When Arsene Wenger took over at Arsenal, some 18 years ago, he inherited a 3-5-2 system from Bruce Rioch. Keown, Adams and Bould formed a triumvirate at centre half with Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn deployed as nominal wing backs. Considering all five of those defenders were either in or on the cusp of their 30s at the time, it obviously was not a sustainable system in the long term given the energy and pace required to make the formation work. That Wenger has never returned to it since switching to a kind of 4-4-2 / 4-3-1-2 in the summer of 1997 suggests the manager is not a fan.
Stillmansphere is our regular Tim Stillman column. Tim is a well-respected Arsenal supporter and writer for various sites.
When I was asked to review The Arsenal Shirt, I was a little tentative. I am something of a retro shirt hound and a small time collector. Had I the disposable income, I don’t doubt I would be a revered collector like those profiled at the apex of this book. I thought it would be a book for fanatics of a niche subject and, being one of the very people it would surely be aimed at, I wondered if it would be possible to view it subjectively.
Back in May, readers of arsenal.com voted Aaron Ramsey and Per Mertesacker at numbers 1 and 2 respectively in the official player of the season poll. Ramsey's development into a world class goalscoring midfielder was rather neatly crystalized by his winning goal in the F.A. Cup Final. Most importantly, this completed a team comeback from a two goal deficit against Hull City, but it also sealed a personal comeback for Aaron Ramsey, for a while so ruthlessly (and often furiously) written off after his slow recovery from a career threatening leg break.