4-5-1 system is averaging Arsenal just 0.166 goals per match!
When I see Arsenal line-up in their new 4-5-1 system my instinctive reaction is to lower my expectations for the match.
And after seeing Arsenal play out a goalless draw with Man Utd last night using the 4-5-1 system, I racked my memory of recent past matches where Wenger has opted for this formation and came up with a stat that explains my instinctive negative reaction to it.
Starting with the 2005 FA Cup final - where Arsenal looked really makeshift with Bergkamp as a target man and Reyes lost on the right wing! - I can count six games including last night where we have used the 4-5-1 system. These are:
Man Utd (cup final); Chelsea (away); Ajax (home); Chelsea (home); Charlton (away); Man Utd (home).
These six matches have seen Arsenal score just one goal… coming from Reyes at Charlton. This averages out at 0.166 goals scored per match.
This poor statistic says a lot about our attacking success with the 4-5-1 system. It also betrays the AFC that all Gunners' are rightly proud to have seen revolutionise attacking football in recent years.
On the plus side, these six games have seen four clean sheets plus a Drogba shinner. So 4-5-1 has proven merits for keeping the goals out.
But the high price for defensive stability is - as backed up by the above evidence - a lack of an attacking threat that is the AFC trademark and helped produce real fear and intimidation in the opposition during the previous eight seasons of the Wenger era. I don’t want AFC to lose this special trademark.
For me, 4-5-1 should be used sparingly because our attacking movement in the system is not grooved to high standards. It should be reserved for tough away matches or as a plan B at home if Wenger wants to defend a lead.
I really don't want to see it as the starting system for a home match. It puts AFC on the back foot in an uncustomary system for the players; when we should be on the front foot using the 4-4-2 system that the attacking players at AFC have incorporated into their DNA over the years.
Every Arsenal player played with great commitment yesterday. But the system let the team down when it came to looking to hurt Man Utd.
In particular, Henry loves to rove, but was inhibited to play his natural game because as the sole striker he was aware that if he left the centre of the park than AFC would effectively be playing a 4-6-0. But when stuck in the middle - as has happened on past occasions using this system - he can't get free of his defensive markers.
A system that negates Henry is a system that negates AFC. And the stats prove the 4-5-1 system negates goal scoring and attacking threat for both. Because of this, I'd definitely prefer it if Wenger does not start with the 4-5-1 system at home for some time to come.