By Chris Harris
When Arsenal's Carling Cup kids step out at Emirates Stadium this month, don't be surprised if they slot seamlessly into Arsène Wenger's new formation.
The manager has adopted a 4-3-3 system this season and the switch has already paid dividends with emphatic wins over Everton, Celtic and Portsmouth in the bag. The new formation has given Arsenal a solid base in midfield and allows their attack-minded players more freedom to create scoring opportunities.
Of course where Wenger leads, the rest of the Club follows. That's why the Frenchman is not the only one instilling new ideas into his players on the training pitches at London Colney. Neil Banfield's Reserve team have also embraced 4-3-3 and Steve Bould has adopted the same formation at Academy level.
Banfield's boys have started impressively, recording two emphatic wins in the Reserve League South. And the second-string boss has explained why the young Gunners must come to terms with Wenger's new policy before the Carling Cup tie with West Bromwich Albion on September 22.
"We always take our lead off the manager and how he wants to play tactically," Banfield told Arsenal.com.
"The manager at the moment has decided to play 4-3-3. He may change, but he feels that through the Club he wants the Reserves and the Under-18s to play that way under me and Steve [Bould] so we have continuity.
"That means when he picks someone we know they've got half an idea of what's expected of them. So they are not going in blind, they are aware of their responsibilities, offensively and defensively.
"It takes time, patience and work on the training ground, and walking it through with them. We've gone from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 and people start to think 'well, that's not a big change', but sometimes it is for some of these lads.
"They need to know what their responsibilities are on the pitch, what they have to do in certain situations, and it takes a little bit of time. But I think they are grasping it at the moment."Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source