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Maybe we need a new (old) formation. A return to Chapman?

By Tony Attwood

In the run up to the last match Billy the Dog wrote a piece in which he suggested we play a forward line in which the players adopt a quantum approach, during which, like sub-atomic particles, they could be in several positions at once.

This got me thinking – as I understand nuclear physics the point is that you cannot know the position and speed of a quantum particle the same time.  Or something along those lines.

Now I don’t want to get all entangled (there’s an in joke in that word but don’t worry about it if you finished with physics aged 14) but the fact is that both Podolski and Walcott are playing where they don’t want to play.  And Gervinho is playing where he didn’t expect to play.

Podolski said, “I’d rather play centrally up front.  On the left I have to do a lot of defensive work, constantly running up and down. I am not a classical winger.”

Now one way around this is to play 4-4-2 which Mr Wenger used to speak very much in favour of.  Now he likes one main central striker who is also a link maker, bringing in the other players as well.

This is problematic enough, but with Olivier Giroud and Gervinho both starting as the central striker we have a problem of fitting people in.  Even 4-4-2 doesn’t help – we just play Giroud and Gervinho in the centre.

When Mr Wenger talked to the German media after the 2-2 at Schalke he said Walcott and Podolski were both “strikers” in a front three.

But this is not quite as it stands, because they are much more like wingers.

So is there a solution?   I suspect there are several but they are  not going to look like any of the current formations.  Billy’s answer was that the three keep changing positions in order to confuse the defence.

Here’s another – that one of the central players also goes for a wing wander in the style of Henry – you never know where he is going to be, but as he wanders one or more of the other forwards pulls in.  I think there are hints of this turning up but it is not working that well as yet.  I’ll come back to it in a minute.

But there must also be other formations that can work.   Remember for example the classic WM format that it is always reported was introduced by Chapman.

With this you have a back line of 3 with one big central defender.  Then two defensive midfield players.   Then two forward link midfielders, and then the three forwards – two wingers and a centre forward.

Now that sounds like it still leaves the same problem – but if we had that formation we could have Theo playing in a forward midfield role and using his speed to burst through with Cazorla playing the other forward midfield but in his case using his passes to break the defence.

When it comes down to it, it is not much of a change 3-2-2-3 instead of 4-2-1-3, but it could work.  The real problem is the defence going down to three, but with the defending midfield really tracking back, rather than playing in the sort of Song approach of rampaging up field, it might just work.

I am not 100% convinced – it is just an idea – but one way or another we have to fit Theo in and keep him happy.  The other solution takes us back to Henry.  With Henry the rule was “play in the centre and go for a stroll around the left wing”.   With Theo it could be “play right wing, but take the centre any time you want it.”

This is not a full wandering role – for Henry only played two positions – centre forward or left wing.  Pires knew when Henry was taking his position and so moved into centre forward.   It might just work.

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The books…

The sites…

8 comments to Maybe we need a new (old) formation. A return to Chapman?

  • WalterBroeckx

    So that could be with names:

    Keeper: Szczesny
    a back line of: TV(Gibbs) – Per(Djourou) – Kos(Bac)
    a defensive midfield of: Arteta(Ramsey) – JW (Diaby?)
    an attacking midfield of: TW(Rosicky – Diaby) – Cazorla(JW or The Ox)
    and strikers Pod(The Ox) – Giroud(Chamakh) – Gervinho (TW)

  • Gooner jack

    Lmao, Theo as a central midfielder? Ur having a laugh.

    Wenger has already identified an alternative formation that could help. Using three centre backs we could shore up the back line, allowing the full backs to bomb forwards without leaving us exposed to counters and relieving the need for width from the forwards (meaning more bodies in the box, hopefully). It also relieves the defensive duties of the midfield.

    The main problem with three centre backs is that you really need to practice it, as the cb’s can easily get in each others way. I think this might be why wenger had a moan about the international break causing a problem for defensive training, because he wants to introduce a new system?

  • ARSENAL 13

    with the 3 defenders…I think it will leave a big hole at the central midfield where Arteta plays now. BUT I am no pundit so dont know the details of it. I feel rotation can help than the change in formation.

  • Gooner jack

    @arsenal 13; not necessarily. You can keep a midfield three and play with two strikers, the width coming from the full/wing backs.

    Alternatively you can play with a floating number 4, ie a cb pushes forward into more of a holding midfielder role, the trick being to always stay within a limited distance from the other cbs (in truth there is little difference between this and playing a holding midfielder)

  • Gouresh

    and i thought football was a simple game.

  • rusty

    Three-man defenses made a comeback in Italy last year (I think Napoli led the charge, and had that a pair of great games last year against Man City), and now apparently City and Swansea have tried them out.

    I’m not sure, though, that it solves the fullback injury problems — while we could play Per, Kos, and Vermaelen all at once like last week, we’d still need two wing-backs, and if Santos remains out, I’m not sure who gets the left flank.

  • menace

    Theo should never have to track back and should always remain near the center. This will always allow for a rapid transition from defense to attack. Particularly corners we should always have one player in the middle of the park. The kicking technique is abysmal when it comes to shooting at goal. The phylosophy of passing the ball into the net is tiresome without rapid aggression. The Art of Kicking is the only way to resolve the scoring shortage.

  • Wooby

    Tony, I have thought about the team moving to a 4-2-1-3 but that potentially opens a big gap between the FBs and Theo/Poldi up front. I wonder if a more balanced approach maybe to go with a 3-4-1-2 and rotating Theo, Giroud, Poldi + Gervinho. For example, we could have the following teams (second team in a parentheses):

    Chesney (Mannone)

    Kos – Per – TV5 (JD – Squillaci – Miguel)
    Sagan – Arteta – Jack – Gibbs (Jenkinson – Ramsey – Ox – Santos)
    Cazorla (Rosicky)
    Theo – Giroud (Gervinho – Poldi)

    We would still have Diaby, Coq, Arshavin, Chamakh and youth players (Eisfeld, Gnabry etc) available in case of injuries.