“The changes came far too late” Journalist nails it on Arteta

Mikel Arteta set up his Arsenal team without a striker last night with Emile Smith Rowe playing as a false nine instead.

It was a tweak that would have been lauded if it had paid off, but Arsenal struggled in attack and lost the game 2-1 to Villarreal.

He eventually swallowed his pride and brought on Gabriel Martinelli in the second half before also bringing in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian in the last few minutes.

The Spaniard was the assistant manager at Manchester City from 2016 until 2019 when Arsenal made him their boss.

He was mentored by Pep Guardiola and his setup for the Villarreal game is something Guardiola would have done.

Sports Mail’s Oli Gamp says Arteta was trying to copy his mentor with the way he set up his team but it backfired as Smith Rowe didn’t have enough capacity to play well in the new role.

Gamp wrote on Mail Sports: “The former Manchester City assistant boss took a leaf out of Pep Guardiola’s book by fielding Emile Smith-Rowe as the false 9, but it left the team lacking sparkle in the first half. Arteta was forced to swallow his pride and bring on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Gabriel Martinelli later on when he realised his tactics had failed.

“But the changes came far too late in the day as Aubameyang entered the fray in the final five minutes while Willian was introduced in stoppage time. Martinelli was given a 30-minute run out but Arteta showed a stubbornness by refusing to rip up his game plan Villarreal were seeing it out.”

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  1. That’s the problem Arteta have . He always make changes in last minute while he can see that we are losing. If he can change his mind set on sub I think he is a good couch.

  2. While it’s easy to be wise after the event I’m afraid Arteta displayed a naivety in his selection last night which I find difficult to comprehend given the importance of the tie.The absence of a natural deputy for Tierney in particular has been really damaging and the decision to play Xhaka at LB has not only caused indecision and panic in the back four but severely weakened our central midfield area to the extent where we were easily overrun.Unless a team is solid at the back and physically resilient in midfield we will never control matches regardless of who we play up front so to that extent playing without a recognised C.F. Is largely irrelevant Many fans, me included, advocated playing the versatile Saka at LB or LWB as a means of overcoming the absence of Tierney ,and restoring Xhaka to CM with Partey.The fact that Arteta failed to make this very logical decision and compounded matters by continuing to play Ceballos in CM when he is basically inept defensively, is difficult to accept and if we go out to Villareal after the second leg, Arteta’s position could well become untenable.The players have an opportunity to put things right of course and unless they do , a number of them could follow Arteta out the door.The saddest feature of all to me is the fact that Villareal are not a great side, but of course ,against the current Arsenal side, you don’t have to be good to overcome them.

      1. @Grandad- what I would say is the players seemed to relish the challenge when down to 10 men and for that all credit to them. And for me Xhaka had a decent game in a very vulnerable position against a winger who can be very dangerous. Xhaka stood up, never dived in and never allowed himself to be exposed by the pace of a fast and direct winger.
        The fact he was played there was baffling and that is on Arteta, because however average Xhaka’s abilities are, he is still far more beneficial to the team, especially away from home in a tie such as this, than Cebellos will ever be.

  3. Things would have been much better for Arteta and Arsenal if he had not messed up with the player release.Arteta released players which would have made the team much stronger.Imagine what would have been if Arteta had not released Guendouzi and Partnered him with Parte?The same applies to if he had retained either Niles or Kolasinac to cover for the injury prone Tieney, Arsenal would probably be challenging to the top four.

  4. Arteta must improve on his decision making which is wanting if he is to make a mark at Arsenal.Arsenal boasts one of the most focal fanbase in the world and if Arteta continues with his haphazard decision making the fans will be soon on his case and the owners will be forced to bin him.

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