Mikel Arteta says his centre-backs have to take initiative on the ball when Arsenal face opponents who are happy defending with numbers behind the ball.
As the Gunners develop a reputation for teasing opponents out of position with play built from the back, sides are increasingly wising up to the tactics.
After a promising first half against Leicester – one that saw David Luiz’s penetrating passes feature prominently – our possession became passive when the Brazilian was forced off with an injury.
Reflecting on the game, which his side lost 1-0 thanks to Jamie Vardy’s late goal, Arteta stressed his side need to learn to attack with a more collective attitude.
“Absolutely, when you face a low block like Leicester did, they played 5-4-1 and the striker came back with the holding midfielder…if you don’t utilise your central defenders you are playing eight [men] against 10 the whole game,” he said. “That’s a really difficult game to play.
“They [the centre-backs] have to step in, they need to know what spaces to attack, which players they need to commit, which players they have to provoke, the areas that we have to provoke as well. They become crucial.
“It’s something we haven’t had time to do. We’ve not really faced [up to it] before we had to start training.
He added: “It’s a really good sign that a big team like Leicester has come here and done what they’ve done. They sat and said we want to be here. We’ll work on that, we’ll improve on that and we’ll give much more to our strikers so they can finish games off.”
After the defeat, our third in four league games, there were accusations in some quarters that the Gunners have become too one dimensional. It’s no secret that we’re struggling to create chances for our strikers.
Arteta rejected suggestions that he doesn’t have a ‘Plan B’ for games, instead, he made clear his players have to better manage moments in the game when given responsibilities on the pitch.
“We need a Plan B and C,” he said. “I always have a Plan B ready as you could see with the way we ended up playing with three very narrow strikers [against Leicester].
“At the end, it’s how do you interpret it [the plan]. After those situations, it’s where do you take the ball first to generate some advantages for those players.
“I think the game management in the last eight to 10 minutes [against Leicester] wasn’t good enough. We gave six or seven free-kicks away, too many throw-ins, we could not attack with the right intention.
“It’s something again that needs more training and improving and even though you might do that [correctly] some teams are good at killing the game off. This is what it is.”