When the Premier League gets underway this weekend, Arsene Wenger will face a selection dilemma. Whichever way he goes, it may have a major effect on the Gunner’s fortunes this season. Last season Arsenal played a 4-3-3 formation for the vast majority of the campaign, with either Robin van Persie or Nicklas Bendtner playing in the lone striker role. This summer a new striker has been brought in, Marouane Chamakh, and there is only one position where this man is going to be effective, and that is as a centre forward. Robin van Persie however, is also at his most potent in this position and Wenger will either have to change his formation, leave one of them out, or play one of them out of position. Of course it is great for Arsenal that they have these attacking options, but it will mean Wenger will have to make some difficult decisions this season regarding formation and personnel.
Option one is to stick with the 4-3-3. This is probably what Wenger will do at Anfield this Sunday, after he already hinted that Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas may not be ready for the game. Marouane Chamakh will probably start as the lone front man. If Arsenal get a good result with this formation against Liverpool, it is unlikely Wenger will immediately change it, but as the season gets into full swing he will need to decide upon a certain formation that the club will stick with for the campaign. When Van Persie is ready, it will likely be a straight fight between him and Chamakh if Wenger sticks with a 4-3-3 formation.
The alternative is to revert back to the 4-4-2 Wenger employed for years. With Chamakh and Van Persie playing in tandem up front. Wenger is sure to try this at some point, and there is a chance it could provide those few more goals Arsenal need to emerge victorious in the title challenge. With Premier League teams often now playing three central midfielders however, Wenger may be wary of having his midfield overrun if it is only occupied by two central midfielders. If Wenger did field this formation the two midfielders in the centre would most often be Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas, with only one of these a defensive minded player, Wenger may want to play Abou Diaby or Denilson in order to balance and strengthen the midfield.
The other option is to play one of these strikers out of position in a 4-3-3 formation; this though, is the least preferable of the possible options. From what has been seen, Chamakh would be ineffective on the wing, he is far more suited to a central role. Van Persie is perhaps more suited to a position on the wing, but again he has shown his best form as a central striker. Besides, Arsenal already have Tomas Rosicky, Samir Nasri, Theo Walcott and Andrei Arshavin who are players far better suited to positions on the wing. Barring injuries, playing either Chamakh or Van Persie in these positions is not a good option.
As the season progresses, Arsene Wenger is going to have to make difficult decisions regarding the team he picks and the formation he fields. If Marouane Chamakh and Robin van Persie are both performing well, he his going to face a selection headache of who he drops or whether he changes formation; throw Nicklas Bendtner and Carlos Vela into the mix, and it becomes even more difficult. This though, is certainly not something that Wenger will see as a negative, he will be delighted to have options. If he finds an effective formation, Arsenal may finally have assembled the squad that can bring the title to the Emirates Stadium for the first time.