Thursday, February 29, 2024

Wenger: I prefer a back four

Arsene Wenger says his preferred defensive set-up is a back four, despite the fact he’s been playing with a back three since last season.

The Gunner switched formation in an attempt to halt a terrible run of form and have stuck with it since, but the Arsenal manager used a back four in the 6-0 win over BATE Borisov and reverted to that when Shkodran Mustafi went off injured against Man Utd last weekend.

On top of the 33 attempts on goal they had against Jose Mourinho’s side, Arsenal had 23 against the Belarusian side, highlighting the benefits of an extra man further forward, and the 68 year old made it clear this was his preference.

“It’s my preferred system, four at the back,” he said, “but I adjust always to what suits the players best, the quality of the players, the balance of the team.

“I changed against Man United, because we were 2-0 down and put an offensive player on because we had to come back. But it can change.”

On the United game, Wenger continued, “We had a very strong creative performance with a high, high number of expected goals. And we had a poor defensive performance.

“I felt it took our players time to get into the game.”

It remains to be seen if he’ll stick with the back four for Southampton on Sunday, but sooner or later it feels like he’ll go back to what he feels most comfortable with.

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Big Mad Andy

“Quality of players”. I wonder if he means qualities of the players or does he not trust the team enough to play the way he’d prefer?

Too Drunk To Be Offside

Back 3 or back 4 doesn’t mean anything. When the stakes are high even a back 10 would leak goals.


Remember how everyone was clamouring for a back 3 last season as it ‘made us more secure’? Now everyone wants a 4 again, so ‘it will make us more secure’.
Absolute hypocritical nonsense. I still think the players we have are far better suited to a back 3/5. How anyone can justify switching formation after two stupid individual errors last match and an attack that created 33 shots is beyond me.

Tee Söng

Surely, you realize that the vaunted attack that created 33 shots WAS a back four in a 4-2-3-1?


Ok true, but the first point still stands.


I wouldn’t say no to it if it meant getting Jack into the starting 11 without compromising the back 4.

I’d love to see what him, Özil, Alexis and Lacazette could do together ?

Dan Hunter

I heard when Wilshere was offered a new contract, this was his response:





He’s quoted The Running Man (Schwarzenegger).
As to why, beats me!

Cornelius P. Snuffington III

I wish you hadn’t told us it was a reference to something. I enjoyed it more when I thought it was just genuine crazy rambling.


Best comment of all times.


What have I started…

jack jack jack

He won’t move to a back four until we have a good defensive midfielder to play in the midfield two.

The back three gives us an extra defensive player which allows him to play Ramsey and Xhaka in midfield and still remain reasonably solid. When (if…ever…) we buy a solid DM, then I think we’ll see a shift back to 4-2-3-1.


Or 4-3-3 formation with Wilshere & Ramsey alongside Xhaka at the base of the midfield? Ozil starts on the wings but a fee role like the case for Germany?


Better still, 4-3-1-2 with Ozil in the middle behind Alexis & Laca

Too Drunk To Be Offside

Yeah a good defensive midfielder. Its only been almost a decade since the last good one we had was let go. We should be getting one any transfer window now.


Be brave Arsene and rotate between the 2 formations, most of the big sides can and do it a lot based on opposition rather than players at disposal. The fact we don’t or seem less flexible as a unit basically makes us come across as less professional and experienced, teams know this, teams take advantage by prepping and adjusting formations.


Exactly. It doesn’t have to be zero sum. Flexibility is a virtue.


Thanks mate, I will

La Cassette

That he says it’s what suits the players he has might suggest he views a necessary change in personnel at the back?


I thought that. Seems weird to state that he can’t play with his preferred formation.


Or it is because we never seem to have a midfielder suited to sitting in front of the back four.

jack jack jack

Exactly this


Maybe that’s what all the Nzonzi fuss is about


Well beibg flexible is best. Back 3 definitely seems to give us more defensive stability especially against stronger opposition (not counting brain farts). Yet back 4 does let us seize the centre an allow for Wengerball.


What you like and what the stats say are two different things and is probably one of the biggest problems whilst Wengers been in charge recently. As he’s aged he’s got stuck in his ways.


Here’s a thought. Kola can play defensive mid so could we not shift btw a back 4 and back 3 in game without a substitution? And even change back as needed. Shift Monreal to left full back, Kola as a shielding midfielder to the back 4 (Bellerin Kos Mustafi Monreal) and move Ramsey and Xhaka up the pitch. In game flexibility that might give us an advantage?

Post January Blip

Kola would have to be precise with his passing. Not convinced though


Nope. We play enough players outside their natural positions as it is.


What this team needs more than anything, regardless of formation is a neat and tidy, technically astute holding midfielder who doesn’t panic when pressed.

Funnily enough, there’s this guy who 3 seasons ago was motm for nine England matches running as a holding playmaking midfielder. ?



jack jack jack

For fuck’s sake, if Jack is now the proposed solution to the DM question, just fold the fucking club and go home.


Ozil is your man then, at least he does it for Germany at times


I think it’s never been a question of back 3 or back 4. Whatever formation we use the problem as always been Wenger’s idiosyncratic way of building play from the back. If he continues to leave one player (Xhaka) doing all the build up, we will always struggle against teams that press us high up the pitch. Not every player is Santi Cazorla and can do that job on their own.


Good point. But a formation that has 3 in midfield instead of 2 very probably compensates for this idiosyncrasy at least a little, since, e.g., a three man midfield of Xhaka deepest flanked by Wilshere and Ramsey (a Barca-style 4-3-3) would almost inevitably involve one or the other of Wilshere and Ramsey offering themselves as a passing option alongside Xhaka a lot of the time when the backline has the ball, whereas the 3-4-3 we’ve been playing–especially with Ramsey constantly joining in the attack–almost *requires* Xhaka to be on his own most of the time. I’d play: Cech Bellerin Mustafi… Read more »


Since our game is about creating and blocking passing lanes, having an extra midfielder does make sense.

With Coqzorla we had both someone who could create those lanes from deep and two pivots who could block passing lanes.

Would wilshere, ramsey and xhaka provide the right balance?

Having Jack as a passing option nearby will improve Xhaka’s passrate immeasurably.

And Xhaka wont be singled out by opposition presses as much. As always opposition teams do their homework so it is always good to consider how a team can adapt. And always good to keep an opposition guessing 😉

Gunnersaurus\'s left boot

Issue with this is that you’d end up with a very congested centre and no real width. Özil and Sanchez love to come inside and we’d likely end up with them all getting in each other’s way. Yes, you could say the full-backs would provide some width but that leaves the two at the back terrifyingly exposed.


I agree it’s a potential weakness of the system, but we played this way against United and it wasn’t a problem (Ozil was functioning in a three with Xhaka and Ramsey, not as a number 10), and width wasn’t a problem. Germany played this way when they won the WC (Ozil playing in front 3) and width wasn’t a problem. It requires rapid intelligent switching of positions from our creative types, which they are more than capable of doing, as they showed against United.

Gunnersaurus\'s left boot

And just read the whole comment and realise that’s exactly what you’re saying albeit with a little more optimism. Doh.


It is better to have the choice of one or the other.


Iwobi is ahead of Jack in the packing order, even Welbeck and Giroud. Moving to the back 4 will mean Ozil play in front of the midfield 2 and one of them filling up the position on top.

Sanchez Lacazette Iwobi
Sanchez Lacazette Welbeck
Sanchez Giroud Lacazette

That’s how I see it in front.


I prefer a new manager. Thankfully it will happen either this summer or the next.

Bryan Clayden

No it wont?it’s much more likely that Wenger will sign another contract after his current one.I don’t understand why all of a sudden people believe this is Wengers last contract.he will want to carry on himself and has is boss Kroenke tucked away in his back pocket


Another contract! please no Wenger.

Olivije Žirod

I really like playing with 5 at the back. We are so much more balanced and it really suits to our CBs. Nacho is always dangerous in the final 3rd. We are also not so vulnerable on the counter. The only problem is we are not so dangerous through the right side because of Bellerin. Attacking wise he got worse. But if we want to go back to 4 at the back then we need to bin Ramsey. We need a more disciplined and especially quicker CMs. Ramsey and Xhaka are both slow. You can’t afford to have two slow… Read more »


We don’t have good enough centre backs for a back four


A bit simplistic, perhaps, but some truth to it. I rate Mustafi ok, but I think we should be looking for an absolute top quality CB to partner and ultimately replace Kos. It’s hard to say whether that or a top quality CM is more crucial. Probably depends on what happens to Jack and on Xhaka’s form.

Wild bill

This site really is banging the drum for the return of the back four.

Igbo Amadi-Obi

I think he should allow situations to determine whether it is a back 4 or 3. Rather than be rigid like Chelsea.


If Four at the back means we could play Jack I’d be for this. Mid : Ramsey + Granit | Amid : jack + Alexis + Ozil | Forward: Laca

Heavenly Chapecoense

If Four at the back means we could play Theo, I would for it.


I think players have to be rewarded for good performances, putting him in the first team once does not mean you have to play him forever, rotation is good ffs


Belle tin – kos– mon– ktank
Ramsey – Xhaka– jack
———-Alex .l.

Christmas tree formation
Happy christmas Gunners

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