Arsenal 2019-2020 Campaign: 4-1-2-3 with Ozil and Iwobi as AMs and a ‘Busquets’ as DM?

It is very quiet on the transfer market for Arsenal, it seems. With about a month to go till the start of the new season, this is not what we had hoped for. It looks like the club want to strengthen the left side with bids for Tierney and Zaha. However, it has gone quiet re the former and we and Crystal Palace appear nowhere near a deal for Zaha the Gooner. Ah the life of a Gooner in summertime!!

I have not heard from Emery publicly for a while and he must be worried that Arsene has yet to decide what he will be doing next. I would not be surprised if he is waiting for a heroic return as interim manager at the Home of Football. But many a Gooner believe that Emery will get it right next season, so let’s see how this could be established.


Before I come up with a way to get the best out of the squad we have, which believe it or not is a good one, let me make some assumptions re Emery’s options and views:

  1. Defending is not his main focus and the return of Holding and Bells will be like two new signings: other than possibly a LB nobody else will be bought in defence this summer and Holding will become his main CB around which the defence will be established;
  2. He wants to play attacking football but has struggled to get the balance in midfield right. With Xhaka and Torreira the team plays too deep for him and with Guendouzi (and Rambo, albeit less so) in the B2B role he leaves the back too exposed. Rambo is gone and Guendo remains a work in progress, and the same would go for the likes of EMR, Willock and AMN);
  3. To get the balance right he has to decide whether to sit naturally more deep with two footballing DMs (Xhaka and Tor) or push up with just one DM and two AMs close to the attackers. For this he will need a ‘Busquets’ (or a Frenkie de Jong) which may not be Xhaka or Torreira, although the latter (and also AMN and Willock over time) could be developed into one;
  4. I expect us to go for one DM and two AMs next season, especially once Bells is back and another LB has been added to the squad (most likely Tierney). These will add speed and tenacity to our midfield;
  5. I don’t expect us to play 3-4-3 next season, as this has not really worked for us in terms of balance in midfield and at the back. Four at the back seems the way forward once our best full back options are available;
  6. We have great attackers and with Welbeck and Rambo gone we need to add further firepower to the team: either by buying or by hoping that one of the youngsters can step up: will this be Iwobi’s breakthrough season? Will Nelson hit the ground running? Will Eddie come good? Will Mesut find his stride again?
  7. Youngsters will get a chance but not significantly so. The demands of the PL are too high to take too much risk re introducing too many youngsters in one season. However, we should see more of AMN, ESR and Nelson and possibly Willock and Eddie. We are desperate for some of these to break through, especially in terms of producing assists and scoring goals.
  8. Based on the above, I expect us to buy another attacker: especially a left winger is required (first priority). We may also buy a mobile, athletic and visionary DM to play behind the two AMs but they may be hard to find. We may add a LB but I still believe that Nacho will be our main one for the coming season.

The formation below should give us a strong attacking edge with the emphasis of pushing back opponents in their own half as much as possible:

submit football lineup

Key to it all is that Iwobi and Ozil will be working close together in a 4-1-2-3 formation and conduct our attacks and keep the pressure on the opponents’ defences AND that we add better wing power with the addition of a ‘Zaha’ type player – and Nelson on the right wing is also an exciting prospect.


Our attackers will get much better service and our defence will get less exposed as we try to dominate games in the opponent’s half. This style of play would suit best Arsenal’s 21st century football philosophy and Emery’s ‘win games 4-3 or 5-4’ approach, I reckon. Finally, with the reintroduction of Holding and Bels we will add energy and speed to our defending; and SuperSok (and occasionally Koz) will add further calm and organisation to it.

So just a couple of buys could give us a new lease of football life we so desperately need. Let’s use what we have and realign and reenergise our talents, whilst adding a bit of quality in key areas (and one or two youngsters). All to play for!

What do you think, fellow Gooners?

By TotalArsenal.


22 thoughts on “Arsenal 2019-2020 Campaign: 4-1-2-3 with Ozil and Iwobi as AMs and a ‘Busquets’ as DM?

  • If we fail to buy at least one international class central defender, I doubt that much progress will be made. Our priorities should be central defence, right wing, and a box to box midfielder. Or, jack the transfer system altogether and run with the kids…

  • Fraser, I have serious doubt whether Emery would know how to make full use of a class CB. We need to defend as a team and this is to do with the way they are set up and instructed. I reckon a combo of Holding and Sok could work really well. Would not say no to a quality CB of course, but cannot see it happening under Emery.

  • Hey TA, We’ve got kickoff in the women’s WC final… Best of luck to the Orange Ladies…

    I’m not clear how you keep the motivation going to come up with these new posts but it must have something to do with your points 1 and 2…with which–from what I saw last season–I strongly disagree. (And, from if I disagree with those, I probably disagree with a lot of the other points too… Sorry…)

    But, I agree that the blog needs comments so here I go…again… (Sorry for that, also, because my comments are NOT in the positive vein associated with your fine blog…)

    As I’ve said before, EVERYTHING I was able to watch of this (Emery’s) Arsenal suggests it’s a defense first approach. Yes, there is a decent quantity of possession, but it is mostly in meaningless passes around the back in our half. Playing out wide to the ONLY players who are allowed to abandon their positions (the fullbacks or wingbacks) is the main avenue of getting the ball forward–besides the usual Route One boots from keeper. Positional discipline in the middle of the pitch seems THE most important element for Emery. Over time, this meant 3 CBs AND 2 DMs trying to clog the middle. With the personnel with which we ended the season in these positions (plus some untimely suspensions) it was a train wreck. Other teams in the top 6 tried to give us a CL spot, but we just couldn’t claim it…

    But, hey, maybe Emery (and those above him) will chop and change and find a way forward that is different…and that actually utilizes some of the strengths of the squad–sort of like he did when he got Ramsey back in the squad (more or less alongside Ozil and ahead of Xhaka and LT11). Again, everything I see (I no longer listen to platitudes–or just plain lies–about protagonist stuff…) is that Emery wants the OPPOSITE of Wenger football. To my eye this means that Arsenal ideally will 1) give the opponent the ball, then 2) clog the middle with bodies in order to, 3) spring counterattacks that either strike instantly with balls to the center forward(s) or 4) if we must move bodies forward and out of their defensive positions it (the ball) should be played out wide to the wingbacks who can then drive or cross and get some hopeful stuff going near (or even in) the opponent’s box. It all should happen quickly, because then we can start over with #1 (giving the opponent the ball)… To me it’s sad–and cowardly–but it definitely IS different…

    But, what do I know? Certainly, I don’t know anything about this Tierney LB fellow and if he’s a real defender–the new Nacho (or a pure and chancy attacker, the new Kola) And, then there’s the question, do we really want him? (Or do we just want him at the right price?…) Also, to my mind, the Zaha thing seems very strange but is maybe something that could happen if they (or another club) will take Mkhi and/or Ozil (and their contracts) off our hands.

    Finally, Xhaka IS (as close as we’re gonna come) to a Busquets style of player, IMO, in that, like the Barca #6, he’s tall and he’s slow and he’s got a good range of passes. Unfortunately he lacks the quick feet AND he plays in a league where you can’t just fall over and get a whistle if an opponent is threatening to steal possession away before you get your feet untangled. A little man like LT11 (with much quicker feet) could do a job back there, but like the song says, (there’s only) one Santi Cazorla. This could be another reason Emery seems insistent (to me) that they both sit deep…

    Anyhow, I don’t mean to just repeat myself and suggest that the ideas (in the post) are bad…just that I don’t see them happening under current management, which, if anything, seems determined to break from the past as completely as possible. The proof is in the pudding, however, and it all starts up in a month…

    Still nil-nil as we near halftime but I’ve got a mess of stuff to do so the 2nd may have to be watched on tape delay…


  • Cheers Seventeenho. I think you describe Emery’s approach at the start of the season but gradually he tried to abandon the two deeper midfielders approach for a b2b approach by at least one of the two. It worked reasonably well with Rambo in that position but without him we looked poor, both at the back and in attack. I like the idea of Xhaka and Torreira playing together deep and building up play from there, but Emery does not like it, yet he does not know how to give us the right balance in midfield either. I want to help him by suggesting to play 4-1-2-3. I don’t think that is Xhaka’s game but Torreira could do it…

    Well the best team won the Women’s World Cup but at least the You As Eeh were given a game. Congrats!!

  • Cheers TA,…I was watching as a neutral, really…but maybe the only shame is that there won’t be a White House visit… 😀 … 😦

    Yes, I think I am stuck with visions from the first half of the season when Emery had the moxy to believe we were OK w/o ANY of the “big” contract MFs (Ozil, Mkhi and Rambo)… At this point I’m fairly convinced he was hired (over others) because he was (more than) happy to try and work towards the “bottom line concerns” which seem a big factor with club ownership/management.

    Indeed, we did play better when those more expensive guys were available…and (grudgingly, I think) used…

    Bottom line, I think, is that we’re now playing “money-ball,” but with a manager who wants discipline rather than self-expression. Players will still do well enough and rack up stats that might make them sell for more than the (discerning) fans value them. If enough of the fan-base buys into this way of thinking (i.e., still finds the cash to stump up for season tickets) all is good. As such, to be “positive,” on-line pundits say, let’s sell Laca and/or Auba and….(Well, frankly, I don’t know who else would really net some decent cash…though Guendouzi is young and can complete a lot of those meaningless passes…) and they seem happy enough playing fantasy manager. For me, it’s most certainly a wait and see situation. Freddy by February, I think, might have to be my mantra, sad as that sounds…

    But yeah, sure, keep giving Emery your suggestions… They seem as good as any…and certainly better than my attitude…

  • TA, I would say we need a Rambo midfielder… not just a Ramsey replacement but also Rambo qualities. Never say die attitude is extremely important.

    We were weak on the left wing, and it is right that we need to add to the wings.

    Last season the midfield and defense is at sea as the AM and attackers get too far ahead, leaving a huge gap in midfield which the opposition took full advantage of.

  • TA, it is the Arsenal FC that has dampened moral everywhere. After a poor conclusion of the season they have done nothing to cheer the fans up. They have allowed that depressing £40-45m rumour to run. We doubt when there is a rumour of a £80m player. It’s the £17m stories that sound real to us. They don’t seem to care about growing the fan base. Tomorrow belongs to the 7yr, 8 yr olds but I don’t see them embracing our current lacklustre world. Kids love it when it is buzxing. It’s seems we’ve suddenly gone so short sighted, so unambitious.

    I fear I’d crack if this week again goes quietly. Sorry that’s just my mood, I hope, of the moment.

  • TA, I am thinking of 4-2-1-3 as the defensive formation, and when we attack we go to a 4-1-2-3 formation. It is the dynamic formation that i can think of. We can also go back to a 4-2-3-1 (2 DM, 2 wingers) formation which we used to see during Henry’s days. That limits the exposure of the midfield, and a quick counter is what we do best.

    The dynamic midfield formation is what we can try out this season.

  • njk … yeah, better late than never. My problem is that everyday is now like eternity to me and I don’t even have phantasies to keep me company. Little dreams will even do.

  • Evening there TA. And hi also to the regulars on here who’ve been doing a sterling job keeping up some quality comment, even if its a bit thinner than during the main season. Apologies that I’m an occasional – I hope I get my mojo back sometime, but I’m not counting on any big buys to do this for me!

    I still have more hope in youth than many on this site. I know they cant carry a team alone, but the energy and excitement in young players being given the chance can lift a team, especially the creative players. So i’m Not expecting any big money buys. I cant tell if Tierney is a good move or not, but a young LB looks sense as a buy for my money. I think we need to move out CBs before we move more in – so we may well not manage either. But I’d hope we test Chambers and Bielik in the coming season – I don’t think we’ve sold either yet right? And I wonder if the latter could be a Busquets for us maybe. Having Holding and Kos, as well as Hector of course, out for large parts of last season made our defence look truly woeful. Worse than I believe it really is. It wont be down to great coaching, but my prediction is we are less sloppy in defence next season.

    The young attacking midfielders cant all break through this season. But I’m hopeful that one of them might. Just one. I don’t think it would take a lot to improve the transition out from the back to our front two. I cant predict where it will come from – indeed I’m merely hopeful not informed; but hope is a pretty vital commodity.

    Your summary TA is that we haven’t got a bad squad. I agree. We probably under-performed on balance last season given what we have and how our immediate competitors fared. I think we could improve next season without great TW outlay. And I would expect to see some progress from players brought in last summer as well as some of our more mature youth.

    Like others I cant feel excited by Emery. I’m not so sure he will get sacked mid season though – and I’m not willing it on either; hell, who knows what might come next!? We need a stable back office and some major restructuring of the squad before we are in a position to try and bring in the ‘new Poch’ from somewhere. I don’t think Emery will win us much, but we may need another year, possibly a bit more, out of him yet before we throw some dice.

    Cup half full with me here. Yes the play is dull, like the manager. But we need to bear with it and count our blessings. We have a sound financial base, a good squad to work with, and we haven’t totally imploded on the back of Wenger departing. We were a whisker away from top 4 which would have exceeded the expectations of most in the circumstances. I’m looking forward to the start of the new season, not dreading it.


  • As always, a well balanced comment, AB. Not much to disagree with and like you I hope that one or two youngsters will come good next season. Here is hoping for a good season! 🙂

  • Hello, guys. TA, a strict DM (Busquets) type to free two attacking midfielders and be disciplined enough to protect the back 4, will be a radical change to the team structure that’s been applicable in all the playing tiers of the club; but it is one that might just work a treat. The question is who to use; internal solution or buy? If the latter, how much can we afford to get in such a player. If the former, even more drastic as it will have to be the likes of Calum Chambers and Bielik (or even one of AMN or Holding). I like the idea.

    One thing is for sure, we need to buy a couple of players to freshen things up and give full promotion to one youngster (should be a yearly ritual). No way can we expect any other result than a “below top 4” placing if we go with this same squad of players without adding to it. It is that simple. For those to buy, I am not so convinced about Zaha (just for the number of times he turns over possession and just sits on the floor sulking, while his team mates strive to defend the consequent attack); he showboats too frequently and unless that can be coached out of him, we should just go for Ryan Fraser (Yeah, I know he has an awkward style) who had better numbers playing for an arguably, weaker side than Zaha’s Crystal Palace. So, for me Tierney, Fraser and maybe, one CB (if we lose any one of ours); throw on Nelson, ESR, Martinelli and we are ready to go.

  • It’s been so hard getting excited about the Arsenal, at this time but, as fans, we have to keep hope alive and believe in the best possible outcomes. It’s starting to get boring reading about how we are still dithering over deals and being linked to virtually every player, as agents use the name of the club to get their players better deals or suitors. We need to get back to the days when the Lead time for consummating deals is short (from when the journalists first get and publish the rumour). These long drawn out articles and posts about how “close” deals are, week after week, don’t help our reputation.

    It must be said, though, that neither of Manchester United and Chelsea have done much better with their targets.

  • Hi Eris, I guess you are right that we need the signings to freshen things up (and put some belief in the fans again… to avoid a flop you need to shop mantra). Yet keeping the big players together and work with them all summer is also something valuable for Emery. The squad is good and a few players have become more mature, youngsters are keen to prove themselves and Emery should know a lot more about them now and how the PL works. The Spuds showed that not buying can sometimes lead to great things. Maybe Emery needs to show how good he is with what we have got…?

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