Over recent weeks, there has been plenty of chatter as to what formation Arsenal should play next season. From 433 to 4-diamond-2 (4D2) to a return to 4141.
England are currently having an internal battle as to what formation to go for with both 433 and 4D2 as the preferred systems of Roy Hodgson. Based on last nights diabolical performance against England, which Arsene Wenger was at Wembley to watch, a lot can be learned.
If you play the diamond, you are playing narrow. You need 2 full backs who will bomb forward and act as both wingers and full backs. They provide the width.
For England, in Danny Rose and Kyle Walker, they have full backs who’s attacking ability is better than their defensive. This need to attack could be why Arsenal are looking at Ricardo Rodriguez.
Nacho Monreal is brilliant defensively, but he does not have the blistering pace to get back when bombing forward, unlike Hector Bellerin on the right.
Also with the diamond, the full back’s get through a lot of work. They will need to be rotated and rested, a bit like Spurs have done this season. You can easily therefore accommodate 4 full backs who are all good enough to start.
The midfield is where Arsenal and Arsene would have learnt the most yesterday.
If you play the diamond, space in the middle of the park will be minimal. You therefore need players who can find space, and pass, in tight positions.
Last night England failed at this. Eric Dier, Dele Alli, James Milner and Wayne Rooney was the midfield 4. Non are technically gifted footballers.
Eric Dier is a centre back playing central midfield. He does a brilliant job for Spurs sitting between the two centre backs when they drop wide to cover for the full backs. But he is not a ball player. He will not get involved in the build up. In the diamond, you are looking at possession football, and that is not Dier’s game.
Moving forward to Dele Alli. He is a terrifically instinctive player. His touch and flick on the side line yesterday was one of the few highlights of the game last night. But it also sums it up. Brilliant skill followed by a poor pass that was easily cut out.
Dele Alli is simply not the type of player who is getting pick up the ball in the middle of the park, get his head up, and play defence splitting pass. Or on the other side, get the double under pressure, and lay it off 5 yards. It is not his game. His 75% pass completion rate in the Premier League shows he gives the ball away too much.
Compare him to Aaron Ramsey, who’s pass completion last year was 86% and we moan he gives the ball away too much!
The other side of the diamond was James Milner. Mr Average. Does not have any real weaknesses. But does not have any real strengths. Will put in a shift for 90 minutes. But that is about it. He is not suited for the diamond.
And then we have Wayne Rooney. He will go down as an all time England great. No matter what some say. But he is not a number 10.
Those who have watched him will always point out his weakness is his first touch. And in the Number 10 role, you need that to be exceptional.
He will put in the shift, like the other 3, but when it comes down to finesse, he does not have it. He is like a bull dozer.
So Arsenal would have learnt a lot in what personnel to play.
Luckily for Arsenal, there are plenty of footballers already in the middle of the park. Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil are all comfortable on the ball and combined would slice through most defences.
Even the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Mohamed Elneny are better passers than anything England played last night. And Granit Xhaka at the base of the diamond would be comfortable starting the attacks.
Also in the diamond, the midfield will rotate, so you need all 4 to be comfortable on the ball as the lad at the bottom of the diamond could soon find himself at the top. Xhaka would do that.
It is only Francis Coquelin who would struggle in this system.
You need your players to also be attack minded and postitionally aware. Too often last night James Milner was too deep. Barely getting out of his half.
Dele Alli spent to too much time operating too wide.
England needed someone like Jack Wilshere to keep the quick play going through the middle, and the side came into life when he came on. A middle finger up to those who claim Danny Drinkwater should be playing instead.
The diamond midfield is an option for Arsenal next year, but we need to watch England and learn from their mistakes in personnel and positioning.