Affirmation? A formation…? Meh.

…apologies, its an awful title for the article.

Onwards gentle reader, to the crux of the article. Namely Formations, the way Arsenal should line up next season. With regards to football, its formations, combinations, personalities and evil machinations that make up matches.

Everyone who plays Football Manager, or its bastard love-child Championship Manager (I know you people are out there….cross over from the dark side, its warm and we have cookies!!) will know their favourite formation. I tend to adjust my formation, tweak if you will, for each opponent. whilst taking into account squad availability and balance and its clear that Arsene does this to a point.

Arsenal, for the majority of last season played 4-3-2-1, with Song dropping off the two central midfielders to cover when we were under pressure. It provides 5 bodies across the middle of the park when we are without the ball and 5 to defend when attacking (leaving Song and our defence to cover).

I believe that the Striker absences (much mentioned by all) caused us serious problems last season. Not necessarily for the absent goals but the extra pressure it put on Arshavin and other players to step up and save us in games. I’m not convinced that the battering Arshavin took trying to play the lone front man didn’t have an effect on him when the run in began, he looked exhaused in the last 5 games of the season.

The one problem with 4-3-2-1 is that you sacrifice a striker for a holding midfielder, so you lose a bit up front, you can’t pressure as high up the pitch and you rely on your midfield stemming the tide. Against a mid-table side I think it worked well, against the top sides we didn’t ask enough questions. We fought, we never surrendered but we certainly never played the Arsene way and didn’t once stamp any authority on the games.

I don’t argue at all with 4-3-2-1 when we are playing away against the top sides. To go all out would be foolish (although unexpected) and we would stand a chance of nicking a result on the counter. Playing away at Bolton, Blackburn and other places very close to my current home doesn’t warrant this kind of security. We need to get our fear factor back. We need to go out and annihalate a few teams this season and I think we could achieve this by going 4-2-4. This would consist of Nasri and Arsha on the flanks, RVP and Chamakh in the middle, Fab4 and Song in the middle and a stern word with Clichy and Sagna to be a bit more disciplined to keep the home fires burning.

When teams park the bus and trying to get at us, we should not be afraid of them. We can’t molly-coddle our defence in games like this. We always seem to lose to a crappy set piece…so don’t give them the chance. Play 4-2-4, play for 80 mins in their half and make them make the mistakes. Trust me, a few teams will stop thinking about “Getting up them” if they’re worried about getting smashed 4 or 5 to nil. Remember, the best form of defence is attack and with the versatility of players we have we could turn it into 4-2-3-1, 4-3-2-1 or even 4-5-1 if we wanted to defend a decent lead but we have to get one first.

Certainly modifying formations during a game will provide a tactical surprise if nothing else, if a player pops up where the opposition don’t expect, that will give him at least a few seconds head start on anyone trying to mark him.

Just a few thoughts on a Wednesday.


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