Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

12 November 2012

Rwanda: Wenger, It's Time to Revert to 4-4-2

Watching Arsenal recently hasn't been pretty. It's plain to see that despite some early optimism, they aren't title contenders. It's also disheartening to see that despite the quality in the side, they are losing to mediocre teams like Norwich and struggling to beat QPR. The match against Manchester United further highlighted the issues facing Arsenal.

There appears to be a lull in confidence, and a lack of any sustained fight and purpose. Against Norwich, Schalke and United, the gunners failed to register a shot on target until the final 15 minutes.

This is a serious problem for a big club like Arsenal so instead of dwelling so much on off-field issues and the state of our bank balance; I think it's only fair to pay more attention to what happens on the pitch.

I'm not a coach and I don't know how the players perform on the training ground. However, I do see what happens on the pitch every weekend and I don't think I'm being too reactionary in questioning whether a change of approach could yield better results for the team.

This is a team that is simply not creating chances.

After some false dawns and early praise, the defensive solidity is starting to unravel; In Kieran Gibbs' absence, the left flank is continually exposed, and the once rock-solid Thomas Vermaelen in particular has made some very poor individual mistakes.

Yet I'm not worried about the defence as I've come to accept that any Arsene Wenger team will always prioritise attacking prowess over a tough defense. A leaky defence, whilst not ideal, isn't exactly a new development.

What is harming this current Arsenal side the most is the inability to create chances. With the greatest of respect to Norwich, Schalke and even United so far this season, their defences have hardly been water-tight, yet they've all managed to contain Arsenal with relative ease.

I would argue that our inability to create chances actually started long before this season. Last season, Arsenal created far less than the Wenger teams of old last season (Fulham and Swansea at home, Bolton and QPR away, spring to mind) and were fortunate that Robin Van Persie was clinical enough to convert the few chances that were created(or he himself created).

One solution to the current plight may be to change the way the team plays. The team is still playing a system that was designed around Cesc Fabregas, and then latterly Van Persie. The 4-3-3 formation allowed Fabregas the best platform to create. And even after his departure, the formation still suited a player of Van Persie's technical ability and movement around the box.

However, those players have departed, and anyone who has seen how disjointed and pedestrian the team has been recently would be right to wonder if the current system is still the best way forward.

Just so you know, statistics show that every trophy Wenger has won at Arsenal, the team was playing the 4-4-2 formation.

Therefore, for Arsenal to come out of their current malaise, they need to start scoring goals. The two best goal scorers in the team are Giroud and Podolski; both scored around 20 goals last season. Currently, Giroud is in and out of the side, and then when he does play, he looks isolated playing upfront by himself. According to Wenger's number two, Steve Bould, Podolski is one of the best finishers he's seen in the game; well Steve, he's not going to be finishing chances when he's playing left wing.

I'm not saying that the 4-4-2 is the answer to all Arsenal's problems, but I do think it is at least worth exploring. It has served both Arsenal and Wenger very well in the past, so there's every reason to think it could do the same in the future.

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