Has Arteta’s tactics surpassed Guardiola? Or is he just playing catch-up?

According to journalist Lynsey Hooper, Pep Guardiola, who is Mikel Arteta’s mentor, has a significant influence on the Arsenal boss’ methods. The Sky Sports reporter claims that Arteta is copying Guardiola’s tactics. A feature he believes is risky if Arsenal are to outwit City and become the real deal.

Hooper told David Seaman on the Seaman Says podcast, “The only warning that I would put out there about that is that you don’t want to be the person that’s always one step behind Pep, do you? So, like, Pep trials something, then Arsenal do it… But in order to beat Pep at his own game, I think you’ve got to do something different to him.”

Hooper’s claims may be understandable in certain ways. One could argue that the tactical move of Oleksander Zinchenko moving infield to influence play from midfield was already happening at Manchester City before the Ukrainian left. That, combined with Arteta now playing a defensive line of central defenders, as was the case versus Burnley, where he played central defenders as his defensive line, is a tendency Arteta is emulating from his compatriot, Guardiola, who has fielded a defensive line of all central defenders on several occasions.

However, while some of these strategies appear to have already been used at Manchester City, we can agree that others were originally deployed at Arsenal.

Arteta’s use of Havertz as a left-sided No. 8 in possession and then as a target man when not in possession is an original tactic. Yes, Arsenal took Manchester City’s tactical coach, Nicolas Jover, but you can’t say that Arsenal excels at set pieces because they copied City; that’s just their original tactical style.

Because Arteta and Guardiola were both trained in Barcelona earlier in their careers and have worked together, their methods will undoubtedly be similar. Who knows? Some tactical approaches may have originally been Arteta’s.

That being said, Mikel Arteta has already won two games over Guardiola this season; would he have done so if he was emulating him and playing catch-up?

The apprentice overtakes the master in the end.

Darren N

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Tags Arsenal tactics Guardiola


  1. I bet Arteta isn’t “playing a catch up” Yea at the initial stage of his job as Arsenal coach I see a lot of Gardiola. But now it’s more ‘Arteta ball’. City don’t play again with a false 9 Arsenal do., Arteta’s defensive shape is also different from Pep and many more. Arteta is simply on a class of his own just like Gardiola. Sometimes I see a bit of Klopp in him in terms of Arsenal ball progression. It’s a mixture of all this varied tactics that’ make Arteta ball.. Quite an intelligent coach with rigidity like many spanianish coaches.

  2. Managers emulate success, simple. No better example than Wenger and how he changed the PL.

    Arteta is a fine manager in his own right, but silly to say student has overtaken the Master. Pep just came off a triple, so let’s not compare the two.

    As for copying tactics, so what? Who wouldn’t try to emulate successful tactics?

    Adapting and evolving is a must, if that includes copying other managers, then so what.

  3. If he’s playing catch up he’s done a remarkable job getting the squad to where it is currently. Pep inherited a title winning team, Arteta a mess that needed a complete clear out. As for copying tactics, we’ll never know but the fact that Pep wasted no time in recruiting Arteta as assistant shows how much he valued him.

  4. Gotta say, he’s learned fast from his mistakes. He adjusted, compensated and enhanced the squad to get the results. He’s not there yet, but he seems to be on the right track in developing a really solid team. Hoping it all falls in place by seasons end…Jus sayin

  5. Personally, I’m not really concerned whether Arteta’s tactics are copied or unique, providing they work. He is undoubtedly a good coach and has struck upon a team that works. My biggest concern is how he integrates players not currently playing into this team when they are called upon. This seems to be the area where he struggles the most.

  6. Anyone who watches both Arsenal and City will notice they play different styles so I wouldn’t really say Arteta is copying Pep. The idea of using an extra defender in midfield is a tactic that has actually been attributed to Johan Cruyff who used it at Barca long before Pep.

    I think Arteta has varied his tactics throughout the season. A good example is how Ben White has been used in the last two matches-him inverting into the midfield has freed Odegaard. For comparison,Kyle Walker is used in a different way by City. Another difference is that City use a Centre Back to create overloads in midfield (usually Stones or Akanji). Arsenal on the other hand create overloads using a fullback.

    Coaches generally learn from one another and sometimes have to keep up with trends to remain competitive. For instance, there are things both Arteta and Pep have picked up from De Zerbi’s methods. It’s more of influence than copying. And this happens in all industries, not just football. Arsenal’s coaching staff is made up of a team of individuals, not just Arteta, and I reckon they all provide input into Arsenal’s tactics. I think it’s disrespectful to them to imagine that they just copy whatever City does.

    For what it’s worth, I think Arteta has had influence on Pep and how City play just as much as they’ve had an influence on him. Past City players like Sterling have credited Arteta for how their wingers played. But like in most work places around the world, the boss is ultimately credited for everything,even if a revolutionary idea came from an intern.

    1. Nice comment. I am old enough remember Ronald Koeman stepping into midfield. The Dutch are the masters of total football and players being competent in many positions.

  7. Defensively Arteta is the more dominant manager and how he attains that defensive dominance while playing expansive flowing football is incredible limiting top teams to very few chances while attacking them is simply amazing under Arteta’s guidance

  8. Pep Guardiola Trophy Cabinet:
    La Liga 3X
    Copa del Rey 2X
    Supercopa Espana 2X
    UEFA Champs. 3X
    UEFA Super Cup 3X
    FIFA World Club Cup 3X
    Bundesliga 3X
    DFB Poka 2X
    Premier League 5X
    FA Cup 2X
    EFL Cup 4X
    Community Shield 2X

    Mikel Arterta Trophy Cabinet:
    FA CUP 1X
    Community Shield 2X

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