Switching to a back three could help Arsenal overcome their tactical flaws

Danny Ryan

The latest footballing fad in the Premier League is the use of a back three. Antonio Conte was perhaps the instigator in ushering in a new formation in which league leaders Chelsea have reaped the benefits.

The Blues look a different animal ever since the Italian opted to revert back to the 3-4-3 formation which was reminiscent of his success in his homeland with Juventus and, of course, Italy's national side.

London rivals Tottenham have also opted to use the innovative system, with Eric Dier dropping into a back three alongside Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.

Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley - Premier League


The balance it brings to the side and the freedom it has given to the attacking talent at both London clubs has been remarkable and after years of tactical stubbornness under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal need to take the idea of a back three into serious consideration.

Of course, like Conte did in the summer, the Gunners would have to acquire several new players in the summer to make it work. At the moment, they simply do not possess the staff to allow the system to thrive.

Like the Blues, the two players needed would be a left-wing back, as Nacho Monreal would be unfit for the role, and an energetic box-to-box midfielder. The Blues brought in Marcos Alonso and N'Golo Kante with the duo starring for Conte's side all season.

Chelsea v Arsenal - Premier League

The Gunners would perhaps need a new centre-half to sit in alongside Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi, however, the likes of Rob Holding and Calum Chambers would perhaps thrive in a back three, much like David Luiz has on his return to Chelsea.

The key element of the system is the freedom it can give to offensive players and even central midfielders. For Arsenal, the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi are not content with tracking back.

In the current formation under Wenger, this lack of defensive nous is regularly exposed by the top teams who target their attack-heavy mindset. To put it simply, none of Arsenal's so-called 'wide men' are naturally suited to the current wide roles.



However, in a 3-4-3 system, the front trio are given the freedom with which to exert their offensive power. The likes of Sanchez and Ozil will be given licence to wreak havoc in the middle similar to Eden Hazard and Pedro Rodriguez this campaign.

Walcott is again another player who looks a different entity when he drifts into central areas and if the forward-thinking members of this Arsenal unit are given the licence to roam across opposing defences, they will evolve as an offensive force. 

In this setup, the Gunners could also perhaps invest in another free-scoring striker, for example, Alexandre Lacazette, with Sanchez and Ozil either side of him - that is if they stay of course.

Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League


The beauty of a 3-4-3 system is the role given to full-backs. Bellerin, like Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Victor Moses and Alonso, is hugely effective going forward and at times, the Spaniard is Arsenal's most potent attacking outlet.

The young star is a huge part of the Gunners' future and this system could allow them to get the very best out of him. In the modern game, the full-back has evolved into a weapon of mass destruction, one which this formation embraces.

As for Ramsey, he is a midfielder who clearly needs added security around him in order to fulfil his potential. It was no coincidence that at Euro 2016, where Wales used a similar system, the Welshman was at the peak of his powers.

Arsenal v Lincoln City - The Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Final

Next to a Kante-type player - Arsenal are rumoured to be interested in Everton's Idrissa Gueye - the Welshman could finally prosper tactically. Or, the often mentioned duo of Ramsey and Granit Xhaka could flourish in a more secure system which is geared to their strengths. At the moment, their double-pivot is not viable, particularly against the big teams.

If Arsenal can discover a model to suit this duo, the whole team will surely benefit.

In the case of Santi Cazorla, Wenger's side has proved this season that building a midfield plan geared towards his attributes is simply too risky given his fitness record. A lovely squad player to have but the midfield should perhaps be built around Ramsey - although he hasn't exactly been injury free this campaign.

Arsenal Training Session & Press Conference

Mohamed Elneny is another player who could again be ideal in the 3-4-3 system with his energy and positional awareness, while Francis Coquelin needs to simply be axed from the squad entirely.

At the end of the day, no one can judge whether 3-4-3 at Arsenal would work, but the signs seem to hint that it could be the tactical alteration they require.​

It is a system for the big games, one which improves defences and allows forward players to thrive, three things the Gunners are desperate for.

A tactical revolution is sweeping the Premier League and for Arsenal, with a whole host of their stars not reaching their potential, it is perhaps one they should apply to themselves.


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