Why Unai Emery Should Use A 4-4-2 Diamond Formation in the 2018-19 Season


How will Unai Emery set up the Arsenal team in the first Arsène Wenger-less season in decades? This is one of the biggest question marks surrounding the Arsenal side going into the new season. There are a number of reasons why a 4-4-2 diamond should be used. Firstly, the formation is narrow in the midfield, which covers Arsenal's lack of an out-and-out winger.

The wing-backs would provide the width in the formation. Secondly, the midfield diamond allows Özil to play as a CAM (central attacking midfielder), his favourite position and allows him to control the offence more than from a wide role. Finally, the two strikers in the formation will allow Emery to get the best out of both Aubameyang and Lacazette instead of leaving one of them on the bench.

In between the sticks will most likely be Bernd Leno, Arsenal's newly acquired goalkeeper from Bayer Leverkusen. He will compete with Petr Cech (or Yann Sommer if rumours are to be believed) for the starting keeper position. Both keepers will have to bring their A-game if they want to remain in contention. The back four is pretty standard. A back four, as compared to a back three, will allow enough defensive cover for Arsenal's star-studded attack to move forward with confidence.

One drawback of a 4-4-2 diamond formation is that it is fairly narrow, which means the left (Monreal or Kolasinac) and right backs (Bellerin or Lichtsteiner) will have to play more as wing-backs, constantly bombing forward and contributing to the attack. New right back, Stephan Lichtsteiner will provide competition for the starting spot to Hector Bellerin.

Now, coming to the midfield. At the base will sit Lucas Torreira, a Kanté-esque CDM. He will provide the centre-back pairing, consisting of Sokratis (who will provide solid no-nonsense defending) and one of Mustafi, Chambers, Holding or Mavropanos, with enough cover when the wingbacks get forward. The reason Torreira is an absolute gem is that he is not just an out-and-out CDM. While he can defend well and make lots of interceptions and tackles, he can also contribute to the attack. He has a nice long shot in addition to being a freekick specialist.

Xhaka and Ramsey will flank Torreira. Ramsey will play a box-to-box midfielder role with Xhaka connecting the defense and the attack and dictating play from a deep-lying position. At the top of the diamond sits the magician himself, new number 10, Mesut Özil. The CAM role fits Ozil like a glove, allowing him to flourish, work his magic and otherwise run the offense. The one concern many Gunners may have about the midfield diamond is the absence of Mkhitaryan, who had a good half season last year. Like the competition for the goalkeeper position between Leno and Cech (or perhaps Yann Sommer instead), the competition for the CAM role between Mkhi and Özil will keep both sharp and at the top of their game.

As many of you may have guessed by now, the two strikers are Aubameyang and Lacazette. Arsenal broke their transfer record twice last year on two amazing acquisitions. To leave one on the bench would be a complete waste of millions. And to have Aubameyang playing as a winger is also a waste of his abilities. Aubameyang thrives as a poacher, his movement off the ball allowing him to score bags of goals.

But a poacher has to be in and around the box, a constant threat on and off the ball, which Aubameyang cannot be if he is played as a winger. Granted, Emery has used 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 formations at Sevilla and PSG respectively, but the 4-4-2 diamond formation has too many pros to not be considered.

Arsenal's Possible XI

How do you think Arsenal should line up in the upcoming season? Let us know in the comments.

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Edited by Arvind Sriram
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