Arsenal: Should the Gunners add more Samba to their style?

Taken from Ole Ole

The midfield is primarily the fiercest part of the 90 minute battle players face when they cross the white lines of the pitch. It’s paramount that teams set out with a midfield capable of outsmarting, overrunning and dominating the opposition. 

Whether you play 2 or 3 in the middle what is certain is that you need a good combination of attributes, movement and stamina to have the upper edge of your opponent.

There is a lot of talk about Arsenal’s midfield and whether the players at Arsène Wenger’s disposal are capable of facing the long and arduous contest that is a football season. 

There is no doubt that Arsenal’s squad is filled with quality; a central midfield rife with talent. Strong, dynamic players with technical ability comparable to most.  Players, though, are nothing without a formations set up to utilise the strengths they possess.

Arsenal could potentially take inspiration from the Brazilians. An interchangeable, dynamic midfield trio. Brazil set out with Sandro, Romulo and Oscar – Sandro and Romulo sit while Oscar roams ahead and creates. 

Romulo and Sandro are 2 tidy, efficient, mobile powerhouses who’re equally as comfortable on the ball – comparable to Alex Song and Abou Diaby (the 2 DM’s Arsene Wenger has started with in pre-season). 

Both have the capability to get forward and aid the AM, whoever it may be, and, like Sandro and Romulo, when one attacks the other sits – and Oscar sometimes sits deeper than his starting position too, something the AM would be able to take note of. It allows fluidity; the formation occasionally switches to a 4-2-2-2 due to Brazil’s mesmeric movement. 

The AM (Arteta, for example, who’s also capable of starting the deeper role) would replicate Oscar’s duty and play just ahead of the defensive duo, spraying passes left, right and centre linking up with the forward trio then taking a step back when needs be.

Of course the movement and keeping of possession won’t win you games alone. You need penetration and off-the-ball prowess; pressing the opposition and forcing them into a mistake or winning the ball back – it’s all important. Each part of your play becomes a key clog in the machine that’ll get you to success.

Arsenal have players capable of using this formation – they play similarly already. Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott as the possible wide-men can do Neymar and Hulk’s job: cutting inside or taking on a man, both with the ability to play centrally and both with pace to cause problems. It would help to perhaps let Theo and Lukas swap roles throughout – Theo could cut in from the left and Lukas from the right on to their stronger foots to unleash shots on goal. 

Olivier Giroud is the man most likely to start centrally and he can take Damiao’s job and make it his own: Damiao occasionally drops deep to collect and play off the defender, he can also play in behind, he’s a nuisance. 

As he drops to create he plays near enough alongside Oscar which allows Neymar and Hulk to push forward further, thus creating the 4-2-2-2 formation they sometimes end up with. 

Or one wide-man will cut in to play with Oscar and the other wide-man can push up alongside Damiao, also creating the 4-2-2-2 formation. Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud would work just the same and just as effectively. The back-up players are more than capable also.

Arsenal play good, quick, positive football and this formation will only benefit that. Brazil work because they’re a unit. The midfield 3 all rotate well and combine with the forwards which creates confusion and bewilders the opposing players. 

To suit this formation in the Premier League players would need intelligence; freedom is a rarity in the premiership and intelligence makes the job so much easier.

With no official comeback date set for Jack Wilshere, and Tomas Rosicky out for a considerable amount of time Arsenal may need to purchase an attacking midfielder to accommodate this formation and replicate Oscar. Santi Cazorla, Nuri Sahin and Ganso have all been heavily linked though the only one likely to materialise is Santi Cazorla, but even there are some doubts over that deal. 

Chuks Aneke and Thomas Eisfeld are two bright talents but aren’t ready yet for constant first-team football and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains an option. On the defensive side Yann M’Vila has also been heavily linked but whether anything happens remains to be seen. 

The priority should be an attacking-midfielder, though – Francis Coquelin has shown plenty of promise and has pre-season to stake a claim in the side. 

A small but strong, aggressive, tenacious midfield battler with an eye for a pass, and also disciplined. He has enough experience after a season-long loan at Lorient, and playing many games last season, while also showcasing his versatility so stepping up even more should be no problem.

There’s no shortage of talent at Arsenal. They have an array of players suitable for this formation and it could a very fruitful implementation. What is clear is it allows great football, and great football is synonymous with Arsenal football club. It’s the perfect match. Maybe a match that may never meet however suited they may be.

It’s vital teams do not become predictable and one-dimensional. Most teams who are are easy to cope with – Arsenal have been that previously. 

There needs to be a new approach and this is an adoption of the current philosophy so the transition would presumably be a cinch. 

Until next time.

Written by Ryan Goodenough
Follow me on Twitter @RealYoungGunner

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