Wenger reveals when he first started thinking of back three

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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.

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34 Comments on "Wenger reveals when he first started thinking of back three"

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GunnerYY

So most likely we’ll play 3-4-3 in the final, i wonder if Conte will analyze our tactic and make a counter play for it. It’ll be fun.

Too Drunk To Be Offside
Too Drunk To Be Offside

Completely on a side note, me and a friend have been having a debate about Champs’ League spots which I feel like submitting to a wider public for opinions.

The argument is whether teams that finish 3rd or 4th even deserve to be in Champs’ League.

Champs’ League as the name suggests should only be for Champions, i.e., teams who have won something.

Teams that finish 3rd or 4th have no business being in Champs’ League.

If a country has 1 CL spot then it goes to league Champs. If 2 then it goes to League Champs AND winners of domestic cup.

If League Champ and Cup Champ is the same, then 2nd spot could to runner up in league.

So for England’s 4 spots should be League Winner, FA Cup winner, League Cup winner and 2nd place in league (playoffs).

I know the idea of League Cup having a CL spot riding on it seems laughable right now, but if it did have a CL spot riding on it, the prestige attached to the League Cup would shoot up.

Every team would want to win it and seal a CL spot and thus it would no longer be the Mickey Mouse cup it presently is.

It would also save the domestic cups from declining.

Penguin

UEFA would never allow this. You’d have too many big teams missing out when random smaller teams win the domestic cups

Too Drunk To Be Offside
Too Drunk To Be Offside

But if domestic cups was the only route to CL football the BIG teams would take interest in them and try to win, unlike now.

It would cut the chances of smaller teams ever winning them too frequently.

Andy Mack

Teams will still prioritise the PL over the TinPot Cup (and possibly the FA Cup) as the PL is where they earn the money.

Too Drunk To Be Offside
Too Drunk To Be Offside

Still a lot of money to be made in the UCL. Also a competition that offers CL football is not the tin pot cup in the least.

Crash Fistfight

UEFA doesn’t dictate how leagues supply their representatives, unless I’m mistaken. I think it’s the choice of the individual associations to take the first X number of teams in their league standings into the CL.

KingofZamunda

Considering that in most European leagues the top 2 rarely change hands (Spain, real – barca, Germany, Bayern – Dortmund etc) the champions league would be the same teams year in year out. I get your cup winners theory but even then, most cup winners are generally top two if not top four teams.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Everything UEFA does is about money. Also, if rich teams do not like any idea, FIFA scrap it. That’s what happened to financial fair play.

Rooks

This concept definitely sounds exciting just thinking about it.

Cuccu

You’re too drunk

Too Drunk To Be Offside
Too Drunk To Be Offside

I know! 😀

Penguin

With all respect to Arsene, this kinda thing is why a lot of people think he shouldn’t sign a new deal. What was clearly a tactical shift that has got a lot more out of our squad was needed far earlier to have a truly effectual impact on our season.

We’ve hardly been poor since just March, the period from Everton away until a few weeks ago was pretty poor apart from the odd decent result here and there.

You could make a strong case that a more modern manager like Conte or Pochettino would look at the team much sooner and go, “Well, crap, we need to have a rethink here,” and reaped the kinda rewards that might have seen us challenge for the title.

Heck, Conte did just that after we beat them 3-0, and then won 13 games in a row! Think of how we’d have fared if we’d switched to a back 3 after the Bournemouth 3-3 game, say? Arguably could have been second place or even seriously challenging for something, if all had gone well. Most modern managers would have done something way sooner, and that’s a real shame because we all love Arsene

Crash Fistfight

Conte had been playing a back 3 for years prior to joining Chelsea, so I don’t think it was a question of thinking up some new clever way of turning around their fortunes. Rather, he was used to it and knew how to coach it well. Perhaps he wasn’t comfortable with the back 4 himself.

However, I do think it highlights an issue with the Arsene Wenger of the last few years in comparison with the one that did so well initially: he’s become very risk averse. It took him a long time to implement a change as he was worried about making things worse.

A similar example is how his transfer dealings have changed. He kept on moaning that people only wanted him to sign expensive players, but actually they wanted him to sign players in the positions that were needed, regardless of price. He seemed to be reluctant to take risks on ‘unproven’ players that would’ve been (relatively) cheap – look at him not signing Hazard when he could as an example.

Heavenly Chapecoense

At end or season, he will say no need for new players. All he cares about is to keep the players he has. He will let go Perez as he already said, they will sit down and see if he has a good chance to play.

Atom

Crash – that’s an interesting take. If you study corporate history you see a similar pattern with successful companies. Almost all of the “Good to Great” companies fell on hard times because the stopped innovating and others caught up. That’s basically Wenger and Arsenal in a nutshell.

Finjo

N’Golo Kante is another example. The biggest risk in life not taking risks

Finjo

Agreed. Arse-ne scares the hell out of me. Old dogs and new tricks are good buddies. Teams will soon be able to plan counter. Might even be as early as Sunderland

yagaru

“Wenger reveals when he started thinking about a back three”. Hmmm…probably around the time everything else had gone to shit but he was still desperate to sign a new deal.

Dom

I don’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth. He would say anything to make himself look good, he is never able to admit his mistakes and that is his downfall.

thw14

“What is three at the back? Is it somesing from 50 Shades? How do I know about 50 Shades? I have not yet seen the incident, sorry.”

Mike

Still not sure about it. Less pressure on us lately and we’ve played some poor sides.

Came unstuck v Spurs and we got a bit of luck v City, although we showed a lot of heart to win.

All a bit emperor’s new clothes.

Finjo

And Man U is not worth a mention. Let us overcome their stronger team then we can start a discussion

Corona X

Don’t let the Man Utd fans and pundits littering the Internet, poison your judgement!
“Arsenal beat the Man Utd reserves”, “Arsenal won but no-one cares”, WRONG!
De Gea, Smalling, Jones, Carrick, Herrera, Mata, Mkhitarjan and Martial are hardly reserves…
Tuanzebe and that fat wanker Rooney on the other hand..! 😛

Sean

Sadly the formation change really hasn’t done much to change my feeling a new manager is badly needed this Summer. Putting aside the fact it’s far too early to say if it will be a success over a long period of time, something else worries me more. Even if it ends up making us a strong side next season, once another team figures out how to counter this formation, does anyone really trust Wenger to adapt again? I can’t see it myself.

Lord Bendnter

It will be our toughest game of the entire season because Chelsea will come with their highest confidence because of just winning the league. Still though, I’m glad that the recent positive run of games will help to boost our confidence. It’ll certainly be a tough n nervous encounter. I just hope the ref doesn’t do something stupid…

Andy Mack

I’m sure Tony Taylor will do stupid stuff (he always does) but I also hope it doesn’t change the game.

Corona X

Not just that – they’ll have the comfort of resting their players, balancing their fitness and match sharpness for two WEEKS, while we’ve gotta put out our strong sides both tomorrow and come Sunday.
People say we should rest players against Sunderland, I say NO, we need to try and spank them to improve our goal difference! City’s goal difference is still 5 better than us..

Did you see Chelsea’s team today? NINE changes!

Liam Bradys left peg

Forget november its a shame he didnt have the balls to change in january or even february and we might have made top 4 and beaten spuds. November may have promised more.

Liam Bradys left peg

Its the difference between a good manager and a manager who was good but is now too stubborn/ cautious (£8.5m+ p.a) to make changes when obviously needed. When did Conte go 3 at back? Oh it was at ht when 3 nil down at ours! Thats balls.

Trez

More reason why you shouldn’t be on the bench next season. Wenger us clueless. It took him almost 3/4 of the season to find out how to utilize Xhaka. Truth is he has built a squad for 4-3-3 without realizing it. 4-3-3 is what he should’ve tried first before the 3-4-3. Top 4 trophy is now looking impossible. No reason for Wenger to stay

santori

Pity he did not adjust soon enough.

This has always been an issue with Wenger, he is too slow to enforce timely tactical switch.

I think as he mentioned, we were good with Mustafi and Koscielny for most parts.

When injury hit and Gabriel had to come in, the Brazilian did well at first but things started to unravel later with both Mustafi and Koscielny taking turns to go out and come in.

The midfield was also a contributing factor.

We have been light in midfield going into the campaign (foolishly) reliant on Santi to regain availability on a potentially chronic issue and age thrown in.

The loan of Jack did not help. Elneny as an option was mediocre at best.

Thereby we had difficulty securing the second ball with the midfield. Ramsey isn’t the best tackler, Coquelin lost form and Granit (perhaps rightfully) abstained from throwing in his leg.

The defense came under duress (returning Mustafi and Granit each struggling to get up to speed) and we paid the price.

Not playing Holding in a back 4 was IMO a good thing. The young lad shows great composure but I’d be careful getting too carried away as many are at the moment. He still has a learning curve and makes mistakes which the same crowd unfortunately all too kindly choose to give a blind eye too.

BUT the moment we switched to a back 3, it was always possible to accommodate for any potential errors (if minor and restricted) and Holding became an option which has paid off for most parts.

HOWEVER

I feel we will and need to add in midfield this summer to have option to revert back to a back 4 if need be.

What we will need is a player who can work the vertical, carry ball through the middle and push against the other defense directly.

Also we will need more inventive players up top (with technical ability) because if playing 3-4-2-1, we are essentially robbed of one more creative player up top.

Corona X

Good thoughts, but “Elneny as an option was mediocre at best.” gets you a thumb down from me!
He hasn’t done at all bad, and given a run in the team I’m sure we’d see a great player.

Fed up Gooner

*When everything else that he tried wasn’t working.

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