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.”