Marouane Chamakh could essentially pose Arsene Wenger a selection problem this season if Arsenal stick to their current tactical set up, but ultimately he provides excellent cover for a team which has been stretched far too often over the previous few years.
In 2009 – 10 Arsenal played with what was widely regarded as a 4-3-3, but in effect was a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation. This consisted of two central midfielders holding the centre of the park, whilst Fabregas played between the lines. Two wide players, usually Arshavin and Nasri, looked to cut in from the flanks, whilst a single striker played as a ‘false nine’, dropping deep.
Chamakh At Bordeaux
Chamakh actually has the attributes to play in 4-2-3-1, as he played the stiker’s role in this formation at Bordeaux. The team played two slightly deeper central midfielders, with attacking support from three forward midfielders. Their line-up against Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League is a good example of Bordeaux’s system in action.
Jussie looked to cut in, whilst the two fullbacks went on the overlap, especially Chalme, rather like the system emplyed by Clichy and Sagna at Arsenal. Gourcuff played a more similar role to Mesut Ozil for Germany than Fabregas at Arsenal though.
Chamakh’s role for Bordeaux is clearly displayed in the heat map analysis from the Bayern Munich game. Chamakh dropped deep and wide, in the style that Wenger has utilised strikers for Arsenal since Henry.
Van Persie and Bendtner play in a similar style, evidence that Wenger has signed a player who will fit into the current system. However, this may create selection problems for Arsene Wenger as Robin Van Persie has been first choice for that role for both Arsenal and World Cup finalists Holland. Playing a single striker would mean a choice between the two.
Of course Van Persie has struggled with long term injuries almost every season he has been at Arsenal. In effect the signing of Chamakh would just allow another top quality option to lead the line, as Bendtner is still developing, and Eduardo demonstrated last season that playing the lone striker is not his best role.
This would solve the dilemma and allow Wenger to rotate the team, and this may well happen. The team has been in desperate need of extra depth, and Chamakh is an experienced player with his best years ahead of him, and his heading ability adds another dimension to Arsenal’s play.
However, if Arsene Wenger wanted to play both Chamakh and Van Persie Arsenal might see a slight change of system. It has been suggested that the team could play a 4-4-2, but Arsenal have already switched away from the 4-4-2, and the development of formations suggests that the 4-4-2 can no longer always be effective. The 4-2-3-1 allows players to play between the lines, and as demonstrated at the World Cup in South Africa the more fluid sides dominated, with both finalists, Spain and Holland lining up with four zone formations.
In this formation Chamakh could partner Van Persie who would drop deep in the hole. The problem here is congestion in the centre of the field, as both Arsenal wingers look to cut inside, and Fabregas plays best pushing forward. Having Chamakh playing up front in addition means the team could lack balance.
In another case Chamakh or Van Persie could play on the left or right respectively, but considering the depth of support for those positions, and the qualities of the two strikers it seems that they will be used up front.
The last few seasons have shown that in reality Arsenal have almost never had a full strength squad, and so many players have had to provide cover in different positions. This epidemic of injuries means that for me Chamakh will slot in as the lone striker to cover Robin Van Persie.
Not only this but even without injury, the large amount of games that the team plays means that the strikers could play 30 games apiece playing as single strikers in a squad rotation system.
When looked at through the lens of the recent past, there shouldn’t be a selection dilemma, due to the fact that injuries have been so prevalent. If anything Wenger is simply strengthening the side and adding a quality option up front. This should see Arsenal retain their fluid 4-2-3-1 system in the coming season, interchanging Van Persie, Chamakh and Bendtner.