Progress might be slow but we’re getting there. by Harkinubee Zigic
Arsenal returned to the classic 4-3-3 formation against Leicester City which I think was Arteta’s preferred formation, the match promised to be an exciting one when the lineup was announced but the result said otherwise.
Moving away from the result (although that’s easier said than done), the game plan worked perfectly in the first half with Arsenal dominating possession, creating more chances, and for the first time since Arteta became manager, Arsenal had 11 shots in the first 45 minutes.
The full backs were instructed to bomb forward and create chances with their crosses into the box, with David Luiz and Gabriel sending long passes into their path, a tactics that worked wonderfully in the first half and should have seen us go ahead if not for the profligacy of Lacazette (in particular), Aubameyang and the VAR.
Another notable mention was the use of our midfielders, who instead of pushing up to join the attack were instead instructed to cover for their marauding full backs to ward against counter attacks when we eventually lose the ball, which also worked wonderfully.
The wheels came off in the second half after David Luiz injury, and for all Mustafi’s defensive prowess he doesn’t measure up to David’s distribution, which in turn means those balls to Tierney and Bellerin reduced significantly and the midfielders were inclined to instead join the attack to make those passes in behind as Leicester kept their low block.
This proved disastrous as Ceballos couldn’t get back to his place at RCM quickly after a turnover, which made Mustafi rushed out to challenge the Leicester player in the space vacated by Ceballos. The player passed quickly and within seconds there was a 2v1 situation with Mustafi out of the backline and only Gabriel to ward off the advances of Under and Vardy.
Arteta got the tactics spot on (Except probably his decision to play Aubameyang on the right instead of left) and on another day we would have won the match, but unfortunately many things went against us, and also our performances declined in the second half too (which owes much to losing Luiz long passes to the fullbacks), credit must go to Leicester too for sticking to their game plan throughout and not faltering.
The 4-3-3 is the way to go and the stage is now set for Arteta to use it consistently and drill the players to perfection so that their roles becomes second nature when playing, and maybe try another Midfield combination with Maitland Niles in that RCM role (better recovery speed and cover for Bellerin).
Better days are ahead surely and although the progress has been slow (bar the unlikely FA Cup triumph), I think Arteta is taking us places.
Trust. The. Process.