Our season started of well this year. Our defence received so much praise and was considered one of the meanest and most consistent in the Premier League. Not anymore though. We’ve conceded 15 in our last seven games and as a result Arsene Wenger is considering ditching his trusted 4-3-2-1 formation in an attempt to tighten up Arsenal’s porous defence by switching to a 5-3-2 system.
It is believed Wenger planned on implementing the idea for our Champions League clash against Schalke the other week after our defensive troubles during the 2-1 defeat against Manchester United and other certain games.
Wenger reportedly held a training-ground meeting to discuss the idea with his coaching staff and it is understood the change of formation is very much in the forefront of the Frenchman’s thoughts as we continue to struggle defensively.
But would a 5-3-2 work for Arsenal?
Well, I’ll attempt to answer this as I break down the key aspects of the said formation.
A 5-3-2 has five defenders, usually three central and two that operate as wing-backs. The latter positions would obviously be filled by Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs respectively when both are fit.
Within the three centre-backs, the one in the middle usually acts as a sweeper – Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen would fill these roles.
The first problem for me with this is we have all our best defenders on the pitch at the same time, which leaves us very little to choose from should any of them pick up injuries.
Moving onto the midfield, which will consist of three centre midfielders, all of which will play very close together, cancelling out any options of exploiting the flanks – this power comes from the two wing-backs, which would turn that 5-3-2 when defending into a 3-5-2 when in attack mode – though the man in the middle of midfield could be dropped deeper too act as an anchor man or ball winner to help the back three when needed. Or he can be pushed forward as an advanced playmaker with two ball winners behind him in a triangle pattern.
The two men up top will have to play very close together, and this system works best with one striker pushed higher up than the other to act as target man, which in our case would be Olivier Giroud, or in some cases Lukas Podolski, with the second man acting as a support striker, feeding the top man or running off the shoulder of a defender. In addition, he can also be deployed deeper and play the #10 role, attacking from deep. Theo Walcott, Podolski, Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would be the ideal candidates for the role.