The Arsenal Formation

Once a 4-4-2 man, Arsene Wenger now generally favors the 4-2-3-1

For many years Arsene Wenger was reluctant to stray away from the tried and trusted 4-4-2 as his Arsenal formation.

He won three league titles and four FA Cups using the system, but he now generally opts for the 4-2-3-1 formation, with Wojciech Szczesny his first choice as goalkeeper and Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone deputizing.


Wenger’s squad has suffered badly with injuries in the last few years, meaning his defenders and midfielders have needed to be versatile enough to play out of position.

Bacary Sagna is Wenger’s undisputed first choice at right-back.

The Frenchman signed from Auxerre in 2007 and is almost always selected when fit. When arriving in the country, Sagna claimed that he was not spectacular in any area of his game. Although that may be true, he is one of the most reliable defenders in the Premier League and is effective going forward. Carl Jenkinson is his deputy at right-back, but Johan Djourou also features when injuries take their toll.

Thomas Vermaelen is widely considered Arsenal’s best central defender. Strong and commanding in the area, the Belgian also scores more goals than the average defender. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are Wenger’s other ‘go-to’ guys in central defense, the German an imposing figure at 6ft 6 in, while Koscielny boasts good pace and is another reliable option. Djourou also competes for a place in the center, while the error-prone Sebastien Squilaci is someway down the pecking order.

At left-back, Kieran Gibbs competes for a place in the team with Andre Santos.

Both are more comfortable going forward. Wenger hopes that Gibbs can prove the long-term successor to Gael Clichy, but the Englishman has been worryingly susceptible to injury early in his career. Santos lacks the pace of Gibbs, but has played over 20 times for Brazil and provides competition for the youngster.

Vermaelen is another option in this position when injuries hit.


For years, the midfield was built around Cesc Fabregas. But when he and Samir Nasri left in the summer of 2011, Wenger had to undertake something of an overhaul. Jack Wilshire is Arsenal’s best midfielder and the brains of the team together with Santi Cazorla who plays further forward. Both are excellent passers of the ball and a sure-fire guarantee of assists. Mikel Arteta is another Steady Eddie in midfield, while Aaron Ramsey is also an option.

Abou Diaby is regarded as one of the most talented players at the Emirates, but his injury record is dreadful, meaning this box-to-box midfielder misses a chunk of most seasons with one ailment or another. Tomas Rosicky is another who has endured a miserable time through injury since joining from Borussia Dortmund in 2006.

Youngster Francis Coquelin is a tenacious competitor and made his breakthrough in the 2011-12 season.

Theo Walcott generally plies his trade on the right. He has pace to burn, but his final ball and finish has too often let him down in a Gunners shirt. On the other side, Gervinho has similar shortcomings, but the Ivory Coast international is a tricky customer with no little skill on the ball.

Lukas Podolski joined the club from Cologne in 2012 and plays either on the left-wing or as a striker.

Andrey Arshavin has disappointed in an Arsenal shirt but is another option on the left or right.

Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain is at the other end of his career and looks to be a player of immense promise, capable of operating on the wing or in midfield.


Olivier Giround is the club's main out-and-out center-forward, joining from Montpellier in the same summer that Robin van Persie left for Manchester United.

If Giroud gets injured, Podolski, Marouane Chamakh and Ju-Young Park are options to step in.