In the last few weeks we have changed to 3-4-2-1 with fairly impressive results. The high profile defeat to Spurs being the only humungous blot on the copy book. Victories over Middlesbrough, Manchester City, Leicester City and Manchester United have led us to 4 wins from 5 games.
The key question now is do we continue with this formation into 2017/18 and plan our transfers around it, and if so, who would we need to add to the squad?
In the current formation, we play a very high line. Therefore we need a goal keeper who is kick off the line who can play as a sweeper in the same way as Hugo Lloris or Manuel Neuer perform the role for their perspective clubs. Petr Cech is slow off his line, and with his recent poor form, moving forward he is certainly not the future.
A new goal keeper, or Wojciech Szczesny has to be on the list this summer.
At right wing back, we look fairly well set. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has impressed, and in reserve we also have Hector Bellerin, an attacking full back who suits a wing back role perfectly.
Moving through the back line, Shkodran Mustafi is a naturally right sides centre back. With Calum Chambers as his understudy, we look well set. Laurent Koscielny will be the linchpin that holds the middle of the park together, with Rob Holding and Gabriel also in the frame. Add in Per Metesacker and we have plenty of options.
The left hand side of the 3 is another story, however. Recently both Rob Holding and Nacho Monreal has looked OK there, but it is certainly a weakness. If we were to continue with 3-4-2-1, someone over and above Monreal is needed. Sead Kolasinac could be the answer here.
Kolasinac is naturally a left back, but has played centre back in the past for German side Schalke. At 6ft and left footed, could he come in and be the left sided centre back we need? With Nacho Monreal then backing him up?
The left sided problems continue when we look at left wing back. Monreal is too defensive to play wing back – hence his recent successful move to left centre back, whilst Kieran Gibbs is simply not good enough. If Kolasinac was to play centre back, we would then need to go and sign a left wing back.
Ricardo Rodriguez was heavily linked last summer, but my bet would be Jordi Alba. The Spaniard has recently found himself out of favour at Barcelona and would fit in to the left wing back role at Arsenal. Providing his back up would be Nacho Monreal who would also double up covering left centre back.
The middle of the park actually looks fairly solid with Granit Xhaka and the revitalised Aaron Ramsey. 3 at the back has given Ramsey the chance to get further forward. He is less of a liability in the opponents 3rd of the field than Arsenal’s.
It would be preferable, however, if we also signed someone a bit more defensively minded than Xhaka who can be rotated in for the tougher games where we need a bit more of a defensive shield. Someone who is physical but can also cover a lot of ground. Basically a better Coquelin.
No names spring to mind, however a strong central midfielder is a must. Add Mohammed Elneny into the mix alongside a returning Jack Wilshere and it would leave us with 5 solid players for 2 positions. The formation change does however signal the end of Santi Cazorla’s Arsenal career, and Francis Coquelin is simply not good enough.
We play with a narrow 2 behind the striker, rather than a wide two. Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have excelled since the change. Your two best players playing close to each other has left teams chasing shadows. They can not isolate one when they have the ball as the other is always close by.
Both players have played a lot of their career out wide, so have also been able to help the wing backs out when the ball is in the wider positions. Where we are perhaps short is in their back up.
Alex Iwobi has fallen out of favour after a good start to his Arsenal career, whilst Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere could do a job behind a striker, but would also be needed in the middle of the park. Signing a player of the calibre of Isco would give Arsenal 3 brilliant options in the 2 positions, whilst also freeing Sanchez up to potentially return up top. The aforementioned Iwobi completes the options.
We are still in need for a new striker. Olivier Grioud is simply too immobile to play in the formation, whilst Danny Welbeck has all the physical attributes but is simply not a consistent goal scorer. Up top we need someone who has the physicality to play on his own, the pace to run in behind, the work rate to close down, and a sharp finisher. Not too much then!
Kylian Mbappe would tick a lot of boxes, but at £85m+, it is crazy money for an 18 year old who has been a first team regular for barley 6 months. If we are looking to spend that big, it potentially brings the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mauro Icardi into the frame. Any of these 3 would cost a big chunk of cash, but would also be a dramatic improvement on what we already have.
Arsenal would also have Alexis Sanchez as an option, and then Danny Welbeck and Yaya Sanogo (I jest) as back up.
A permanent move to 3-2-4-1 leaves us needing 6 new signings. 4 of which would be 1st team player. Just typing and speaking out loud as I type, that feels like too many players for the starting XI.
It is also hard to see how the likes of Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud would fit into the new formation. Walcott and Giroud have already struggled for game time (are they injured), whilst Cazorla would get over run in a midfield two.
If we do stick to 3-4-2-1, some serious investment would be needed in the summer. And hopefully it is invested better than last summer.