Borussia Dortmund
2:00 AM UTC May 23, 2018
Game Details
North Carolina FC
Ocean City Nor'easters
LIVE 36'
Game Details

Walcott and Bellerin the big losers as Wenger shifts to new formation

The winners and losers in Arsenal's new formation Arsene Wenger's tactical switch has Arsenal back to winning ways.

Playing with three at the back has helped the Gunners beat both Middlesbrough and Manchester City over the last week, playing with a defensive solidity that has been missing for much of the season.

But while the collective seems to have gained, not every player will be so happy with the new tactics.

Here's a look at the winners and losers in the Arsenal squad when it comes to fitting into Wenger's new scheme ...


Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

For years, people have debated whether "The Ox" should be playing as a winger or central midfielder. Now the answer seems to be: wing-back.

Wenger described Oxlade-Chamberlain as "a revelation" in the position, and he has been Arsenal's best player over the last two games. Playing deeper allows him to get more involved in the buildup play while still giving him the freedom to wreak havoc down the wing. After spending so much time on the bench this season, he suddenly looks un-droppable.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was named Man of the Match in Arsenal's FA Cup semifinal win against Manchester City at Wembley.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has excelled in a new position at Arsenal.

Gabriel Paulista

The Brazilian had arguably his best game in an Arsenal shirt against Man City, winning duels, bullying attackers and always popping up in the right place at the right time. Gabriel's two-year Arsenal stint has been inconsistent to say the least, but he's rarely looked as comfortable on the pitch as he did last Sunday. If he keeps playing like that, it would solve so many of Arsenal's problems.

Rob Holding

Holding has been thrust back into the team thanks to Shkodran Mustafi's injury, and was only told the day before the Middlesbrough game that he would be making his first league start since August. But the 21-year-old has seized his opportunity with both hands, and played like an experienced veteran at Wembley in the biggest game of his career. When Mustafi returns to full fitness, he may find he's not a given starter anymore.

Aaron Ramsey

OK, Ramsey's performances in the last two games haven't been overwhelming. But at least there is a natural place for him in this system. The midfielder's season has been disrupted by injuries and poor form, and it was becoming hard to argue that he should have one of the central midfield positions in Wenger's normal 4-2-3-1 formation. Ramsey and Granit Xhaka are still coming to grips with playing in front of a back three, but the switch has given the Welshman better chances of playing regularly.


Theo Walcott

Scoring-wise, Walcott is having one of the best seasons of his career with 19 goals already. But there is no room for pure wingers in a 3-4-3 and his game is too limited to function as a wing-back. Walcott has been on the bench the last two games, and will likely remain there until Wenger reverts back to his normal formation.

Theo Walcott may not have a natural place in Arsene Wenger's new system.

Hector Bellerin

Bellerin should actually be a good fit for the wing-back position given his speed and ability to make raids down the flank. But unfortunately for him, Oxlade-Chamberlain is simply a better choice. Bellerin has locked down the right-back position at Arsenal after beating out Mathieu Debuchy, but now faces another fight for a place in the team.

Francis Coquelin

Coquelin's form has been on a downward curve all season long, and it's unclear whether Wenger has dropped him because of the new system or his recent struggles. The Frenchman could certainly do a good job helping shield a back three, but he doesn't have the overall game that Xhaka and Ramsey offer. Alex Iwobi

Iwobi's versatility meant he could play anywhere across the front three in Wenger's normal system. But it's unclear exactly where he would fit into this new Gunners side. He won't unseat Mesut Ozil or Alexis Sanchez as one of the two attacking midfielders behind the striker, and his defensive skills are still a bit too limited to play in front of the back three.

Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.


Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.