Analysis: Arsenal’s win v Liverpool explains why Arteta bought Havertz instead of a top striker

Arsenal’s victory against Liverpool yesterdauy showcased a departure from traditional striking partnerships, with Martin Odegaard and Kai Havertz at the forefront of an unconventional approach, and with Arteta having informed us that Gabriel Jesus was out with an injury, it appears that the Boss had a new strategy to outwit Jurgen Klopp.

The strategy involved exploiting space rather than challenging for headers, confounding Liverpool’s center-backs and ultimately leading to Bukayo Saka’s crucial opening goal.

The brilliance of this approach lies in its deviation from the norm. Odegaard and Havertz, an unconventional duo, orchestrated a play that emphasized movement and spatial awareness over conventional goal-scoring methods. In doing so, they created an environment that allowed Havertz to capitalize on his free-spirited style, providing a platform for him to roam and disrupt opposition defenses.

While Havertz’s finishing may be a point of contention, the strategy compensates for this by prioritizing a dynamic system over a reliance on a single prolific striker. Havertz’s unpredictability and creativity become assets in a framework that values disruption and fluidity over a rigid, traditional role.

Critics argue that a natural goal scorer might have secured a more emphatic victory, scoring four or five goals. However, Arsenal’s willingness to forego a clinical finisher for a system that maximizes the team’s collective strengths challenges the conventional football narrative. The trade-off becomes evident – sacrificing a traditional striker for a strategy that disrupts defenses and leverages the diverse talents within the team.

In a football landscape often dominated by traditional strike partnerships, Arsenal’s embrace of innovation deserves recognition. The Gunners demonstrate that success doesn’t solely rely on a top striker but can be achieved through a system tailored to the team’s unique strengths. As long as Arsenal continues to defy expectations and secure victories, their unconventional striking approach may well serve as a blueprint for success in modern football.

And hopefully it could disrupt our rival’s tactics and ultimately deliver Arteta’s first League title this season.

Jack Anderson

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Tags Havertz Jesus odegaard


  1. Well, I kind of agree with the writter on the reason why Arteta bought Havertz. But the truth is as much as Arsenal can confuse their opposition with Havertz upfront, we fans knows we still need a prolific physical CF. Havertz competes well in front in games but the goals aren’t really coming because he isn’t a natural striker. And we need goals to win games. We can’t always rely on our wingers alone to do the job some teams would double up on them. Arsenals over the years have always have good prolific CF why not now?.

    1. Sylva

      It’s important to remember that Arteta took inspiration from Liverpool in building his squad.

      Remember Bobby Firminho never scored alot of goals, but made Mane and Salah better

      1. @Freddy
        I agree with you on that point even though KH has a long way to go to talked about in the same sentence as RF of Liverpool.
        I also believe in horses for courses.
        The next game away at West Ham is a lot harder.
        IMO, we need to drop both KH and GM (both MOTM in the last match) and play LT and ESR as we need cute passing to beat the low – mid block expected to be used by West Ham.
        If we get ahead then bring on GM.

      2. So clearly our forwards aren’t scoring as many goals as they did when Xhaka and Partey commanded the midfield. Where is Havertz helping out?

        The reason Odegaard, Saka and Martinelli are under-performing is the broken midfield now commanded by a flop from Chelsea. Stop seeing what the whole world isn’t seeing

  2. Interesting theory by Jack Anderson and some will agree with it . Most will be like me though- as many and constant JA posts show us clearly – and suggest that MA wasted huge fees and even huger and plain stupid wages on a nothing special player who essentially proved his ordinaryness in three poor years at Chelsea, while MA was NOT trying for a top striker last summer.

    With the other reported £35 mill also wasted on weedy Viera, he COULD and SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT THAT STRIKER ,instead of effectively wasting huge money on them both.
    Neither are awful but both are not good ENOUGH for US

    He already had ESR here who is a step up on both of them, as most think and say, myself included. Sigh!

    1. jon fox, likewise I fail to see the convoluted reasoning that Kai Havertz makes Arsenal’s attack more potent. The scoring statistics for Martinelli, Odegaard and Saka from last season makes a lie to this.
      You, I and others must be “swallow” (“shallow”) fans, according to O Ben o.

  3. If Havertz cost as much as Fabio Vieira, were on about the same wages, and played like he did yesterday every other week, this would make a lot of sense. Unfortunately, the numbers tell us that we need way more from Havertz, yet we have gotten very little.

    1. 👍SS, imagine what the transfer fees and wages of both Havertz and Vieira could have bought Arsenal?

  4. We never lost any big match against top EPL teams when Havertz played CF

    I don’t think we would win against Man City and Liverpool if we played with a physically-weak front-line pivot to challenge their towering CBs in the ground and in the air

    Havertz didn’t even need to score against them. He just challenged their CBs to make the other Gunners win the second ball and kept the ball longer in the final-third, despite losing some duels due to his thin frame

    Imagine if we have an immovable CF or a Giroud 2.0 next season, such as Joshua Zirkzee, Dusan Vlahovic, Victor Osimhen or Victor Boniface

    1. @ GAI
      Ist statement is not true. We lost in the FA Cup to Liverpool playing KH as CF.

      But on the whole, I agree with your point of playing KH as CF as against CM.

      For the next very, very interesting game, we need to drop both KH and GM (both MOTM in the last match) and play LT and ESR as we need cute passing to beat the low – mid block expected to be done by West Ham.

      1. Yeah, but we never lost in EPL when Havertz in the CF position

        We have too many options for the left-sided AM position and I think Arteta will replace the AM in the second half of the game to counter Moyes’ tactics

        1. KH as CF has only been done for 3 – 4 games in total and that includes the FA cup.
          To me he has been a failure in CM where he has been used a lot more. So he should be used at CF more often.
          More importantly, next game, we have to use OZ and LT on the left side with JK @ LB if we are not using ESR.
          Creativity is critical.

          1. I also believe Zinchenko will be the perfect Xhaka’s replacement, but I’d like to see Jesus tried out in that position

        2. Kai Haverz has the worst percentile score, playing as a centre forward, in the whole of Europe. Not my opinion but plain fact. He isn’t a number 9, he isnt a number ten and he isnt going to be pivotal in winning a league or CL. That doesn’t mean to say, he wont be involved in some of our play because he will but he was a poor buy, so far, and has to improve in spades. Personally I dont think he will because he is limited. I would describe him as a poor mans Peter Crouch. He wont be pivotal to any success, we have because he just isn’t good enough.

          1. If he was stronger physically, he wouldn’t have to be prolific

            Chelsea won a UCL final and we beat Man City/ Liverpool this season because of him playing CF

  5. For all the justification of Havertz, I would still rather have a top clinical striker.

    I think many would agree that we need a striker, B2B midfielder, and a LB who has some defense in his locker.

    We don’t need more experiments or “versatility” we need solid consistent performers in those positions.

    Let’s see how we finish the season and how we go about our summer business.

  6. I loved reading this; it’s like a breath of fresh air . Rarely do we get articles on tactics on most football fan sites. Because football fandom is largely an emotional state of being, we tend to reject factual or analytical explanations that leave us emotionally unsatisfied.For the most part, we simply want villains to hate/blame and heroes to cheer and yet analysis takes that away from us.

    On the topic of today, Jack makes excellent points on how the team leveraged on Havertz’s excellent movement and spatial awareness. With Havertz and Rice, Arsenal has become arguably the best team in the world in terms of off-the-ball work. Two of them are off-the-ball monsters. It’s not a surprise,therefore, that Arsenal limited both Liverpool and City to just one shot on target. Interestingly Havertz was key to both victories,playing at Centre forward.

    I still think Arteta has been unable to optimally use Havertz in the way he wanted because of injuries. Something tells me that having players like Timber and Partey was crucial to getting the best out of Havertz. As I mentioned earlier,Havertz is excellent off-the-ball but that needed to be balanced by having players around him that are excellent on the ball- Partey’s passing is exceptional and Timber for the little I saw ,has good ball carrying and retention ability. Would be interesting to see how Arteta uses Havertz with those two players back.

    On paper at least, Havertz and Jesus are also supposed to be getting the best out of each other but I suppose that is a topic for another day.

    1. Not only do they work hard in games but they do it week in week out hardly picking up any injuries. Both have just turned 25 but already have well over 300 games for club and country. It is these sort of players that win titles, maybe not this season but keep them together with other so similar I’ll like Saka and Ødegaard it will come.

    2. THE football Revolution continues .In the Arsenal vs Liverpool game, witnessed a tactical Masterclass from Arsenal coach Arteta who not only caught Liverpool coach Klopp by surprise but used Liverpool prime tactics against them.The arsenal gegen press was fantastic,setting up in a 1-4-2-3-1 false nine formation maybe I could call it a 1-4-2-4-0 formation.Arsenal set up was to win the ball high up the pitch and counter attack immediately.Arteta allowed Liverpool to control the build up phase with Alison,ibrahima konate and van dijk to start build ups by going 1v1 in the midfield and positioning the false nine havertz in the zone 14 just in between the Liverpool centre backs and the defensive midfielder ,this tactical approach allowed Liverpool to start build ups but cut off passing lanes for central penetration.When Liverpool centre backs were looking to find the central midfielders in between lines, arsenal swarmed around the ball denying space and winning the ball and counter attacked immediately exploiting the pace of martinelli and saka out wide .With harvertz dropping deeper , vacating space in the center forward role and with Liverpool right back Alexander arnorld either inverting to help central penetration or overlapping to give an option for long balls ,meant he also left space out wide for the pacy Martinelli to attack and when konate provided cover on the right then Martinelli was inverting his runs to the space vacated by havertz hence the first goal,where Martinelli runs infield and shoots and saka scores the rebound.Liverpool couldn’t contain arsenal due to their tactical approach and it led to konate red carded and them loosing the game.Kudos coach Arteta for your tactical masterclass,thanks to havertz intelligent movements,Rice ball recoveries,jorginho eye for a pass and Martinelli movement.Coach Arteta provided a coaching masterclass

    3. @Onyango Do not mind all this delusional emotional noisemakers, what havertz brought to this team tactically technically is enormous. for me that 65million is even a bargain in todays market value. His output in terms of goal contribution in the league for Arsenal is not bad at all 4 goals and 2assist only 4 players have more. a lot of this people are using his Chelsea career to judge him. apart from Didier Drogba I can not think of any player that have gone to Chelsea played upfront and did very well. Andriy Shevchenko, Diego Costa, Morata and Lukaku.

  7. I saw an analysis saying we were playing a “box midfield” which involved havertz dropping alongside odegaard, with the other points made up by jorginho and rice – isn’t this the same thing city was doing with haaland last season? If that’s true, it shows you don’t need a midfielder to play that role, and it means this tactic can’t be used to justify signing havertz over a striker (something else might, I don’t know, but the win over Liverpool doesn’t on it’s own)

  8. If we could have bought a top striker for the same money then I would have hoped that Arteta would spent money there instead.

    Yet the sort of striker we are looking at – someone who can do what Jesus does but scores more goals are thin on the ground and will cost at least £100m.

    Havertz was available and was very keen to come. He has been a good addition to the side, specially with injuries to Smith Rowe, Vieira and Partey. One of his qualities is that like Rice he has shown that he can consistently play 50-60 games a season for club and country.

  9. There will never be enough justification for spending £65 million on Havertz, for the sporadic average performances he is putting out. Smith-Rowe could have done a better job Sunday. He definitely would’ve put that chance Havertz missed, into the net. Saka would’ve benefitted from the one/twos near the box and still scored. The opportunity cost for having Havertz, is far outweighed by his fee, salary and inability to integrate. What a waste!

  10. Agree on striker. Most people probably believe Havertz was signed instead of a striker. But likely a striker was not signed for many reasons.Main reason being that quality strikers are just unavailable in the market at the moment. The few quality strikers in world football cost a lot more than Havertz cost and others like Haaland would realistically not move to Arsenal. 30 year old Kane cost Bayern close to £100 m and Osimhen will probably go for twice the amount Arsenal paid for Havertz.

  11. We need a proven goal scorer to finish the loads of chances we create. Harvertz can be an option to be deployed when the occasion demands.
    This summer, I expect us to get a striker and two midfielders – a replacement for Partey and a proper No.8 to replace Xhaka who, I think, the team has sorely missed.
    Anything short of this and we’d still struggle.

    1. Xhaka had one good season and was criticised every other one

      arguably was responsible for the turning point against us last season when 2 up at Anfield, then…the rest is history

  12. An interesting article which provides a measure of respite for Haverts who ,it has to be said, is industrious off the ball and who,s deep lying role gives opposition centre backs a dilemma as far as picking him up is concerned.However to suggest he was instrumental in our victory over Liverpool is stretching a point too far, as the main reason for our success was the fact that Jorginho and Rice outplayed Jones and the young Dutch lad whose name I cannot spell .Our midfield , generally dictated play and the dangerous Liverpool front three was therefore deprived of service other than for long balls from VVD who is not the player he was.Football is basically a simple game and while I acknowledge the importance of tactics which the writer described so eloquently in his article, we were better than Liverpool on the day and thoroughly deserved our win.

  13. We don’t have weekly articles defending and justifying Saka or Martinelli because their work speak for them.

    We got mugged with that salary and fee, as per our norm. His agent deserve every penny he got.

  14. This is the most knowledgeable football article I have read on this platform. you know your football.

  15. “just score more goals”

    the mantra of the moron

    Arteta has deliberately built the best defence in the league, an XI man cohesive focused defence that stifled Liverpool and Man CIty, the two best attacking teams in the world, to record low xG of 0.37 and 0.48 respectively, that is an amazing feat that resulted in a pair of assured victories for Arsenal that could only have been dreamt of last season

    integral to that was our pair of #10’s Odegaard and Havertz

    defending and disrupting from the front, never giving their creative midfield a sniff and therefore their deadly attackers no chance

    the stuck in past simpletons think still believe the only way to win football matches is strikers scoring goals

    the Man City dominant era, complimented by Liverpool has demonstrated (bar the freak of nature Haarland) that the 30 goal a season striker is not the one essential ingredient that guarantees titles – neither has had one in 6 years

    comically as an Arsenal fan, the only consistent 30 goal a season striker in that 6 years was Kane, and Spurs won zero

    the best defence is the consistent route to winning titles

    Arteta realised that to be successful Arsenal need o be able to beat the best, vs last season where Man City slaughtered us, and a battle big guns goal scorers is one we were not going to win

    so he opted to go the only other way which was to stop Man C and Liverpool scoring and he has done that very very effectively in the Premier League this season and Havertz has been integral to that

    sorry haters, the world has moved on, wake up to your own teams strengths and get with Arteta and Arsenal being football leaders

  16. Arsenal fans should check out the pieces by Carragher (Sky) and Murphy (MOTD) who clinically analyse how Arsenal beat Liverpool, and Man City before them, with the strategy of defending from the front to give the opposition (in this case the two best attacking teams on the planet) no goal scoring opportunities

    Havertz was integral to that according to them

    last season we tried to take them on at their own game of open all out attack, it did not work, and got murdered by Man C in particular

    this season Arteta has devised a new plan, recruited accordingly, and the results of Liverpool (3 – 1 xG 0.37) and Man C (1 – 0 xG 0.48) are outstanding and vindication of Arteta’s strategy and recruitment

  17. I’m personally a big fan of KH, when playing against Chelsea back then, i used to get uneasy when KH was playing, especially as a late substitute, he had an unpredictability around him in the box. Though i still feel that he still has more to offer in the oppositions box. I at times wonder how it would be if we had Kieran Tierney’s crosses coming more frequently into the box. I feel we dont cross enough to fully utilize KHs aerial abilities.

    On a totally different topic, maybe the writer could do an article on”if tittles were worn based on goal difference”, and make sure Arteta reads it.

  18. Arteta bought Havertz for the exact same reason he bought Rice and Timber; versatility and the ability to cover for several players at different zones on the pitch. Timber to cover for any of the defenders as he can play across the back line, Rice to cover for any Central Midfield role like he has been covering for Partey and why we have not really felt the impact of his injury and can cover for Odegaard amd did cover a bit for Xhaka. Havertz covers for wingers, attacking midfield and striker. No one has been able to guarantee ESR’s fitness in the last seasons, so talk of him being a better alternative to Havertz does not fly, besides Havertz and ESR do not belong in the same sentence at this moment as Havertz is a full and regular German international, has a Champion’s League winning goal under his belt among a few other accomplishments and at about the same age as ESR.

  19. Yet another toxic topic that you already know is not going to add any value to AFC. The Harvetz issue just like Raya shouldn’t be debatable .None of the two deserve to be on AFC role call if we want to win the Champions league and the league.

    1. Did you even READ the article and take your balanced viewpoint from it?

      I REPEAT….. Well okay, I will agree totally what you say about Raya if you can tell me how bad he looks in training as you see him every day, and obviously you have already applied to the Board to sack Arteta and put you in charge instead. It is clear that you know much more than that idiot Arteta.
      Happy now?

  20. balanced view is expected from the editor and i read with great interest if i can tell you the truth. Don’t be annoyed just be factual like any other person who wants to acknowledge where AFC are lacking. How a player performs in training can be very different to the expected output in game situations, I hope you understand that. Harvetz is definitely not worth the amount spend on him. Simple .Ramsdale was and is never as bad to deserve such treatment. Tell the whole world how Ramsdale deserves such disrespect.

  21. i’m not sure Edu and Arteta were agonising over a so called ‘top striker’, what we had was a gap in Attacking Midfield that needed to replace Xhaka utilising the bonus £21m we got for him (we would be lucky to get 50p for Xhaka 12 months earlier)

    what Havertz offered over one dimensional, or one position only, Attacking Midfielders was his versatility to play multiple positions and multiple roles, and fair play to Edu and Arteta for seeing the dual #10 role with Odegaard used so effectively to beat Man C and Liverpool

    let me say that again

    we beat Man C and Liverpool, the two best teams in the Premier League for a decade, and probably the world

    and we beat them by Arteta’s strategy of defending from the front, and specifically Havertz being integral and very very effective

    we beat them by stifling the best creative midfields in the world from giving any chances to the best attacks in the world

    sit back and think about that

    we did it, and Havertz was key

    a so called ‘top striker’ could not have done that

    a so called ‘top striker’ taking on Man C and Liverpool would end in the same slaughter as last season – really Ivan Toney is going to out marksman Haarland – suicide, and Arteta knew it

    give Edu and Arteta the credit for finding a way to beat the best and clearly, sorry you brainless haters, Havertz has been the turning point in making that happen

    genius really

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