will lack team cohesion and, very likely, leadership to turn things around. We might see Alexis, Ramsey and Özil all coming in in 66th minute to turn things around in Zagreb with the score 1:0 for the hosts.

  • Admir–not to mention PE (and others?…) You still think we’re keeping Alexis? I wouldn’t bet too much on that one… Then again, what do I know… (And, truth be told, I thought that Wenger was done after that first leg vs Bayern, and then again after those pair of road losses at WBA and Palace…) If he (Alexis) stays (and I think he must sign an extension this window for us to keep him…) I’d be pleasantly surprised…

    “Low expectations = the key to happiness,” a wise man once told me…

  • HT@ 15:09
    That’s some dissection! Good work. “in terms of formations… It would be very interesting to move from the theoretical ideas about average positions to actually using such data-” @ HT . The actual data are there for specific matches but when the analysis is general and not specific for any match the theoretical or classical average touch position is the only tool available for analyzing a formation. In actuality, if a team plays to the script, the imprint of the formation is visible in the actual average touch positions of the players, looking more or less like the paper formation slightly distorted.

  • Eros,
    I couldn’t agree more with you that the ploy to change to the 3:4:2:1 had a strong psychological motive to it. Wenger even said as much. But again there is a sound logic, footballing-wise, why the new formation reduced the rate at which we leaked in goals. One defender more, one attacker less.
    Yes you are right, the 26 goals coceeded in 10 matches are for all competitions as indicated in the post. So it includes the Bayern 10 goals. Without it ie at 16 goals/9 matches it is equivalent to 68 goals conceeded in a season. That’s relegation waters,

  • Admir,
    Wenger, to me, has no option but to use heavily rotated sides for the Europa. Remember that some of the Thursday night matches can be away to far away Eastern Europe then back home and another away trip by Sunday afternoon. It would be suicidal to our PL fortune to utilize about the same team. One of our best game of 16/17 was our 5-0 trashing of Southampton in an FA cup game by our B Team. Our Team B, seeded, can handle the Europa group stage made of minnows.

    Apart from fatigue that affects performance, it is a well established fact that games without enough rest increases the risk of muscular injuries. We should be careful not to abuse our Europa strategy by trying to rival Man u’s success there. They only prioritized the Europa League when it became fairly clear to them that they had lost out on top 4 finish.

  • HT,
    When I look at the facts I conclude that the chances are that we would keep Alexis.

    My formula to happiness? Dream, dream, dream! But let it be a dream that regenerates instantly to new dreams when smashed up. You prefer to pay now and live later. I prefer to live now and live later. Dreams, dreams, dreams!

  • A well written and set out post PE, you made some interesting points…

    My question is maybe a bit simplistic, why did it take 12 games for Arsene to act?
    What does Boro Primorac do or see when sitting in the stands for the problem to have persisted for so long?

    As far as the UEFA Cup is concerned, Arsene simply has to rotate, as the early part of the forthcoming season will be a 2 gams a week marathon.

  • Arsenal have quite a mixed history when it comes to some countries, trips to Russia or ex-Soviet states for example, rarely result in a positive outcome. But that’s often with our first choice XI who maybe lack the motivation you need when travelling to the outposts of UEFA.
    Arsenal are going to be possibly ‘the scalp’ in the UEFA Cup, so our players and coaching staff better be prepared for a rocky ride because the early rounds are going to be akin to an FACup 3rd round visit to somewhere like Walsall or Wrexham or Tranmere or Bradford or Rotherham, names that’ll send a shiver down the spine, know what I mean Retsub? 😉

  • Off the top of my head I would think that the basis of the following squad could get us through to the latter stages of the UEFACup:

    Martinez, (Szczesny), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Monreal, Gabriel, Chambers, BFG, Holding, Elneny, Coquelin, Giroud/Welbeck, Wilshere, Iwobi, Walcott, Jeff, AMN, Reiss Nelson, Steph Mavididi, Nketiah, Cazorla.

  • Let me share this post.. about all top scorer steiker 2016-2017.
    Link: http://www.eurotopfoot.com/gb/soulierdor.php3

    Anyone remember Bas Dost..?? One of my favourite.. He score a lot this season with Sporting CP.. just 3 goals less than Messi for the golden boot prize.. and two more goals than Aubemeyang and certainly much more than Lewandoski and Lacazette or Mbappe.. hehehe

    Cavani did scores 35 goals.. but something surprise me with the Leagu1 factor is only 1,5 less than Portugal league.. so he was far behind in race for golden boot..

    Back to Bas Dost.. Why don’t we go for him.. He is tall, strong and fast.. He will be the next Van Nistrooy or Van Peraey for Dutch.. And come on.. He is Dutch, we need a combination of France, Germany, England and Dutch to be back to our unbeaten season.. hahaha..

  • Kev,
    Did it take Wenger 12 games to act? Wenger switched formation in the 31st wk. After 22 wks we had won 14, drawn 5 and lost 3 which is equivalent to 81pts for the season. Not the kind of pace that would warrant a change in formation. Thereafter followed 3 losses in 4 games. Maybe that was the time for a change (i.e. 26th wk). Unfortunately 2 of the 3 losses were away to Chls and Liv and that might have influence Wenger to have one more go. Another away loss to W Brom and that should have been it after wk 27. Wenger must have lost his nerves because the next game was at home against Manc (wk 28) which ended in a draw. To me he acted 3 or 4 games late. Easier though to take big decisions from the safety of my home.

  • PE, maybe it’s been coming for a lot longer than 12 games, who knows?
    Maybe if we hadn’t had that terrible run, then Arsene may have stuck with a back-four and we may not have won the cup?
    It’s all part of the fun though, being wise after the event, I’m brilliant at that…. 😉

  • Kev,
    You might be right. Am not a die hard believer in ‘ If it ain’t broken why fix it ‘ . If it ain’t broken but is ugly (winning ugly) I’d work on it. That our 14 game streak without loss (after the opening day loss) must have lulled Wenger into believing he had a title winning formula. So when the signs started showing up in poor results he suffered from a delayed response. In other words if he was looking at performance instead of results, he might have acted much earlier as your comment suggests.

    Am more of a Pep who keeps tinkering even while winning as long as there are details that don’t satisfy him. Anyway that’s me. Winning ugly means winning lucky to me. Am too logical a fellow to bank on luck.

  • Winger, please buy Fabinho of Monaco. He is Vieira MK 11. He is only 23 yrs old and valued at about £32M. The highest rated player (Whoscored) in the star studded Monaco team. He has it all. I hear Mourinho is now after him.

  • Yep, I’m with you on Pep, he’s the best around imo PE.

    PE beating Man Utd by a penalty shoot-out in 2005 in Cardiff was both ugly and lucky, but I loved it and it remains one of my all-time favourite cup final successes.
    Smashing Villa 4-0 and then outclassing Chelsea 2-1 were wonderful occasions and being fresher in the memory bank immediately spring to mind. But there is a kind of a beauty in an ugly victory, that being under the cosh but somehow coming out with a result which I think it says a lot about a teams strength of character and togetherness when then achieve those kind of results. It often leads to being title contenders, so I wouldn’t totally dismiss it mate.
    That said, I wouldn’t want us to play ugly for an entire season, football has moved on, that’s why despite Mourinho’s recent successes his style looks outdated. In fact it makes me laugh when I hear pundits saying that football has left Wenger behind tactically because if anyone has been left behind it’s Mourinho…
    You can’t be lucky for an entire season PE, but it’s handy when you have the rub of the green, as we did at Wembley when Man City had a good goal disallowed and Alexis could have been pulled up for handball before his goal vs Chelsea. I’ll take those decisions in our favour every time mate.

  • Cech———————–
    ———-Ozil———————–New Signing——–

    Cheers PE, lovely philosophising. The above is my PL winning side. Just one more signing and we will kick arse(nal)

  • PE.. Must all Monaco players become PL players.. Hehehe..
    We had our own Viera in making.. JRA.. Just give him times..
    I think Bakayoko is better than Fabinho.. and chelsea seem to bring him soon.. So Fabinho to MU.. And we bring Lemur and Sidibe.. Mbappe to Madrid.. And Monaco changes his all team except Falcao.. Hehehe

  • Hi TA.. Why don’t we bring a real CF like Aubumeyang, Lewandoski, Cavani or maybe Bas Dost.. Hehehe.. and let’s Sanchez remain in his best position..

  • I’m with you TA, except I’d replace New Signing with Welbeck, Iwobi, Walcott and Santi and put him (New Signing) up front…

    Perhaps I can write on that topic next week as I’m rather busy today and over the weekend… Maybe you’ve got something?…

  • hehehe, Alexis just is not a LW my friend. Can you remember him ever putting in a ball from the side for Giroud? He loses the ball too much and is not a great passer, but up front he is a beast and that is where I want to see him. Put somebody like Reus or Hazard, or equivalent, next to him and Ozil and we sex on the pitch.

  • I’m sure you’ve all heard the latest Lacazette rumors at this point.

    I’d be pretty disappointed if we ended up wasting half (if not all) of our transfer budget on a player that doesn’t necessarily improve our starting 11. Watched him a hanful of times in Ligue 1/with the national team and not once been impressed by him. Sure he provides an alternative to Giroud but so does Alexis? Nothing more than a glorified Defoe.

    Would much rather shift Alexis back to center forward and see us spend that money on a winger like Mahrez or Lemar. Lemar is particularly interesting– a mid-winger who doesn’t shy away from the dirty work. Also reminds me a bit of Santi. Wouldn’t be surprised if he could do a similar job for us in the middle..

  • TA.. What is Alexis no 7 means to you..??
    He choose that number not just because it’s a lucky number.. Hehehe..
    Ronaldo and Greizman also play similar position. cmiiw..
    Our 3-4-2-1 formation suitable for him.. He can explore all position to score..

    I wonder why Sanchez never play as a CF for Chile.. As Ronaldo and Griezman also never did it for Club or country side..

  • Alexis would deliver the goals as a point man, but that position doesn’t suit his temperament. Strikers make about half the touches made in other positions. That frustrates Sanchez and not only does he loose his role discipline in search of the ball he also lays his frustration on his team mates undermining the team unity. This drama was clearly evident when he was used as a striker.

    The inside forward position looks good for him. That role provides him with the platform to cause chaos and create. Being an opportunistic goal scorer he does not need the special platform of a striker to bang in his goals. So provoking chaos, creating chances and scoring goals are all available to him in the inside forward position.

    Let’s fetch a striker who will improve the team. I hope we hands off Mbappe. Too much of a risk spending £100+ on an unproven 18yr old. Only R Madrid can make a success of such a gamble because they would recoup their money in no time with the player’s shirt sales and endorsements.

  • Nice post PE! I definitely agree Arsenal’s 3-4-2-1 setup is a lot more balanced than the former 4-2-3-1 system. That said, Arsenal still have a couple of fundamental issues with their squad which if not corrected will probably see the team come unstuck even in the 3-4-2-1 system.

    The first issue for me is central midfield. Of Ramsey, Coquelin, Cazorla, Elneny, Wilshere and Xhaka, only Xhaka comes close possessing the necessary mix of transitional skills (long range passing and dribbling) and defensive skills to effectively fulfill the inherent requirement of that particular position. Until Arsenal can address that deficiency in their squad, the three central defenders are going to be put under a hell of a lot of pressure from opponents. Similarly Arsenal are going to struggle to move the ball quickly from defence to attack, which is going to make it difficult for the CAMs to consistently create clear goal scoring opportunities for the CF and themselves. Fabinho (who has averaged about 3 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1.1 dribbles and 3 long passes per game) would be a big improvement in Arsenal’s CDM options as would players like Gonalons, Demme and Illarramendi.

    The second issue is the centre forward position. Arsenal need a CF who:
    – is strong aerially (to covert crosses from Arsenal’s wingbacks)
    – has good off the ball movement (to drag central defenders out of position to create space for the CAMs to attack; and provide the CAMs with a target for through passes)
    – a willingness to regularly shoot on goal
    – a strong goal scoring record.

    Unfortunately for Arsenal none of their existing CF options (Giroud, Welbeck, Walcott and even Sanchez) ticks all of those boxes.
    Neither do reported Arsenal targets Lacazette and Mbappe who are both quite weak aerially.

    In terms of potential CF transfer targets who have consistently ticked all of those box over a number of seasons, Lukaku or Dzeko would be ideal but even Benteke or Modeste would represent an upgrade on Arsenal’s existing options.

    The third key issue is the right wingback position. The way I see it, there are four key performance criteria for RWB role:
    1. Tackles
    2. Interceptions
    3. Dribbles
    4. Crosses

    In terms of benchmarking, arguably the best performing RB/RWB in the top five leagues in recent seasons has been Ricardo Pereira, a Porto owned 23 yr old who has been playing on loan at Nice for the past two season. In terms of his performances in relation to the aforementioned KPIs, his per game numbers are:

    – Successful tackles: 3.3 pg
    – Successful interceptions: 2.2 pg
    – Successful dribbles: 1.5 pg
    – Accurate crosses – 0.5 pg

    In terms of the comparative performance of Bellerin and Ox in recent seasons (noting that Ox has only played a handful of games at RWB), their respective numbers are:

    – Successful tackles: 1.5 pg
    – Successful interceptions: 1.7 pg
    – Successful dribbles: 1.6 pg
    – Accurate crosses: 0.4 pg

    – Successful tackles: 1 pg
    – Successful interceptions: 0.7 pg
    – Successful dribbles: 2.1 pg
    – Accurate crosses: 0.5 pg

    So it’s pretty clear to see that Bellerin and Ox’s defensive deficiencies, mean Arsenal can and arguable should certainly upgrade the side’s starting RWB position.

    While Pereira would be the ideal candidate, Porto have made it very clear he is not for sale and have recalled him to fill the RB/RWB role for the Portuguese side next season.

    That being the case I would like to see Arsenal recruit a 24 yr old RWB by the name of Youssouf Sabaly who is owned by PSG but has been playing on loan at Evian, Nantes and Bordeaux for the past four seasons. His comparative number during that time have been:

    – Successful tackles: 3 pg
    – Successful interceptions: 2.5 pg
    – Successful dribbles: 1.7 pg
    – Accurate crosses: 0.7 pg

    Given Sabaly is currently stuck behind Aurier and Meunier in the RWB pecking order at PSG and both of those players are only in their mid 20s, I think a move for Sabaly would not only represent an upgrade for Arsenal at the RWB position but would be financially realistic for the Gunners.

  • Well to me it is bloody obvious that Alexis is best suited as a (mobile and interchanging) CF in our new formation, but who am I to piss against the wind, hey? 😀

    The real issue is that we did not have a quality man on the left wing, so Wenger had to put Alexis back there.

  • Waldo,
    I go with you all the way the fact that we don’t have a CMFder who is good on both sides of the ball. The 3-man defence is something of an insurance and so far it has covered for Xhaka/Ramsey’s defensive shortcomings. But it remains a technical leak that might cause us some unnecessary and vital points. Marco Verratti of PSG is a dream we better not dream of. Barcelona want him desperately but PSG wouldn’t deal. I love Fabinho. If we can get a good CMFder, we should let go Coq, Elneny and (I hate to name this) Wilshire.

    Our RWB (Bel and Ox) are good enough, young and still growing. Wenger (am with him here) does not like more than 3 new faces in the team at a time. LWB, CMF, CF as first team players would do for this summer.

  • I’m with you Total, I prefer a flexible attack with interchangeable forwards who are as comfortable on the flanks as up front leading the line, Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, Ian Wright, Sylvain Wiltord, spring in mind, even Adebayor could work the flanks and RVP wasn’t just a dyed in the wool centre-forward.

  • Wow! A lots gone down here, I see. Summer activities and trips have kept me out of regular wifi availability….

  • I think you’re spot on PE in that Wenger won’t recruit any more than 3 player. That said, I think Arsenal need more than 3 new recruits to address the existing deficiencies with their squad. Specifically, I think Arsenal need to recruit a RWB, a backup CB, 2 x CDMs, a back up CAM and a CF.

    In terms of Arsenal’s depth chart, that would mean:

    1. Arsenal’s starting 11 next season would be as follows:

    GK – Szczesny
    RWB – new signing (ideally Pereira or Sabaly)
    RCB – Mustafi
    CB – Kosielny
    LCB – Monreal
    LWB – Kolašinac
    CDM – Xhaka
    CDM – new signing (ideally Gonalons, Fabinho, Demme or Illarramendi)
    RCAM – Ozil
    LCAM – Sanchez
    CF – new signing (ideally Lukaku, Dzeko, Benteke or Modeste)

    2. Arsenal’s back up first 11 would be as follows (noting that, with the exception of central midfield, Wenger very rarely rotates his first 11, so I don’t envisage these players receiving much game time):

    GK – Cech
    RWB – Bellerin
    RCB – Gabriel
    CB – Mertesaker
    LCB – new signing (ideally Perrin)
    LWB – Gibbs
    CDM – Ox
    CDM – new signing (ideally Gonalons, Fabinho, Demme or Illarramendi)
    RCAM – new signing (ideally Vazquez or Gomez)
    LCAM – Cazorla
    CF – Giroud

    3. Ramsey and Walcott would be exclusive bench players brought on if Arsenal need a late goal or to change the team’s point of attack.

    4. In light of Wenger not regularly and systematically rotating his first 11, I think the following players would benefit more from being loaned out next season to a club where they will be virtually guaranteed game time in their ideal position, rather than spending the whole of next season training with the first team and sitting on the bench match after match:

    – Martinez (GK)
    – Holding (CB)
    – Chambers (CB)
    – Maitland-Niles (CDM)
    – Toral (CAM)
    – Iwobi (CAM)

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