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Arsenal boss Unai Emery’s training ground notes suggest he will not play with two out-and-out frontmen next season and will instead opt for something closer to the 4-1-4-1 formation he prefers.
he Gunners are in Singapore as they continue their pre-season preparations, and will take on Emery’s old club PSG on Saturday having lost on penalties to Atletico Madrid in the first game of their Asian tour. During a training session ahead of the friendly clash with the French champions, Emery was pictured with his clipboard which had notes for how Arsenal would line up.
Although fans have been looking forward to a possible Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang strike partnership, Emery looks set to go with one up top. The Spaniard’s notes showed a back four, one designated holding midfielder – likely to be new signing Lucas Torreira in the long-term – two more advanced midfielders, two wingers and one striker.
There appeared to be a list of players capable of playing in each position on Emery’s notes, with the squad looking lightest at left-back where only Sead Kolasinac is currently available. Emery started the clash against Atletico in a 4-3-3 – with Aubameyang and Emile Smith Rowe on the flanks behind Lacazette – though he revealed in an interview with Marti Perarnau that he prefers a 4-1-4-1, which would be easy to switch into with his leaked line-up. ‘For me, the 4-1-4-1 is the system which facilitates that type of pressing,’ revealed Emery while he was still at PSG.
‘The 4-4-2 is designed more and more for zonal positioning. It’s less aggressive, but is more difficult to get past. That’s the case with Marcelino’s teams, Quique Sanchez Flores’ teams, Saint-Étienne when we last played them. ‘I am not ruling out the possibility of a 4-4-2. That’s not the idea that I privilege, but if it allows me to be more competitive, then I’ll go towards it without hesitating. We sometimes used it in Sevilla. I would put Banega in a playmaker position, and have him move to the second striker position without the ball.’