‘Spicing up the tank without breaking the bank’ Part 5
Okay so here we are at the end of my mini-series looking at ways to vary our systems and approach with the same players. I thought I better get the last one written as we are actually in danger of making our first signing and that might render this last instalment redundant. Of course they probably are all redundant but I have had fun using my imagination, whilst wishing none too secretly that Arsene might to the same!
I have covered 4 different possibilities without looking at the currently favoured 4231/4141. Two with back fours and 2 with back threes and the last variation tips us in favour of a four man defence. I always knew I would save this article until last as it is a simple concept and I assumed it would be a populist way to conclude what has proved a popular diversion from transfers and speculation – or so the reading figures suggest.
For my last potential team formation I thought I would return to a certain 2003/4 season where our beloved team did quite well. Indeed I believe this was Wenger’s set up for the most part in the early noughties. So let’s call it the ‘Invincibles’ Line Up for the want of a better tag line. Most think automatically 442 but I always consider it a tad more subtle when I look back and I think of it as 41311.
So in this finale all I intend to do is try to match the closest player in the present squad to the players most feel are the first choice 11 from 2003/4. These players only started a handful of games together as it happens and only 2 in the Premier League but few would argue with this being the team, if all fit: Continue reading →
So here were are with number 4 in the series ‘Spicing up the tank without breaking the bank’ that aims to consider alternative ways to improve Arsenal in 2015/16 outside of big signings. How Wenger with variety, imagination and using all this squad, can still surprise the opposition and keep them guessing with ever changing formations. How he might use the same troops but find differing ways to get behind enemy lines so to speak.
Having explored 2 variations on a 3 man back line in Parts 2 and 3 today I am returning to a trusty four man conventional defence. So it is in the midfield and attack today that the spice will be sprinkled. Someone commented last time that they guessed I would come here next, because it is logical and probably also because it has been seen to work in the Premier League and for England. Yes folks the formation for today is the traditional, although making a fashionable comeback in some quarters, is a 442 with a diamond midfield.
I like this team set up for many reasons but here are a few:
It is easily moved to during a game with the same players starting in Wenger’s usual 4231
It fits with the fact that Arsenal are currently it seems not playing with great width and allows the fullbacks to provide it
It allows one out and out deep midfielder to sit in front of the defence giving full licence to his 3 more creative and attacking colleagues
It undoubtedly gives Ozil carte blanche to create, create and create with less defensive responsibility.
Spicing up the tank without breaking the bank – Part3
Welcome back to my light hearted musings on how Arsenal might improve by using variation and surprise rather than by spending this summer. To reiterate this is not because I am against new additions or buying new players but more because I believe in the existing players, some of whom might step up in the new season or in an alternative set up, just as Bellerin and Coquelin did last campaign and Ramsey did the one before that.
My next team formation is another variation on the back 3 system addressed in Part 2. However this differs quite significantly to the 352 I outlined in Part 2. This system is for me the one that for a period gave Liverpool a rich vein of form mid 14/15 and it has 2 major advantages for Arsenal. I should say I believe this team structure appropriate to change a game more often than to start one but it could still work. It reminds me a bit of the old Wenger when we were chasing a game, particularly in Europe and he would end up with 4 strikers on the pitch.
The set up is really 3421 and it can easily be operated without either traditional fullbacks or even wingbacks if the wide men in the 4 have good engines and work ethics. The further advantage for this and why it might be seen as a game chasing formation is that it allows the 3 players furthest forward to have little defensive responsibility.
The back 3 would again be 2 of the 4 that aren’t Koscielny who would be stay deepest as sweeper. Give the additional solidity required I would go with Per or Chambers with Gabriel, although Monreal’s left foot is tempting. It would be interesting to see if Gabriel could operate comfortably on the left of Mertesacker.
The middle 4 requires 2 sitting centrally and as I am writing this after the England game I would be tempted to give Jack the nod to sit with Coquelin. The joy of this system is that it allows Wenger to play all 4 of his current CM’s should he wish to with perhaps Santi on the left of the 4 and Ramsey on the right. You could also have Santi alongside Coquelin with Jack on this natural left foot.
However given that this is a hugely attacking formation I would leave Le Coq out in my first choice for openers and go with Ox, Jack, Santi and Ramsey, but would but would be happy with Coq of course. It is a slight risk having Ox on the left but hey Bobby Pires rarely used his left foot and Jack and Santi would be so assured and comfortable receiving the ball from the defence and Ramsey and Alex have such could stamina.
It is worth noting that Debuchy, Bellerin or Gibbs could equally play the wide roles in the 4 but this set up is less about width and crossing and more about swift counter, directness, pass and incisive passing.
That leaves 3 attacking berths with 2 playing just off the main striker. This would be Alexis and Ozil playing just off Welbeck or Theo which if I am honest would scare any defence in Europe. When it did work for Liverpool it was the pace and trickery of Sterling/Couthino or the vision of Lallana just off Sturridge and it worked. Liverpool’s downfall was inferior defenders and midfielders in the system not the system itself. Having said that Alexis and Ozil are better than any of the LFC combo’s in my book although Walcott/Welbeck over Sturridge is yet to be proven.
Have you own go at the combinations with this one because they are almost limit less and even as I finalise my 11 I am far from certain, so I have added one/two variables.
Risky and exciting and as I say a fabulous formation to switch to in game of just prior to KI to surprise the opposition.
For the most part the reaction to the series opener of ‘Spicing up the tank without breaking the bank – Part 1 featuring a Barca style front 3 was positive. However as I suggested it is a case of using one’s imagination to consider the strengths of the current squad and mixing it up to surprise the Premier League. The question I am in essence asking myself and my handful of readers is can Arsenal with no new signings improve on this past season impose themselves in new ways on the Premier League.
The second system and change of personnel I want to consider could see Arsenal illicit the absolute best from Hector Bellerin and the lost soul that is Kieran Gibbs. I have touched on this possibility before and I have to be honest and say that whilst I am convinced of its merits there is no evidence that Wenger will embrace it as it involved a back 3.
Whilst I have always thought Debuchy, Bellerin for sure and particularly Gibbs have all the attributes to play as continental wing backs my reservation previously lay with our centre backs. Indeed more the lack of pace at the outset of last season with only Kos of the 3 available, having any. Chambers and Mertesacker are both able central defenders but as a combination were too similar and missing the Frenchman’s agility. With a back 3 however I think at least 2 must be swift across the ground and not just the sweeper. Continue reading →
I have not written a new article here for a while but as is often the case a few thoughts that are hanging around in the back of my mind are brought to the fore by events. The events in question are the Champions League final and Barca in general and the first half of England v Ireland the other day. Oh and one other train of thought that is a constant worry, for I am a worrier and that is for the sustainable future at Arsenal, of much heralded British core. Our first choice 11 by the end of the campaign had none of our England Internationals in it as a rule.
Before I continue with the output in my mind resulting from the above input I will say that this is likely to become a series of articles I suspect. A series of articles that could go under the tag line or indeed theme – What could Arsenal do to up their game if they buy no one this summer? I know this is a proposition that no one expects of indeed wants but it is intriguing all the same. So here goes:
Spicing up the tank without breaking the bank – Part 1
Logically this article and others to follow will have to suggest ways to change the mentality and game style with the current squad. After all one cannot expect an improvement if we carry on doing this the same way can we? The only variable that could see that I suppose is better luck with injuries which we are long overdue.
The first proposal and one that I confess has me salivating is to replicate, in our own way the attacking formation of Barcelona. No we do not have Neymar, Suarez and Messi but what we do have is the ability to set up to emulate their fluidity and pace. The formation is their 4123 varying to this year’s 4141 when we are out of possession. It puts out a front 3 whose speed cannot be matched anyway in European football and it excites the hell out of me. It also gives us the potential to use all 4 of our British attacking quartet that to my knowledge (and I stand to be corrected) have never started a competitive match together.
The front 3 I have in mind has Theo Walcott, centrally, although positions would be interchangeable with Ox and Alexis either side of him. The key with Walcott is now clear and that is to give him a role with minimal defensive responsibility. Ox excites me like no play since Rocky and he is the type of player that lifts me off my seat when he gets the ball to feet with space ahead of him. Yes he has to improve his finishing but playing in a more advanced role alongside toe accomplished finishers can only assist in that objective. Technically with the ball at his feet running at defenders I believe he is the best we have and I would take him over Sterling all day every day. Continue reading →