I never look at team lineups. I “predict” them, which really isn’t too difficult, seeing as Arsène is as easy to read as John Terry’s lips. Ever since the end of the glory days, we’ve been playing some variation of 4-2-3-1, which works well for most sides, but not us. Not Arsenal 2012/13. We’re not playing with 3 strikers, none of which are in the correct position or formation. Why must Arsène be so rigid?
These past few matches, either Gervinho or Giroud have been given the role of playing as a centre forward, in what can be classed as a 4-2-3-1. There are two glaring problems: first, our squad doesn’t have a proper bruiser of a central midfielder with Diaby on the treatment table, and that hinders the effectiveness of our midfield at both ends of the pitch. Second, our strikers are all out of whack. Gervinho is played as a false 9 centre forward, being flanked either by a midfielder and striker, or a striker and winger. It makes no sense whatsoever. There’s no one size fits all solution to our dilemma, but we could always branch out and try something new. Say hello to my good friend, 3-5-2.
Theoretically, this solves just about every problem that’s been discussed about our current lineup. Giroud’s lack of support/service is remedied with an additional striking partner, our height issue is solved, with the use of all three centre backs and Diaby in the middle of the park, our crossing is taken care of with Gibbs and Jenkinson slotting in as wingbacks, and Cazorla will always have someone to pass to if everyone is willing to stick to their positions. When needed, our wingbacks offer 5 in midfield or in defense, not to mention a constant source of crosses for Giroud to set his sights on.
This formation also gives Theo the opportunity he so desperately craves to play up front alongside someone more experienced than him. Despite my criticism of him, he has potential that’s undeniable and obvious for everyone to see. There’s a reason why teams fear him. His finishing has vastly improved over the past calendar year, and he’s had plenty of time to clean up his game on the wings. He signed as a striker, he deserves a chance as a striker.
The best part about this formation is the balance it gives to the side, should it be implemented properly. Let’s say Gibbs’ injury is long-term (touch wood) and we’re stuck with playing André Santos on a more consistent basis. He’s not a left back. He never has been, and never will be. He’s a left mid/winger, so why not embrace it? Let him attack with vigor, and let the three centrebacks deal with the threat, while the other fullback tracks back to help out. The amount of flexibility offered here is unparalleled in modern football.
Obviously, there are some drawbacks. For example, should we use 3 centrebacks, it puts added strain on our current best three, leaving Johan Djourou and Ignasi Miquel as our only proper cover. Not the best solution, but one that could help Djourou and Miquel in the long run, seeing as they would most likely be called upon more frequently.
It may seem crazy to most of you, but it’s something that could work. After all, we did try it vs. West Ham and the world didn’t explode. Seeing as it’s Arsène’s birthday, I doubt he’ll care too much about this issue now, but it’s food for thought. Happy birthday big guy.