Arsene Wenger and Arsenal shifted to a 3-4-3 formation during the business end of last season and it bore fruits as Arsenal were able to make up for lost ground, falling agonizingly short of Champions League football, but winning the FA Cup.
The players seemed better suited to playing in a 3-4-3 than the traditional 4-2-3-1 system used in the beginning of last season, but given the talent that Wenger possesses, may he be tempted in reverting to 4 at the back?
Let’s tactically analyse the changes this might bring about.
First, the squad.
GK: Petr Cech
RW: Walcott/ Welbeck
The back 4 provides stability, with both Koscielny and Mustafi providing defensive soundness; and Bellerin and Kolasinac, both agile to contribute to attack and defence.
Midfield sees the trio of Xhaka, Ozil and Ramsey.
Xhaka can play in the holding midfield position, as his ability to spray passes across the pitch stands out among his Arsenal contemporaries. If he betters his error-prone record, we might be seeing the emergence of a sheet-anchor in Granit Xhaka. While Xhaka is a defensive option, could Ramsey and Ozil form a formidable attacking partnership behind the front three?
Ozil, though creative, elicits a lot of criticism for his disinterest in defensive duties. Arsene deploys him as a winger in the 3-4-3 formation, but it is also a winger’s duty to track back and help out his wing-back. Ozil does not fit that mould. Given a more central position, he could cause a lot of harm without having to worry about his defensive duties.
Ramsey when fit, is an important player for Arsenal. He and Ozil can form a partnership in central midfield to provide passes to the forward line in front of them.
This brings us to the attack. Lacazette is the obvious choice at CF, and Giroud is an able back-up for the Frenchman. Sanchez, if he chooses to stay, can continue at the LW position. Walcott has been used as a CF by Wenger, but his best position from where he can cause a lot more damage is down the wings. Ozil playing central frees up space for another pacy winger; Walcott can seize the initiative and even stake a claim for making that position permanently his!
Though he faces competition from Welbeck, Iwobi and Oxlade Chamberlain.
Could this be the formation Wenger might stick to once the transfer window comes to a close?