Last season Arsenal surprised everyone by going to Manchester City in January and destroying the Citizens 2-0 on their home turf, which showed a signal change in the Gunners previous form of always losing to title rivals whenever they met. There were many rumours after the game that the players had called a meeting to discuss the tactics at the Etihad and they had decided to concede possession, defend strongly, and hit our opponents on the counter-attack.
It worked excellently, and according to Per Mertesacker they decided to adopt the same tactics against Man City on Monday which led to the 2-1 win. The BFG said on Arsenal.com: “We are capable of doing different things sometimes and that is what makes it harder for the opponent,”
That is why we implement it in games sometimes but we are still dangerous on the counter-attack and that makes us a real threat.
“Last season we played at Manchester City and showed a different kind of gameplan. That is what we had in the locker already but this year we are more consistent and it makes us a bit better as a unit.
“Sometimes we need to adjust, we don’t have all the players available at the minute so we [thought] that was the best way to win against City. We need to trust that way as well – it is not only thinking about it, it is also about putting it into practice.
“That is what we are doing really well at the minute but that means a lot of concentration and work in training, and everyone is up for the challenge.
“When I see our players up front working as hard as they did [against City] that makes a difference for us defenders – it makes it much easier to defend our goal.
“We go game by game and concentrate on having a gameplan and trying to implement it. That has been our strength so far against the big teams and it makes us stronger as a unit.”
Whatever the tactic, and who decided to implement it, it has worked admirably this season with wins against many of the top teams (including Leicester!) and has guided us to second in the Premiership going into Christmas. The ability to change our approach depending on who our opponents are is a totally new thing for Arsenal fans, but it certainly seems to be working!