Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Arsenal has been employing the 4-3-3 formation for several years with mixed results. On their day they are a fantastic side that can beat anyone in the world. On their less impressive days, they look careless and suffer defeats to lesser opposition. Perhaps manager Arsene Wenger is contemplating a formation change and a switch back to a 4-4-2. With his business so far this summer, such a move is starting to look rather likely.
Arsenal’s first summer buy was German forward, Lukas Podolski. The 27 year old enjoyed a fruitful year at FC Koln in the German Bundesliga, but has been continuously frustrated with the club’s poor record. FC Koln was relegated this season and Podolski has decided to try his hand in the English Premier League.
Wenger continued to boost his striker options with the acquisition of French striker Oliver Giroud from Montpelier. Giroud led Ligue 1 in goals scored and helped lead his team to an improbable championship in France. He is 25 and also looking to establish himself at a major club.
Assuming Arsenal captain Robin van Persie remains at the club, there will be a definite surplus of strikers. Considering that the 4-3-3 formation typically only uses a single striker flanked by two wingers, Wenger may want to adopt the 4-4-2 so he can better utilize his new players. As all these strikers are entering the prime of their careers, they will be looking for serious playing time.
Current wing players have struggled at Arsenal. Andre Arshavin often looks lost. Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner look utterly hopeless out wide. Even speedster Theo Walcott struggles to put in decent crosses. I worry that Podolski and Giroud would not play well in these roles either as they prefer more centrally located positions.
With a 4-4-2, many problems could be solved. The midfield would benefit with the extra body. Arsenal’s current defensive woes often occur when players struggle to make their way back and defend during counter attacks. Also, Robin van Persie has often found himself lost without support up top. With a second striker there would be more linkup play.
Theo Walcott has talked about wanting to play as a central striker, and this formation would better utilize his quickness and small passing game while giving him more decent looks at goal.
The central midfield pairing of Alex Song and Jack Wilshire could be formidable, and the wide positions could be filled with Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, and even Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. These players are quite multi-positional and could cover in the middle as well.
Personally, I have seen enough of the 4-3-3 to know that it won’t work for Arsenal. Sure, Spain and Barcelona have utilized it to win many trophies, but Arsenal doesn’t have the necessary talent level. Furthermore, the formation was introduced with the idea of Cesc Fabregas orchestrating at the heart. He is gone now and Arsenal needs to adapt. With the signings of Podolski and Giroud, I feel that Arsene Wenger may be prepared to do just that and reintroduce the 4-4-2 to the Emirates Stadium.