Arsenal plan radical shake-up to stop the rot in defence
Arsene Wenger ready to copy Man City's back five strategy after Gunners throw away 2-0 leads
THE NEWS will come as a surprise to Gooners but apparently Arsene Wenger is planning revolutionary changes to the Arsenal defence. Many of the Arsenal faithful were unaware their side had a defence, after a spate of back-four blunders that have seen the Gunners surrender two-goal leads against Schalke and then Fulham.
Now, according to the Daily Mirror, the Arsenal manager is considering dropping his trusted 4-3-2-1 formation in what "would be the biggest shake-up in Wenger's tactics since he took charge in 1996".
Instead of relying on four at the back, Wenger will deploy five defenders in a system similar to the one used by Roberto Mancini at Manchester City this season. The Daily Mail says the five entrusted with the job of shoring up the Arsenal defence will be Bacary Sagna at right wing-back, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen as the three central defenders and Kieran Gibbs as left wing-back.
Apparently Wenger and his assistant, Steve Bould, first toyed with the idea of making the drastic alteration after Arsenal's 2-1 loss to Manchester United earlier in the month, a defeat in which poor defending led to both United goals.
The Mail claims that it was eventually decided there wasn't enough time to overhaul the system ahead of the trip to Germany to face Schalke, a decision Wenger must have regretted as Arsenal blew a two-goal lead in their Champions League clash. The final straw came on Saturday when the Gunners raced into a 2-0 lead at home to Fulham and ended up drawing 3-3.
Wenger is said to be "frustrated" with the club's defence, particularly after they conceded just one goal in their first four games of the season. But in recent weeks Arsenal have leaked goals at an alarming rate, many of them down to disorganisation in their defence. The problems have clearly affected the confidence of club captain Thomas Vermaelen, who has made a series of catastrophic mistakes in recent game.
The Mirror says Wenger will probably stick with the traditional back four for Saturday's north London derby with Tottenham because this week's international friendlies have restricted his time with his squad.
However, the new system could be tried when the Gunners host Montpellier in the Champions League on November 21. Kieran Gibbs is expected to be fit by then after a long injury lay-off, as is first-choice keeper Wojciech Szczesny, who hasn't featured since September.
Wenger and Bould will be hoping the revolution works and Arsenal turn their season around - otherwise one or both could be on their way to the guillotine.