By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger insists his 4-3-3 formation is based on a Dutch system - not Barcelona.
Pep Guardiola's side swept all before them last season, winning the Spanish 'double' before adding the Champions League crown with a convincing win over Manchester United. Their system comprised of a centre forward supported by two wider attackers and a three-man midfield, including a 'holding' player sweeping up in front of the back four.
Wenger adopted a similar strategy last summer and will now pit his 4-3-3 formation against Guardiola's after the teams were paired together in the Champions League. Arsenal and Barcelona have plenty in common, not least their footballing principles, but the Gunners boss says he borrowed his new tactics from Holland, not Spain.
"I played 4-3-3 before Barcelona," explained the Frenchman. "I played 4-3-3 at Monaco and I think Barcelona has not created that system. That system is a Dutch system.
"Johan Cruyff exported it and played in that system. The Dutch used that system in 1974 in the World Cup in Germany.
"I thought it was more suited to the quality of our players. It suits Fabregas, it allows Van Persie to play in a free role up front and because we have so many versatile players we are not made for a strict 4-4-2. It gives us more freedom to be creative.
"[Arsenal v Barcelona] is the top technical level, you will see some good players on the pitch on the day. That will make it very interesting."Copyright 2013 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 19 Mar 2010