Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Wenger to keep faith with Arsenal's formation

Arsene Wenger intends to stick with his fluid 4-3-3 formation which has underpinned Arsenal's impressive start to the new campaign - but maintains he has the personnel to switch things around should the going get tough.

Captain Cesc Fabregas is a major doubt for the second leg of the Champions League qualifier against Celtic at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night - when the Gunners will defend a 2-0 lead - because of a hamstring problem, meaning Wenger is likely to have to rethink his tactics.

Alex Song, rested to the bench against Portsmouth, and Brazilian youngster Denilson offer plenty of defensive cover for a midfield trio, while Wales international Aaron Ramsey could be handed the playmaker role after scoring his first Barclays Premier League goal when a second-half substitute for Fabregas.

Abou Diaby presents another option, having staked his claim for a place in the starting XI by bagging a brace in the 4-1 demolition of sorry Pompey.

After watching his side open the campaign with a 6-1 romp at Everton before winning in Glasgow, Wenger concedes, at the moment, there seems little reason to tinker.

"We have played a 4-3-3 formation early in the season and there are many benefits from it," said the Arsenal manager.

"But it is not a definite system - it can change in some games and I might move to a 4-4-2.

"At the start of the season, I wanted to play high up the pitch, making a threat in the opponents half early in the game.

"We like to do that, because we are an attacking team and it gives us the opportunity to use our character."

Arsenal may have now bagged 12 goals from three games, but only one of those has come from a striker - Eduardo netting up at Goodison Park.

Wenger, though, is not overly concerned, having seen centre-back William Gallas take his personal tally to three with another somewhat fortunate effort against Pompey.

"It tells me that we have a game where we attack from everywhere," the Arsenal manager observed.

"Our strikers at the moment are providers.

"For me, in a good team everybody can score and a good striker scores and provides.

"At the moment they provide more than they score, but I know that Eduardo and Robin van Persie will score so I am very happy that at the moment they do not score and we still score goals."

With such an abundance of riches in attack, especially when you consider the likes of England forward Theo Walcott, Czech international Tomas Rosicky and France winger Samir Nasri are all not yet match fit, Wenger admits should he dip into the transfer market again before the window closes, it would be for defensive cover.

A swoop for Fulham's Norway centre-half Brede Hangeland, though, appears to have been ruled out, but reports linking former skipper Patrick Vieira with a return continue to surface, while the future of centre-back Philippe Senderos, who was in talks with Everton, remains unclear.

Wenger is keeping an "open eye" on the situation ahead of the September 1 deadline.

"We are not desperate because if you look at the players who are out and those who are available, it shows that we have a big squad," he said.

"Maybe in the defensive area we could still do something, but everybody looks at basically the same places."

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