Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is usually cautious and slow during the summer transfer period. He rarely makes big splashes in the market and prefers to recruit small name youngsters with big time potential. This summer he seems to be singing a different tune and has already made two big buys in forwards Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. This influx of strikers suggests to me that Wenger is prepared to divert from the current 4-3-3 formation in order to best use his new toys.
The 4-3-3 houses a lone striker with two supporting wingers on the flanks. Clearly captain Robin van Persie is first choice for that role, but the club has suffered recently as he is depended upon too greatly for goals. I think that the future of this Arsenal side may see the classic 4-4-2 makeup which gives Van Persie more support up top.
Both Podolski and Giroud could thrive as supporting strikers. Additionally, Arsenal could ask Theo Walcott to join the foray up top. Walcott has often times struggled on the wing since his delivery on crosses tends to be rather poor. In a more advanced role, he could utilize his speed to make quick runs and get more looks at goal. Also he would have more opportunities to make smaller passes forward inside rather than big crosses from outside.
Arsenal has suffered from mistakes at the back and the 4-4-2 formation would also add more support for thwarting counter attacks. With an extra body in midfield, more emphasis would be placed on defense and would strengthen the side.
Arsenal could better utilize their midfield players here too. Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, and even Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could well thrive in outside midfielder roles where they could be better placed to help the attack from ventures forward while knowing their compatriots are behind for support.
Jack Wilshire and Alex Song could well hold down the center and distribute from within while slowing down the opposition. The 4-3-3 was a smart option when Cesc Fabregas was pulling the strings in midfield, but he is gone now and the formation needs to adjust.
I feel the general problem with Arsenal recently has been that the two wingers are often stranded and rarely make a difference in matches. We have all seen the woes of Andrey Arshavin, Nicklas Bendtner, and Marouane Chamakh as evidence.
With their impending departures and the arrival of both Podolski and Giroud, I sense that Wenger is looking for a striking duo up top. These players would have more of a physical presence in front of the goal and would take some of the weight off of Robin van Persie. Both players are coming off of prolific years in Germany and France, and will be looking for ways to get on the field and score goals. If they are left out wide, I fear they will be under-utilized. Perhaps Arsene Wenger is set to alter Arsenal’s look to a 4-4-2 for the upcoming season.