Written by Sagar Tarkhadkar
The recent signings of Monsieur Giroud and Herr Podolski has excited Gooners all over the globe. Providing we keep our Captain Vantastic , we will have a fearsome attack consisting of 3 strikers who contributed to approximately 114 goals in the 2011-12 season. Add to that the pace and directness of Walcott, the dribbling, mesmerizing feet of Gervinho and the technique and youthful exuberance of the Ox, and we have a versatile front three providing an array of attacking options suitable for any kind of opposition on any given day.
However, a lot has been discussed about our midfield options ever since Fabregas and that ‘chinless guy who sits on the bench’ departed last season, in addition to the Wilshere injury. Honestly, Arteta, Song, Rosicky, Ramsey have done admirably well to steer our boat through the dark, muddy waters and get us to that 3rd place finish. But it is a known fact that to compete for the title and CL, we need an additional midfielder in the middle of the park, and as such we have been linked to defensive as well as attacking midfielders in the past couple of months. I won’t certainly speculate as to which specific player we should sign and we shouldn’t, because I feel that Wenger has a better idea than all of us as far as benefit of the team is concerned. But I would certainly like to contribute an idea, which I feel Wenger might implement next season, given his affinity for versatility he likes in his midfielders. I give you the Arsenal-Milan hybrid:
Arsenal for the past few seasons have played with a 4-2-3-1 formation, which can double up into a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1 whenever needed. Most of the attacking play goes through a central advanced playmaker, and two wingers who dash into the box, along with overlapping wingbacks. This attacking formation is generally supported by two central midfielders, one who is a box to box type, while the other who is more like a destroyer or a pivot as some like to call it. The main idea is to keep possession for as long as the playmaker finds a chink in the armor and provides a defense splitting pass to the strikers. The pivot shields the defence whenever the fullbacks bomb forward. The evolution of Song, from a destroyer to a more complete rounded midfielder has opened up a plethora of possibilities that Wenger can exploit next season. Given the rumour that Wenger is in the market in search for a defensive midfielder so as to exploit Song’s attacking instincts, and the fact that Wilshere is well on his way to fitness next season, we certainly seem to have an embarrassment of riches in the middle as we have them upfront.
Ac Milan generally play with a 4-3-1-2 formation in which the advanced playmaker/centre forward is shielded by 3 defensive midfielders, one of which doubles up as a deep lying playmaker(regista or the Pirlo role). This provides more stability in the middle, but somehow it lacks the width which can be exploited more in the English game.
In case we do sign a proper defensive midfielder as rumored, we can see Song/Arteta , the new CDM and Wilshere/Arteta lined up in the middle next season, which can offer us more stability in the middle of the park and help us boss the midfield . This is also favorable for the defence which leaked in 49 goals, most of them on the counterattack, due to Song’s and Vermaelen’s adventurous forays forward. As far as the playmaking role goes, instead of playing a proper trequartista, we can play two deep lying box to box playmakers who will share duties of both attack and defence, while the pivot maintains balance in the middle. We already have 4 apt midfielders of that box-to-box quality in Jack, Song, Arteta and Coquelin. In addition, we are fortunate enough to have someone of RVP’s caliber, who can mostly double up as a false 9, fall back and provide assists for Podolski and Walcott who can cut in. Giroud’s addition on the bench allows us to switch to a more attacking 4-4-2 in case we need to chase a game, as well as it provides RVP some rest. It also allows us to switch to our original 4-2-3-1 with Giroud as a target man against a few lesser teams.
On the attack, both the box to box players can playmake, keeping possession with the pivot. The wingbacks can bomb forward and switch with the wingers who can cut inside. On defence, all three midfielders can clog the centre thus cutting off all channels of the opposition attack, and then on the counterattack, RVP can fall back, thus temporarily switching to the Milan formation and allowing Podolski/Walcott to be temporary strikers in the box. The main idea is to always keep the pivot available to shield the defence and gather possession, forcing the opposition to make turnovers and avoid any counterattacks. Also, I feel that if we have a single playmaker as we do now, opposition can crowd him out thus making our attack impotent(as they did with Fabregas).
What I am suggesting is that we do not need to change our formation altogether but just tweak it a bit. Wenger likes playing to our strengths and as I mentioned earlier, we are fortunate enough to have many players who are versatile enough to play in more than one position admirably (RVP,Song, Arteta,Wilshere,Oxlade) Our already fearsome attack, but with a sprinkling of the Milan solidity will certainly help us win a few titles and put a smile on all Gooners’ faces. This is my first attempt at writing a post about the team that I love and I hope you all will certainly share your views on it.