Arsene Wenger has been under immense pressure since failing to guide his team into the Champions League last year.
With almost everyone in the fan-base calling for his sack, he shocked everyone alike with the signing of a new two-year deal that sees him increase his pay-packing, which many see as unnecessary considering how little progress the club has done under his recent guidance.
Arsenal’s last campaign could have been worse, had Wenger not made a few tactical changes, switching to a back-3 being one of them. The change in formation coincided with a few positive results, hence leading many to believe that the current crop of players at Arsenal are better suited to playing in that system. It did reap some reward, as Arsenal have an FA Cup and a Community Shield to show for their efforts.
This season, much like the last one has had a mediocre start.
After a stuttering start against Leicester at home, two back-to-back defeats at the hands of Stoke and Liverpool have given Arsenal considerable groundwork to make up for, as the current leaders of the league look set to continue their dominance. In all of this, Arsene Wenger’s persistence to stick with the 3-4-3 hasn’t changed. He believes it gives a more balanced outlook to his side, which to a certain extent does seem to be the case. In comparison, however, Arsenal do not possess enough quality within their ranks, thanks to the alarming lack of depth in midfield, to compete with the best teams in the league. In all of this, how Wenger decides to use his players will have a massive influence on Arsenal’s pursuit of success this season.
Should he stick to the 3-4-3, or revert to 4 at the back?
His strongest back-3, as the one he started against Chelsea, consists of Koscielny, Mustafi and Monreal. While the back-3 does provide defensive stability, it does not help them in attack. Arsenal are indeed, defensively fragile but their attack isn’t doing any good either. In the 5 games they’ve played this season, they have scored 7 and conceded 8. For a team of Arsenal’s stature, those are alarming signs indeed. While it can be said that most of those games were played with the exclusion of Alexis Sanchez, it still does not paint a good picture for how Arsenal set up currently. The sense of playing in a 3-4-3 is that the pivot of the defensive three is assumed to be a ball-playing centre-back, which Arsenal do not have in their resources at the moment. It demands a player who can be adept at playing midfield too. Other famous teams that employ the 3-4-3, Chelsea in particular, possess not one, but two ball playing CB’s in David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger, clearly showing how much of a success they’ve been since altering to 3 at the back. Switching to 4 at the back would also mean freeing up an extra defensive position for a more creative outlet up front, possibly someone like Ozil who is more devastating while playing down the centre.
Given Arsenal’s lack of depth and quality, it is advisable to revert to the 4 at the back. Some of Arsene Wenger’s greatest teams have had 4 defenders, and it would make absolute sense to go back to a successful system.