Is 3-4-3 the way forward for Arsenal and Arteta?
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Mikel Arteta, Manager f Arsenal walks off after the Premier League match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage on September 12, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Arsenal have started the season just how Mikel Arteta would have wanted them to, a 3-0 win over London rivals Fulham at Craven Cottage. 

Arteta implemented the 3-4-3 formation, utilising Hector Bellerin and Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the wing-back positions and new signing Gabriel Magalhaes as the central centre-back. 

Playing with three at the back offers the Gunners more fluidity, Kieran Tierney operating as the left-sided centre-back means going forward the personnel in the system can change, as Tierney hugs the touchline as Maitland-Niles drifts into more of a central position with Granit Xhaka or Mohamed Elneny dropping into centre-back with Rob Holding and Gabriel. 

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Towards the end of last season, when Arsenal weren't playing 3-4-3, they were playing a 4-2-3-1 formation. In the final league game of the 19/20 season against Watford, Arsenal ran out 3-2 winners in this formation but how does that performance compare to the one against Fulham at the weekend?

Against Fulham, the Gunners had 54.4% possession along with 90% pass success compared to the 51.1% possession and 83% pass success they had against Watford. This shows the 3-4-3 suits Arteta better for keeping the ball and dominating possession, suffocating Fulham in the process.

Arsenal created three big chances against Fulham and conceded no big chances against them compared to only two big chances created against Watford but a whopping seven chances conceded, showing Arsenal's vulnerability when defending in the 4-2-3-1 system. 

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Defensively in the 3-4-3 system Arsenal look a lot more solid and astute, the Gunners registered 18 interceptions and 12 successful tackles against Fulham, while against Watford, they only registered seven interceptions. They did have 14 successful tackles, which was two more than against Fulham but their tackle success was 67% against the West London side compared to 61% success against the Hornets. 

In my opinion, Arteta should stick with the 3-4-3 formation, he gets a lot more out of his players and also has players that not fit the system. The Gunners have options at both wing-back spots with the likes of Bellerin, Maitland-Niles, Tierney, Saka and Cedric Soares that can all play in these roles, while also being able to fill in other positions. 

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Arsenal now also have options in abundance in the forward positions in a front three formation also. With the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel Martinelli, Willian, Nicolas Pepe, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah, the Gunners aren't short of firepower and this showed against Fulham with Willian racking up three assists and Lacazette and Aubameyang getting themselves on the scoresheet. 

Arsenal host East London side West Ham next and I expect Arteta will go with a similar system and personnel that served him well at Fulham at the weekend. 

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