It’s official – the annual round of Arsenal fan mocking has arrived early this season.
A storming end to the 2016-17 campaign looked to have calmed tensions but the same old critique has resurfaced just a month into the new term. Even the WengerOut hashtag has made a swift comeback.
Perhaps supporters shouldn’t be too surprised, though. Eyes were always going to be on Arsene Wenger when he signed a new two-year contract after a year punctuated with calls for his head.
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And those who tempered the excitement after an enthralling 4-3 win over Leicester were certainly proven correct.
The dramatic victory, which was – in hindsight – more sheepish than heroic, was followed by disappointing defeats away to Stoke City and Liverpool. It’s a poor start that leaves the Gunners six points adrift of the league leaders, already.
With legends such as Thierry Henry and Ian Wright piling in with the criticism, it’s clear that something has to change.
According to the Mirror, said change will prove the scrapping of Arsenal’s back three formation.
Wenger is said to be giving serious consideration to reverting to a four-at-the-back approach. Recent training sessions have seen the squad sample a number of different systems with a classic defensive line-up taking preference.
This is in spite of the success Arsenal experienced with three centre-backs and two wing-backs in the twilight months of last season. In fact, it completely turned around their fortunes.
The switch spurred on a run of 10 wins in 11 games, emulating the kind of form Chelsea harboured with the same formation.
Wenger sees the defeats to Stoke and Liverpool as evidence that the club’s success with the system has expired. He simply remains undecided as to whether Saturday’s Bournemouth clash will come too soon for the change.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s departure may even have influenced the decision.
The Englishman featured regularly as a wing-back under Wenger’s back three system. However, being deployed so defensively was believed to have played a role in his decision to leave and to Liverpool as opposed to Chelsea.
Either way, though, Gooners will be hoping that Wenger turns things around and pronto. A back four will have to perform better than it fared over the winter months of last season, that’s for sure.
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