Arsenal’s recent unbeaten run coincides with a consistency in tactics and personel.
Mikel Arteta has settled on his best central defensive partnership and, injury aside, the XI he has put out has bene the same core of players in a 4231.
With Liverpool away up next, the feeling will probably be “more of the same”, hoping that the confidence we are playing with allows us to compete.
But Arteta might also be tempted to make tactical and personel changes having had 2 weeks to prepare for the challenge that is Liverpool.
Arteta might be tempted to move to the more defensive 451 against Liverpool.
This would also result in playing duel left backs in Kieran Tierney and Nuno Tavares to combat Liverpool’s overload of attacking on that side.
Mo Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold are Liverpool’s main attacking threat. Arteta could try and lock down that side with Tierney and Tavares.
That would make us more defensive on that side, but maintaing an attacking threat with the pairs ability to bomb forward and put crosses in.
Arteta coulde give them further reinforcements by playing Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the left of the 3 central midfielders. He would be instructed to push onto the left hand side when defending to give a third man.
Alongside Maitland-Niles in the 3 would be Thomas Partey (who should be fit) and Albert Sambi Lokonga. it would be a high energy, physical midfield which should give Ben white and Gabriel nice defensive cover.
On the right I would be tempted to play Nicolas Pepe with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up top.
Pepe is at his best playing on the break and with Sadio Mane potentially out injured and the defensively minded Takehiro Tomiyasu behind him, the Ivorian feels a better option than Bukayo Saka.
The tactic would then be simple. Defend deep, overload the left hand side and middle of the park, and then rely on Pepe and Aubameyang on the break.
Arteta has succesfully transitioned the team to a 343 for key games previously. He might opt fot his option again.
A back three of White, Rob Holding and Gabriel would give the side defensive stability to build on.
Liverpool do not really play with a striker – Fabinho often dropping deep. So what you owuld do is have Holding just hold his position and then use Gabriel and White to help out their wing backs (Tierney and Tomiyasu).
So when the ball is out left at the feet of Salah, Tierney faces him and Gabriel closes the gap. Holding and White shuffle across with Tomiyasu then tucking in. Fairly basic stuff.
Liverpool’s central midfield does not realy offe rmuch of an attacing threat or look to dominate games, so you could get away with just Partey and Lokonga in the middle.
Partey would be the one to look after Fabinho with Lokonga asked to press onto Liverpool’s midfield.
The front 3 would then be Saka, Aubameyang and Emile Smith Rowe.
Saka and Smith Rowe would be asked to put in a defensive shift; covering Trent and Andy Robertson.
The worry with this formation is that a 343 can quickly turn into a 541 which would leave Aubameyang isolated.
Personally, I would go 451.
It is the clsoest to the current formation we play, just with a bit of extra defensive stability.
Tavaras and Tierney would lock down the left hand side whilst still offering an attacking threat and you would have the Aubameyang and Pepe giving Liverpool something to think about on the break.
You can also quickly and easily transition into a more attacking 4231 by bringing on Smith Rowe and Odegaard or Lacazette if we are 1-0 down with 20 minutes to go.
Plenty to think about.
Have a good Thursday.