Arsene Wenger says that he considered using a back three as far back as last November, but was reluctant to do so at the time because results had been generally good.
The Gunners went on a 19 game unbeaten run from August to November, and it was only in mid-December that they lost their first league fixture since going down to Liverpool on the opening day of the season.
Quizzed about it at his press conference today, the Arsenal manager said it was something he’d had in mind for a while.
Asked specifically when it was first something he thought about, he said, “I think in November, because I felt that when you have such a long period on the bench you feel that intense situation in top level games.
“Sometimes you get away with it, with defensive insecurity, because you score goals and sometimes you smell as well that if it doesn’t go well, if the confidence drops in some games, you can pay for it, you know.”
Expanding on why it wasn’t something he implemented, he continued, “We like to attack, we have an offensive philosophy, and this is a bit more defensive minded. As well, because we were not completely sure … it could insecure the team a little bit when it was all going well.
“We not specially the personnel to do it at the time, that we have now. People like Rob Holding were still lacking experience, so these are the main reasons.”
Since moving to a back three, Arsenal have won six of the seven games, including an FA Cup semi-final, a home game against Manchester United, and the 4-1 win over Stoke.
The only defeat came at White Hart Lane, so in general it has been a success, but the final week of the season and the big showdown at Wembley with Chelsea will provide further tests for us to overcome.