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What formations could Mikel Arteta adapt to get the best out of Arsenal?

  /  autty

For Mikel Arteta and Arsenal, the next two weeks are going to drag ever so slowly following the harrowing 3-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa in the Premier League.

The Gunners were massively outclassed on their own turf by Jack Grealish, Ross Barkley and Co - bringing Arteta's side back down to reality following their victory over Manchester United.

For the first time this season, Arsenal's defence looked very shaky while once again Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Co were nowhere to be seen in attack.

Arsenal have scored just nine goals so far this term in the Premier League - their fewest at this stage of a campaign since back in 1998-99 (9).

And Arteta admitted after Sunday's final whistle that he will reassess his Arsenal system and tactics over the international break in his bid to get his team back on track.

Here, Sportsmail takes a look at what exactly the Spaniard may change to get Arsenal firing on all cylinders...


Leno - Bellerin, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney - Partey, Xhaka - Pepe, Ceballos, Saka - Aubameyang

Arteta has deployed a 3-4-3 formation throughout the majority of the season so far, which is working well against the big teams but not against the lesser sides.

Against Aston Villa, the same formation was used and it was evident that there was no fluidity in attack with the Gunners boss playing a defensive-minded formation with three centre backs, two wing backs and two holding midfielders.

But Arsenal's biggest problem so far this season is an alarming struggle to break down lesser opponents in the Premier League.

Arsenal have scored just nine goals in eight Premier League fixtures - only five teams have a worse record so far, including the bottom four sides. In their last four fixtures, they have netted just once and that came from the penalty spot.

It is a far cry from the glory days under Arsene Wenger, and Arteta must make sure he gets the best out of talisman Aubameyang, who has gone worryingly quiet after signing his new lucrative deal.

One way Arteta could maximise his attack is by taking the handbrake off, and essentially not deploying five at the back.

In this 4-2-3-1 formation, which is arguably the most likely one, Arsenal's midfield will be allowed more freedom to express themselves with Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka providing a base for Dani Ceballos to flourish slightly further forward.

Either side of the Spanish midfielder is Nicolas Pepe and the ever-consistent Bukayo Saka. The pair, especially the former, are not afraid to take risks and get at their man, something the Gunners desperately crave at present.

Arteta has opted for Willian and Alaxandre Lacazette, both shot of confidence, in recent matches due to their discipline in the press, but Arsenal desperately need players who are willing to take a gamble.

Arteta's continued trust in Lacazette, which is baffling many fans, is casting Aubameyang to a supporting role on the wings. Instead of making the chances from the flanks, the Arsenal talisman should be the one latching onto the end of crosses from the likes of Pepe and Co.

This attack-minded formation, especially against sides they would be expected to beat, would surely allow Aubameyang and Co to flourish.


Leno - Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney - Bellerin, Partey, Ceballos, Saka - Pepe, Aubameyang, Nelson

If Arteta wants to ensure Arsenal keep their shape at the back, then there are still ways he can work around making sure his attack operates smoothly.

He can keep a back three of Gabriel, David Luiz and Kieran Tierney while Hector Bellerin and Saka operate as the wing-backs in this formation.

But he would need more creativity in attack, and instead of playing Mohamed Elneny - who did excellently in the victory at United alongside Thomas Partey - Arteta should deploy Ceballos from the start.

It must be said that Joe Willock is knocking on Arteta's door too after shining in the Europa League victories against Dundalk and Molde at home.

The young English midfielder has provided Arteta with a unique ability of powerfully driving forward through midfield, making Aaron Ramsey-esque runs into the box late on.

Meanwhile in attack, Aubameyang could and should be moved from the left flank into the middle, where he will almost certainly be more deadly.

Playing Pepe on the right, while giving youngster Reiss Nelson a go on the left, would add verve and pace to a stuttering frontline.

Nelson is certainly raw still, but again he is not afraid to take people on, which was highlighted in his impressive display in the Europa League victory against Dundalk.

3-4-3 (against the 'Top Six')

Leno - Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney - Bellerin, Partey, Elneny, Maitland-Niles - Pepe, Aubameyang, Saka

But it must be noted that against bigger teams, Arteta shouldn't be afraid to deploy a more defensive 3-4-3 line-up similar to the one that dominated United at Old Trafford.

In that formation, Elneny added extra steel alongside Partey in the heart of midfield while Lacazette and Willian provided discipline from the front, pressing high and forcing the United defence into making mistakes.

But with Willian and Lacazette both massively out of form, they would be axed in this new line-up.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles would take Saka's place in the left wing back position, impressing hugely in that spot during Arsenal's FA Cup semi-final and final victories over Manchester City and Chelsea last season.

Maitland-Niles, who has played his way into the England set-up, adds that defensive cover on the left while he has the legs and bravery to get forward and offer Arsenal another attacking dimension.

Meanwhile Saka would move further forward in this 3-4-3 line-up, taking Willian's place after his misfiring performances of late with Aubameyang down the middle and Lacazette dropped to the bench.


Leno - Bellerin, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney - Pepe, Partey, Ceballos, Saka - Aubameyang, Nketiah

Another alternative for Arteta is to deploy the good old 4-4-2 formation, which would really prioritise attack. It is the least likely system but it is an option.

The four at the back would stay in their shape while allowing the six further forward to provide the magic in attack.

Bellerin and Tierney can provide an extra attacking threat on the flanks in this formation but Pepe and Saka would certainly have to perform their defensive duties.

However, this is a big concern about club record-signing Pepe - whether he has the capabilities to reliably track back.

But this formation would definitely allow for plenty of freedom going forward, and Aubameyang and Eddie Nketiah would surely get an abundance of chances in this attack-minded line-up.

With the combative nature of Partey alongside the silky Ceballos, Arsenal have a mixture of everything in central midfield.

Pepe and Saka would act as natural wingers pinning their defensive counterparts back while whipping in inviting deliveries.

And with the goal-scoring instinct of Aubameyang and Nketiah up top, they could thrive off the creative service.

Nketiah has shown his poachers instinct and a special knack for being in the right place at the right time, and he would deserve a starting berth ahead of Lacazette at this present moment if Arteta was to play two up top together.