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Formulating the formation…..

Written by Guest Blogarmourysquare

What is the ideal formation for any top class team? Now if you would be talking about a team like FC Barcelona, their ideal formation is 4-1-2-3. On the other hand a team like Real Madrid, shall tend to play the 4-1-4-1 formation. Now each formation is unique. If a team is defensive and it prefers to get a lead and hold on to it, then it prefers the 4-3-1-2 formation. Something like Inter vs Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Similarly if a team has the sole purpose to out-score their opponent by a huge-margin, such as a team like Barcelona, then they may not even play the holding midfielder.

Now lets come to Arsenal. Wenger this season has tended to go for the classic 4-3-3  formation, something like Barcelona. With the quality of players we have, this is, somewhat, the ideal formation for Arsenal. Now what is an “ideal formation ?” In my opinion, an ideal formation is that which is suited to each player, where each player performs the role he is most comfortable with. Jose Mourinho’s Internationale, was set up in this manner. And they are currently – ”Champions of Europe.” Now managers tend to swap formations according to needs. There is nothing wrong in this tactic. I mean if you are losing a crucial game, with 5 mins left, nobody will play 2 holding mid-fielders ! I mean that’s common sense.

But the starting formation for any game is crucial. I mean that sets up the game entirely. A team shall know what the other teams mentality is i.e whether it is to sit back or attack aggressively. Accordingly the team shall adjust. Now coming back to the core of the matter, in my opinion I say the best formation for Arsenal is the 4-1-1-1-3…confused, well hold on.

We have our back four, solid and firm (touch-wood). Then comes Alex Song. Up front the 3 attackers are the “usual suspects.” Marouane Chamakh will be in the middle. To his left will be the “Little Russian” and to his right, ”Theo.” After them will be the crux of the formation. Cesc is a world-class player, and last season he brought out the attacking mid-fielder instinct, to play behind a striker. Currently he is sitting back a bit, but that’s because he is not entirely fit. In the coming games, I’m sure the boss will bring out that instinct in him again. So Cesc can play that role behind Chamakh. This way he has a view of the entire attack force of the team and can easily pick out the killer cross or pass, as that’s his forte. For the past few seasons, Wenger has developed Abou to be a bit more defensive than attacking. And let’s be frank, that guy does defend well, he is big, strong and can hold of players. Compared to the Patrick Viera, he does fill in for Song when required. But his natural play is attacking, I mean if you notice him in the Blackburn and Blackpool games, he did make a significant amount of runs forward. So why not play him, not in the holding role but just a bit in front of Alex and behind Cesc. In this role, both his attributes are satisfied. It is something like the Bastian Schweinsteiger or the Sami Khedira role in the German team. Those 2 played the holding role along with each other, but occasionally bombarded forward alternatively. This exact tactic can be used by the team when starting a match. When each player is suited to his role perfectly then only can his efficiency increase and he can be completely utilised.

Now, just to be clear the formation we usually use i.e the 4-3-3 formation is very very similar to mine, but in this formation Diaby tends to partner Cesc more. In my opinion he should definitely partner the Spaniard, but  much less, and at the same time he should not be Songs new pal…otherwise we may have something like Liverpool, and one can see the state of that club. In this way, the counter-attack threat and chance of conceding are both reduced, and more cover is provided for the back-four. If the formation of the German team is adopted then we will just be unstoppable. The reason I am writing about tactics is because in the last game against Blackburn, I noticed that the goal we conceded was because there was a huge gap in the midfield, in front of the back four. Also, most of the back-four were high up the pitch (except Kosher and Gael). Even last season, we fell victim to the counterattack twice in 2 weeks. If we stand firm at the back, we shall concede less. That is the secret of a good defense and a confident team- To not concede.

A 2-0 win against a top-team, in my opinion is better than a 3-1 win. Because, that shows reluctance, stubbornness and firmness – NOT TO CONCEDE….the same-thing Inter Milan had last season in the champions League. In fantastical words, ” The Defence is a Fortress, it should never be breached “. If we get this mentality, Arsenal will be unstoppable. And as you know, our attack will always do their job…so no use talking about them (+7 goal difference is a result of their work, and it is impressive !).



  1. Benik Afobe

    August 31, 2010 at 9:29 am

    with our flying wingers in clichy and sagna, we would be left toothless in case any opposing team decides to bombard the wings when attacking!!!!
    especially with theo and arsha(who do not really track back) thats like suicide!!

    • armourysquare

      August 31, 2010 at 1:39 pm

      mate, that exactly whu this 4-1-1-1-3 upgrade is required…

  2. Darren

    August 31, 2010 at 10:39 am

    4-1-1-1-3 is suicide,last season when our midlfied were bypassed and due to our attacking nature of our fullbacks, Alex Song was often isolated with our two centerbacks.Arsenal were getting caught on the break and the system was vunerable to the counter attack. So now we play 4-2-3-1 with two defensive midfielders, Mascherano and alonso the prime example of a (double pivot). Alonso was the link man to offer an outlet Spray balls to adavanced players and spread balls to full backs and mantain possesion, keep the ball circulating. Denilson is ideally suited to this role , 73 passes 73 completed is impressive to say the least, he will also offer Alex Song defensive support. Fabregas can play the Gerrard role, So what im saying is effectively we play the same identical system that Liverpool were playing under Rafa Benitez. As i said before 4-1-1-1-3 is suicidal??? what were you thinking??

    • armourysquare

      August 31, 2010 at 1:38 pm

      when is say 4-1-1-1-3, you probably picture, 4 defenders. song exaqctly infront of him Diaby & in front Cesc….thats not what I mean…..its gonna be something like this :

      So, you get it, its like an upgraded Liverpools formation…thisis like the German formation…get it..
      …any guy knows that the 4-1-1-1-3 is suicidial…

  3. darren

    September 1, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Err… ok …. what was the point of the article, if we have this system in place (the double pivot). One holding midfielder, has the licence to get forward, 4-2-3-1.

    • armourysquare

      September 1, 2010 at 3:52 pm

      something like that, but sticking to the org positions…Dabu basically has to be the link man…the alonso-gerrard player, get it…otherwise 4-2-3-1 is gonna be like Liverpools, lucas and mascherano….

  4. Darren

    September 2, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Do i get it?.. This is what i’m trying to explain to you, we play 4-2-3-1 or 4-2-1-3 this season.

    First two games Abou Diaby was the destroyer, Jack Wilshere was his partner in crime, the link man (Double pivot). Blackburn*, Alex song was the destroyer, Diaby link man.

    (Liverpool’s) Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso is the best example of a double pivot your going to get.

    So i don’t know why you keep on saying *look at the state of Liverpool , we going to be like Liverpool*- Lucas and Mascherano are two holding midfielders (two destroyers), so there is no double pivot (linkman). Alonso (linkman) was sold, Liverpool never looked the same again…do you get it?

    We have only one real holding midfielder Alex Song (destroyer), plenty of link men, As i said in my previous post, Denilson is ideally suited to partner Song. If you were to look at the Blackburn goal, Diaby was in the opposition half Song was isolated (gaps in midfield).

    That is why we changed to 4-2-3-1/4-2-1-3, this *season* to offer Song more support and protect the back four.

    Denilson offers more balance between defence/attack, Diaby is too offensive minded for me.

    Quote from Arsene Wenger *He is more of an offensive player (Diaby). He is not a defensive-minded player, he’s not a holding player*

    Denilson can be a *holding player/linkman and be that extra body in midfield to screen and protect the back four.

    How many times did you see Xabi Alonso running past Torres? or even Gerrard?, not very often beacuse he knew his role as the linkman, to offer an outlet to his team. Also be that extra *holding midfielder* if Mascherano needed him.

    I can imagine Diaby going on a one of his mazy dribbles, playing a 1-2 with Fabregas running past chamakh…. so where does that leave Song?… *isolated* That is what happend in the Blackburn game we got hit by the counter attack. (where was Diaby)- in the opposition half*.

    Fans moan when Denilson passes side ways, switches play via full backs, or even passes backwards. The linkman’s role is to offer an outlet, mantain possession, feed the creative players and knocks sensible balls to the full backs.

    Linkman*? sounds like Denilson to me, we may have found the perfect role for him.

    If we can replicate the quartet of *Liverpools* Mascherano, Alonso (double pivot) Gerrard advanced midfielder/playmaker, Torres-stirker/targetman. Which was unstoppable in their day.

    Which i believe we can in Song, Denilson(double pivot), Fabregas advanced midfield, between Robin Van Persie and Chamakh as the lone striker/false 9 in our case.We can go further then we did last season.

    Again i don’t know why you keep, having a dig at Liverpool’s system. First game against them we had the same system, 4-2-3-1 that is why it was a boring game a draw. Joe Cole was sent off i know but he was never in the game. He made 8 passes in total, before he was red carded. Liverpool then played with two banks of four and cancelled Arsenal out.

    The whole point of this article is about formations and tatics,how we should change to the formation that Germany used in the world cup?. You said we play a classic 4-3-3 this season?, NO we play a 4-2-3-1/4-2-1-3. The reason to to reduce the number of goals, Two holding midlfielders acting as a (double pivot)- one has licence to get forward the (link man). To offer Song more support defensively and screen the back four, reduce the number of counter attacks resulting in goals.

    Arsene wenger was impressed with the *young* Germany team in the world cup, this may have influenced his decision in the tatical change in the formation. the pyramid (2-1*) in midlfield (double pivot)-Fabregas the 1*.

    Last year we played the inverted pyramid 1-2 classic example Yaya toure the 1* Xavi and Iniesta the 2*. So now we play the 4-2*-3-1/4-2*-1-3, to secure our defence and limit the amount of goals conceded.

    So yes i get it …. do you?

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