Arsenal’s transfer windows always seem to follow a familiar pattern. A bevvy of names get linked with the club; a signing happens early, which fuels the hopes of fans that another new arrival could be on the horizon, and then there’s an inordinately long wait.
With hours left before the close of the transfer window, Arsenal either secure a long-term target, make a panic buy or sign no one altogether.
Fortunately for the club's fans this time, Arsenal managed to delight them by announcing the much-anticipated arrival of Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey.
The Ghanaian superstar, who had been a long-term target of the club, arrived at Arsenal after the Gunners decided to trigger his release clause on the last day of the window. That rounded off a relatively strong transfer season for the North London club as they also secured the signatures of Gabriel Magalhaes, Willian and Dani Ceballos.
How Arsenal can line up after the transfer window
Moreover, Arsenal also managed to tie Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka with new contracts. After such a successful transfer window, Mikel Arteta now has a plethora of options for his starting-XI.
It’s no secret that Mikel Arteta’s long-term vision for the team is to play in a 4-3-3. The only reason he has persisted with a back-three till now has been due to the team’s defensive frailties. That has often come at the detriment of the team’s creativity as a body had to be taken out of midfield to form a back-five.
Only recently, we have seen Arsenal begin to attack in a 4-3-3 after initially setting up in a 3-4-3. That opens up a realm of new possibilities for the manager, especially with the arrival of Thomas Partey.
For those who are not aware, Partey is an extremely versatile midfielder who can sit at the base of a midfield in a pivot or as a box-to-box in a three.
Arteta has never felt confident in moving to a back-four. With the likes of Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka providing defensive cover, the arrival of the Ghanaian international could see the Gunners line up with two centre-backs.
In defence, a traditional back-four of Hector Bellerin, David Luiz, Gabriel Magalhaes and Kieran Tierney would suffice, with Gabriel hopefully covering for the positional deficiencies of Luiz.
In attack, the extra body in midfield would stop Alexandre Lacazette having to drop deep and act like a false 9, which in turn would allow Arsenal to have more of a presence in the final-third.
Although this has been the go-to formation of most teams in the past decade, the 4-2-3-1 has been falling out of favour in recent years as teams have moved away from using a traditional #10. That’s another reason why we’ve seen the rapid decline of Mesut Özil.
Most teams prefer a 4-3-3 as it consists of one #6 who sits deep and two #8s who can act as box-to-box midfielders while sharing the responsibility of defending and providing a creative thrust in the final-third.
The one scenario for Arsenal to line up in a 4-2-3-1 could be when they’re immensely superior to the opposing team. That would allow the Gunners to commit more men in the final-third.
This system would give the Gunners a flat midfield pivot, possibly of Partey and Xhaka, who would then feed balls to the #10. That attacking midfielder could be a returning Ozil or the versatile Willian. Either way, a creative outlet would be needed to feed the team’s firepower.
For most of Mikel Arteta’s tenure, we’ve seen the Spaniard deploy a fluid back three or five.
It’s fluid because when the team venture forward, it transforms into a back four. As has already been mentioned before, the Arsenal manager’s preferred formation is a 4-3-3 as it provides the best balance between attack and defence. Notably, the 3-4-3 allows the Gunners to have more men behind the ball as the wing-backs tuck in alongside the three centre-backs.
This system would be ideal for the big away games where the Gunners can anticipate not having the ball for large periods of the game. This formation has so far helped Arsenal pull off wonders against the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, but it’s only a matter of time before teams start to work out Arteta’s tactics.
Nevertheless, for the first time in quite a while, Arsenal fans can look forward with renewed hope this season. They finally have a competent coach who has seemingly been able to get a different tune out of a crop of players who were previously deemed ‘uncoachable’.
In this regard, the new signings will breathe new life into the club and give the Arsenal manager almost all the tools he needs to chase a top-four Premier League finish.Published 15 Oct 2020, 20:43 IST