The time is now for a two striker system at Arsenal – Here’s how!


It is time to pair Tuesday’s heroes

Today’s article might appear a tad aggressive for a Goonerdave66 blog and it is meant to be. Why? Because it is looking to address a few attitudes and opinions which I am exposed to all too frequently. Personal opinions are just that, but there is a way to express an opinion without inferring superior knowledge and without appearing condescending. I am always very clear that my blogs are about my opinion and I am always happy to be challenged and I love the debate, but I do on ‘1nildown2oneup’ where possible, seek to back up my arguments with research and evidence or precedent.

As most of my regular readers know I am a supporter of variations of a 442 system to allow a 2 striker system. I have written numerous times espousing a reversion to the formula that won Wenger and Arsenal so many trophies. What I have not said though is that we should play the same system each week and for all opposition. No, more that  Wenger should use his squad to the full and play different formations and systems dependent on the opposition, as other top sides and managers seem happy to do.

Now I am often supported when I write these blogs but there are always those who condescendingly tell me that the system is out of date and does not work anymore in the modern game.” A 2 man midfield would be hopelessly overrun by an opposition with a 3 man midfield Dave you are an idiot.”Many tell me I am an fool who is clueless for suggesting such a thing and that I would have us play like Stoke. This attitude irritates me hugely, (really Dave?) so I point out that Manchester City won the title in 2012 on the run ion playing Tevez and Aguero as a pair and Manchester United clinched the league in 2011 with Rooney and Hernandez as a pair. I could go further back as numerous Premier League titles have been won with variations of 442 since we last won in 2004.

However those who know so much more than me do not wish to accept factual evidence and they have an answer for how these sides have won titles with 442 variants. “Dave other teams can do it because they have better players than us.” Or this popular retort “Ah yes Dave but the thing is our players were so superior in 2004 and we just don’t have the players to play that system in 2012.”  Really guys are you sure? Well let’s have a bit of fun shall we to examine this. Other teams who have won the league have better players and you cannot play a 442 and win without players of the quality of Pires, Gilberto, Vieira, Ljungberg,  Bergkamp and Henry. Below are all the midfielders and strikers who have won the EPL with Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City since 2004. The truth is that no team has had players as good as that and they have still won the title.

I have highlighted and underlined those winning players since 2004 who I think could have broken into the ‘Invincibles’ and I have just highlighted those who could have been squad members in my opinion. Play the game yourself but I doubt you will differ too much.


Claude Makelele     E Gudjohnsen     Damien Duff    Joe Cole      Didier Drogba

Arjen Robben       Frank Lampard       Michael Essien

Hernan Crespo     Wayne Rooney          Cristiano  Ronaldo    Michael Carrick

Paul Scholes     Ryan Giggs      Loius Saha      Carlos Tevez         Nani        Dimitar Bervatov

Ji Sung Park      N Anelka      Flourent Malouda        Michael Ballack        Deco

Javier Hernandez       Anderson     Gareth Barry     Yaya Toure     Sergio Aguero

David Silva       Samir Nasri        Edin Dzeko          James Milner


So there you have it. I am being dispassionate and am admitting that Makelele in 05 and 06 was better than Gilberto Silva, but no one in that role has been since. Ronaldo one would have to admit you would find a place for, he could arguably even challenge for the TH14 slot, sacrilege! You could argue YaYa Toure but for me he has not yet reached Vieira level.

Better than Gilberto? Probably


Good enough for any team

Feel free to have a look at all the names sand see if you disagree but in the main I am sure you will not. This being the case is it fair to assume that we have considerable evidence to suggest that you can win the league, playing variations of 442 with players inferior to those of the all conquering Arsenal 2003/4 team? Now Chelsea, Manchester United and Man City have all won titles varying their systems from game to game and opposition dependent. You will tell me that Chelsea in the main played 433 under Mourinho and you might be correct but Gudjohnsen had the second most appearances in 04/05 and played numerous games in a 2 with Drogba. Manchester United played a conventional 442 all of 2010/11 initially with Berbatov and Rooney and then with Hernandez and Rooney. Incidentally they finished that season with a central midfield pairing of Park and Giggs and please don’t try and convince me that is a dominant pairing!

I could go on and look at how City began to lose their way last season playing a 4231 with Toure, Aguero and Nasri behind Balotelli, but found their form again with the return of Tevez and the reversion to a diamond, but I won’t as that would be labouring the point, (heaven forbid!!) In short, variations of 442 do still work in the EPL today and numerous teams have won big that way sine we last did, with inferior players to those we had at our disposal between 2000 and 2005. The key is indeed quality players but also intelligent and flexible players and crucially a manager who is willing to in turn be flexible from match to match as I believe we need ours to be. Whether he will be of course is another question entirely?

So this article would be worthy but pointless if I did not follow my conviction and demonstrate how I would deploy a 442 variant with our current players in 2012/13 and crucially when I would suggest we do so. The way I see it I hope might counter those who still fee a 2 man midfield could be dominated by a team with 3 in there. I first ventured this in July when Wenger hinted at a 2 striker formation at a press conference in the Far East and the system I would relish watching against weaker sides and against teams who ‘park the bus’ is for me a 4132. Here is the blog I wrote back then:

I see this as the same formation we played between 2001 and 2004 because Pires was not a conventional left winger in the Overmars sense and Freddie was a converted central midfielder or second striker.



For me this is how we lined up shape wise in our unbeaten season. It was not a conventional 4411 because Ljungberg and Pires would not always stay wide in the way we might see Bale and Lennon do today for the Spuds. Both could take the ball wide and go for the by line and cross or more commonly cut back but equally both came inside and link play with Dennis or slide a through ball for Henry. In attack Gilberto might join and the 4 might naturally spread but in defence both Bobby and Freddie showed exemplary work rate and discipline to work back and support centrally of their full back. When tucking in both of course were frequently over lapped by 2 superb attacking full backs in Cole and Lauren. Something with Jenko/Sagna and Gibbs/Santos I would contend we have in 2012.

This observer feels we have a squad of players to make this system works well this season and I would suggest their could be 2 versions. One version to break down teams set up to stultify us and another using the formation to defend high up the pitch, hit teams quickly on the break with fast slick passing a la Barcelona.



The above side would I feel compete well in the EPL and could be more flexible and dynamic when up against 2 banks of defending players, when at times our 4231 can be predictable and slow. I truly feel that a full fit Podolski is the natural heir apparent to Bobby Pires and his work rate supporting the full back when fully fit (which I question at present0 to support Gibbs is superb. It is evident already that Gibbs and Lukas have developed a rapport potentially akin to that of Cole/Pires. Also like Pires there is no reason why he cannot hit double figures in goals when here as Pires did with ease. Whilst I would not alwasy wish to see Santi on the right he has done it for years and he and Jack would interchange as both are such intelligent players. The additional advantage for me is that we have Ox and TR7 both readily available to play either role as well. I am convinced Groud would flourish in this 2 striker system, as indeed if called on would Chamakh, either flick ons, neat one twos or through balls would unleash Theo’s pace and finishing.

I also see a potential alternative starting 11 in the same formation for trickier games, certainly against top sides and in Europe, where technique may be utilised over power. The obvious objection to this team would be the lack of size but it seems to work for Barca, because of the sped of thought and technique


This is my 11 in the 4132 to out think the opposition, outplay the opposition and technically bamboozle the opposition. Whatever your objections tell me honestly that you would not like just to see this front 6 just pass and move through at team. No height, just pure skill and football intelligence with Walcott the main benefactor.


Cazorla through ball to Walcott – GOAL!!


I know I won’t convince many who are intransigent in their view that any system other than 4231 is invalid in today’s game. However facts do not back up that viewpoint as I hope I have demonstrated and Manchester United, have used the exact formation I suggest on many occasions this season. The system I propose does allow the wider midfielders to tuck in and support when required, but crucially gives us a fast flowing attacking shape with flexibility, counter attacking pace, our early Wenger years trademark, and multiple options in the final third. The teams are made up of my fist choices but of course Gervinho can play the Walcott role and Ramsey can cover the central or right midfield. In time Eisfeld could easily play for Jack and Coquelin for Arteta. This formation demonstrably plays to the strength of our squad and avoids some of the round hole square peg selections we have witnessed.

That’s enough of me today. I have convinced myself and perhaps I will have convinced some of you or not/ Either way I would love to hear from you on twitter or in comments. I defy anyone to not at least admit they would not like to see Cazorla, Theo, Wilshere, Podolski and Ox or Tomas on the pitch at the same time in the red and white.

Oh and one last point I would play this formation if Podolski ifs fully fit at Old Trafford with Giroud and Walcott. One thing is certain Fergie won’t be expecting it.


Until next time thanks for reading and I am ready for the flack.

Like what you read? Agree/disagree? Leave a comment below or follow me or comment on this blog on Twitter –


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  1. Great stuff Dave. Can’t argue with that at all but then again you know I’m almost as big a fan of this formation as you are.

    I’d really like to see Giroud and Walcott up front together against United. As you say, Fergie will not be expecting it especially as his tactics will be built entirely around us playing 433/4141.

  2. Another thing to note is that we can utilise a Giroud/Chamakh partnership well against slower teams who park the bus. Chamakh looked like a man re-born in the latter part of Tuesday’s game and especially in extra-time. You and I have both defended Chamakh’s abilities and effectiveness but only in a two man system. I must admit to wanting him to leave but that is only because he is wasted as a lone striker and I honestly never saw Wenger doing it for more than 10 minutes a game but hopefully the 60 minutes him and Giroud spent together on Tuesday will convince Wenger and others that it’s an option we should utilise more often.

  3. As always Dave, great post. The one word that stuck or me in it all is ‘flexibility’. If you have players that are flexible and fluid in their positions, you have the makings of a fantastic team. Players have to be interchangeable not just game-by-game, but many times during each match. If you have that mentality and freedom in a football match as a team, you’re always on to a winner. Top stuff mate.

  4. Dave good write up i kove the way break your analysis down but u forgot mentioned the fact in the 2004 invicible most team in epl also uses the 442 system so they readily have teams that massed them up in the middle.But most teams now use 451 system where they crowd you out which evidently show on sunday in the match btw chelsea and manu, they were outnumbered in the middle that rooney have to fall deep to compensate for the pressure chelsea mounting on them in my opinion 442 system is dangarous

    1. Not forgotten just not as convinced it is as relevant as some feel. Al systems are flexible and work if you have intelligent players and we do. Just as Freddie and Bobby had flair they worked like trojans and knew when to drop in a support. Rigidity is our enemmy

  5. Dave,

    Yet again a point of view backed up with research, great read as always. I felt Chamakh was superb with Giroud alongside and in my opinion he does not like to play the lone striker role. I’d like to see Giroud and Walcott on Saturday as a front two at kick off. One good game from Chamakh on Tuesday won’t be enough for him to start on Sat, but a subs appearance in a front two is a possibility. We have the players with the ability to be flexible and make our formation very fluid during any game, switching to 4132, 4321 or even 4141 as the game dictates. I also agree with Daniel, that Fergie wouldn’t expect us to line up 442. It’s a formation I have also thought we should use more often in games, yet Wenger always seemed to ignore it as an option.

    Here’s hoping we see 442 at some point on Sat.

  6. Been posting this formation all season its something i have used as a coach/manager for many years and another i use is the xmas tree. i think both formations would suit arsenals current staff and both formations can be switched from one to the other very easily depending on whether you need to save pr chase the result. you can even make bothe formations equally offensive or defensive by substituting personnel. for example in the 4132 instead of the 3 being offensive midfielders you can easily adopt a winger or two or a defensive player or 2 or even 3.

    However, my own recent experiences are proving to me that its not so much the formation that matters as the desire passion and committment of a well disciplined team. i mean on tuesday we started with wengers favourite formation 4231 then changed so many times even at one stage playing what looked like a 5-0-5 although wenger called it a 4-1-5 you could have quite easily been forgiven for thinking it was a 1-2-7 at one point. i honestly believe that as long as we can get our best keeper, best 4 defenders, best defensive midfielder and best 4 offensive players we can beat anybody. that would be

    sagna mertesacker koscielny vermaelen
    cazorla wilshire podolski
    walcott giroud

    quite a few players are really unlucky to not make the best x1 but gibbs diaby rosicky and chamberlain are a must for the bench as is mannone. the remaining 2 spots on the bench would obviously depend on the opposition more defensive options would mean the likes of jenkinson djourou santos coquelin frimpong getting a look in whilst if more offensive options are required then ramsey gervinho arshavin and chamakh all come into contention. at least that is how i see it as in my opinion we have 16 players that in the even of reaching a final are certainties. the remaining spaces go to those 9 with squillqci and fabianski being the 2 players that i deem most as surplus to requirements.

    1. As I said we have so many options and the key is we have intelligence and flexibility so let’s use it

  7. Great post. You have a new follower.

    I have been saying this for years. I think we lost our way with building the team around players I.e. Cesc and RVP.

    I think we need to go back to basics and stop playing this ridiculous formation as we do not have RVP up front any more and our attacking play is so slow that it gives the opponents to regroup.

    We need direct football again so the teams we play are unsure what we are going to do next as we have become predictable with 10 passes across the defence another 20 across midfield and then lumped into an area in hope rather than accuracy. Even the striker does not know what is happening because he is never on the end of it.

    I just hope AW learned on Tuesday by putting two up front opens a lot more avenues to score.

    1. Tues was a bit of a shambles and sort of ended 424 which I would not wish to see normally but yes it did illustrate the point. It also shows that Chammy in a 2 facing the goal rather than in a i with back to goal can play a bit.

  8. That was epic Dave,I agree with you 100% on your opinion of playing two strikers. And I believe it will work in the EPL. Hope Wenger gets the idea and put it to plan as soon as possible.

  9. Love it, 442 is the way as far as I’m concerned. But as you say, it has to be flexible and that 2nd formation you put up would make me very happy.

    Unfortunately, once again, I have to say that all the different formations in the world are useless without the passion of the players. My biggest problem this season is the total lack of a will to win. This Tuesday was the first time this season that we have shown some feeling and true grit but I’m afraid that didn’t start until the 8th minute of the second half. I’ve got to say it but did you watch Chelski v Manure? All 22 players wanted that ball, do our players chase like that?

    The euphoria of the win against Reading (Reading for God’s sake???) is blinding the supporters to some woeful inadequacies. The sooner the management and the players show some desire the sooner we will back into regular, winning ways.

    1. Pat this blog was mostly written before Reading and you know having followed my blogs for a while I have always advocated similar. However the positives out of the shambles were Chammy, Giroud and Theo up top

  10. Schezney
    Sagna Mert. Tv5. Gibbs

    Chamblin arteta. Wilshire cazorla

    This is best team I feel but you could also play giroud up top with theo or pod and team would be no weaker

    1. swap podolski and cazorla around and that is essentially how we lined up at the start of the season with gervinho in theo’s role and diaby in wilshere’s

  11. Good theory here. Although I would argue for the inclusion of Arshavin in both 11s, somewhere in the midfield 3 or behind Theo. Although he still frustrates from time to time, his work rate appears to have improved tremendously. Additionally, he and Theo seemed to have a great understanding earlier this week (at least in the 2nd half onwards), and that combination could (and should) be exploited in league games as well.

    1. So, the formation would look like this


      Sagna Mert Verm Gibbs


      Cazorla/Ox/TR7 Wilshere Podolski/Arshavin



      1. i assume it refers to the spuds game in the 80s and i was at them too it was a result that gave so much satisfaction and a big lift at a time when we needed something to lift us

  12. I do like the Giroud+ Theo combination. He can hold the ball up so well that Theo can benefit from it. I have to say we do have a very good squad but Arsene struggles to get the best out of them. Sort it out Arsene. I’m tired of the financial excuses

  13. Thanks Dave, have you emailed it too AW, he would appreciate your tactical
    Sense. I love the flexibility of your formations. We really need to utilise everyone and as you say ‘Then we will have a first class team. Theo has to be given a chance to prove himself too.

  14. AgreeD!

    Let’s try it!¨
    At least I hope Walcott, our actual Man on fire will figure on the starting

    ….. Or even:

    Rosicky/Chamberlain Cazorla


    Gibbs Vermaelen Mertesacker Sagna/Jenkinson


  15. I am always supporter of two up front unless you have a seriously good striker like TH or RVP. Two strikers can put two central defenders under much more pressure and give the team an egde by making opposition CD nervous. It’s so easy for two CD to deal with one striker and they can comfortably build an attack from the back. This also means that one of the opposition midfielder will have to drop back to help two CD against two strikers. This then negate the advantage of extra MF of the opposition.

  16. Hi, this is the 3rd/4th time I’ve read your blog and I enjoy it a lot. Firstly I’m a Liverpool supporter but also a massive football supporter. Iv always been a fan of a 4132 formation but the biggest thing it requires is courage. Courage from the manager and players. If the manager can trust the players to get back when required, its potential is limitless, bordering on ‘total football’. The interchanging of front players that are quick in physique & thought is a great blend for success. The courage needs to come from players as well. Every player needs to have complete trust in their team mates because they must know that if they break and leave their position someone will cover for them. It takes years to build up that kind of understanding and bond in a group of players so it won’t work perfect in the beginning and the team could get found out a lot on the break but all good things take time. Really respect Arsenal as a club and Arsene Wenger but I do think he has lost some of his visionary ability with age, he was such an innovator and its stagnated with the pressure of not having won in so long. Really want to see this line up/formation from good passing sides because it could be great. Just some thoughts from a non-Arsenal fan. Great read.

  17. Really like the idea of a two striker system, it could work and I feel 4-4-2 system or a variation thereof is something that will always work in the PL. Back in the good old days we would play 442 in the league and 451 in Europe and worked then, domestically atleast
    My only concern here is that when we played 4-3-3 with just one deep midfielder, we tended to suffer defensively with everyone else pushing forward, so the midfielder at the tip of the diamond, if I can use the term, will have to work really hard both in attack & defence to help the deeper MF.

  18. has any one thought of using a back 3 with our 2 full backs pushing further up more as wide midfilders depending on the game they could either be gibbs and sagna or even two conventional wide men with instructions to give extra cover that would leave us with an extra midfilder being able to push right up with a pair of forwards something like this szczesny
    mertesacker vermaelen koscielny
    sagna arteta gibbs
    wilshere cazorla
    giroud podolski
    the amount of diffrent personal in these positions is endless walcott could be used on the wing in place of sagna or gibbs depending on the strenghs of the teams being played ths was just a thought when i was reading the artical

  19. It’s a wonderfully thoughtful post with only one question for me: do you really think Arteta and Wilshere are at the same level as Viera and Gilberto?

    1. Not sure I have ever said that mate. My point is I am always told we cannot play a variation of without players as good as that and I say we can. Others have done so since 04 is my point. Although I do feel MA8 close as it goes. Not sure we will ever see another Paddy

  20. Great Blog as ever Dave.. Even I’m a Stern supporter of 2 strikers and the idea of Cazorla uptop along with Theo is fascinating and Giroud/Theo partnership can be our version of Heskey/Owen with a better version of Heskey 😛 And Arsenal have so many versatile players which I feel Wenger under utilizes.. I hope he stops being so stubborn and reads this blog !!! Kudos !!!

  21. Agree with everything here I think but there’s a pretty big assumption in it….that is that Walcott is good enough to be our no.1 striker. Whilst we’d look to score goals throughout the team, I think all of the championship winning teams you reference have had a striker who has scored 20+ (actually did city last year? Not sure). Anyway, although I’m not anti- Walcott and definitely want him to sign surely the jury is massively out as to whether he is that man.
    I appreciate I’m not offering an alternative with the squad we have, just making the point as the assumption appears to be that he is and whilst I hope you’re right I’m not convinced.
    PS first time I’ve ever posted on an Internet blog at the tender age of 34 😉

    1. Yes Aguero got 21 but this is not always the case. In all bar 2 years since we won in 2004 the EPL winning side has has 3 players in double digits. They key to winning is being tight at the back and have a multiple goal threat. Come again Daws

  22. 4-4-2 wud b d best against Manu on Saturday. But eisfeld shud b on d bench. Also, poldolski and giroud shd play up front with poldoski playn deeper(like rooney) and giroud, more forward (like RVP). If its possible, ashavin shd start.

  23. Excellent article. I’ve thought Arséne really needs to change things up a bit. It would not only help the team in terms of breaking down teams but also in terms of rotation, keeping players fit & avoiding burn out (which I’m worried a lot about Santi!). Right now it is extremely easy to guess the line up/formation and it was like this last season as well. I remember reading on that Arsenal used the same formation (I forget which though) all throughout the 11/12 season which is really frustrating because it makes it seem as if we don’t have a plan B and to be quite frank that’s true. Also, a 2 striker formation would really give Theo the chance he’s been craving(I really want him to extend). With Theo & another beside him (Giroud/Caz) he’ll work better as I have doubts that he can play the lone striker role due to his size. I hope the match vs Reading really put AW on the wavelength to play 2 up front.

    Fantastic article again! I will defo be coming back for more!

  24. I will try to give wenger a call before the
    man u match to try and make use of the formation
    mert verm

    sagna Arteta gibs

    carzola wilshere podol


  25. what about playing a 4-3-1-2?


    we got the players to do it

  26. SOLD – i’ll but that… especially for Saturday,as while Giroud would occupy one of Utd’s CB’s thus leaving Walcott to tear Rio apart ala Bale/Defoe did only weeks ago…
    And wouldn’t be surprised if Fergie himself opts for a 442 so we’d match up all over the field..
    One thing i enjoyed on Tuesday was Giroud when he dropped deep,he looks so much better when he’s facing the goals, head up picks right pass if needed or got good shots away every time,something i dont think he can do as the 1 on his own with back to goal, that system makes him look avarage.. looks so much better in a 2,and i agree also Chamakh..
    when you set it out 442 actually it opens up far more options all over the pitch player wise, as the current formation it’s limited who can play where,and quite a few end up doing jobs they’re not quite happy with..
    I feel Giroud,Walcott and evem more so the Ox could really benefit from a 442, and also the thing thats been missing since the 2004 days is the fact that our keeper/defender got the ball back and 16 sec’s and 2 or 3 passes later the ball was in the opponents net, we’ve too many passes in current system,whereas 442 will open up that fast breaking system again..
    Also i too wish we would stop using the word wingers,cos Bobby and Freddie weren’t wingers. Wingers push ball past people and try whipping balls in,our RMF LMF find space,then find players in space and with passes,not driven crosses found the man in space..
    So yip you’ve done it again, i’m totally converted…
    Now where’s Arsene’s number…..

  27. The only problem i have is in the cb area, to play this formation would leave us more exposed at the back, i say this as we played this formation vs reading and yes we scored a lot but we also conceded a lot. Our cb in the invincible days were much better then ours at the moment, also look at man u and city they had world class cbs at the time Rio(that one),vidic,company. Any of them would walk into this team. That i feel is why wenger doesnt use this formation

  28. Pingback: Arsenal News
  29. Great read thanks.

    It all hinges on JW and Diaby however, which is understandibly fraught with fitness concerns. Eisfeld looks a promising understudy granted.

    Either way, Walcott needs to be signed.

  30. I can see you have worked hard to analyze things thoroughly and to prove the point you want to make.However,you are completely neglecting the defense like Arsene Wenger is doing at the moment.And please don’t compare the invincibles with current players.We are in a totally different era now.
    We are proud of the invincibles but they are the past now and we have to move on.
    You do not get the point.The modern game is not about 442 or 4411 or 343 or 443 or whatever.It is about mixing all of these and more in a single game.Barcelona have been so successful in the last 4-5 years because they did not play in a rigid system.They started with 433 but if you analyze their matches(under Pep) they were constantly changing the formations and interchanging players.It maybe difficult to swallow but Barcelona are the benchmark football club at the moment for all the football teams around the world.I don’t see why we cannot take any inspirations from them(if we already haven’t).

    1. Mate with respect I think I do get the point and you don’t seem to have read the blog. The 04 things is because everyone tells me we cannot play the same system as our players are not as good. I have not suggested a rigid system and have talked about fluidity and flexibility and I have not espoused this for every game. Lastly if you are going to comment and condemn my knowledge please express as your opinion not ‘You do not get the point.’ The inference is that I AM wrong and YOU are correct.

  31. Ever since we’ve signed Giroud, I have been thinking of this formation because of Theo’s pace and directness. I totally agree with the players you have suggested. Giroud will hold the ball, flick ons and walcott will do the rest. This will bring best out of Theo and mind you the formation isn’t just to bring the best out of Theo (unlike cecs and rvp) but to bring the best out of the available resourses. Another advantage of playing Theo up top is, as we all know, he might sign the thing and prove his worth. Also Chamakh is best playing with another striker upfront. We can also play Poldi or Gevinho with Giroud in case we need to rest/substitute Theo. In which case, Santos or arshavin can play as left winger.
    Top top article Dave and what is common in the article than your usual bits is it is as unique and different as it always has been, adding that extra bit of offensive style, loved it!

  32. Ever since we’ve signed Giroud, I have been thinking of this formation because of Theo’s pace and directness. I totally agree with the players you have suggested. Giroud will hold the ball, flick ons and walcott will do the rest. This will bring best out of Theo and mind you the formation isn’t just to bring the best out of Theo (unlike cecs and rvp) but to bring the best out of the available resourses. Another advantage of playing Theo up top is, as we all know, he might sign the thing and prove his worth. Also Chamakh is best playing with another striker upfront. We can also play Poldi or Gevinho with Giroud in case we need to rest/substitute Theo. In which case, Santos or arshavin can play as left winger.
    Top top article Dave and what is common in the article than your usual bits is it is as unique and different as it always has been, adding that extra bit of offensive style, loved it!

  33. Another great post Dave. I wish Wenger can see this Post. I also believe Walcott can be our own Chicharito

  34. Very interesting blog again, Dave and I think this subject is both important and also commonly misunderstood by many fans. I would argue that in our Invincible year we played 4-2-3-1, not 4-4-2. I think it’s a misconception to define the differences between the systems purely in terms of positions on the pitch because of course these are always changing and sometimes teams playing any system might end up with with, for example, a 2-1-7 distribution.

    More important is to look at the different bands of the pitch and the different responsibilities assigned to each position, which are both inter-related factors. The primary difference, with knock-on effects throughout the rest of the team, is the question of whose responsibility is it to screen the full-back? In classic 4-4-2 it’s the wide midfielder’s alone, as the single holding central midfielder is tasked to protect the pocket in front of the centre-backs. In 4-2-3-1, help for the full-back is shared between the wide midfielder (one of the “3”) and one of the “2” holding players, while the other one can defend centrally.

    The most important consequence of this is to untether the wide player from from only being able to play in wide areas (since, when he is in possession, he must always still be in contact with his full-back in case of a turnover). Hence the most commonly recognised drawback of the system is that if forces the wingers to “run in straight lines”. (Chris Waddle’s chapter in “One Night in Turin” is the best explanation of this that I’ve read.) This also affects the central striker’s movement which typically in the system would mostly be “on the shoulder” of the centre-back (or, if you’re being uncharitable, “marking the centre-back”) ie, mostly within the width of the box.

    In 4-2-3-1 the movement of the front four is much more fluid since lateral movement is possible, hence much more difficult to defend against. The two wide players can come inside to provide a greater goal threat and the central striker’s movement tends to be wider into the channels to draw central defenders into areas they don’t want to be in. It’s also much easier to overload a channel in this system to create a three on one or a three on two situation.

    Our Invincible side were, perhaps, the best team in history to have exploited the system for maximum effect. Gilberto was they key to making it work, reading the game perfectly to enable Pires completely free reign without any responsibility to protect Cashley Cole. Henry’s movement was so lateral that he spent as much time in the channels as he did in front of goal with Pires and Freddie so effective coming off their wings that they scored 30 league goals between them.

    1. My friend you should be blogging/writing yourself. If you wish to write a piece for the site just let me know.

  35. Unless u are an avid follower and and take all facts into u might find it difficult to understand my next sentence.


    but I will not dwell o that now.
    After yesterday’s game I was so dissapointed that I spent hours on the net searching and waiting for one of our ever present bloggers to post something inspirational just lift my mood up. Nothing was forthcoming of course, and went to bed down and out..

    Today the struggle continued and luckily enough @thedaniel cowan came to my rescue with one of his pieces and lead me to this one..



    great piece Dave.

  36. Great blog, it’s hard to believe there are football fans who see 4-4-2 variations as redundant after the last two seasons. I like how you’ve elaborated on those lineups, however i don’t know if Podolski is really a technical enough player to be effective in such a system. Personally i’d see him more effective as part of the front two, as his major strengths are found in his goal threat and box play and i feel they may be wasted in the role you see him in. His work rate would be well utilised in a wide role but he’s not an exceptional passer of the ball and certainly not a creator. With Walcott constantly running away from the ball and Giroud playing a role to hold up and knock on the ball, as well as ultimately being a striker, i think there would be a need for all three of those midfielders in front of Arteta (when in possession) to be able to contribute to intricate passing plays. Not that Podolski is completely incapable of doing so, i just feel that he’d be more suited to looking for runs and shooting opportunities rather than looking to keep the bal and play the strikers in.

    1. Regarding your comment about Walcott “running away” unfortunately as a fast winger (which is what I used to be in my time) that is exactly what it looks like. But what it actually is, is anticipating through balls or balls passed over the defense. Now, if you run and the ball doesn’t come to you, this looks like you are avoiding or running away from the ball. Balls passed ‘through’ the defense or ‘over the top’ of the defense, which id exactly what he needs can be counted on the fingers of one hand (unfortunately). Thankfully, Sagna’s back and he knows what is necessary.

      It’s all a bit of a mute point really, he’ll be off soon anyway.

      1. By “running away” from the ball i didn’t mean that Walcott necessarily does so to actually avoid getting involved, i understnd that his strength is in his ability to get in behind the defence. It’s more about how he’s not the type of player to drop into deeper positions and hold the ball up, contribute to the build up, player others in etc. as RVP used to and Giroud is capable to.

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