The Chapman formation: did he really create something new?

 The club that changed football

Making the Arsenal

The main series: 


By Tony Attwood

For the story so far, see The Chapman Files

We’ve looked at Chapman’s choice of player for each position, and what has become clear is that in each position he had a favoured player – although time and again injuries and the need to move players around to cover for these injuries made the team selection look erratic.

In goal there was a regular change of player, and Chapman, at least according to reports had no worries about dropping a keeper because of one or two bad performances.

But leaving the keeper aside Chapman did, through his career at Arsenal find a fine player for each and every position – although not at the same time.

It was this ability over the years to find one or two more players who would be excellent in one specific position – plus the ability to move people around when there was a crisis, that made him the manager he was.  It is a skill few other managers at Arsenal have ever managed, except perhaps Arsene Wenger.

Here is the summary of the players Chapman brought in…

2: Parker

3: Hapgood

4: Baker / Jones

5: Roberts

6: John

7: Hulme

8: Buchan / Jack

9: Brain / Lambert

10: James

11: Bastin.

What a team – although of course they were never all on the field together.

But here is my point.  These players not only were superb in their own position, they also could adapt, and many of them did effectively change the nature of their role as Chapman moved into the WM formation and perfected it as the ultimate counter attacking system.

Chapman’s genius, was not just in picking players who could play brilliantly, but also players who could play to his system.

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3 Replies to “The Chapman formation: did he really create something new?”

  1. Tony,
    I’ve always felt that Chapman created the position of the “stopper” centrehalf, when he signed Herbie Roberts. Bernard Joy followed. Tony Adams was another.
    Incidentally, isn’t George Male missing from your list?

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