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4-5-1 For All

Last season the Gunners were unwittingly forced to apopt the 4-5-1 formation in Europe due to a striker shortage. Without wishing to be too ponderous in detail, it worked a treat, Arsenal were not beaten in Europe with it (before you raise objection, we were down to ten men in Paris with the score at 0-0, therefore it was mathematically impossible to adopt such a formation). It added a defensive steel to the Gunners game in Europe and enabled Cesc Fabregas to establish himself as the hub of our team. With Gilberto taking care of business at the back, the Gunners league of ball players, such as Hleb, Pires and the diminutive Spaniard were given free reign to express themselves.

Fast forward a few months and Arsene started to experiment with the formation domestically. Hleb and Fabregas were given free reign to create, Rosicky undertook the free role behind the striker- all flourished. However, the sticking point came as van Perise was wasted out on the left and a fatigued Henry was nutured in the lone striker role. After a series of frustrating home draws, the formation was shelved. But with injuries currently decimating our current line up, I feel it's time to jolt Frankenstein from his perpetual slumber. Hleb and Fabregas are still fit and have shown how adept they are in this system. With an extra man in the middle, they need not be so rigid in their play. I believe Rosicky can really flourish in a free role behind the striker, his boundless energy, eye for a subtle pass and lethal shot are perfectly tailored for this role.

Of course, most could see this back in the autumn. The sticking point of the formation was that van Persie and Hnery could not adapt to it. Well, while the cats are away, the mice can play. Adebayor's natural strength and ability to hold the ball make him the ideal lone striker. He is also a tireless worker and gets himself into goalscoring positions in the box (remember the goal at home to Pompey). Ade is not the most technically gifted striker on the planet, but he occupies defenders, leaving holes for the likes of Rosicky, Hleb and Fabregas to run into. Ask Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic if Manu is any good on his own up top. The beauty of the system for our current purposes, is that it is interchangeable with our players. If Hleb or Rosicky are not available, Ljungberg can slot in perfectly. Most of you are aware that I am hardly Freddie's most drooling admirer (my sister would probably take that trophy), but the adoption of the 4-5-1 gives us a chance to rotate the second striker when we are in attack. For instance, Freddie and Rosicky/Hleb can seemlessly swap positions, if Tommy Gun attacks centrally, Ljungberg can fill his left wing berth and vice versa. One thing even Freddie's biggest detractor (I take that trophy I think) cannot deny is his immense work rate.

Of course, this gives us another tantalising option. Baptista has struggled of late because he is being asked to lead the line, but with Ade as a buffer, the Beast can occupy his favourite haunt just behind the front man. His late runs ghosting into the box Martin Peters style would prbably best be utilised in this formation. I feel Aliaidere could have a role to play as an attacking wide man if Rosicky or Hleb are injured/tiring. But for me, the most important reason for us to adopt this system is to help bleed in two marvellous prospects. In the enveloping gloom of the last few weeks, a great geyser of glory has arrived in the shape of Abou Diaby and Denilson. Both have demonstrated huge talent and established themsleves as first team contenders. With a side so bereft of experience and shorn of our skipper, Gilberto simply has to play. Similarly, Cesc is just undroppable- particularly without our skipper. So we could spend the remainder of this season slotting either of the youngsters in alongside Gilberto and Fabregas, two contrasting types of midfield players, equally gifted in their diametric roles. How better for the two kids to serve their apprenticeship? It would also mean we could cease drafting Bert in at centre half to accomodate him and hone the highly promising partnership of Toure and Gallas at the back. Starting at Anfield, this system can ensure third place for this campaign, and set the groundwork for next year. Starting at Anfield, I would play this team (if international football's burglary permits)







Diaby has experience on the left hand side and would be able to tuck in if Rosicky goes central. On the bench, we could throw Baptista into the equasion behind the striker, or Ljungberg into that role. Aliaidiere can attack from either flank, while Djourou can cover across the back. Simple this management lark! LD.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday March 27 2007

Time: 7:24PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Err, imagine that midfildl spread into more of a v shape and you'll get what I was going for!
Little Dutch
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27/03/2007 19:30:00

All joking aside, I am actually a better tactician than Steve McLaren.
Little Dutch
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27/03/2007 19:32:00 Eboue still out injured for this game as well? Benn awhile since I've seen him although I reckon most of us are not really a fan of his theatrics...However, his partnership with Hleb on the right side still gets my vote...
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27/03/2007 19:42:00

Ive been dreaming we could revert back to this for ages but i just cant see arsene doing it, i think we could win at anfield with this formation !! That role you spoke about for tomas is his IDEAL place, thats where he is at his most devestating best !
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27/03/2007 19:50:00

like pool found out in the fa cup ( chuckles)
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27/03/2007 19:51:00

As much as I would love to see Diaby play, I think that the Beast has to be persisted with in his favoured attacking mid/second striker position to disprove any hastily conjured conclusions and to hopefully display the baps we saw at Anfield not so long ago.
Anon 1
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27/03/2007 20:03:00

I like the idea of the creativity of both Diaby and Fabregas in the middle! I also think that the technical work of Hleb and Rosicky is vital to the way that we play. We saw how Ade can do on his own at Old Trafford hahahahaha
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27/03/2007 20:22:00

K_chelski says Gilberto got injured. D'oh! Still, could play Diaby in the holding role and get the Beast in there!
Little Dutch
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27/03/2007 21:00:00

somehow i don't think that Arsene will play this formation, with the Beast and Aliadiere available he would be tempted to play them. Also, I think if Ade n Eboue are fit, they might start.
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27/03/2007 21:07:00

It's actually been a while since TR7 and AH13 played together...he might go for a 4-4-2. Especially since it worked well against the scousers last time 'round.
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27/03/2007 21:12:00

Come on guys, only ten posts? There should be at least 100 by now! I think I've got the dreaded "second album" syndrome!
Little Dutch
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27/03/2007 21:18:00

Adebayor is undoubtedly the forward most suited to playing as a lone frontman, while the stream of central attackers currently at our disposal would clearly point to playing a 4-5-1, yet if it is an unqualified success where would this leave us for next season with the returning Robin and Henry? This period is afterall meant to be a time in which we consolidate our position but, most importantly, attempt to find a tactical shape for our attacking playing for the coming season.
Anon 1
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27/03/2007 21:30:00

Meant 2 say 'attacking play' but you get the point
Anon 1
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27/03/2007 21:49:00

the 451 gives the opposion a higher line, wont likely get chased down when in possesion until they come into our half - this is perfect if we re-adopt the fast break football of the invicible season, however i feel the 451 will further increase our possesion and reduce our ability in the final third if we continue to play as we have been - defensively it means we will more often win 2nd balls if liverpool play long ball football and gives our unfamiliar back 4 time to bond and become strong - we need FAST BREAK football - rosicky, hleb, diaby and clichy sprinting towards goal on any change of possesion with fab controlling the play and ade keeping the defenders eyes on him
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27/03/2007 21:53:00

I like the 451 too. but about the next season, we cant really do anything without the actual players in the team playing and training week in and week out.
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27/03/2007 22:50:00

4-5-1 is only effective if we have to compete for possesion with the opposition, that's if the our opponent play an open game. We will do well against teams like Man USA, Chelski and also teams like Reading. Against Liv, maybe if they don't give us the Barca treatment. Note that doing well does not mean we are guaranteed of winning. I think Chelski & Man USA could do better in the 4-5-1 formation compared to us. Both teams can rely on offensive set pieces when their opposition refuse to open up. Also, shooting from outside the penalty box is always part of their game plan whereas we always seemed lost in the final third when there is no space for a though ball; of course they have players who are capable of doing it regularly- Drogba, Lampard, Scholes, Rooney etc. when we only have Rocisky striking once in a blue moon. Moreover, we need to score from high crosses with headers but that requires a true winger like Ronaldo & Robben to run the flank of which we also do not have unfortunately. I think if we do not introduce more options to our tactic, by playing 4-5-1, we could well see our lone striker tightly marked by 10 men in the box with the rest of our 5 midfielders camping outside.
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28/03/2007 02:25:00

I concur. everyone in favour of 451 say "aye"!.
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28/03/2007 09:43:00

I like your team... I dont think we ever played that exact team before, so it would be good to give it a go... giving Tommy & Hleb the midfield cover of Fab/Diaby/Bert would push them a bit more forward and help them score while Ade - terrier-like as usual - keeps defenders busy. If we play people that park the bus though, we would need to replace Diaby and put Baps in the hole behind Ade I reckon...
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28/03/2007 10:00:00

1 Englishman. Good god man, are you insane? Sir_Harry was right about you.:)
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28/03/2007 10:03:00

Look 'ere hatespur unless you want me popping round with me steel-capped boots, start retracting your semi-racist bile ;-)
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28/03/2007 10:27:00

I will report you to your employers and then you will suffer - muahahahahah!!!!
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28/03/2007 10:35:00

I hope you two aren't Australian. I'm pointing the missles to antipidean land as we speak.
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28/03/2007 10:42:00

Did we play the 4-5-1 formation in the Champions League away games this season? I'm sure we didn't against PSV. Perhaps if we had in the away leg, we might have got through - but hindsight is 20/20 vision I guess...
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28/03/2007 10:47:00

G4L - AYE !! I've always been a fan of the 4-5-1. Hleb and Rosicky look dangerous in that formation, and we played fantastic football at the start of the season when Henry was out. Right now, we should look to consdolidate 3rd place, and worry abt next yrs formation later. Baps can come on as a sub later on in the game to replace hleb/rosicky, so tht he gets his opportunity as well. LD - that line up looks good, and if Eboue is fit, we have a good chance against Lliverpool.
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28/03/2007 10:55:00

I should point out that the English scummer was only in there because my mate Eboue is still injured! Otherwise I would never dream of ethnically poisoning my team in such a way!!!! Gooner_Vin, we didn't play 4-5-1 in Europe at all away from home this year, I think if we had, we'd still be in the competition. Of course, had Viduka or Schwarzer or Lucas Neill been in the team, I'm sure we could have bribed UEFA. :-)
Little Dutch
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28/03/2007 12:35:00

So i see we are continuing on with the Sir Harry jokes ey. Well ***** you all then, i know when my kind arent wanted. Im going to watch cricket!
Ozi Gooner
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28/03/2007 12:49:00

Steady on boys! Vital's servers would collapse faced with another 300-post let's keep a lid on it shall we?
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28/03/2007 12:52:00

Ozi, you're more than welcome. It's these English people I don't want here :-)
Little Dutch
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28/03/2007 13:00:00

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28/03/2007 13:23:00

AYE,good call
fran merida
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28/03/2007 13:24:00

While we're having a nice humourous week off, may I recommend a brilliant piece of writing for the front page, written by D4NNYT and titled 20 things that will happen smth smth. I reckon even S_H will appreciate it.
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28/03/2007 13:33:00

wheres this '20 things that will happen' peice at G4L?
Ozi Gooner
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28/03/2007 14:02:00
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28/03/2007 14:16:00

Yeah, it is a gr8 idea... I felt we should have done it for this season's CL too.. nevertheless.. I definitely feel we could play well in this formation.. we did against Chelsea and Man Utd away! The problem is that when Wenger has 2 forwards available, he is more reliant on the 4-4-2.. but I hope he goes 4-5-1 in the weekend!
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28/03/2007 16:26:00


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