Arsenal have shown clear signs of improvement under Mikel Arteta.
The club’s former midfielder joined from Manchester City in December in his first managerial job.
After years of underwhelming performances since Arsene Wenger left, Arteta has an incredibly difficult job on his hands.
But during his 14 games in charge, the Gunners have lost just twice as they attempt to implement the Spaniard’s style of play.
There have still been some low moments - like their heartbreaking Europa League exit against Olympiacos last week.
But that’s to be expected when you’re trying to completely change the way the side plays halfway through the season.
Having worked under Pep Guardiola for years at the Etihad, Arteta is trying to make his Arsenal side play like City - and he’s succeeding in a way.
A tactical analysis video from the brilliant Nouman has explored exactly how he’s doing that.
Let’s that a look:
Attacking formation (2-3-5)
With the ball, Arsenal copy City’s 2-3-5 approach. Guardiola’s side form that formation by the full-backs moving into midfield to play as inverted full-backs.
Arsenal replicate that but with a slight change. Nicolas Pepe gives the attacking width on the right, while left-back Bukayo Saka provides it on the left. Meanwhile, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil exploit the half-spaces like Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva do for City.
In the build-up, Granit Xhaka often drops back into a defensive position allowing Saka to attack. When Arsenal attack, Xhaka then joins the midfield leaving them in a 2-3-5 formation.
Press and counter-press
Arsenal employ a high press under Arteta - much like City. They ensure they block passing options and force the opponent into mistakes, winning the ball back high up the pitch.
When they lose possession in attack, Arsenal don’t drop back but they attempt to win the ball back immediately as they try to counter-press.
The resurrection of Mesut Ozil
Ozil’s Arsenal career appeared over under Unai Emery. He was often left out of matchday squads and it seemed only a matter of time before he was sold.
However, he plays a very important role under Arteta. The German helps with the build-up play and links attacks. His ability to play one-touch passes to beat the press is invaluable.
He’s also very good at finding space in between the opponent’s midfield and defence, helping Arsenal to link the midfield to the attack.
Defensive issues and individual mistakes
But defensive issues remain for Arsenal. Naturally, when you attack with a 2-3-5 formation, there’s going to be a danger when you lose the ball. Opponents can catch Arsenal out by playing two up-front and exploiting the wide spaces on the break - much like Everton did at the Emirates. It often leaves a two vs two and Bernd Leno is vital to play the role as ‘sweeper-keeper.’
And then there are the individual mistakes which, as a manager, Arteta can’t really do much about. With Shkodran Mustafi and David Luis in defence, there’s always a chance of a defensive mistake from the centre-back pairing. Both have improved under Arteta but, until he can bring in his own defenders, there’s always a chance that a defensive mistake could cost Arsenal dearly.
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