Arteta’s tactics “massively wrong again” against Villarreal

Considering that the Europa League semi-final were the most important matches in Arsenal’s season, it seems very strange that Mikel Arteta tried using completely new tactics in both matches against Villarreal.

In the first leg in Spain, Arteta didn’t have Aubameyang available and decided to play without any attacker at all and using a “false 9”, which is something we have not seen him try before.

That thoroughly backfired and we were extremely lucky to still have a chance to progress out of the second leg, and we could have dne it with a simple 1-0 home win after getting the away goal in Spain.

But Arteta decided to go all out for goals, starting the match with Pepe, Odegaard, Smith-Rowe, Aubameyang and Saka in a 5-man attack force, but leaving Thomas Partey as the sole midfielder.

Again that back-fired with Aubameyang hardly getting a sniff of the ball. Can you believe our captain only had 9 touches in the whole 80 minutes he was on the pitch, whereas Willian came on for the last ten minutes and had 7 touches!

Jamie Carragher is adamant that Arteta got his tactics completely wrong. He told CBS (as transcribed by HITC): “You come to the second leg and you see all the attacking players on the pitch,”

“And that might excite Arsenal thinking ‘we are “going for it’.

“But sometimes you can have too many attacking players on the pitch because you cannot get the ball back. And that was the problem.

“Aubameyang hardly touched the ball in the first half because there was no one in midfield to win the ball back and give them the ball, so again, I thought he (Arteta) got it massively wrong again (tactically), really, and almost played into Villarreal’s hands.”

Despite all our strikers, we only had two shots on target and two that came off the woodwork.

Tags Arteta tactics


  1. I have seen many people praying for Odegaard to be signed on a permanent basis but this guy has nothing special to offer. He made the midfield look too weak to win the ball back. Playing him and Smith Rowe in the same line up is a very big mistake. And he made the same mistake in both legs. The sooner Odegaard left the pitch, the better arsenal started to do anything. If you have Laca and Auba and miss a single goal against the likes of Villa real, you are not a good coach. Arteta out

    1. agreed. He has largely underwhelmed, but then again so has everyone else.

      I am at the point where I just don’t know how to rate anyone – is performance because they are a bunch of slugs, bad tactics, poor preparation…

      We see occasional good performances and then lots of bleh. Even Saka and Smith-Rowe have fallen off over the past while (I know that they are strong players but they really don’t look it).

      Very disconcerting to say the least. The long slide to obscurity/irrelevance seems to be picking up pace now…

      1. I agree with your submission about Saka and ERS they haven’t improved since MA took charge.
        Saka especially was a better player under Unai than he has been Under MA.
        He hasn’t a clear phylosophy upon which he wants the team to play. Wanting to play like City, ha ha ha. Hell no we are no way near City’s form. I wonder what the guy learnt from Pep

    2. Totally agree. Ode is another lightweight player, who cannot tackle and the amount of times he could have played the simple ball with his right foot, decided to play it back on his left and invariably got tackled or gave the ball away. Arteta is clueless. ESR was pushed out to make way for Odegaard. We were winning games when ESR was played in his preferred position and Arteta trying to be clever, thought he could accommodate both. Every man and his dog, could see this wasn’t working except the one man who counts. #ArtetaOut!!!

    3. You are right gooner.
      That doesn’t has what it takes to make things better for us even in the next three or four years. I’ll prefer we stick with ERS in the no. 10 role instead of signing Martin to me, he’s not good enough to take that role.
      As for Mikel, he’s a complete embarassment to modern football his of our darling team completly confused and dunfounded

  2. Not sure I agree.

    Odegaard is a fine player, captain of Norway. The problem is Arteta doesn’t know how to use him, picks the wrong formations, and therefore negates Odegaard’s key strengths.

    There’s no point looking at players for blame. They don’t pick the team. Some of them shouldn’t be in it. These low talent players drag the rest down.

    The manager needs to go ASAP, and then we can delete the deadwood.

  3. Good synopsis Pat. If Arteta stays after this, after over 63 years of watching Arsenal, and living close to both stadiums, I will be broken hearted if Arteta is not replaced. You cannot turn a ‘sow’s ear’ into a ‘silk purse’.

    1. Sean- you have seen some very average Arsenal teams in those years. I still believe we have a nucleus of a decent squad but Arteta has failed and he simply has to be replaced at the embody he season.
      We have a number of very gifted youngsters that will be the future of this Club. but what is needed now. especially with no European football revenue, is someone who will immediately improve the tactical side of our game. We are toothless going forward and far too predictable. Last night has to be the nail in Arteta’s coffin

      1. Phil
        I agree…we do have excellent young players in the squad. They need a manager to motivate them. Arteta just cannot do it. Something in his character does not gel with the players.

      2. PHIL you will be first to know. After closely examing all the evidence, both for and against MA being my choice for the foreseeable future, I have reluctantly concluded that his constant many mistakes have now outweighed his, imo, undoubted potential . LAST NIGHT WAS THE LAST STRAW!

        So I now concede that I was WRONG to think he could totally turn this sinking ship around. I now hope he leaves us asap, but think he will get at least til Christmas before Kroenke will act, and IF we are in the top four battle by then, he will get til end of next season. IF he makes top four he will stay. But his managerial inexperience has led him to so MANY mistakes and they keep on happening.

        I have often said that when evidence becomes overwhelming that you have been wrong, then wise persons will change their minds accordingly and NEVER keep on pretending they are still correct. I obviously was NOTcorrect and am man enough to say so loud and clear.

        This is exactly as I also did with Ozil, after being his huge fan for his first two years. His consistent lack of desire forced me to change my mind accordingly.

        This season is now a dead parrot, deceased and waiting to meet its maker.

        I think MA is, from his own point of view, lucky that Kroenke is our owner, as KSE will be keen to keep all severance costs down , so will NOT sack him yet.
        Whatever does or does nor happen though with MA, the central problem of an owner who will not properly invest as he does not care and who has consistently got inexperienced non real football folk as chief execs remains our MOST real problem.

        We need Kroenke out and, til he goes, we have no real chance of another glory brigade or even one title, with an absent, appalling and could not care less owner. Simply put, Kroenke is the CAUSE of our plight and UE and MA merely the hapless symptoms.

        1. Thank you Jon, you should have joined me in sticking with Emery. Arsenal couldn’t have been worse off, if the Board had backed him in discipline and transfers.
          Please see my post on the article “Has Arteta lost the Arsenal dressing room”.

    2. Sean I too have been watching us for 63 years Please see my post below Phil’s. I agree with all you and he say!

  4. “Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has said his side are on a downward trend and that there were reasons behind that decline he could not explain in public after crashing out of the Europa League.”

    1. I could spell it out – his poor decision making and years of really bad management…I am sure that we will hear the canard about the ESL kerfuffle as an excuse as well.

    2. Interesting but enigmatic AJ!

      We are making it your mission to find out more!

      (Or is it just lack of funds, which we all knew about already, and this is Arteta’s latest attempt to wriggle out of any personal responsibility?).

      1. I love a challenge guy.

        So I had a word with my old mucker Mikel, here’s what he had to say;

        “I understand [fans’] concerns because when you are out of the Champions League for five years it is not just a casualty, it’s a trend.

        “There are facts to support that trend. So, there are things to change, that’s for sure because you no one is going to accept that at this football club. I am not going to accept that and the fans are not going to accept that. So we all have to push together to achieve something very different.

        (ADMIN COMMENT – Read the rest of Arteta’s statement here……


        The Arsenal hierarchy are disappointed with the end to the campaign but remain keen to continue supporting Arteta, who has been instrumental behind the scenes in streamlining the squad, convincing young players Bukayo Saka and Folarin Balogun to sign new contracts while also helping negotiate an initial 12.5% pay cut for the first-team squad to help offset the financial impact of COVID-19.


        1. Any coach would do those things to save the club. it’s no reason to keep a coach who continuously makes wrong decisions. How can you play a match with one midfielder and 5 attackers? That’s horrible! It’s time to get a coach and not one on internship

        2. What a symbiotic relationship between the Kroenkes and Arteta; two parasites feeding on the corpse of The Arsenal.

    3. Lol.xhaka injury. Then “90% of players inexperienced in semi-final”… All excuses because your management just seem to fail and fail and fail again. Emery had chukwuese out. Capoue suspended and a smaller squad. We have experienced players around and some we pay a lot (auba,Willian). Odegaard has been around at real ! Leno bellerin knows finals. We can’t say Partey is inexperienced too. Pablo Mari is 27yo, was a leader and won big in brazil. So come on. Where does this argument come from ?? How can he dare saying that ?

  5. Kroenke is paying a huge price for not taking care of his money machine. For many years did we produce a nice cash flow to his “pockets”, but now the tide have turned. We have a become a financial problem, the money machine doesn’t work anymore and need maintenance. Now we are bleeding money and Kroenke has two choices invest or sell…

    1. that is the only way to force action if they are going to do anything at all….wallet is all.

        1. 👍 👍 Hopefully Daniel Ek and his consortium offer enough to buy the greedy disinterested Kroenke out.

  6. Good article. It could be even longer as there were so many glaring errors from Arteta.
    When he started we saw tactical mistakes, but expected Arteta to learn and improve. But learning implies listening to others, which Arteta doesn’t like to do. Instead he got worse, lurching from one car crash after another, changing things every week to try to find success.
    The few successes he had were by mistake – forced upon him by injury or lack of personnel.
    Even those he has largely now ruined by continuously moving players from their best positions, fulling them with new instructions, making them anxious, lose self confidence. I am convinced that the “exhaustion” apparent with Saka and to an extent ESR is purely mental. Theyre confused, they dont have a clue what they or those around them are supposed to do from one match to the next.
    The wheels have fully come off now for Arteta, and he will never get them back on. Unfortunately he may have irreperably also damaged the potential of many of his squad in the process.

  7. We have been tactically a mess for sometime now. Last year when Arteta came, he went defensive with only counter attack. With this template we played decent football and won big matches. This year it looks like team confused about tactics. They seem to want to play like ManC without players having quality to retain ball and take on opposition defense, run at them and stretch the game play. They look lethargic.

    Auba is effective only when opposition is playing high line and he plays of the CBs, but many matches, he has started on left as inside forward and made us weak defensively and gives nothing going forward. The best phase Arsenal had whole season was ESR on left, Saka on right and Odegaard pulling strings with Laca hassling the opposition CB , but that rarely happened because players with fat salary who are not delivering anything have to start (Auba, Willian, Pepe – though he has improved a lot, Partey).

    Biggest mess is our central midfield. Partey has been absolute waste of 45m, Ceba seems to be dreaming of RM, Xhaka – he tries hard, has talent but sometimes has massive brain fades, Elneny is pretty limited – never seen him make a decent forward penetrating pass.

    Arsenal need a Reboot 2.0 with whole new set of midfielders, backup left back , backup right back, two new strikers (as we can’t afford auba, laca and willians salaries) and probably new manager if Arteta still cannot get his tactics right. (Leno/Ryan/?, Tierney/?, Mari/Gabriel, Holding/Saliba/Mav, Chambers/?, Willock/AMN/Matteo/?, ESR/Martinelli/Saka/Pepe, some new forwards)

    1. Instead of reboot 2.0 of the players you mention, it’s much easier, cheaper, and more productive to fire Arteta for incompetence and hire an experienced manager. There are plenty out there to choose from, not to mention several to try and poach from another club; ten Hag comes to mind.

      1. Agree durand, Lucien Favre and Rafael Benitez also come to mind as managers available. Given Juventus have failed to win the league in Italy, Conte may also become available.

  8. A huge mistake indeed. Aterta got it totally wrong. A lineup with 5 attackers? All 5 were isolated upfront struggling to score with no one to win the ball and send it to them.

    How can you experiment on such an important game? Does he consult with his assistants before drawing such important lineups

    It’s time to get us a coach if this team must compete again.

  9. Arteta is a gambler. He doesn’t have the technical know-how, the experience, personality and wisdom that it requires to address issues such as Arsenal is facing right now.

    It’s really sad to see someone with his so many years in soccer believing that fielding 5 attackers could have brought down Villareal. So sad

  10. The culture at Arsenal, is not good. We will change managers like a pair of socks. An example look at our opponent yesterday, the manager of that team was called by all names you can think of .But look at his team playing brilliant football

  11. They didn’t have to play “brilliant football” – any of the top six currently in the PL would have had them for breakfast.

    It was the game plan devised BY MA and, seemingly, carried out by the players, that lost us the game.
    As he didn’t substitute Aubameyang until the 80th minute, he must have been doing EXACTLY what MA asked of him.

    1. Ken, Arteta got both games so wrong, it was only down to the players and luck we were still in it. He alone is to blame for a defeat against journeymen.

    2. Ken, don’t sell Unai Emery and Villarreal short against Manchester United in a one off final at a neutral venue.
      Villarreal will be up and committed for the Europa League final, which is probably the biggest game in the Club’s history.

  12. Arteta is a false Coach. Not everything you learnt must be practised. Pep used false 9 tactic in the first leg and Arteta did without having Pep’s team. Next season will be a worst season for Arsenal without Uefa play. But the most worst of all is to see Arteta as a coach again. Arteta out

  13. Arteta was a mistake from day one. People make all kind of excuses for him. Kronkers not spending money ( They have spent 320M since AW left), Toxic atmosphere, squad not good enough, etc. Truth is we have a much better squad than Leicester, Westham, Aston Villa , Everton and even Spurs. What the other teams have bar Spurs are good managers. The problem is just one – Mikel Arteta. We should go for the tried and tested managers in the epl like Rodgers Potter and Smith. Obviously, this will not happen and we will waste time with MA up to Dec. and then hire some idiot with a fancy name.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors