Arsene Wenger says that he’d been thinking about implementing three at the back for some weeks now, but hesitated to put the plan into action.
For the first time since 1996/97, the Gunners played without a back four, with Gabriel and Rob Holding either side of Laurent Koscielny in the 2-1 win over Boro.
Afterwards, Wenger said of the new set-up, “I felt it added a bit more stability on the long balls.
“We faced a direct game and we have been punished a bit on that. It gave the opponents more of the ball.
“Against Palace we had 70% possession but lost. Sometimes we want to have the ball but when a team lacks confidence just to change the system can help believe something different.”
And in an interview with NBC after the game, he told former Gunner Lee Dixon it was something he’d been thinking about for a while (see below):
The win brings Arsenal to within 6 points of the Champions League places, and with a game in hand on 4th placed Man City.
It remains to be seen if the manager will keep the same system at Wembley against Pep Guardiola’s side on Sunday.