Jamie Carragher admits he is “surprised” that Arsenal have continued with their three-man defensive system.
Arsene Wenger made the tactical switch in the second half of last season, with the Gunners in danger of missing out on a Champions League place and silverware.
They could not rescue Champions League qualification despite an upturn in results, although they did win the FA Cup deploying the new formation.
Carragher admits he was “surprised” that Wenger stuck with it however, and also that he failed to sign a new centre-half.
“It was such a great thing for Arsenal to win the FA Cup against top opposition,” Carragher told Sky Sports. “They had won the FA Cup before against Hull and Aston Villa but this was against the champions Chelsea after beating Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the semi-final. That was the really great thing about Arsenal’s end to the season.
“Sometimes when a team lacks confidence, just to change the system can help to believe in something different. Sometimes when you go to a new formation it changes people’s concentration levels.
“It gives the players that something to focus on because they are suddenly doing something different rather than repeating the same stuff. So it can be a mental thing that managers use.
“I was surprised that he stayed with it. I thought it was something just to get them through to the end of the season. There is no doubt they got results with it but their actual defending did not massively improve.
“I have never really been convinced when watching them that it is going to make that much of a difference.
“I don’t think their problems were with the system, I think they were about the mentality.
“There are problems in midfield and that was shown against Liverpool where there was such a lack of protection for the defence. That has been happening for a long time so a system change is not going to stop that against big teams away from home.
“I was really surprised that they did not sign a centre-back in the summer considering they were going with three at the back. Not only did they need more centre-backs but Per Mertesacker is a year older and, reading between the lines, if a good offer had come in for Shkodran Mustafi they would not have been too unhappy to sell him either.
“The problem you have got if you play three centre-backs is that it means you need five in your club as a minimum, probably six.
“I just don’t think that they have got the numbers and I also don’t think they have got the quality to play that system, hence why it has not had a massively positive impact defensively when switching from a four to a three.”