14
Nov

3-4-2-1 : Pros and Cons


Written by Loïc Garcia

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Since the 2-1 win at Middlesbrough back in April, Arsenal have played 28 games in all competitions in a 3-4-2-1 formation (summer friendlies excluded), for 21 wins, 2 draws and 5 losses, which gives a 75% win ratio. Solid results but there are still big questions marks over the best setup for the Gunners, some arguing that the back 3 needs immediate scrapping at every goal. It is a complex as the current setup has his qualities and his flaws, a few days before the North London Derby, It is time to take a look at the main Pros and Cons of Arsenal’s formation:

Pros :

1/ A revived Nacho Monreal

Nacho had a very tough season last year, struggling against any pacy winger facing him, although he wasn’t helped by Alexis, Chamberlain or Iwobi’s bad defensive work. However, the swich to a back three revived his Arsenal career in a spectacular way, as the left center-back he is now one of the first names on the teamsheet, solid as ever, assured on the ball, more than quick enough for a center-back and always willing to bring numbers forward, he has been Arsenal’s man of the season so far and, at 31, found a position that suits him and Arsenal perfectly for the rest of his career. a Koscielny-Mustafi-Monreal back three allows Arsenal to build from the back calmly and take full control of the game, especially against small teams at the Emirates.

2/ Freedom for Aaron Ramsey

When it comes to movement off the ball and third man runs in the box, there is not much better than Aaron Ramsey. The downside is, when a run is made into the box, there’s space in midfield for the opposition to break into, and in a pivot in front of a back four, it can prove very costly and creep into the mind of the Welshman. The simple fact that there’s an extra body behind him, providing cover grants him more freedom to attack,  with good results this season, 3 goals and 3 assists in 10 Premier League games.

3/ Central roles for Alexis and Özil

Often vulgarized as 3-4-3, the 3-4-2-1 really allows Arsenal’s two game changers to play in more central roles behind the striker, with the freedom to roam across the front line, switch positions and provide with passing options between the lines. Alexis wants to play wide, Özil wants to play as a 10 but it is the best compromise for the sake of the team.

Cons:

1/ No depth at wing-back:

In Bellerin and Kolasinac, Arsenal have arguably the pest pair of wing-backs in the League. Sadly, Chamberlain’s departure in August meant that there is no real squad depth for the starters, Nelson and Niles take those positions in Europe but Arsenal are one injury away from a huge drop in quality in the starting lineup. On the other hand, Arsenal have six center-backs and can field two very good back threes to rotate.

2/ “Only” 3 attackers

One more defender means one less attacking player, last year Walcott dropped out although he was having a great season with 19 goals scored in March. This season, it means that Walcott, Welbeck, Iwobi, even Wilshere will have restricted minutes in the League. They might not all be considered good enough to be starters but Arsenal have lacked that pace or sharpness at times.

3/ Youngsters shoehorned out of position

The drop to Europa League football this season opened the door to several youngsters, 7 of which made their debuts this season, to play a part in Arsenal’s season. However, most of them are played in positions they’re not familiar with in order to rest the starters for Premier League football, They’re getting invaluable experience and one could argue that Nelson will grow more complete from his stint at wing-back but it might also harm their progress if they end up definitely not fitting into the position they’re played in.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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