Arteta: Our centre-backs must help the attack


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.”

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Our midfield needs to help the attack.

Luton Gooner

Our attack needs to help the attack


Perhaps we could boil it down to just “Help!”?


Good Beatles album.

Then came ‘Rubber Soul’, ‘Revolver’ and ‘Sgt Pepper.’

All produced AFTER Spurs last won the title. 🤣


Exactly. We are crying out for a midfielder who can create but also score a few goals. It doesn’t help that Arteta’s rigid systems don’t encourage the midfield players to be more adventurous. Somebody in the middle of the park should be getting10-15 goals per season. That would take the pressure off Auba.

We shouldn’t have to worry about scoring goals tonight: we’re playing an Irish team so it should be a nice easy win, with us scoring a hatful of goals. We’ll hit the back of the net at least 5 times.

Six-nil to the Gunners.


All sensible stuff, but I’m a little surprised that Arteta needs to make some of these observations. Elsewhere in his remarks, it’s quite clear that he knows there’s an awful lot of work to do. Some of it is down to the way he wants the team to play of course, but other elements appear to be almost re-learning what (generally) experienced players should really know and grasp from the get-go. Anyway, we’ll see how he progresses with the players.


I make the analogy of Windows Vista: A complete disaster because most systems at the time, even the best PCs, lacked the necessary computing resources to properly run the system. Sometimes it feels like this with Arsenal. We don’t have the resources to run the tactical complexities that Arteta attempts to have us run. And similarly to many of the fixes to windows systems they are patches that draw further resources to make the system function; Arteta seems to demand this complex system remains in place and the tweaks to improve it require even more complex tactical nuances. I think… Read more »

Cyprus The Immortal Gooner

The problem lies in the fact that our CB are trying to provide more than any other players…


You deliberately omitted Ozil from your squad and now you asking defenders to help your attackers. Hello coach, the pressure have just started. #Artetaout

David C

Arteta out? He just started. Remember the FA cup and Community shield? Don’t be so fickle mate.

SB Still

Needing a creative force absolutely agree (even Arteta knows that and tried hard to sign one), in terms of that being Ozil…here is an analysis, that might help why 3 managers have pass on the choice

Heavenly Chapecoense

Some people do not understand that clubs needed to cut salaries and this is over my head.


Oh dear. We will, sooner or later, have to move on from the “Ozil scenario”. Right or wrong, good or bad, reasonable decision or Chinese pressure, whatever. The whole debate is redundant because you or I have probably got more chance of playing for Arsenal than Ozil has now. Let’s move on!!!

Heavenly Chapecoense

After the Europa League final, 95% of fans were saying: “It is finished with Ozil, I want him out of the club”. Maybe we should reopen the archives of this forum and see what you were saying.


Wow! Ozil? the reality is that he’ll never play for arsenal again. You should move on or follow him to his next club, if he ever gets any club to sign him.


Can’t say I agree with the ‘Arteta Out’ hashtag, but other than that, you have a point.


Stop this nonsense now, please. Özil is a relic of the past for a club that over-committed and realised that it can no longer afford a player providing very low return on investment.

He is never playing for Arsenal again. Done. End of story. Even though he was great once, he is not Dennis Bergkamp for whom the supporters demanded another year. He was a narrow-band player, whose peak came and went four years ago.

All these #ÖzilIn #ArtetaOut people sound like paid trolls. Or Spurs fans. Take your pick.






Ozil is well past it


What frustrated me most about the Leicester game, even more than the maddening impotence, was the sheer fucking naivety of the defeat. It was blindingly obvious that Brenda had set them up to soak up pressure and then bring Vardy on to try and hit us on the break in the second half. All we had to do was deny that rat-faced twat space in behind, but instead we decide to push our centre backs to the halfway line. Easy to blame Mustafi but its obvious he was playing to instruction. Doesn’t need a tactical masterplan when you play like… Read more »


Remember the year they won the title? It infuriated me, week after week, that everyone just played into then-Ranieri’s counter-attacking trap … we were the only team to beat them twice that season — little did it matter.

Teams figure us out (stop Auba and left-sided creationism) so easily, it seems, but we can’t pick up a half-stamped out cigarette butt named Jamie Vardy.


Mustafi is only playing to his known weakness. I have lost count on the number of goals we have conceded when he and Bellerin fail to mark their man. Gabriel actually wavered to him to stay on Vardy, but he didn’t.


He gave up. He just couldn’t be bothered. He knew he’d dropped Gabriel in the shit, so he did his usual thing of shouting woefully at the sky – as if that somehow is going to absolve him of any blame.

If we’re serious at all about making progress – as opposed to fucking about in the Europa League – then Mustafi has got to go. The sooner the better.


Seems we got beat by the most simple of elements. Besides the inability of Mustafi to actually be able to run with Vardy, (note that Vardy almost beat him for a second goal), we did recognize that sooner or later our turnovers in midfield would put us under pressure. Obviously, hindsight is 20-20, but I don’t see where we recognized or dealt with the threat. It’s almost as though we lulled ourselves to sleep thinking we could just continue to pass back and forth in the midfield while they were winning more of the ball.


Enough of the Nutty Professor soundbites.

Let’s just concentrate on having defenders who can defend, midfielders who can win the ball and create chances and forwards who can stick the bloody thing in the net.

Less theories, more Premiership points.


I’m not sure he knows what to do really. The defence was bad before even Emery was hired. Mustafi, Sokratis, Holding, Chambers have proven to be nothing more than average. The midfield is slow and ponderous and the attackers dont seem to be able to play together consistently. Transfer mismanagement, player retention and discipline issues have been very apparent for about a decade now. Wenger and Gazidas towards the end of Wengers reign have really knackered Arsenal as a playing force and we’ve regressed so much it actually saddens me. I dont think Arteta can arrest this slump because so… Read more »


Gabriel looks really good though, and he’s only 23. So there’s something to be positive about!


I agreed with a lot of what you said until you said that Arteta doesn’t hold himself accountable and right there is where our paths diverged.


Well you rate Arteta, I dont. Fine by me.


Concern +5


Defenders have been helping attack. David Luiz has always been playing long diagonal ball to Auba or Saka on the left. Wasn’t it Luiz who scored a header against Rapid Vienna? Bellerin already has more assists now than he had in the entire season last year. Midfield should help the attack as defenders have been doing their part. Arteta has destroyed Saliba’s chances of him getting any minutes in league or Europa. I feel sorry about Saliba for many reasons. He lost his beloved mother at a very young age. He was never allowed to play for St Etienne in… Read more »




I think Arteta’s philosophy of playing safe and negative has dwindled the confidence the players have, they hardly dribble. So scared of taking on opponents. It’s why they all pass back and sideways. There is a complete disconnect from the forward line. Partey got frustrated asking for ball in the last match. It is so difficult to watch. I am beginning to question Arteta’s tactical ability. He is not letting the players play to their ability.


Arteta is not a good coach but only good at talking. Arsenal will beat Dudalk today but will fall to defeat on Sunday to manuted.


Bore off!

Tony 2

Someone whos smarter than I said MA reminds him (And me for that matter) of the wizard of oz. Came in all guns blazing but the curtain has been pulled back and he is being xposed. I truly hope i am proved wrong but 1st watched The mighty AFC beat man Utd, holy trinity n all, 3 0 circa 67/68, seen many highs and lows and like the rest of you get to know the feel of our team and this dont feel good. Follow the yellow brick rd guys


Modern game at the moment dictates that the backline be able to distribute from deep over the top to break down packed defensive lines. This should be in addition to midfielders picking through between the lines and wingers stretching the opponents out of position. but if you look at Granit dropping to the left of defense during our offensive play against opponents that sit compact, its exactly the reason as he aims to pick out Auba making darts into the box from left. Ditto with Luiz who made some great passes first half against Leicester recently. And Mustafi has it… Read more »


Mustafi has a brilliant through ball in his locker (usually to the opposition striker), stick him in the no10 role.


If our best attacking creator on the night is our left wing back, why take him off as part of the Plan B?


I think the game was much fair