Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Boss tempted to go old school with two up top

Arsene Wenger has praised Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud after their decisive contributions in the 3-1 win over West Ham last night.

Responding to being taken off at Wembley on Saturday, the German scored two while Giroud – the subject of intense criticism lately – scored perhaps his best ever Arsenal goal to put the Gunners ahead on the night.

Speaking to the press afterwards, the Arsenal manager said, “When the team went through a bad patch with a lack of confidence, because some results went against us, the first to suffer are the strikers in a period like that, so you have to slowly rebuild that with results and with resilience.

“Olivier is a great guy with a great mentality. He has gone through a difficult period, as you know, and I think it affected his game for a while and his confidence.

“You could see that he was refreshed tonight and that he was up for it. At half-time he came in, he was very very down because he missed a great chance in the first half, but he responded very well in the second half because he’s mentally a strong guy.”

And Wenger revealed that he’s been tempted to revert to a more old-fashioned system with two strikers, rather than asking Giroud to continue to plough a lone furrow up top.

“I am tempted but I have so many offensive players, who all want to go in the middle, and Lukas is the only one who is really a wide player.

“I played him centre forward a few times and I felt he came a lot to the ball, more like an off-striker than a target striker. But he is a fantastic finisher because he has unbelievable power and a very short backlift. So the one you want to have a chance is him.”

It would be something of a risk changing the system at this point of the season, especially with Ozil and Ramsey back to add that bit extra, but maybe in the longer-term it’s something we could consider.

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boom boom poldi!!

I dream Arsenal

Playing Podolski and Giroud together can be fruitful, GIroud knocking ’em down and Poldi finishing..What a scene!

Right Bacary Sagna

Have someone up there just for moral support for Giroud.. “G’won Son, have a POP!”


Amazing how people say Giroud’s is better playing with a runner *and rightly so* but aren’t that objective towards Podolski. Brother can really finish. Something I think we should have tried earlier, so see that happening this season or next as Poldi might no longer be here.


We know that Podolski can finish, he can score goals from out wide though, his problem has been getting beyond defenders and into promising positions.

Last night he worked hard and took chances to get by defenders, he’s not a dribbler who will beat defenders but he has to be clever with movement and he has great technique to set chances up for himself. I really think it comes down to his attitude, he could be a 15-20 goal a season wide player if he worked like that each week.

Dick Swiveller

I think AW made a good point with strikers being the first to suffer when the confidence goes, we haven’t been able to create much for them and Poldi definitely needs the ammunition for his howitzer to be supplied for that movement to actually pay off; having said that though, he does look more likely to do something when he’s working harder…


Didn’t he score 16 goals last year?


In my opinion the key last night was the tactical move from Wenger that used Kallstrom between Vermaelen and Podolski so the German was cover in the defensive prospect


That and Vermaelen naturally not overlapping as much and leaving space behind so frequently as with our normal fullback play.

Peanuts Peanuts

Maybe Wenger won’t have to sign another striker after all?




don’t be so delusional
We need a world class striker to be more competitive




For fuck’s sake play 4 strikers if need be. Just do whatever you have to do to get us in the top four, please.


So 4-4-2 would look like this:


Me likey.

Pete The Dane

Me not likey. That’s a fucking terrible line up for a 442.

My Name Is Difficult To Pronounce

Yeah. I think 4-4-2 should be kept as a Plan B, which we never seem to have.

In fact, more of a 4-1-3-2.

Goalie: Szcz
Defence: whoever our defenders are

Here’s where it get’s interesting:

The 1 in the 4-1-3-2 will be either Ramsey or Diaby whiule the other pushes up as part of the ‘3’ with Ozil and Cazorla.

Forwards: 2 of Giroud, Walcott and Podolski

My Name Is Difficult To Pronounce

Obviously assuming that all our players are fit and available. Which I admit is very naive.

Jack Action

Diaby? You’re kidding right? When we have Oxlade-Chamberlain or Rosciky or even Wilshere soonish, you’d play a crocked never-was-that-good Diaby? Am I ever glad you aren’t manager.

My Name Is Difficult To Pronounce

Diaby was destined to be the next Yaya Toure.


Well it could somehow work. When you consider how ManCity plays when they play 2 upfront and then you substitute Özil for Silva (both don’t defend a lot), Cazorla for Nasri, Ramsey for Yaya (more attack minded CM) and Arteta for Fernandinho (more defensive of the 2 CMs). Would be pretty similiar wouldn’t it?

My Name Is Difficult To Pronounce

Who the fuck thumbs these down haha?


Bloody hell… Have you ever watched football before?


I don’t. Look at how open that would be. 4-4-2 would waste the talents of players like Ozil and Cazorla because they’d have to track back more and would be stuck out wide. There’s a reason that the game has shifted to a more dynamic midfield.

Jack Action

Agree. It’s either Ozil or Cazorla. Only under special circumstances would you play both together. If you were going to play a 4-4-2 we’d need to play the diamond midfield ideally because a) we have three excellent attacking midfielders (Ozil/Cazorla/Rosicky) to play at the top, Some very good box-to-box young midfielders in Ramsey/Wilshere/Ox/(potentially Arteta) and OK defensive midfielders in Arteta/Flamini/Kallstrom. We don’t have flank midfielders with the wheels to get up and down the sides unless you consider Walcott and Gnabry midfielders, our width generally comes from Sagna and Gibbs pushing up. If Walcott were healthy I’d start him as… Read more »


Poldi has a firecracker of a left boot. Giroud, for all the criticism, will give everything in a match when we’re being over-run by teams. Obviously we lack a “Plan B” at times, but Oli is a decent forward to have and people should remember that when form slips. Again, Poldi, is a great player when form strikes him. He isn’t the type of player who will chase back for 90 minutes but, give him a yard in the box, he will unleash hell! Perhaps a system whereby Giroud plays up top with Poldi “alongside” him could work, essentially we… Read more »

Az Ahmed

Everyone fully fit, a 4-4-2 could look like this: Szcezcny Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs Cazorla Flamini Ramsey Oxlade-Chamberlain Walcott Ozil The thing is, with a 4-4-2 I think you need two pacy wingers, and it would be difficult to fit Podolski in to that system. I am not a fan of Giroud, as my previous posts clearly show. He scored a brilliant goal last night, but he is not good enough for me. Walcott is far better than Giroud and he is a proven goalscorer, and he wants to play up front. It is a perfect fit. Ozil, for me,… Read more »

Az Ahmed

Lots of Giroud fans I see. Well the thing is, Giroud has shown he is not Arsenal class with his piss poor performances in previous games. Arsenal class is someone who can perform against big teams, someone who can be the difference maker like Bergkamp and Henry were. Giroud is good against the smaller teams because he can do his lamppost impressions against them and still look like a world class striker, however, he is nothing but international class. It’s not his fault. It is the manager’s as he has decided to stick to him and not sign a new… Read more »


Before you try to make Giroud look bad by comparing him to Bergkamp and Henry consider the following:

1. Nobody is like Bergkamp or Henry.
2. What was the rest of the team around Bergkamp and Henry?
3. Comparing anybody to those two in their prime is daft.

Rambling Pete

To be honest I think that would be a good idea. It doesn’t even have to be 442 but perhaps there’s a way of re-organising our midfield to accommodate a player to support the main striker. It would certainly offer more attacking threat and it puts me in mind of the great strike partnerships we’ve had down the years. Who can forget Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry? In fact, there was a time when Bergkamp used to live quite close to me and I would see him around occasionally at the local supermarket or just in the area. Sadly I… Read more »


rambling pete really should have his own regular section on arseblog at this stage!


Where is it?! Where is this man’s blog? I need some of this in my life. Always hilarious and strangely captivating.

I’m at work now and guffawed loudly and heartily at a decibel level that drew the attention of all the adjoining desks but the image of a middle-aged man in his bedsit happily sitting in his underpants and planning his latest gloryhole rendezvous was just too much…Brilliant!


I thoroughly enjoyed that read.


Is it possible to publish a collection of Pete’s rambles?


rambling pete is a genius. a character from a chris marker film.


Curiously enough, I’m having a break from civilization (I) to read arseblog… Wouldn’t take that as a sign though.


HFB and Loic Remy up front looks interesting!


I’m assuming Flamini or Sanogo thumbed me down?


Or walcott or wilshere


Or someone who saw how a central midfield of Ozil and Arteta would leave our entire team exposed. Ozil would play so far away from Arteta that Arteta would have no one to pass to and even if he didn’t, both of them would be completely physically overmatched in central midfield.

Dick Swiveller

That’d be okay though, as Rambo would drift infield as Poldi drifts out left to work the channels and Cazorla switches to the right looking for some space, might work out.


no pace
no width
no control of the midfield

Stuart Steele

One of the main problems imo of the last few weeks has been a distinct lack of movement off the ball.
Arteta has had a lot of stick recently, but there has been zero options ahead of him recently.
We play better with people wanting the ball, and also making better runs without it, hopefully Poldi can be inspired by his second half performance and continue that for the remaining games.

Stuart Steele

Sorry that’s not strictly ‘4-4-2’ related..


Agreed. This has been the real problem and is also why Ramsey coming back is so important. It’s also why Walcott is so crucial to the current setup, noone else in the team makes the runs he does.


I like this idea, maybe try playing a diamond 4-4-2 with Arteta/Flamini defensive and Ozil in behind the front 2?


4-4-2 diamond

ramsey/wilshere + chambo/kallstrom

let’s do it arsene! gung ho for the rest of the season and let’s see how those everton boys handle the heat!


Always thought we needed a second player up top with giroud, if you look at how we set up when wallcot is in the team, he tends to drift in right next to giroud and obvs it gives the opposition defenders something to worry about then just 1 big man, with podolski next to him opponents won’t be able to attack us with as much freedom, also it would relieve poldi of his defensive duties that he obvs hates


Midfield of:


Ramsey to be a Parlour-esque wonder on the right. That midfield would be duck-butthole tight!

Not sure if Poldi could pull it of though, might start Giroud Sanogo with Poldi coming on at halftime.


4-4-2 is more of an overhaul than people realise (assuming it would be a permanent change). We’d need more powerful Y.Toure / Vieira types to run the middle of the park, and more outright wingers. That’s ignoring the fact that regardless of formation, we need a new striker or two anyway. I think the best thing to do would be stick with the 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 / 4-1-2-3.33333/Pi formation, get in the extra striker and eventually stock up on specialist, pacy wingers. It would add variety to our play and also make the competition for central midfield really fierce (Ozil,… Read more »


liverpool play a 4-4-2 diamond regularly with henderson, sterling, coutinho and gerrard. none of those are what you would call “powerhouses” and they seem to be doing pretty well. we need to get our best attacking players on the pitch and play on the front foot a bit more, especially in the remaining fixtures all against very beatable teams.


Henderson does most of their dirty work but I think they’ve got to where they are via their strikers’ and wingers’ blistering form. If they are going to defend their (likely) title, there’s still a fair bit of work their midfield needs.

I get your point to an extent, but we’ve had spoilers/shields in our team before (Flamini, Gilberto sans Vieira, Diarra briefly), and it hasn’t really got us anywhere.

Dick Swiveller

If we wanted to play it more conventionally sure, but having two strong-ish midfielders with a bit of panache in the middle and creativity out wide wouldn’t be a bad option.

I agree with a little more pace out wide, but would rather have a Theo-a-like to give us the goals (Reus if that’s possible…) but then again, if we get a good goalscorer as our new striker it’s less of a priority.

I dunno.

Not my job.


442 is better as it guards our flanks (something that has added to out poor form) also the supporting striker can also drop into midfield and help out if we are overrun – I think Walcott would benefit going through the middle with another striker up top with him

ArseCast Administrator 2_3

Hope not to hear anymore Giroud hating cos the goal clearly demonstrates his ability. People say its just 1 goal but the is forever. How many people can emulate Zlatans overhead against England? Giroud wasnt as spectacular, but the technique and skill he displayed was right up there with the top players. Dont be too quick to judge imo he had bad games, sure. but a few shit games doesnt automatically mean the player is shit. Dont cry ‘He is Shit!’ just because you watched 1 2 or 5 matches and he wasnt performing. I say he has the ability,… Read more »


It’s unsurprising that in the years since Arsene became obsessively committed to playing only one up top, we’ve had a procession of “second-striker” type players struggling to fit into the system and not living up to expectations: Podolski, Arshavin, Vela, Eduardo. So it’s odd that he hasn’t seemed to contemplate a return to 4-4-2 before. Perhaps its because we haven’t had the same calibre of central midfielder as in the past, capable of holding their own even against 3-man midfields.


Rambling Pete has me in stitches


I imagine if our holding mid has to be “big” and “strong” as opposed to a great passing accuracy, then Kallstrom over Arteta. But a glance oop north to Liverpool and the most effective recent 442 shows that provided your strikers have good movement your dm should have a good passing accuracy. And a tendency to cry.


why can’t we be flexible based on th opponents 4-3-3 , 4-4-2 etc and teh players available?


Why not go for broke and play a 3-5-2?


maybe next season when we’re top with an 11 point gap.


And to all the geniuses who responded with “Have you ever watched football before?!” I’d ask why you think we’d switch to 442 and expect the players to play with a 433 mentality? Our midfield is more organic than you give them credit for. Is Coutinho any better defensively than Cazorla or Ozil? Is Gerrard’s defensive game that much better than Arteta’s? As for Jordan Henderson vs Ramsey you’re all having a laugh. The only positions we are inferior to Liverpool are the strikers up top. Who knows, cater to Poldi’s talents and he just might bang them in weekly.… Read more »

Dick Swiveller

Thing is, they have Suarez and Sturridge. One of them can (and does) drop deep to give them more creativity from deep and flood the midfield whilst the other can run the channels and drift in from wide…it’s exactly the relationship Theo and Suarez would have had but that would have been nominally down as a 4-3-3, a style of play is never as simple as the numbers used to describe it.

Bring on the Cup!

And zero injuries all season. Take away the Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Wilshere etc injuries, remove a bunch of Champions League games, and I reckon we’d be bang up there with them.


This. Throw in real in the group, borussia in the first play-off round, an injury to one striker and a dip of form for the second and they may easily be struggling for 4th.
People somehow seem to overlook that city even with yaya injured, aguero only coming back and so much more difficult schedule outplayed them in the second half.


When Liverpool play Gerard drops to a third cb. Then passes 50 yards up field to sterling. If they lose the ball up field the opposition still have get 50 yards up field with fast players like continho, Henderson chasing back. We only have Wiltshire and ozil who can hit the 50 yard ball. This is probably not best method to play them. Having said that Tommy v. Hit a. 50 yard ball to giroud for the second goal last night! when Kim kaelstrom play long balls yesterday podolski for one signal to him to play short to feet. different… Read more »

Az Ahmed

Dont you mean Kim Shellstrum?

i want to boff bendtner and I'm not even gay

I know this sounds crazy but how about playing different ways at different times? Like playing 2 up front at home against shit teams rather than one who stands there getting mobbed by 3 defenders while our midfielders pass it about between themselves for hours on end? Maybe create a situation where opposing managers don’t know exactly how we are going to play year in year out? That sort of thing?

In principle, yes, but judging by the result our home tactics against shit team probably don’t need any changes.


OG plays much better when played 2 up front we saw that on sat in the fa cup semi. Also it gives 2 options for our midfielders to pass to.



depends. we could do this because Wigan offered little threat.

Against a better team, this could be foolhardy.

The Ox is a fox

Well, on the evidence of our ragged defending sometimes, there’s no formation! Formations are just an abstract description of positions regardless of what and who the opponents are. So, basically, a formation is valid only in the early phases of an attacking or a defending play. Teams will try to destablise a formation by dribbling and swapping positions all the times. The players who play will have to adapt quickly. To do that, players need intelligence, understanding of tactical changes and ‘the legs’ to carry out what is perceived necessary. What we lack to becoming a top team are a)… Read more »


Absolutely right.

Our formation is more flexible and lose than many think.

Much of it is more for structure particularly when defending.

Wenger is very free form when it comes to attack and prefers to give the players as much leeway as possible.

Sometimes this is to his detriment. But when it works, it is devastating.


Addressing the media, beleaguered manager Arsene Wenger looks down the amassed lenses and defiantly states “we’re going to play a four-four-fucking-two.

Stewart Robson's therapist

4-4-2! Yes! Thank you God! I’m not saying it will do any better for us, I just like it.

Bouldy's Tupee

A system similar to LFC may work well for us since our full backs like to move fwd. 4-2-2-2 would work. Our 2 CB will always defend and 2 cdm are deep creative MF whom can spray the ball across the field and defend anytime the opposition began to attack. The MF like Ozil and Cazorla naturally roam inside the box and will have the freedom to go wide or inside. We can have width from the wingbacks since they always move fwd crossing into the box. We have plenty of players who can play these multiple positions. Sczs Sagna/Jenks… Read more »


We have players covering multiple positions. In general we have two options per position : Sagna/Jenks………Per…………….Koscielny/TV……………Gibbs/TV ……………………Jack/Ramsey…….Arteta/Flamini/Kallstrom……… Walcott/Ox…………….Ozil/Santi/Rosicky………………Poldy/Gnabry ………………………….Giroud/Sanogo………………………………… There is an obvious shortfall up top only as much as Sanogo is still relatively young. Also a seeming shortfall at Cback but Wenger covers this differently. Kallstrom covers Flamini should he go RB and Sagna shifted centrally as a Cback. I haven’t even factored in Diaby and the forthcoming Zelalem. Anyone who thinks we do not have numbers is kidding himself. How to keep everyone happy has been as much an issue this season as has been a sudden depletion… Read more »


Giroud is the sort of striker that needs support close on hand. he isn’t the player bless with pace to independently beat his man. Podolski is lethal around the box and plays well with a big man (Klose) as a foil. So it makes sense (sometimes) to have both up front (or even Sanogo with one) OTOH, that will entail we are solid with our central midfield pairing. With Ramsey back (or Jack) next to either of Arteta, Flamini or Kallstrom, this may be a possibility particularly against lesser quality teams. Also important on the left (where Podolski will drift)… Read more »


GaP > SaS


I don’t think you need to change the system to achieve the two up top. It doesn’t have to be one system or the other – keep things fluid. You could just instruct Poldi to make runs on the inside channel + get close to Giroud as a second striker periodically. It would need one of the CM’s to pull across on a temporary basis to cover in the short-term. The dynamism will keep the opposition guessing as the opposition right back or right centre back may get confused on who should be marking/tracking Poldi so could create space for… Read more »


Would play more like a diamond formation if we want two up front with Ramset at the back of them, Cazorla on the left of it, Walcott on the right to stretch them more wide and with Özil at the head of them behind the strikers. Or Walcott can be put up front with Arteta at the back of the diamond and Ramsey on the left more

sh gooner

It is definitely something we should consider. Like I said a few days ago Podolski’s natural position is as a second striker. I have been thinking a lot about if we did play a 4-4-1-1 with Podolski behind Giroud and the impact that would have. Giroud is a great target man and Podolski is one of the best finishers in the league. It would also take a little pressure of Giroud. Wenger must try it in pre-season matches and it should at least be a back up plan.

Desert Fox

Would love to see us reverting back to the fast attack/counter attack where we used to pick teams off and were brutal. Whatever the formation, it does my head in when we have a great chance to break but then seem to pass backwards and slow it down.

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