Arsenal's 'False Nine' Fails Its First Test

Arsene Wenger was forced to scrap his 'false nine' formation just 45 minutes into its first outing on Saturday. Will he admit another striker is needed to boost Arsenal's options?

Last Updated: 23/08/14 at 20:46 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Red Bull & RB Leipzig: Money Gives You Wings

Post comment

A football club in Germany has had its name, stadium, kit, badge, colours and nickname changed by a multi-billion Euro company. Another romantic football tale...

Forget Falcao, United Loving Angel Instead

25 comments

Forget it only being QPR, Louis van Gaal and Manchester United needed to make a statement on Sunday. Angel Di Maria did so emphatically...

All Articles

"A team is life and life is movement. That means the team doesn't stand still, we move forward and improve. We have a good opportunity on Saturday to show that we have moved forward and that we are stronger than last year."

After a sluggish first half against Everton, Arsene Wenger could be forgiven for feeling that the more things change, the more they stay the same at Arsenal. The Gunners had won every match in the Premier League since their 3-0 thrashing at Goodison Park in April, but on their return to the scene of the crime signs of progress initially appeared as false as the manager's striker-less formation.

This was the first time Wenger has tested a 'false nine' system following the arrival of £35m forward Alexis Sanchez, but the experiment lasted only 45 minutes before the anonymous Chilean was replaced by Olivier Giroud. In a first half that saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain strike all five of Arsenal's attempts - and all off-target - Sanchez had fewer touches than every outfield player other than Mathieu Debuchy.

Despite Sanchez's quiet display, it was a surprise to see him hooked at the interval as Wenger renewed his faith in Giroud. The Frenchman struggled to make an impact in the midweek draw with Besiktas, but against Everton Arsenal's real No.9 proved the perfect Plan B as his introduction helped to change the game. With Giroud now offering a focal point for the attack to build around, Arsenal became much more direct, probing the Toffees' defence before rescuing a point in the last eight minutes.

This desire to fight to the end, which was also apparent against Crystal Palace on the opening day, will provide encouragement to Wenger amid a slow start to the season in terms of his team finding their rhythm. However, the manager will also be concerned that simple lessons have not been learned in the five months following Arsenal's last meeting with Everton.

In packing central midfield with Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini, Wenger showed a level of respect to the hosts that was perhaps missing when the Toffees threatened to pinch the Gunners' Champions League spot in the spring. On this occasion, Everton would not be allowed to breeze forward without resistance and surge into an early lead. At least that was the plan.

Instead, the same Arsenal flaws were revealed, with Mesut Ozil switching off in the 19th minute to allow Seamus Coleman to sneak in and open the scoring. The second goal was unfortunate - Romelu Lukaku appearing to foul Per Mertesacker in the build-up and Steven Naismith benefiting from a close off-side call - but Wenger will be more worried about his team's weary start in one of the toughest away trips of the season.

Despite defensive concerns being revived, the biggest issue for the manager to address is a lack of cutting edge which saw Everton hold on until the 90th minute and Palace survive to the 92nd. Wenger has made clear his intention to persist with his current striking options - awarding Yaya Sanogo a starting role at home to Palace and against Manchester City in the Community Shield - but watching the Gunners in the first half on Saturday, he may have doubted that decision.

His resolve will be further tested by news of an injury to Giroud, who appeared to turn his ankle in the closing stages. "We have a big game on Wednesday - I hope we haven't lost Giroud," said Wenger afterwards. "It doesn't look good."

With the Frenchman possibly facing a period on the sidelines, and the early trials of a false nine formation not proving a success, the focus returns to Wenger's insistence that he doesn't need another striker. It seems such an obvious missing piece of the jigsaw for Arsenal and, if the Gunners are to prove they are stronger than last year, Wenger may be required to adapt his original plans.

Matt Stanger - he's on Twitter.

Ozil on the left was a disaster waiting to happen especially when he isn't fit, to get the best out of him he needs to play in the middle 3 of 4-2-3-1 with Sanchez & Walcott either side, hopefully Wenger will experiment with this when everyone is fit. The false 9 only works (imo) when you have three mobile forwards constantly rotating pulling defenders out of position and trying to find space inbetween the channels. This wasn't that. It was Sanchez up front in a traditional CF role, using his pace to play on the break like Cheesemonger said. @Murray: A quality DM than can also play as the 4th choice CB would be my top priority. Completely agree with your order.
- dwh

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

C

an we get one on the similarities between this year's Arsenal and 5 years ago. Or any other number you care to pick frankly...it shouldn't be hard.

mc1728
Liverpool: Five Similiarities Five Years On

R

icky van Wolfswinkel's remarkable record of one goal from one game at least deserves an honourable mention. And I'm willing to bet that at least one of Costa, Ulloa or Enner Valencia will earn a place on the list by the end of the season. Probably not Costa

stevenjameshyde
Top Ten PL Strikers Who Started Like A Train...

I

will also give up birthday Christmas and bacon for this to happen

badwolf
Ronaldo return ‘in place’

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Premier League: Jose Mourinho confirms Eden Hazard's Chelsea contract talks ongoing

Jose Mourinho is confident Eden Hazard will commit his future to Chelsea, with talks ongoing over a contract extension.

Daley Blind backs Louis van Gaal's brutally honest approach at Manchester United

Daley Blind says Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal's brutally honest manner is good for team-building.

Premier League: Manchester United winger Angel di Maria delighted with Old Trafford bow

Manchester United winger Angel di Maria was delighted with his Old Trafford debut after the 4-0 win over QPR.

Mail Box

Who's More Miserable - Baggies Or Mags?

There's not a lot to choose between the misery of West Brom fans and the misery of Newcastle fans. We have mails on them, 'only QPR' and lots on Man United...

Forget it, Ronaldo Won't Come Back

A varied morning mailbox, with thoughts on Ronaldo, Daley Blind = Michael Carrick, Ed Woodward redemption, stick with Pardew, QPR's name change and marbles...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property