Arsene Wenger has revealed that his persistence with a 4-3-3 formation is not based on maximising the potential of Robin van Persie, but rather a strategy which best makes use of all his attacking options.
The Dutch striker has been in top goal scoring form in the last eighteen months, notching 26 goals in his last 31 appearances and in the process becoming only the 17th centurion in Arsenal’s 125 year history.
Paying homage to his captain’s latest landmark achievement, Wenger explained that his protégé was the epitome of what it meant to be an Arsenal striker .
“He is a true Arsenal striker,” explained the coach to the Arsenal official matchday programme. “By that I mean that he can play in midfield or as a centre forward. But what makes him so special is the intention of his movement round the box.
“That’s a real quality. The timing of his movements around the box are absolutely exceptional. So if you are a good midfielder, you are guilty if you don’t find him with a pass.”
While many Arsenal fans have called on Wenger to revert to the 4-4-2 formation of the ‘invincibles’ era, the coach maintained that while Van Persie could thrive in any circumstance, his decision was based largely on the qualities of his other personnel.
“He has done well up front since we have switched to more of a 4-3-3, but I must say that I don’t play this system just to suit Robin, because I’m sure that Robin would be just as suited – if not even more so – as a second striker.
“He would score maybe fewer goals, but he can play with a real target man without any problems. But the players we have in the squad suit our formation. The players we have around Robin – whether that’s Arshavin, Gervinho, Walcott, Chamakh – they are not purely target men.
“So at the end of the day we have top quality players who are wingers, and once you play two of those, it’s difficult to add another striker up front with Robin as well.”