Wenger: I prefer a back four

53

Arsene Wenger says his preferred defensive set-up is a back four, despite the fact he’s been playing with a back three since last season.

The Gunner switched formation in an attempt to halt a terrible run of form and have stuck with it since, but the Arsenal manager used a back four in the 6-0 win over BATE Borisov and reverted to that when Shkodran Mustafi went off injured against Man Utd last weekend.

On top of the 33 attempts on goal they had against Jose Mourinho’s side, Arsenal had 23 against the Belarusian side, highlighting the benefits of an extra man further forward, and the 68 year old made it clear this was his preference.

“It’s my preferred system, four at the back,” he said, “but I adjust always to what suits the players best, the quality of the players, the balance of the team.

“I changed against Man United, because we were 2-0 down and put an offensive player on because we had to come back. But it can change.”

On the United game, Wenger continued, “We had a very strong creative performance with a high, high number of expected goals. And we had a poor defensive performance.

“I felt it took our players time to get into the game.”

It remains to be seen if he’ll stick with the back four for Southampton on Sunday, but sooner or later it feels like he’ll go back to what he feels most comfortable with.

53
Leave a Reply

avatar
newest oldest most voted
Big Mad Andy
Big Mad Andy

“Quality of players”. I wonder if he means qualities of the players or does he not trust the team enough to play the way he’d prefer?

Too Drunk To Be Offside
Too Drunk To Be Offside

Back 3 or back 4 doesn’t mean anything. When the stakes are high even a back 10 would leak goals.

myrtle
myrtle

Remember how everyone was clamouring for a back 3 last season as it ‘made us more secure’? Now everyone wants a 4 again, so ‘it will make us more secure’.
Absolute hypocritical nonsense. I still think the players we have are far better suited to a back 3/5. How anyone can justify switching formation after two stupid individual errors last match and an attack that created 33 shots is beyond me.

Tee Söng
Tee Söng

Surely, you realize that the vaunted attack that created 33 shots WAS a back four in a 4-2-3-1?

myrtle
myrtle

Ok true, but the first point still stands.

Sean
Sean

I wouldn’t say no to it if it meant getting Jack into the starting 11 without compromising the back 4.

I’d love to see what him, Özil, Alexis and Lacazette could do together ?

Dan Hunter
Dan Hunter

I heard when Wilshere was offered a new contract, this was his response:

““YOU COLD-BLOODED BASTARD, I’LL TELL YOU WHAT I THINK OF IT. I LIVE TO SEE YOU EAT THAT CONTRACT, BUT I HOPE YOU LEAVE ENOUGH ROOM FOR MY FIST BECAUSE I’M GOING TO RAM IT INTO YOUR STOMACH AND BREAK YOUR GOD-DAMN SPINE!!! NYAHAGHHAHAHH!!!!!”

Arsepedant
Arsepedant

WTF?!

Jarghs
Jarghs

He’s quoted The Running Man (Schwarzenegger).
As to why, beats me!

Cornelius P. Snuffington III
Cornelius P. Snuffington III

I wish you hadn’t told us it was a reference to something. I enjoyed it more when I thought it was just genuine crazy rambling.

Rarseclat
Rarseclat

Best comment of all times.

Goonerink
Goonerink

What have I started…

jack jack jack
jack jack jack

He won’t move to a back four until we have a good defensive midfielder to play in the midfield two.

The back three gives us an extra defensive player which allows him to play Ramsey and Xhaka in midfield and still remain reasonably solid. When (if…ever…) we buy a solid DM, then I think we’ll see a shift back to 4-2-3-1.

GooneRaP
GooneRaP

Or 4-3-3 formation with Wilshere & Ramsey alongside Xhaka at the base of the midfield? Ozil starts on the wings but a fee role like the case for Germany?

Lix
Lix

Better still, 4-3-1-2 with Ozil in the middle behind Alexis & Laca

Too Drunk To Be Offside
Too Drunk To Be Offside

Yeah a good defensive midfielder. Its only been almost a decade since the last good one we had was let go. We should be getting one any transfer window now.

Samgunz
Samgunz

Be brave Arsene and rotate between the 2 formations, most of the big sides can and do it a lot based on opposition rather than players at disposal. The fact we don’t or seem less flexible as a unit basically makes us come across as less professional and experienced, teams know this, teams take advantage by prepping and adjusting formations.

Santori
Santori

Exactly. It doesn’t have to be zero sum. Flexibility is a virtue.

Arsène

Thanks mate, I will

La Cassette
La Cassette

That he says it’s what suits the players he has might suggest he views a necessary change in personnel at the back?

Big+Mad+Andy
Big+Mad+Andy

I thought that. Seems weird to state that he can’t play with his preferred formation.

Mpls
Mpls

Or it is because we never seem to have a midfielder suited to sitting in front of the back four.

jack jack jack
jack jack jack

Exactly this

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

Maybe that’s what all the Nzonzi fuss is about

BidOnLard
BidOnLard

Well beibg flexible is best. Back 3 definitely seems to give us more defensive stability especially against stronger opposition (not counting brain farts). Yet back 4 does let us seize the centre an allow for Wengerball.

Big+Dave
Big+Dave

What you like and what the stats say are two different things and is probably one of the biggest problems whilst Wengers been in charge recently. As he’s aged he’s got stuck in his ways.

ArsenalManitou
ArsenalManitou

Here’s a thought. Kola can play defensive mid so could we not shift btw a back 4 and back 3 in game without a substitution? And even change back as needed. Shift Monreal to left full back, Kola as a shielding midfielder to the back 4 (Bellerin Kos Mustafi Monreal) and move Ramsey and Xhaka up the pitch. In game flexibility that might give us an advantage?

Post January Blip
Post January Blip

Kola would have to be precise with his passing. Not convinced though

Mpls
Mpls

Nope. We play enough players outside their natural positions as it is.

MeSoHornsey
MeSoHornsey

What this team needs more than anything, regardless of formation is a neat and tidy, technically astute holding midfielder who doesn’t panic when pressed.

Funnily enough, there’s this guy who 3 seasons ago was motm for nine England matches running as a holding playmaking midfielder. ?

Ozenal
Ozenal

Niles.

jack jack jack
jack jack jack

For fuck’s sake, if Jack is now the proposed solution to the DM question, just fold the fucking club and go home.

Lix
Lix

Ozil is your man then, at least he does it for Germany at times

Dave
Dave

I think it’s never been a question of back 3 or back 4. Whatever formation we use the problem as always been Wenger’s idiosyncratic way of building play from the back. If he continues to leave one player (Xhaka) doing all the build up, we will always struggle against teams that press us high up the pitch. Not every player is Santi Cazorla and can do that job on their own.

PFo
PFo

Good point. But a formation that has 3 in midfield instead of 2 very probably compensates for this idiosyncrasy at least a little, since, e.g., a three man midfield of Xhaka deepest flanked by Wilshere and Ramsey (a Barca-style 4-3-3) would almost inevitably involve one or the other of Wilshere and Ramsey offering themselves as a passing option alongside Xhaka a lot of the time when the backline has the ball, whereas the 3-4-3 we’ve been playing–especially with Ramsey constantly joining in the attack–almost *requires* Xhaka to be on his own most of the time.

I’d play:
Cech
Bellerin Mustafi Kos Monreal (until Mustafi comes back, I’d either bring in Kola and move Monreal inside or bring back Per; I like Kola, but I think a little time on the bench won’t hurt him; his time will come)
Ramsey-Xhaka-Wilshere
Ozil-Laca-Alexis

This side has great quality, and the midfield has a nice balance of skill sets. Some people will worry that the midfield isn’t defensive enough, but, while it’s not ideal, I think it’s the best of what we’ve got in the squad, and it would allow us to bring an in-form and very talented Jack Wilshere back into the team, giving him a chance to prove he deserves to stay there. Both Jack and Ramsey are naturally box-to-box players who know how to contribute without the ball, so if they both play with discipline and take turns going forward, we’d have considerably more solidity in deep midfield than we currently have, though we’d lose some of that ability to make last-ditch defensive clearances and blocks that a back three gives us. But personally I think an extra man in midfield–control in midfield, and ability to beat a press–counts for more than an extra man in the middle of the defense.

(The fullbacks would also have to be a bit more conservative, obviously–another reason to prefer Nacho over Kola–though they could still push forward to provide width.)

The other potential weakness is a lack of width (this is typical of a 4-3-3), but the mobility and ridiculous quality of the front three (plus several very handy attacking subs) should make that a non-issue.

Ozenal
Ozenal

Since our game is about creating and blocking passing lanes, having an extra midfielder does make sense.

With Coqzorla we had both someone who could create those lanes from deep and two pivots who could block passing lanes.

Would wilshere, ramsey and xhaka provide the right balance?

Having Jack as a passing option nearby will improve Xhaka’s passrate immeasurably.

And Xhaka wont be singled out by opposition presses as much. As always opposition teams do their homework so it is always good to consider how a team can adapt. And always good to keep an opposition guessing 😉

Gunnersaurus\'s left boot
Gunnersaurus\'s left boot

Issue with this is that you’d end up with a very congested centre and no real width. Özil and Sanchez love to come inside and we’d likely end up with them all getting in each other’s way. Yes, you could say the full-backs would provide some width but that leaves the two at the back terrifyingly exposed.

PFo
PFo

I agree it’s a potential weakness of the system, but we played this way against United and it wasn’t a problem (Ozil was functioning in a three with Xhaka and Ramsey, not as a number 10), and width wasn’t a problem. Germany played this way when they won the WC (Ozil playing in front 3) and width wasn’t a problem. It requires rapid intelligent switching of positions from our creative types, which they are more than capable of doing, as they showed against United.

Gunnersaurus\'s left boot
Gunnersaurus\'s left boot

And just read the whole comment and realise that’s exactly what you’re saying albeit with a little more optimism. Doh.

Lula+da+Gilberto
Lula+da+Gilberto

It is better to have the choice of one or the other.

Blocks
Blocks

Iwobi is ahead of Jack in the packing order, even Welbeck and Giroud. Moving to the back 4 will mean Ozil play in front of the midfield 2 and one of them filling up the position on top.

Sanchez Lacazette Iwobi
Sanchez Lacazette Welbeck
Sanchez Giroud Lacazette

That’s how I see it in front.

Matt
Matt

I prefer a new manager. Thankfully it will happen either this summer or the next.

Bryan Clayden
Bryan Clayden

No it wont?it’s much more likely that Wenger will sign another contract after his current one.I don’t understand why all of a sudden people believe this is Wengers last contract.he will want to carry on himself and has is boss Kroenke tucked away in his back pocket

kas
kas

Another contract! please no Wenger.

Olivije Žirod
Olivije Žirod

I really like playing with 5 at the back. We are so much more balanced and it really suits to our CBs. Nacho is always dangerous in the final 3rd. We are also not so vulnerable on the counter. The only problem is we are not so dangerous through the right side because of Bellerin. Attacking wise he got worse.

But if we want to go back to 4 at the back then we need to bin Ramsey. We need a more disciplined and especially quicker CMs. Ramsey and Xhaka are both slow. You can’t afford to have two slow CMs.

midgunner
midgunner

We don’t have good enough centre backs for a back four

PFo
PFo

A bit simplistic, perhaps, but some truth to it. I rate Mustafi ok, but I think we should be looking for an absolute top quality CB to partner and ultimately replace Kos. It’s hard to say whether that or a top quality CM is more crucial. Probably depends on what happens to Jack and on Xhaka’s form.

Wild bill
Wild bill

This site really is banging the drum for the return of the back four.

Igbo Amadi-Obi
Igbo Amadi-Obi

I think he should allow situations to determine whether it is a back 4 or 3. Rather than be rigid like Chelsea.

Thisisme
Thisisme

If Four at the back means we could play Jack I’d be for this. Mid : Ramsey + Granit | Amid : jack + Alexis + Ozil | Forward: Laca

Heavenly Chapecoense
Heavenly Chapecoense

If Four at the back means we could play Theo, I would for it.

nelsonCOYG
nelsonCOYG

I think players have to be rewarded for good performances, putting him in the first team once does not mean you have to play him forever, rotation is good ffs

Riku
Riku

Belle tin – kos– mon– ktank
Ramsey – Xhaka– jack
—ozil–Sanchez
———-Alex .l.

Christmas tree formation
Happy christmas Gunners