Arsenal recorded a 2-1 win at Middlesbrough on Monday night, with goals from Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil enough to seal the victory. It was by no means a pretty one, but as midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stated after the game they just needed a win.
Arsenal were not at their best and there was a slight nervousness about the Gunners, which is understandable because of their recent away form (four straight defeats).
However, in the end, the Gunners managed to grind out a win, in a fashion that they have struggled to do in the past.
A change of formation
It was quite refreshing to see Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger roll out a new formation. For most Arsenal fans it was about time he at least tried to vary his tactics slightly. He has been attempting to play the same way for the last two decades, to be fair the first decade they were quite successful with it.
The Gunners played with what seemed to be a 3-4-2-1 formation. Wenger is not one for making changes to his formation. He usually stubbornly sticks to a 4-2-3-1 or similar formation. In fact, it was the first time in his 20 year reign that the Frenchman has played with three at the back.
The switched produced mixed results. There was not a dramatic change in Arsenal’s performance, but in the end, it got the job done. With Arsenal fragility in recent away games, the switch was understandable, as it gave the Gunners extra solidity.
The decision to leave Hector Bellerin on the bench came as a surprise. However, due to his recent poor form and criticism of his performances, it may have been a wise decision in the circumstances. Youngster Rob Holding came in and did a decent job alongside Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel in defence.
It would nice to see Wenger continue to actually look at the other team’s strengths and maybe change the Gunners tactics. It may even lead to Arsenal winning more games.
Still outsiders for the top four
Despite the win at Boro, Arsenal are still very much on the outside looking in at the top four. The Gunners are sixth-place in the Premier League table and odds of 8/1 to secure a Champions League spot this season.
The side from north London are currently seven points behind fourth-place Liverpool and have a game in hand. However, as Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has suggested, the Gunners would need to win all their games to make the top four.
It’s a difficult ask, especially with a north London derby to come. However, at least Arsenal have ended that poor run of form away from home. It’s a start I guess.
Was Arsene Wenger’s switch of formations successful?