Friday, February 23, 2024

Arteta: I’m not too concerned about formation

When Mikel Arteta first took over at Arsenal he used a back four, switching to a back three after the restart following two successive defeats to Man City and Brighton.

It resulted in an FA Cup win and European qualification, but conversations about our formation/tactical approach are common place online these days.

There’s speculation as to how long we’ll keep using the three centre-halves; whether we’ll move to a back four; play a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 or some variant of that; and wonder how we might fit more creativity into the starting XI.

It’s not something that particularly worries the Arsenal boss though, as he looks to build a team which can provide tactical variation over the course of a season.

“I don’t get too concerned about the formation,” he told Sky Sports.

“It is about where the players we have can adapt better and perform better, and how we can get the balance right better.

“We can attack and defend in different systems using the same personnel, but some days the players that we use make that system different. We try to exploit that by putting players in situations where they are comfortable and can perform at their best.

“Being able to play different formations gives us more adaptability so that we can cope with the more difficult times of the season when maybe we do not have the players to play quite the same way.

“We also want to be more unpredictable for opponents.”

Unlike his predecessor Unai Emery, Arteta’s communication is clear, so shifting formations or systems doesn’t lead to the kind of confusion we saw under the previous man.

“It is about helping them,” Arteta explains. “Helping them to become better players and win football matches.

“When I was a player, the thing that I found most difficult to manage was when it was the day before a game and I was not clear what I was going to find.

“From my side, I have to try to provide them with the pictures of what is going to happen, how we are going to resolve it to provide some security, because I believe that the more secure they are when they run onto the field then the better they are going to perform.”

Read the full Sky Sports interview here.

For more on Arsenal Tactics, the evolution of Arteta’s back three, and where it might go from here, check out the new Tactics Podcast on our Patreon. You can sign up for just €5 a month at

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Merlin’s Panini

Makes sense to adapt to the players strengths rather than cram them in where they don’t fit.


So the boss has got square holes and round holes, making every peg sit right in.
If only Mezut and Matteo aren’t the jellies.




Yes, that’s sensible. As long as the players can adapt effectively, it keeps the opposition guessing. The actual communication of ideas is also relevant and the reference to the poor state of this under Emery is spot on (unfortunately).


Looking forward to four at the back , a 442 or a 4212.


I’m not sure playing 9 outfield players works well.


But then we can play two keepers … Invincibles Mk II.


“If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame,” said Sun Tzu. Then he began to drill again, but again the women began to laugh.
“If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame,” said Sun Tzu again. “But if his orders are clear and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.” 

Artetas Assistant

Or a balance between both blames and each person instead should be dedicated to working on their communication and helping others (whom you give a fuck about) work on theirs.

Teryima Adi

Great words. I just wish Sun Tzu wasn’t a Communist.


Great man

Arteta Tots

I mean, clarity on roles and responsibilities is crucial in our own work so it makes perfect sense to translate that confidence to players. I don’t see how any other way can translate to success on the pitch


Line-up predictions for tonight? I think he’ll start with the same 11 as last week. Maybe Luiz on the bench instead of Kolasinac.


I think the key for us this season is rotation and an amorphous style/formation. We don’t have a rock-solid starting 11 that can dominate the competition like most title-winning sides do, but we do have a lot of great parts that Arteta can shape into a very competitive whole. The challenge is keeping the opposition guessing as to how we will play — that will come with different “looks” (Arteta seems to disregard the term “formation”) and different personnel, and with Arteta reminding everyone that every game is a must-win situation.

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