Why we played three at the back again

Having last played a three-man defence back in 1997, Arsene Wenger has caught many of us on the hop by adopting it for the past two games.

The Arsenal manager was rewarded with another composed display from Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Rob Holding against Manchester City as we reached another Emirates FA Cup final.

Wenger was asked about the three-man defence after the match, and this is what he had to say:

on playing three at the back - and whether he should’ve played it sooner…
Well, yes. I like your question, because it shows exactly what our job is. No matter what you do, even if you get it right at some stage, people say ‘Why didn’t you do it earlier?’ It’s like the opposite is right, is wrong as well. If you get your starting line up


wrong, you change it at half-time, people say ‘You see, he is a tactical magician!’ because he changed the team at half-time. But they forget that we got it wrong at the start. So you can always judge on both ways. I think what I did is just to give a bit more security to a team who conceded three goals in the last three away games, at West Brom, at Liverpool, at Crystal Palace and at some stage even to focus on something different for the players recreates some confidence.



on if that makes the decision to play three at the back one of his bravest…
I don’t know. I’d have to look back. During the season I made some tough decisions this season. We have gone through a difficult period. I don’t know, but it’s my job to try to get it right. When it goes well, we are happy.

on whether he had considered playing three at the back at Wembley before the Middlesbrough game…
I had it in mind.

on what from the Middlesbrough game convinced him to stick with it…
First of all that we won the game, that the team got a bit of confidence back. After when you analyse the game again, you look where did we suffer, where were we good, how do Man City play, where do they play through and can we cope with that? I think, to me, it was positive enough to try it today.


Gabriel celebrates beating Manchester City at Wembley


on Gabriel…
Well, Gabriel has played some positive games as a right-back. I felt that he has good pace, and today I felt that he could intervene for Oxlade-Chamberlain on Sane going through. Sane goes through a lot in behind and I felt that he had the pace to cover, to tackle and he did that very well. Especially in the second half when I think he saved three of four balls. So I just thought he was well-suited for this position. He played right-back, he played centre back and he plays at the moment in a position that is between the two.

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