Arsenal will play their first big match of the season when they face Premier League champions Manchester City at the Emirates on Saturday lunchtime. The Gunners are one of the four teams in the league that are yet to be defeated but have managed more draws than wins than any other team in top 10.
The Arsenal camp will be boosted by the arrival of Danny Welbeck, who adds significant depth to the forward line. The former Manchester United striker scored two goals in his last match against Switzerland in the Euro 2016 qualifier for England and is expected to play as a central striker in absence of Olivier Giroud.
Mikel Arteta, Kieran Gibbs and Mesut Ozil are all declared fit, so basically, Arsene Wenger has a more-or-less fully fit squad (Aaron Ramsey doubtful) to choose from.
Key for Arsenal will be to start with the 4-2-3-1 formation. Arsene Wenger has been using the 4-1-4-1 formation so far, packing the forward line with four attacking midfielders, but it seems it is not fetching desired results.
Arsenal have plenty of attacking midfielders (Podolski, Campbell, Cazorla, Ozil, Ramsey, Rosicky, Walcott, Sanchez, Gnabry, Oxlade-Chamberlain) in their squad which gives a clear insight behind Wenger’s sudden tactical shift, although most of them are versatile enough to play in multiple positions.
However with Welbeck around (whose game is based on pace and intelligent movements) Wenger must return back to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation where he can use his best players at their best positions. Mesut Ozil is a typical no. 10 and not a wide winger. Alexis Sanchez is a wide forward and not a proper second (or no. 9 as used against Everton) striker. Likewise, Jack Wilshere is a natural central midfielder and not an advanced play-maker.
Arsenal must get their shape and balance right. Wilshere should partner Arteta (a proper defensive midfielder) in the middle. Ozil must play behind the striker while the movement of Sanchez and the guile of Ramsey / Cazorla should be best used from the flanks.
Manchester City use a variation of 4-4-2, but during the course of the game, they change to a flexible 4-3-3 with Silva (not a natural winger) drifting towards the centre. As a result, City are getting an extra man in the midfield which helps in gaining more control (read as possession) in the middle of the park.
Ozil and Sanchez are not the type of players who would drop deep and help the midfield out, but Welbeck with his bundles of energy is ideal for this role. Half of the battle is won, if City’s midfield threat can be controlled.