Friday, March 1, 2024

Wenger touches on tactics and the system

As I blogged this morning, the questions asked of Arsene Wenger at press conferences are usually maddeningly inane.

So it was no surprise when the Sky bloke asked the manager whether he was going to make a transfer (free agent), then took some trivial snippets from yesterday’s Huawei video to quiz Wenger about what Arsenal’s future would have been like if he had managed to sign Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba.

And he gets paid money for this.

Rather obligingly though, London Standard journalist James Olley, a regular on the Arsenal beat, was a bit more on point. He said that fans had asked him to ask the boss about the tactical system and how players are being used this season.

“It’s difficult for me to explain all the tactical changes,” he said, “but not a lot has changed. We failed in some big games last year and behind that is the thinking that we have to be more solid in some games. We conceded too many goals in the big games last year.

“We have to find a balance. Look, I added a striker with Sanchez. We have another striker, Welbeck. We have a lot of offensive players, with Ozil, Wilshere and Ramsey – and even Arteta when he plays is initially an offensive player.

“To find the balance we have as well to defend and I think we have to find a balance between attacking and defending. That’s why it’s not an easy subject.

Asked if the team were still adapting to the changes, Wenger said, “Yes … yes and no, there hasn’t been a big change since last year.”

All in all, there’s some amount of clarity now. At least we have the manager’s reasoning (to stop conceding in big games), and an admission that there’s still a measure of discomfort with the system, but hopefully it’s just growing pains.

And for the record, Wenger isn’t going to sign Joseph Yobo.

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Yeah but Yepes tho


He’s already signed for San Lorenzo in Argentina.


Yeah but only cos Lugano is signing, right?


I really like the odea of adding a truly “offensive” player. Someone who, in the tunnel, would be picking his nose and flicking the contents at the other team. A player who knows how to add insult to injury and literally rub salt into the wounds. Oh well maybe one day

Sheffield Goon

It might be because I’ve just had five pints of rather strong ale, but I didn’t understand a fucking word of what Arsene says above.


we have a tactical system?


Yes, illustrated in the article picture.


much lolz


Bloggs for Assistant Manager of Diagram Painting!

Mongolian Gooner

Be more solid? I don’t know, but the high line we seem to try to play with both full backs bombing forward relying on Flamini or Arteta to cover doesn’t seem very solid to me. Actually, the more defensively minded, disciplined approach we had last season was more to my liking. Then we were good defensively but lacked the runners to hurt opposition on the counter. Now that we DO have them in Alexis, Welbeck and Theo soon, we’ve started trying to overload the opposition box leaving no space at all for incisive combination play and runs in behind .Instead… Read more »

jack jack jack

You’re remembering the solid defensive displays we put in last season against the smaller teams. Not the completely shambolic efforts away at the big teams. This current system gives us the 3 in midfield, which gives us far more solidity in the centre of the park than the 2 (with Ramsey bombing forward) and Ozil drifting around doing little defensive work (but working his beautiful magic) at no 10. Our current system is more like the one Germany used in the World Cup. Anyway, as Arsene said, the world is full of tacticians who haven’t ever managed a game. They… Read more »


It doesn’t, though. We’ve conceded in every game this season except against the turks. We look more vulnerable, not less.


jjj’s talking on paper. The system practiced properly by the players might give more defensive stability. If the two middle midfielders are not both attacking the box. In reality with 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 it is still a midfield triangle. But with Jack and Rambo it is more attacking and less defending in nature. One’s got to hang back more and help cover. They’re just numbers on a piece of paper- it’s the players’ actual taken positions and movement on the field that determines how it really works. You could call it a 4-3-3 if you like with Arteta/Flamini most defensively… Read more »


Or could it be the change in defensive tactics… to have a line of 4 midfielders to press their back line immediately and win the ball back high up the pitch? Of which case it makes sense to push that aggressive midfielder higher up the pitch (Ramsey/Wilshire) rather than sit him next to Arteta. The problem with this is of course what we saw in the Dortmund game… if we can’t keep the ball long enough to have possession near the Dortmund goal, then we will have less people behind the ball when we lose it, giving them more attacking… Read more »


Last seasons system brought best and worst of Arsenal but it did work for the most part. Ramsey is really struggling this season. So is Ozil. Wenger should revert to last seasons system but adapt the team to match tje opposition. The team really struggles against high tempo first paced oppositions. We have a slow “defensive” midfield while frighteningly fast forwards. Wenger should build the team based on its strengths bearibg in mind its weaknesses.

But thats his business.


Wenger and adapt the team to match the opposition?!! That’s like using a double negative in a sentence…


Like Ferguson always did with unated against the big teams and taking points always from them home or away.

Sarson Vinegar's Frightening Sarnie

Eh? We conceded too many in big games last year but still we haven’t made any big tactical changes. The players aren’t used to the new changes yet, of which we haven’t made any. Do we only employ players from the autistic spectrum who are totally flummoxed but any alterations to routine? Wenger: ok wingbacks, I want you to ALTERNATE bombing up the wing so that we’re not left exposed at the back on the counter. Jack, release the ball earlier, you don’t have to dribble through the whole team. At corners, someone try and defend the ball/mark a man.… Read more »


Blogs, as an owner of the Crapsus 4 which had the same problem as your 5. I rebooted the phone twice. Worked. Now do that for all (and there are many) of its idiosyncrasies.

Hoosier Gunner

It’s AndroBlog. Not ArseBlog. #joke

Looking Forward

Did anybody, just anybody ask him why is he not playing Ozil in the correct position??


massive respect to partizan fans !

uefa to launch investigation for anti-semitic behaviour…lmao.. who gives a shit…

lets solve society’w problme through football….yee-hah…

piss off ..leave football alone… go find another ‘vehicle’ to promote your political correctness and fake sensitivities…..


you are such a complete knob. don’t you realize that they’re promulgating a political agenda? that they’re the ones spreading their toxic ideology through society, not the phantom pc crowd. neanderthal


Wait a minute…. are you John Terry?

Arty's Art

This is disgusting. It isn’t even enough to ‘hide’ it due to a low rating actually. Although, as a Jewish Arsenal fan, it does make me very happy that so many of you would down vote the comment.


And maybe you should go and find another ‘vehicle’ to rant incoherently about non-related stuff?

Hoosier Gunner

Don’t feed the troll, folks!


What did they do?


So its okay for tottenham fans to be anti semetic but not for anyone else. Now where have i heard and seen this attitude before?? Its all a load of bollocks

Arty's Art

So we now know what the 88 stands for then…


It’s not a load of bollocks, and it’s not okay for anyone.

Yankee Gooner

That banner was a disgrace.


I’m not defending the ‘Jews’ or the ‘pussies’.

However, ignoring those stupidities, was no-one impressed with the attempt made to use the ‘Fools and Horses’ logo for a bit of what those Partizan supporters saw as a bit of (misguided) fun? If someone from overseas made that effort for me I’d be impressed that they considered me worth the effort.

Especially if I supported Tottenham and hence had few mates worth mentioning.


This is such a massive load of bollocks. Look at the stats of the Dortmund game. If we were so much out of balance offensively, why did we only manage a handful of shots at goal all game?

4-1-4-1 is shite. Arteta as the DM is shite. Ramsey turns to shite.

Stick to 4-2-3-1, it wasn’t busted. Buy Carvalho FFS. Problem solved.


Guess we have to watch the dortmund match again to see how effective ozil really was.

this aint FIFA bitches

should be ineffective.


We only managed a handful of shots because because we couldnt get the ball out of midfield and into the final third and keep it there. They pressurized us very well and all over the pitch. You can have a offensively weighted team and still attack poorly because you defense and deep midfielders get isolated when all the attackers push up and the other team marks tightly and close off your passes. Thats dortmunds bread and butter and going there playing like we did played right into their hands. But what you should remember is that lots of teams have… Read more »


Is there really that much of a need to change the system, maybe more the tactics – tell the FBs they will die if they go past the half way line. First goal against Citeh and Dortmund came from breaks when our full backs were ahead of the ball. No real need for it in a so-called big game. Yes, they give width, but even then, how many assists come from our FBs? That’s the sacrifice I would have made. But then I have never managed a team to an unbeaten season, so maybe I should just shut up and… Read more »


There are no tactics. There is no concept of creating space in the attacking third while there is a natural ability to create acres of space in the defensive third. We concede goals in big games not just because we have no fast defensive midfielder. The biggest reason is the most obvious and frustrating. Because we play with the vague idea that our outside forwards will pinch in to the middle our wingbacks push up into the attcking wide positions. Only trouble is that this is all haphazard. The Dutch are the best at this type of system, except theirs… Read more »


i agree. arsenal go out with the assumption that they’ll have the ball all the time. that’s how they train. they take no account of what the opposition might do. no tactics just a poorly constructed team that executes poorly.

az ahmed

“At kick off yes there is a 3 man back line. As soon as the ball moves to one side the outside back on the ball side pushes up, while the outside back on the opposite side of the field slides into the middle while the outside midfilelder on that same opposite side drops back to create a 3 man back line again.”

Erm….yes…erm…*squints…. WHAAAAA?

AN Other

One thing I don’t understand is why don’t journalists do this more often. It’s always simple hunky dory questions. Why don’t they ask him if indepth questions like why is Ozil is been played on the left if he will be better off in the middle, etc. The whole press goes away and not a single more important questions are tabled to Wenger.


I think they have to be quite generic in their questioning, they can’t ask some thing out right – if you know what i men

Mark Hughes

It’s supposed to be a press conference about the upcoming game and not an conference for in depth questions about everything going on at the club.

‘Why didn’t you sign a DM/defender?’ has no relevance to playing Aston Villa as the transfer window is closed and only free-agents are available but couldn’t be signed and registered in time for the game.


I get the feeling Ozil STARTS on the left to accommodate Aaron and Jack both into the squad. First, the heat map proves Ozil plays all over the place regardless of where he starts. Second, I feel if the team has to go through some growing pains to allow Jack and Aaron to learn how to effectively play at the same time, then Arsenal will be much the better for it. Jack and Aaron are 22/23 respectively, both on long term contracts, and both with huge potential. If we can deal with the learning phase this year and let those… Read more »


Yes lets sacrifice established players for the sake of potential. Gosh I heard this tune rehashed again from the days when we didnt have money. We have a big midfield, nobody not playing well DROP them!! If the likes of Ox and Jack wants to run into 4 players drop them. If the likes of Ramsey is off form , drop them. At this stage its not going to matter, we’re losing anyways, we’ve not played good football in a long time, the Citeh match was an exception. If Sczc leaking in silly goals drop him! Whats the point of… Read more »


So, in summary, it’s difficult because we have to find a balance between attacking and defending?!? When exactly did this particular epiphany dawn?


Well I hope that clarified something for some of y’all. I didn’t get jack s*** out of any of it. I, too, wish the journalist would ask more pointed questions but I guess that’s like asking a politician to speak straightforward, it will get you in trouble.
Idk, frustrated. Come on you Gunners, come on Arsene, let’s show some heart, creativity and at least a modicum of the butt load of talent we have on our team.!


yeah, while Arseblog concludes that “All in all, there’s some amount of clarity now.”

Wenger says ““It’s difficult for me to explain all the tactical changes,” he said, “but not a lot has changed. …”

I think he is completely bonkers, how is it that we are crowded out when attacking and left wide open when defending. Players are static. Many more teams play pass and move football better than us.

Wenger needs to go, I just hope Arsenal are lining up a good replacement.


Exactly, how we got “clarity” from 2 sentences where Wenger contradicted himself is beyond me!!! The players are having trouble adapting to changes that weren’t really made?? Huh???


I too would like to know all the answers as to what Wenger is trying to do. And so does 19 other EPL managers. I can’t think of any other sport in the world that the fans expect the managers to spell out their tactics. No good manager spells out there tactics. Why would anyone just hand this info to their competitors rather than force them to spend the necessary time to study and try to predict your tactics? We may all disagree with what we “think” Wenger is trying to do, but surely we can’t honestly expect he will… Read more »


Mr. Wenger you seem to be lost or confused, the formations is not the problem its the players who should be covering the attacking players and protecting the back four, that is where the problem lies, the attacking side of the team should be left to the five individuals in front, the individual(s) place should be the sweeper for the back four by cutting out attacks and also get plays started. Our present options lacks a positional sense especially when the opposition counters, lacks pace or the ability to keep up with the counter, lacks the capacity and strength to… Read more »


what’s most worrying is that wenger seems okay with getting hammered and humiliated. he’s bothered, but no overmuch. on with the next game and all.

Mark Hughes

Would you be stressed out and sobbing in front of the players if you lost or showing some backbone, keeping calm and not getting the players worked up into a frenzy and over-complicating things?


losing 6-0 to chelsea should cause you to tear the blueprint. to look proactively for solutions. or to at least make the team difficult to beat. but somehow, he’s okay with just letting it happen.


i’m not really referring to his manner, but the more the tactics (or lack thereof). if the passing game isn’t working, if the midfield’s not gelling, you try to protect the team, and trick to nick a point on a counter.

fresh prince

Nick you are obviously wrong. As paspartu seems to think, the players should know what to do when on the pitch because you know the whole point of having a manager isn’t telling the players what to do.

AN Other

My assessment is that both flamini and Arteta are too old to handle the holding midfielder job. You need pacey a individual who can get about a bit. Flamini is completely ineffective. Doesn’t break play, doesn’t distribute the ball well etc. Also, mertsacker is getting old and slow so he stays back as much as possible but that opens up the midfield for opposition players to run into.

Mark Hughes

You’re right 30 is too old to be playing football. Forget experience, ability to read the game and a stable partnership that is being left exposed time and time again; what we need are inexperienced young defenders to run around….


i think flamini just isn’t that good. he’s inconsistent, a decent enough player but he gets caught out. arteta was awful against dortmund — weird that arsine fielded him considering he’d obviously be rusty.


you can be older and be effective in the holding role.




People should know what to expect from wenger by now. He is stubborn but the worst thing about his stubbornness is it takes and embarrassment for him to rethink and change the obvious. He talks about everyone knowing everything but come the end of the season and we don’t win a major trophy it would be down to his flawed management and not lack of funds that he has been hiding behind for ten years now.

Mark Hughes

He’ll hide behind the FA Cup and throw the community shield at you.


The thing I don’t understand is Arsene passed on the chance to buy Fabregas because, as he said, Ozil has usurped his position. But that position sure as hell wasn’t left wing. The “we need to play Ozil at 10” thing seems like a massive oversimplification, but I still agree with it. Additionally, the 4-2-3-1 of last year was much more solid defensively, but only when our midfield pairing was Arteta and Ramsey. Hopefully Wilshere can find a role in it, but that would mean either playing him at 10 or having him be far more cautious with the ball… Read more »


i think his feelings were hurt. he was annoyed about cesc betraying him and let his pride get the best of him. adding cesc was a n-brainer. if only to strengthen your team and stymie chelsea from taking him.

Eric Blair

He had apparantly gone on strike to force his move to Barcelona through, if I was Wenger I wouldn’t have taken him back either. I don’t think Wenger has ever said that Ozil is in Fabregas’s position and that is why he couldn’t come back. Wenger is a classy manager and he would never enter a mud-slinging contest with those blue bastards across the city. An important piece of advice for Gunners everywhere. Forget Fabregas, he left us when we really needed him and for too low a fee due to his behaviour, and now he plays for the enemy.… Read more »


I’m surprised no one mentions a 4-3-3 formation. I mean with players like wilshere, Ozil and Ramsey in midfield and Alexis and cazorla on the flanks, i think we can control games. Keep position and the goals will come. Especially since we haven’t got a functional DM and our defence are horribly out of form.

Play to your strengths arsene!


I’ve also been thinking about a 4-3-3. As we all know, Wenger generally isn’t one to make big changes to the formation. Last season was almost entirely 4-2-3-1, with occasionally 4-4-2. So this discussion is purely academic, I reckon. The biggest problem I have with a 4-3-3 is where does Ozil fit in? He won’t fit into the midfield three, as he’s not really a central midfielder. Think of the type of players who do well in the midfield of a 4-3-3: Iniesta, Xavi, Pogba, Vidal, Di Maria, and in our squad you can see Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey playing there,… Read more »


Imagine how things would be different if we’d signed Isabella Rossellini?


I think we’d benefit from swapping out Ozil and Rambo for a few weeks, bringing them off the bench if need be. Santi and Ox should be starting in their place. How Ox isn’t starting every game at this point is ludicrous as it is. Everytime he’s come on he’s looked absolutely killer and provides that instant impact on games. This rest for Ozil and Rambo might be a solution to their dip in form, as game time clearly isn’t helping. Wengs said that it was a mental predicament for Ozil and I reckon this rest is needed for him… Read more »


why not give ozil a break? wasn’t the sentiment last year that he needed one during the winter to regain his sharpness. but now he’s being played to find fitness…?


Among other stuff that doesn’t make sense, I don’t understand not giving Campbell a go. He has come up through the school of hard knocks, like Sanchez. No nurturing academy, he’s been playing against men in one first division or another since he was 16. How anyone could think of starting Ox, nice non-scoring non-assisting falling-down one-dribble-too-many guy that he is, I don’t understand. Then again I am not English.

az ahmed

Exactly. Oxlade runs arraaahnd type of player, but his passing is a bit poor as is his shooting. Maybe he can play in the position Arteta is being made to play. At least he has pace, strength and is not a bad tackler.

fresh prince

A 4 3 3 still requires a DM otherwise who will do the defending. Unless your full backs don’t go forward at all?


Is that guy without any movement arrows Ozil?

Mark Hughes

It’s Arteta but he’s moving really slowly….

az ahmed

All the above. It is a metaphor for the Arsenal.

Toby C

If the aim is not to concede in big games, why are we only playing one defensive midfielder, why do our full-backs attack so much and why do we appear to be unable to retain possession?! Leighton Baines said last night that he and Coleman are allowed to get forward if one of the midfielders fills in behind them. What an amazing idea!

Man Manny

The impression I have from this article is that Arsene is changing tactics to forestall a repeat of the big defeats.
If that is the case, I think it would better to have a flexible system per match. The former formation served us well in the other games. Maybe that may explain our struggle in the games against Crystal lalace and Leceister city.


Am I the only one who thinks a diamond would work for Arsenal? Szczesny (Debuchy) Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs Arteta Wilshere Ramsey Ozil Sanchez Welbeck I really like the way Liverpool are playing a diamond at the moment, and one of the reasons it works is that they’ve got players like Henderson who run ALL the way back and ALL the way forward. Now, we’ve got Ramsey and Wilshere, both of whom have great stamina, and both of whom are better footballers. This formation gets everyone playing in their “correct” position, and stretches the game lengthways as Arsene likes to do.… Read more »


Also is there any news on Diaby? Is there actually a possibility that Wenger didn’t sign a DM because he genuinely wants to play the LANS card?


Like everyone else I have been wondering about the new tactics. We shouldn’t read too much into Wenger’s comments, as he obviously doesn’t want to give anything away, as he is famous for. I have my own guesses about what’s going on. Firstly, I think in the back of his mind Wenger is worried about Wilshere and Ozil. We all saw how Ramsey came alive last season. Wenger has spoken often about how it’s only a matter of time before Wilshere and Ozil start playing to their potential. Ramsey was so important for us last season, that even though he’s… Read more »


Frankly as I have mentioned before, this whole thing about tactical formation is a bit moot. Wenger likes to manage his team with the least interference necessary. his approach is a bit laissez faire and there are both positives and negatives with it. Recognising his strength is in the market and buying/developing players, his aim is to find a system to best express the greater strengths of the players on hand. Currently we are extremely strong in midfield (although you wouldn’t think it with recent perfromance. Thereby the idea behind the team’s current set up is to have a CF… Read more »




Arteta is so good at analysing games except when he’s on the pitch. Smh. You don’t have to be an expert tactician to get the better of wenger who would make the same mistakes every time. Losing key players in the last couple of years used to make me think our problems were as a result of adequate playing personnel. Now it’s a combination of both. Wenger ain’t no longer good enough at the elite level. Believe it or not, I absolutely love wenger (he’s such a great person beyond football). But sentiments aside, he’s past it. Mr. Gazidis, what’s… Read more »


Hi, lots of talk about tactics and formations, but, the reality is we passed the ball very poorly. Either to the wrong spot resulting in interception, to no one, given away, or too late, our midfielder with back to goal and a man on his back. If we execute those passes properly we succeed against pressing teams. We shit the bed. We used to be able to play quickly, with confidence and precision. I see a bit to much hesitation in our build up.

Az Ahmed

Formation is not the real problem. If you don’t work hard and have discipline during a game, then you will get destroyed. The entire team except maybe a couple of players was atrocious against BVB.


I think it time we try and play without a DM.
It seems the whole point of playing our current formation is we are acommerdating ozil , wilshire and Rambo
Why not go back to 4-2-3-1and play
Chamber, mert,kos – Gibbs
Alexis – ozil -Ox

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