Sport Arsenal's back-three myth

09:17  14 september  2017
09:17  14 september  2017 Source:   Sky Sports

Winning ugly not the answer for Arsenal and Wenger

  Winning ugly not the answer for Arsenal and Wenger Arsenal have been famed for their footballing philosophy under Arsene Wenger, who rejects the claim his side need to win ugly.Arsene Wenger remains steadfast in his belief that "winning ugly" is not the way forward as he attempts to revive Arsenal's faltering start to the season.

Arsenal created 1.3 MORE Big Chances with a back three against the same opponents than they did with a back four. And the resulting better shots selection increased Arsenal ’ s expected goals for by I really like 7am Kick off’s analysis but I think this report also illustrates how stats can also be a ‘ myth ’.

Was Arsene Wenger's belief in the success of Arsenal ' s back - three switch built on a myth ? In the latest Monday Night Football Extra , Jamie Carragher examines the statistics that suggest Arsenal ' s defensive issues never went away and could have been anticipated…

Was Arsene Wenger's belief in the success of Arsenal's back-three switch built on a myth? In the latest Monday Night Football Extra, Jamie Carragher examines the statistics that suggest Arsenal's defensive issues never went away and could have been anticipated…

As the pressure mounted on Arsene Wenger in the spring, Arsenal's unexpected switch to a back three for the first time in two decades coincided with a strong finish to the season. Not only did they win seven of their last eight Premier League games but, in lifting the FA Cup, the Gunners also showed that they could have success against the top teams too.

'Winning ugly' is not the way forward for Arsenal - Wenger

  'Winning ugly' is not the way forward for Arsenal - Wenger The Frenchman argues that the "biggest" teams in the world have always played attractive football and he will not waver from his philosophyArsene Wenger remains steadfast in his belief that "winning ugly" is not the way forward as he attempts to revive Arsenal's faltering start to the season.

Arsenal 3-0 Bournemouth: Welbeck shines as opposition pose few problems. Bournemouth preview: Wenger has to make his players believe again. 1-1 after four minutes, and our back three looked shaky every time the visitors came forward or the Austrian Rory Delap chucked one of his long throws

Here we look at three myths he’ s debunked and three is he yet to. Arsenal are Evens to win the Premier League title going into Christmas, but most pundits wouldn’t back them, saying they need another one or two top class or world class players to put this title race to bed.

"It was such a great thing for Arsenal to win the FA Cup against top opposition," says Jamie Carragher. "They had won the FA Cup before against Hull and Aston Villa but this was against the champions Chelsea after beating Pep Guardiola's Manchester City in the semi-final. That was the really great thing about Arsenal's end to the season."

The team's formation shift was widely credited as a key factor in the revival. Wenger himself pointed to an added stability when facing long balls and felt that the change had given his players more confidence. "Sometimes when a team lacks confidence, just to change the system can help to believe in something different," he told Sky Sports.

As a player familiar with both systems, Carragher agrees. "Sometimes when you go to a new formation it changes people's concentration levels," he explains. "It gives the players that something to focus on because they are suddenly doing something different rather than repeating the same stuff. So it can be a mental thing that managers use."

Wenger considering switch to back four

  Wenger considering switch to back four Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is considering a switch back to a defensive four ahead of their trip to Bournemouth. Wenger’s side take on Bournemouth at The Vitality as they look to bounce back from two losses in-a-row. Liverpool and Stoke were both able to take three points against Arsenal, as The Gunners conceded five goals in the process. According to The Telegraph, this has prompted Wenger to consider moving away from a back three. Arsenal moved to a back three in April, which gave them initial success – winning nine out of ten matches. However, their poor start to this season has made Wenger think twice about what he will go with against Bournemouth this weekend. The report says that Arsenal have been working on a back three and a back four in training. They claim that even the players are unsure as to what Wenger will go with on Saturday.

The last time Arsene Wenger played with three at the back, I was in the team alongside Tony Adams and Steve Bould at Derby in May 1997. If you want to play with a back three , you have to know the system inside out. It is not something you can simply adapt to overnight.

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The problem for Wenger is that such stimulus is not built to last. Arsenal's problems never really went away. So perhaps the alarm bells should have been ringing in July when he confirmed that his team would "certainly play with a three" from the start of the 2017/18 campaign. This despite a lack of significant new arrivals to help make the system succeed.

"I was surprised that he stayed with it," adds Carragher. "I thought it was something just to get them through to the end of the season. There is no doubt they got results with it but their actual defending did not massively improve. I have never really been convinced when watching them that it is going to make that much of a difference."

Perhaps surprisingly given the upturn in results last season, delve deeper into the statistics and it does indeed become clear that the issues remained. Arsenal's 'expected goals' stats, looking at the goals that a team might have been expected to concede from the specific shots that they allowed their opponents, reveal that this was a mere illusion of stability.

WATCH: Chelsea v Arsenal tactics

  WATCH: Chelsea v Arsenal tactics Danny Higginbotham explains why Chelsea have the edge over Arsenal in his tactical preview.Danny Higginbotham has given his tactical verdict on the big Nissan Super Sunday clash between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

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Until last season, a back four was another staple of Wenger's management. However, back in the spring a desperate roll of the dice saw him introduce a new-look three -man defence. The change in formation sparked an upturn in Arsenal ' s fortunes

In fact, the numbers show that, on average, Arsenal would have expected to concede 1.7 goals per game with a back three last season compared to just 1.2 per game when using a back four. In that context, the three goals conceded against Leicester on the opening day followed by the 4-0 thrashing at Liverpool look like accidents waiting to happen.

"I don't think their problems were with the system, I think they were about the mentality," says Carragher. "There are problems in midfield and that was shown against Liverpool where there was such a lack of protection for the defence. That has been happening for a long time so a system change is not going to stop that against big teams away from home."

Wenger's formation switch back in April was designed to give his players something to believe in. But could he have been the one seduced by his own scheme? Did Wenger's psychological ploy only succeed in convincing him that he had the players already at the club to make three at the back work without the need for major squad surgery?

"I was really surprised that they did not sign a centre-back in the summer considering they were going with three at the back," says Carragher. "Not only did they need more centre-backs but Per Mertesacker is a year older and, reading between the lines, if a good offer had come in for Shkodran Mustafi they would not have been too unhappy to sell him either.

WATCH: Chelsea v Arsenal tactics

  WATCH: Chelsea v Arsenal tactics Danny Higginbotham explains why Chelsea have the edge over Arsenal in his tactical preview.Danny Higginbotham has given his tactical verdict on the big Nissan Super Sunday clash between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

Much has been made of Arsene Wenger’ s decision to move from his tried and trusted 4-2- 3 -1 to a 3 -4-2-1. While there has been much discussion of the fact that the change happened, the real question is what effect the change has made?

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"The problem you have got if you play three centre-backs is that it means you need five in your club as a minimum, probably six. I just don't think that they have got the numbers and I also don't think they have got the quality to play that system, hence why it has not had a massively positive impact defensively when switching from a four to a three."

On Super Sunday, Wenger's Arsenal will take on Antonio Conte's Chelsea - a team transformed by the decision to make that same change of formation from a back four to a back three one year ago following a defeat at the Emirates Stadium. The difference is that Chelsea had the manager and, eventually, the players to make it succeed.

"With what Conte did last season with a back three, being the first team to win the Premier League using it, of course it is going to come into vogue and teams will start copying it," adds Carragher. "But you are never going to be able to do it as effectively as a manager who has used that system year in year out with Juventus and the Italy national team.

"He will know a lot more about that system and how to get the best out of it. If you look at Chelsea's team, they have got two real defenders in Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill, and he has done wonders with David Luiz who looks like a proper defender now too. That is just a credit to Conte's coaching." The next test of Wenger's coaching comes at Stamford Bridge.

Ozil 'back in Arsenal training' .
Mesut Ozil has revealed he is back training with Arsenal following a knee injury. The Germany international missed Arsenal's goalless draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, as well as the 3-1 Champions League victory over Cologne having suffered "a minor inflammation" of his knee.Ozil is not part of Arsenal's squad for the Carabao Cup tie against Doncaster on Wednesday, but has revealed he is expecting to make his comeback in the near future."Good news: I'm back training on the pitch," Ozil said on Instagram. "As you might have heard I'm suffering from a minor inflammation of my knee.

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