Facts back up why I'm not convinced by 4-5-1 Arsenal in the EPL
Since the start of the season Arsene Wenger has gone all-out in using the 4-5-1 system. After ten years of 4-4-2 which saw two doubles, an unbeaten season and loads of goals why would Wenger completely change to a new system?
I see the merit of the 4-5-1 in the Champs League where the aim of the competition is more to avoid conceding goals rather than to push for goals. In this context the extra midfielder can benefit the team by protecting the defence and maintaining possession of the ball. Equally, I don't see the advantage of it being the Plan A system in the Premiership where the importance of gaining three points every match means having two strikers playing centrally is often the better option, as borne out by the Premiership history of Arsenal under Arsene Wenger.
The startling facts of the AFC 4-5-1 are that despite playing excellent football in virtually every match we have our worst points total in the opening 13 games of an EPL season under Wenger, and have fallen one-nil behind in eight of these matches. I'm not saying that the 4-5-1 is completely at fault for these facts, but I do think there is a connection and that we just don't look as lethal in this system.
For example, in the seven home Premiership games we have played this season we have scored just two goals in the first half (one a Watford OG) as teams have piled men behind the ball. The repeated difficulty in getting a breakthrough in home matches highlights to me that the 4-5-1 system - with the excellent Henry uncomfortably restricted and isolated in the centre and VP forced out into a wide left position - should not be Plan A for the Emirates where the onus is really on us to attack and score plenty of goals.
Against Hamburg it wasn't until Wenger decided at half-time to place Robin van Persie into a conventinal central role alongside Henry that we looked more threatening, and it was VP from a central position who opened the scoring. For me this match simply reinforced my belief in the benefit of playing with two central strikers and I hope it has revived Wenger's admiration for the 4-4-2 system.
It is the system that not only has bought us a lot of domestic success in the last decade but maxmises the attacking talent of Henry and VP and personally I hope to see its return at Fulham tomorrow evening where a win is a must.
Preferred team line up at Craven Cottage:
Eboue Toure Senderos Clichy
Hleb Fabregas Gilberto Rosicky
-------Van Persie Henry