Two Arsenal players blamed for goal as manager urged to switch tactics

Tony Adams has criticised the role of Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin and Bernd Leno in Manchester City‘s goal, whilst urging him to give up on the back three.

The Gunners suffered a 1-0 defeat at the Etihad yesterday, in a game that could very much have gone either way had it been for better composure in front of goal.

We left Manchester without any points, an event we have become too accustomed to unfortunately, but the team we came up against were very much there for the taking.

Bukayo Saka’s ingenious runs failed to pay off due some imperfect finishing and impressive goalkeeping on Ederson’s part, while City’s only goal came from a deflection.

Former club captain Tony Adams believes that this performance only moved to consolidate his belief that the formation needs to go, in favour of a return to a back four.

‘I think it’s time for a back four. I’ve been saying it since the start of the season,’ Adams told Premier League Productions (via the Metro).

‘It wins you cup games, it doesn’t win you league titles. If he wants to build for the future.

‘I think he’s got problems with Hector, I think his defending today wasn’t very good at all, but I’d like him to go to a back four. They’ve got Gabriel now, get him a partnership.

‘They’ve been unlucky at the start with Holding going down but get them into a back four.

‘They look like they’ve a holding midfielder now who’s got a bit of presence and build for the future.’

Adams moved onto praise the move by City to push up on Arsenal for the goal, but names Bellerin and Leno at fault for the goal.

‘Arsenal have pressed them and they’ve played around the press very well,’ said the former centre-back.

‘Hector Bellerin again, and the goalkeeper, I always look at it defensively.

‘Man City were too good, they passed it around, he [Phil Foden] steps inside Hector too easy. The goalkeeper is pushing it into the danger zone, you’ve got to push it away out of the danger zone, and he’s [Sterling] had a tap-in, which is disappointing.’

The result was a disappointing one, but I can’t help but think that a change in formation could well be the way forwards assuming Thomas Partey is able to settle quickly, as he will provide much needed energy in the middle of the park, and defensive guile which has been lacking.

Would fans prefer a back-four moving forwards? Should Bellerin’s position in the first-team be at risk?


Tags Bernd Leno Hector Bellerin Man City Tony Adams


  1. Well we can’t just put the blame on TWO players regardless of their mistakes if Saka and Auba put their chances away will anyone be complaining now. This is down to the whole team and the manager.

  2. Tony some arsenal fans believe because Leno saved a one on one we are not allowed to criticize him. The boy makes error like a league 1 goalkeeper. The same mistake he made against Liverpool.

  3. Name is Dhoni. I think we should only wish for him to improve as our no.1 keeper and must be vocal it is a must. Yes he should shout at his defence to put them in check, something evident in Emi worth of emulation.

  4. Mistake No.1 not keeping Martinez in goal.
    Mistake No.2 not starting Partey.
    Mistake No.3 not playing Auba through the middle.
    Mistake No.4 not simply starting Saliba alongside Gabriel & allowing them to grow together.
    Mistake No.5 playing Xhaka
    Mistake No.6 not playing Ozil.

    1. 12db,, you are sooo right especially on mistakes 2, 4 and 5
      When will managers realize that due to the slowness of his mind and lack of any athletic ability Xhaka’s only impact on the game is a negative one

  5. Xhaka is the problem now and has been the problem since he came to the club.
    Arsenal have conceded more goals and created fewer chances per season, we are no longer in the champions league. Those are the cold facts. The demise of the team coincides with the insistence of managers on playing a man who is a liability to the defensive side of the game and no ability creating chances or scoring.

    Artetta will lose his job if he continues to pick him

    1. Sure Xaka should be benched for elneny he is doing alot of nothing these days. There’s no confidence in him

  6. Of course a four is what we need, but it can’t include Luiz who’s only any use in a three. I assume that was the intent until Holding pulled out and we had to play Luiz who was OK on the day.
    With the four we get the extra man in midfield and overlapping full backs instead of wingbacks at which Bellerin can be a bit indifferent, but Teirney plays well in either system.
    Only my opinion of course, the manager knows what he wants.

  7. I think back 4 can work better. Hector is the main cause. You can turn a player in a box and give opportunity to shot. The manager should work out and begin playing partey as soon as possible. I think willian should be converted to number 10 role while dani plays 8 and partey play 6.
    Bellerine should improve or else ceridic can start or niles.

    1. Yah also think arsenal should change to back four. We had so many chaces against city we were Abit inconsistent infront off goal were I feel we should play auba true the middle or where you can play auba, lacca, willian, pepe in the same team its possible with the change off formation 4-3-3 where you play partey as holding midfield up top you play ceballos and willian to create chances front 3 is auba ,lacca,pepe

  8. come on mate,i cant believe what iam hearing from arsenal fans any more!!!
    no 1. ok martinez was good but leno is top 5
    no 2.partey just patient
    no 3.auba on side scored like 300 goals past 2 years
    no 4. M.A isnt stupid.if saliba could play whould play
    no 5. ok i can accept you dont like xhaka,i like him though
    no 6. ozil is a disgrace for our club
    coyg from greece

    1. Arteta, (although he has made improvements) is still suspect to me….makes strange decisions….similar to when he was a player……
      Wish him well, but not totally convinced…..yet…

    2. Greek boy your country won a Euro playing parking the bus but football has evolved since.
      You have no idea what you are talking about
      stop cheering and try to be objective .
      Arteta is making serious errors in judging the
      productivity of his group but I do like him becase his is young and has Arsenal in his blood hopefully.

  9. Why willian not on the right wing why in the middle he was just walking around and once he looses the ball not even bothered to get it back what a signing

  10. Conceding a goal happens. Arsenal didn’t really have much of a response though. Some questions put on the City defense before HT but besides for that, not much more to show from it. It’s been shown that the City backline is not great and if you give them headaches they will have problems keeping every. But everything was in front of the defenders, and we made it easy for them. Saka is the only player taking on the defenders and I dont get why. Auba, Willian were training with Arsenal during the international break and I really have to question what the heck they were doing in training to prepare for this game because they looked completely out of it. Over a week for them to rev up their engines for a big EPL match and they gave dull performances.

  11. If you look back over the past two seasons and beyond Bellerin and Xhaka are behind a lot of poor defending and poor decision making that leads to sloppy goals. While they are there we can expect it to carry on. As for Leno, he should have done better, his parrying is very poor and does lead to goals, he can catch it more than he does as well.

  12. Crystal palace can win at Etihad comfortably so is Leicester city…arsenal seems to be afraid when playing at Etihad. When we have the ball teams close down the spaces for us to create something. But when teams have posession arsenal leaves alot of gaps and that’s why we’ve been punished frequently. Our problem is the shape rather positioning off the ball.

  13. I have been calling for us to revert to a back four for some considerable time ,and with Partey on board, I feel sure this will happen.Indeed, for most of the second half we played a flat back four but our centre backs sat too deep to make the system effective because the back three system makes less demands on them and they are stuck in a routine of retaining possession in or around their own penalty area.Arteta has more or less been obliged to stick to a back three due to a lack of pace in his central defenders, and in the absence of a powerful,high energy defensive midfielder .With Partey in that role the time has come for us to convert to a more attacking set up starting with a flat back four.On a personal note I would prefer a 4-3-3 set up, and although I will no doubt be criticised my midfield three would consist of AMN on the right, Partey at DM and Saka on the left of the trio.In terms of pace, power,energy and balance this trio has it all.Whether AMN and Saka have the technical skill, composure and creativity to make it as midfielders, only time will tell but I would love them to be given a chance to link up with Partey.

  14. For me we need four three three formation, example Leno, seudric Gabriel, Holding,C. thieny, T. patey, D. Ceveloce, G. Xhaka, pepe auba and lacax

  15. Bellerin has been an issue defending for a long time.
    Since we kept AMN maybe we should give him a run of games and as far as Xhaka he should come off the bench maybe for Ceballos or anyone needing a break. He is very one sided and although he has range of passing his is limited as to how to be effective due to his lack of movement/body positioning. One touch passing has eluded this group and if you are going to play in the counter you need to have palyers to play quicker and think even faster.

  16. Arteta do play back 5 to avoid shipping many goal conceded but, not to win.

    Mispostioning of the players done by the Arteta is another problem too.

  17. me personally i dont like wat arteta is doing arsenal have a pattern b4 tiki taka game y dat wen ever we play big team all our player we stay at the back wish is bad and again use luiz and gabrel then use partey and xhaka double 4 then ceballos in their front then aubamayang 9 then pepe and saka 7&11 bcs william need to improve

  18. i prever dis leno,bellerin’luiz,gabrel,tierney,partey’xhaka,ceballos,pepe,aubamayang,saka.the reason y luiz is there bcs he with confidence

    1. We have to move too back four in goal we have leno Tierney Gabriel luiz Cedric or Niles bellerin is poor we should’ve sell him in the minddle of the park partey ceballos willian up top lacca auba pepe that’s winning team

  19. Leno
    Bellerin Saliba Gabriel Tierney
    Willian Ceballos

    Pepe Ozil, or Laca

    Aubameyang, or Martinelli

    This formation could work!

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