We all love a bit of moaning on social media don’t we?
We all think we know better than Arsene Wenger don’t we?
We all think we can make tactical substitutions at the right time!
We certainly all think that playing with the same formation week in and week out, regardless of the opposition and their ability and formation, is foolhardy as well. Or do we? Could just be me!
We all wonder what happened to the Wenger who played 442 domestically and 451 in Europe.
Well maybe we don’t all but most of us do even if we keep it to ourselves. The last two particularly baffle me when we all see our rivals changing formation and strategy from game to game. Sir Alex Ferguson was a past master and, it pains me to say it, but Brendan Rodgers has shifted formations from match to match and within game to superb effect this season.
Some may feel that with our current lack of striking options or at least variables Wenger’s hands are tied, or perhaps he has tied them behind his own back.
So considering all of the above and probably so much more, we have asked our readers and writers to get creative and to become Wenger for just one day. We have asked them to ignore Wenger convention, unless they love Wenger convention, and to select the side they would like to see assuming every CURRENT player is fit and raring to go.
Obviously it is a bit of fun but perhaps some interesting debating points or indeed pointers to next season may emerge.
Well seeing as it is my stupid idea we may as well begin with the Gunners Town team and I will kick it off.
Most of you know I favour a reversion to the old formation and until now many have suggested that a two striker system is outdated. Perhaps the success of Liverpool and Manchester City might throw doubt on that view?
Either way, I would love to see something similar to the old Wenger teams. I call it 41311. The back five picks itself and gives the need for solidity and strength. Despite my affection for Mikel Arteta I would use Mathieu Flamini. Ahead of that I would like to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, right midfield, Aaron Ramsey central and Santi Cazorla left midfield.
Ahead of them I would position Mesut Ozil as a true 10 in the old Bergkamp position behind the pace and intelligent running of Theo Walcott. From my perspective this is not a reflection on the ability of Olivier Giroud more a desire to operate in a system that allows our best players to play in positions that optimise their strengths.
Ryan Rocastle, son of a legend and a very wise fellow is on the same wavelength.
He too wants to see a return to a variant on the 442 and the only change is he opts for Arteta deeper in a diamond.
GK: Wojciech Szczęsny – Rate Lukasz Fabianski very highly but making Woj number two could see him leave us and he’s potentially a world class keeper for ten plus years.
RB: Bacary Sagna – Best right back at the club and one of the best in the league.
CB: Laurent Koscielny – Wouldn’t swap him for any other centre back in world football.
CB: Per Mertesacker (C) – Has formed a brilliant partnership with Laurent. Reads the game excellently and gives us fantastic leadership qualities. I would give him the captaincy in the summer.
LB: Kieran Gibbs- Has the pace that Nacho Monreal doesn’t.
CM: M Arteta- Has the best tactical awareness of all our centre mids and is missed most when not playing, although a younger superior version of him is needed in the summer.
CM: A Ramsey- Our most all round midfielder simply has to play and centrally.
RM: A Chamberlain – Gives us pace, skill, trickery and width.
LM: S Carzola – Not his biggest fan on the wing although a striker who likes to run in behind the defence will suit him a lot more. One of most creative players and therefore need to find a place for him in the team.
SS: M Ozil – Our best player and the guy who makes us tick. Needs to play with a striker with good movement and forward runs.
ST: T Walcott – See Ozil. Although I would prefer us to go big on a specialist striker in the summer and move Theo back to the wing.
Chris Mader also sees a system without our big target man but more a 433 that allows Jack Wilshere into the first eleven
His formation is a 433 or 4213 which picks the settled back five of Szczesny, Sagna, BFG, Kos and Gibbo.
Ahead of this, he would have Jack Wilshere and Ramsey taking the defensive part in midfield with an option to go join the attack with one holding his position.
Özil would be in the middle of things flanked and protected by Wilshere and Ramsey conjuring his magic. Lukas Podolski and Cazorla would form the attacking flanks with Walcott in the middle.
Now that is an innovative team – vorsprung durch technik Chris!
German Gunners 11.
Steve Wellman concurs with Chris above when it comes to the formation but opts for Flamini ahead of Wilshere.
He feels this is Flamini’s natural role and he will for the dirty works with no questions asked, whilst it is not so natural a role for Arteta, and therefore it slightly alters to 4123 in essence
He goes for more natural pace in attack with Ox slotting in alongside Walcott in preference to Podolski.
Wellmo’s Far Side 11
Fabien Vincent prefers to stick with the settled formation used by Wenger when all are fit and well. However he springs a surprise in defence!
Even if Fabianski was good each time this season (and would deserve a starting place in most of PL teams), Szczesny is without a doubt the man to keep clean sheets. He often has little work to do, but each of his saves are vital.
The defensive line is made with our four best defenders. Sagna is a real soldier. Per and Kos are without a doubt the best CB pairing in the league. I’ve put Thomas Vermaelen at left-back, where he’s able to provide, in my opinion, a better defensive job than Gibbs or Monreal for the moment.
Flamini is providing the best job as “guarding” midfielder, as long as he stays in his own side and patrol. Ramsey is one of the best PL prospect for a box-to-box role, very good on challenges and tackles and able to increase the pace forward, breaking opponent lines and/or finishing in front of the net. His association with Özil will be the basis of this team in the next few years. The German’s passing and ball protection skills are certainly the best in the world, and he and Ramsey are already combining with their eyes shut on the field.
Walcott is key to breaking a strong defence. His speed is a real threat while used cleverly. Cazorla is a consistent, versatile midfielder, who can exchange position with Özil from the left. The Spaniard is fitting well with Wenger’s vision of a technical left “winger” who can cut in the middle. Finally, Giroud is a vital player, keeping the pressure on the defensive line, strong in the air, very helpful to create spaces in and around the box.
At Gunners Town we value Clive as a tactical thinker and writer and set this task he was never going to let us down:
“It is question I always ask myself – If I had to pick an AFC team for my life what attributes would I want to see, what partnerships, what level of dynamism, height, physicality pace and what levels of pure technique do we need.”
Told you he was a deep thinker! Back to Clive…
The Bayern game is one where I judged the team. You see what you need clearly when you play a superior team. You look at Bayern and it was a case of round pegs round holes. Players wide with pace, players central with size, technique and strength in the tackle and in possession. Centre Mids with vision and pass selection and provide the stability and continuation of ball movement needed.
Defensively agile, forward-thinking full-backs with pace to attack and recover. Central defensive partnership solid competitive and in tandem.
Wide attack. Important we have players out wide who know their job is to penetrate and score. Make runs off a pivot CF.
What formation – for me it’s a 4-2-3-1 as we currently play
Back five picks itself.
Szczesny – Number 1, right age and maturity growing week by week.
Sagna – Our number one RB.
BFG – Captain, leader, composure.
Kos – Defensively excellent, a raw defender with pace and sharp decision making.
Gibbs – Fluid defender/winger who needs to learn more positionally and IMO needs to add physical domination to his game and not just rely on pace going forward. Sometimes you just need to smash someone. His crossing needs to improve also.
Diaby – Some won’t agree but Abou Diaby’s talent, size and movement makes him, in my opinion, a perfect CM who has a game that dominates. His size allied to technique and his ability to drive forward if needed but it’s his presence and the message it sends to opponents. His performance at Anfield last season was the best AFC centre mid performance I have seen for years.
Ramsey – He is the go to guy. He is the one that always comes to the ball but this season his selection of running lines when to go and when to stay is so much better, his strength and presence in the tackle is excellent – what he did to Steven Gerrard in the league game was just peerless then topped it with a great goal.
Walcott – A player who is better off the ball than on it. His cutting savage lines he runs just are eye catching. His desire to get in means we have a CF who plays wide but is so much harder to mark from those positions as he is not marking himself centrally.
Ozil – Imagine him in an armchair with the OX, Ramsey and Theo running off him and Giroud always available. You just have to give him options and he will chose the right one every time
Ox – I like him left and think he could develop a relationship with Gibbs. He could operate slightly narrow but coming in on his right foot and sort of underlap and support Giroud and shoot. This position develops him as a centre mid also and stabilises us wide and central.
Giroud – Lacks pace but as a pivot CF he is excellent. With the drive from Ramsey, Diaby, Ox and Theo we would naturally push teams back. The closer to goal Giroud is the more effective he becomes. He is a beast physically but on the halfway line he can become discouraged. We need speed around him to drive him on.
Billy Dunmore and Alex Burns
Billy and Alex both opted for what I believe if all were fit and healthy would be the selection of Wenger.
DF: Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs
MF: Ramsey, Arteta
ATT: Walcott, Özil, Santi
In my opinion, this is the best possible team that we can play this season when all of our players are fit.
“The back five is not debated at all to my knowledge. The middle two of Arteta and Ramsey offers a balance of defensive cover and offensive drive (Ramsey’s bursts help the likes of Özil and Cazorla). As for the attacking four, Walcott is an outlet who can finish, Özil is a wizard who has begun to develop a good understanding with the smaller Spanish version (Cazorla) and Giroud is our best striker.
My selection of the 4-2-3-1 formation is simply because it’s what I’ve seen recently and what I know works”
Our popular Friday columnist, like Ryan and I, would use a two-striker system but has a different take on it.
Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Flamini; Wilshere, Özil, Ramsey; Walcott, Giroud.
He puts Wilshere and Ramsey in box-to-box roles with Flamini sitting as a midfield destroyer. Özil has a free role, linking with Walcott who is playing off the focal point of attack – Giroud. This leaves Walcott to drift across the park a la Thierry Henry and use either flank to attack from.
I will finish with another GT writer favouring Ozil in the Bergkamp No.10 role, not because I am biased but because Woody was late to the party.
Woody goes with the same back five as the majority and then opts for a 411 ahead of them. He has Diaby and Ramsey in the centre with Cazorla left midfield and Rosicky on the right. He then has Ozil playing off Giroud. I am guessing the pace and running on with have to come from the flanks.
Let the debate commence!
Well there ‘s some food for thought and in part two we will see what the readers and followers of GT who wanted to contribute to the debate had to say!
Who would have thought back in August that 10 regular Arsenal observers, fans and and bloggers that all 10 would have Ramsey in their first choice 11 and only two would select Jack Wilshere?
Who would have thought that any would have a starting 11 without Cazorla after his stellar first campaign?
Is it a surprise that Abou Diaby is still in our thinking or that Nacho is not selected in anyone of the 10 teams?
I guess it is slightly surprising that a majority would not play Wenger’s 4231 in it’s current guise in once sense but many want to see more pace and running up front.
I think Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Ozil and Ramsey are in all 10 selections.
It is a great debate and this will continue when I bring together Part 2 featuring the selections of Gunners Town readers, which offer a few more surprises.
Until Part 2….
Passionate 50+ ST holder who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since. He set up up his own site 1 Nil Down 2 One Up which he has now sold and since the summer of 2013 with a friend he launched a new project to offer new and aspiring Arsenal writers a home. Gunners Town is that platform and Dave writes here too. He is also the author of 2 Arsenal related books.