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Arsene Wenger: “Three-man defence designed to counter Middlesbrough direct game”

Arsenal head coach Arsene Wenger has explained how switching to a three-man defence was intended to help Arsenal deal with Middlesbrough’s “direct game” on Monday night.

“I felt it added a bit more stability on the long balls. We faced a direct game and we have been punished a bit on that,” Wenger told BBC Sport.

“It gave the opponents more of the ball. Against Palace we had 70 percent possession but lost. Sometimes we want to have the ball but when a team lacks confidence just to change the system can help believe something different.”

The result in Teesside saw Arsenal climb to sixth in the Premier League table, seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City with a game in hand.