Thursday, January 27, 2022

Wenger reveals he’d been thinking about three at the back for a while

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.

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I have an irrational love for that man


I am obviously really happy we got the win, but last night kind of bothers me a bit still. Arsene’s decision to change things up, with the 5 across the middle to give us more protection defensively – like why do that now? Our league campaign is in smoking ruins, and we’ve had another dire run in Europe.. so why show the capacity to change when its too late? Why didn’t he change things when we went away to Everton and got beat? Why didn’t he think to switch it up before we went away to City, or to Chelsea,… Read more »


Hindsight is a wonderful thing.


Is it hindsight though? Really? That what, changing the team and tactics to protect us from our opponents offensive threats when we’re going to play really tough away games i.e. Everton, City, Chelsea, at key times of the season, when we need to get results?

I donno.. I think its more poor preparation


i dont like you at all. you will twist it till you find your ‘angle’ to again attack wenger. this change of tactics as per opponent you require is for small teams. big teams develop their own game to perfection. it has been the case for… the difference between those clubs and arsenal is that they have been protagonists in the world football order for decades whereas arsenal was always throughout their history not even bigger than a benfica…… if youre talking about certain circumstances , like having to deal with a Barcelona in Europe over two legs… Read more »


@salmok You’ve totally missed my point entirely. I’m not attacking anyone, nor am I twisting anything until I find ‘an angle’ – I am simply stating facts. That’s what the top managers do in Europe. They adapt their tactics and team selection to suit the opposition they are playing. That’s what a manager does. That’s his job. That’s the sole reason Arsenal do not beat the big teams anymore. That’s also the reason why we got beat 3-1 away at West Brom. 3-0 away at Palace. 2-1 at home to Watford. 3-1 away at Liverpool.. I could go on… And… Read more »


you mention things that dont add up. which are these top managers in europe you who changes the style? does pep change his style? does mourinho? does conte? does ancelotti? does klopp? they all devise their own system/way of play if youre talking special missions like say juventus – barca last night…its a special mission. its one game. wenger does that too. he did it at camp nou. he did at allianz when they had heynckes. he did it at san siro in that memorable 0-2 victory. he did it against pep’s barca in the home game 2nd half. so… Read more »


Agreed. Love the change , but its a little too late. He waited till we don’t even have a chance to get back into the top four and out of the champions league . we need a more proactive manager who makes changed at the right time.

On the positive side this formation is really working well for holding , ox and Ramsey. Ramsey espicially played really well last night popping up everywhere and getting an assist. Hope we win the fa cup and end the seasin in high for Wenger.


That has been the story of Arsene for the last 10 years. Always reactive, always (seemingly) risk averse. Of course at the same time gambling on the fitness of crooked players and burning out young players who maybe weren’t good enough in the first place.


Its kind of hard to quantify with any real certainty whether the formation worked well for the team. I thought at times we looked awful. There was that 10 minute spell in the second half just after they equalised when we were all over the place. We had completely lost our shape, and nobody had a clue where to be and I think had we of been playing a better team, we could of maybe conceded another in that period of the match.

Like so happy we got the three points though, but I wouldn’t get carried away.


Wait till they beat the big boys like Mc/Spuds and Mu . No point crowing
over a team struggling against the drop.
I still doubt whether gunners can finish 4th.If Mu wins the Europa cup ,that’s it.


Premier league still gets 4 spots plus Man U as long as Man U wins Europa but finishes outside the top 4. It’s different now then when Chelsea won but finished outside the places


Chelsea won the CL(not europa) and finished outside of the top 4.


Unless they have changed the rules, what they do makes absolutely no difference to 4th.

the Stig

So unless Leicester wins CL, Top 4 are guaranteed CL (bar 4th which has playoff)

Merlin\'s Panini

Could’ve done with that new formation about 8 weeks ago. Better late than never but still too late to salvage this season I think. The Palace game was the final nail in the coffin. I think we just have to put it all into making sure we beat Sp*rs so at least they won’t be as happy as it is increasingly looking like they might be.
God I feel sick having to say that.

Faisal Narrage

It’s that time again; the point in the season when Wenger changes things up; either a new style of play (in the past it was either being defensive or gegenpressing) or bringing a player out from the cold to change things (Santi as CM or bringing back Rosicky or Campbell in the past). Usually after many months of people asking “why isn’t he…” This year it’s 3 at the back. I’m glad he finally tried it. We still look shit, but it’s something to build upon. Just so frustrating it has to take a complete monumental fuck up of the… Read more »


It’s a bit late making a tactical switch to a back three this late in the season. Conte and Enrique did it months ago. Arsene waits until the season is down the toilet and then follows in their footsteps.


It would have been a bit silly for us to change our system at the exact moment that Chelsea did this season though, wouldn’t it?


Yes it would be silly but I don’t think Freddo is suggesting that should have happened. He is pointing out that Conte changed the system at the first sign that the current set up wasn’t working. Whereas Arsene waited until we had suffered our worst league away run for almost 90 years before making the change.


While I get what you are saying, I don’t think it is exactly true. Conte changed the system when we put them emphatically at the Emirates. At that stage Chelsea were shite. Everyone said that they were out of the title race and that they would not compete this year. Conte didn’t change the system at the first sign their system wasn’t working; he made the change when they were in real trouble. While I don’t wait to seem like a Wenger apologist, I would say that it is just unfortunate that our turgid performances have occurred when they did.… Read more »

Faisal Narrage

Dude even then Conte was practising 3 at the back in their preseason. The talk was that the squad wouldn’t accept it. Also in case you have t noticed, we had been shit for months. Chelsea were shit for weeks when Conte decided something had to be done. It’s been clear for a loooooong time now that change was needed, even Wenger acknowledged he’d thought about it. But why wait so long? Sadly, this is just part of the usual and typical Arsenal season. Only difference this time is I don’t know if this change has come quick enough to… Read more »


Anmol, I see your standpoint and it is kinda Wenger apologetic because you fail to point out that our form has been shit for months now. A win against a destroyed WHU and a draw against Citeh are not things to brag about, especially when you have teams from the lower half of the league handing our asses to us. And as Freddo pointed out, Wenger tried something new when it is too late…yet again and there’s no point in denying that because that’s bordering on delusion. Oh, and before you start singing Wenger’s praises, keep in mind our remaining… Read more »


Conte was always going to play 3 at the back. The media and gullible fans making it out as some sort of master stroke reaction to the Arsenal loss, without realising that most of football happens on the training pitch.

Fourth Place

So its Arsene doesn’t do tactical switches and when he does it, its too late now.

Seeing as it got us 3points, I’m happy to say good win, good job and more please.


I remember Bellerin being injured and Gabriel having to play right-back. Why not try it then, it would’ve made a heck of a lot more sense?!


Also, Holding looks very, very good for his age. A lot better than Chambers, who cost us almost 20 mil more.


He looks good until he doesn’t, at which point he’s consigned to the “ugh, Chambers” bin by the fickle.


Have you consigned Sanogo to the bin yet? Or is it just everyone else apart from you that is fickle?


Credit to Wenger, I never thought he’d try something different. The 3-4-2-1/3-4-3 was a great idea, but you could see the players were clearly not used to it just yet. Ozil positioning certainly helped the Ox while Alexis and Monreal seemed to be bumping to each other at the other side. The disappointment was how Xhaka was used. I expected him to dictate from deep instead I saw him at the number 10 position alot of times…there were times where it felt like it was too crowded for him so he had to move forward to receive the ball. If… Read more »


Absolutely agree about the mobile front three, but not sure Theo is the missing piece of the jigsaw, certainly not long term.

Faisal Narrage

Maybe we can go back in for Mahrez.
I still wanna see Lucas up front.

Winterburn 87

Sick old man..3 at the back?? Freaking dirty old man???


It’s 5-3-2 in defence and 3-4-3 in attack. Monreal and Ox put in a great shift.
I think we should sign Kolasnic and Sagna for free and go all out for someone like Griezmann/Muller in the summer.


Just like TH14 stated earlier today, we are not attractive enough for world class players like Griezmann to come to us. They want to be challenging for the biggest trophies, and regretfully that just doesn’t happen at Arsenal.


So where should the players of that calibre should go – Chelsea? They are done after this season. It’s highly improbable they will win the league back to back. There will be no motivation there. City? Their defence is far worse than ours and with Mr.OCD in-charge the best they will do is rebuild and rebuild until the sheikh says enough is enough. United? Liverpool? Klopp can at best attract some talented young players. We are all familiar with how that goes. It’ll mostly come down to us or United. But, not everyone would wanna play for Maureen. Right? At… Read more »


You must be joking, right..?

Faisal Narrage

This is some level of delusion to believe we are a better choice for top players to come to if they want to win silverware, I give you that.

Some serious mental gymnastics performed here. I give you a 10 for the performance


Plaayers spoilt for choice won’t come to Arsenal, no chance whatsoever.


So three back vs city or revert to four in the back?


As I expected, he had to try something different. As he mentioned, likely it was a bee in the bonnet earlier but we just kept leaking goals and were porous at second balls in the midfield. The 3-4-3 will still take some getting use to and you can see the team was a bit cautious/tentative. Boro had some good chances from direct balls not cleared out and had it been a better team, we would have been punished. But this system is certainly an option and as I mentioned if the Bosnian LBack is brought in, it gives you a… Read more »


A good three points. Wasn’t so convinced by the new system especially in the second half. Seeing it was the first time we used it, may be it’ll get better with time. As usual Arsene stumbles on a tactical switch for the top 4 run-in. I hope it’s not too late.

Lord Bendnter

I don’t wanna make too many judgements just yet.

Did something happen with Sanchez’s contract? Did he sign that ting??? I’ve never seen him this happy before (at least in recent times).


maybe he’s happy because the team he plays for actually won a competitive football match?


I’m happy that we won but once again we were a shambles defensively. Especially from set pieces. If it was not for M’Boro’s ineptitude we could have conceded two more goals easily. Work still needs to be done.

Wright on the money

No he just won a game that’s why Sanchez is smiling. You haven’t see it for a long time because Arsenal never win anymore.

In stead of thinking of it Wenger put stuff in to motion and try it you never know, like now find the door and get your ass out of the club.

Faisal Narrage

I know many would be against it, but personally I’d like to see Per in the centre of a back 3 flanked by Mustafi and Kos. I think that provides the correct balance in terms of CB attributes.


If everyone wins their match in hand, we are actually 3 points behind both United and Liverpool.


Why are you assuming we will win our games in hand, when we have lost 5 out of last 8 league games (even including last night’s result)?

Remember, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.


Maybe because I am also mentioning United and City in the assumption? We aren’t the only ones with matches in hand.

Faisal Narrage

If you assume the games we lost, we actually had won them, arse al would be top of the league right now.

If me aunty had bollocks and all that…

Don’t start assuming we’ve got points we haven’t got yet. You’d think you’d learn that much from this season.

Wyn mills

Yes it was a win, but Don’t get carried away. It was Boro. They’re absolute shite, but still ran us close.
Wenger will cling to any wreckage he can find.


Look, a win is great to have and I understand the players will feel their way back to their best, not do it overnight. So well done for three much needed points.

Having said that, I don’t believe we were sharp and focused at all and not competing. They played better but I felt that they were not competing at the edge of peak performance, as required by top sport, and not even matched by Middlesborough.

They harried us but we conserved energy in many situations without the ball


Self-delusion. That is the problem with Arsene. Does he think three at the
back worked? Not with dithering and hesitant Gabriel and plan less Rob! Petr Chec has passed his usefulness in the EPL, please, Wenger…stop gambling and trying to psyche the world! Kolscieny was all right…just! Against a team like Chelsea or even ManU, last night’s Arsenal lineup would have received a massive, massive drubbing. And…did anyone notice that the ball flowed freer and better during the few minutes, AFTER Alexis was subbed? Next season beckons ominously again!

Lula da Gilberto

I really loved that interview far more than I should have as a guy who thinks its time he leaves. Goes to show how conflicting this whole situation is. Would love Lee Dixon to have a role at the club in the future.

Save Arsenal, Sack Wenger

Let the Wenger loving muppets enjoy their win, won’t see too many more of them this season.

I love how he waits until the season is completely lost to try something new. What a bellend. Like moving Alexis out wide after we had so much success with him playing through the middle. I don’t care what he tries, he’s 10 steps behind every other manager. Just fuck off.

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