Mikel Arteta maintains that Arsenal need to be flexible in their tactics but admits that certain formations, like the 4-3-3 deployed in the first half against Crystal Palace, live or die by the performance of the team.
Starting with a midfield of Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe and attacking trio Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick ahead of them, the Gunners were quick out of the traps on Monday, dominated the ball and were good value for the early lead.
After 20 minutes or so, the movement in the final third ground to a halt, the players became more concerned about defending what they had rather than going for the jugular and Palace grew in confidence. It was like somebody had flicked a switch. Or pulled up the handbrake.
“If we play 4-3-3 the way we played the first 20 minutes, we win the games,” said Arteta ahead of Friday’s match against Aston Villa.
“But if we start to play the way we played the following 20 minutes, it doesn’t work, because again, that is a transition game and we don’t have the players to do that when we play in that formation.”
He had earlier lamented: “After scoring the goal, and after hitting the level of performance that we hit after the first part of the game, just make sure that we go for the second goal and continue to play with the same fluidity, the same intention that we are going to start to defend something that we have earned because the game is really long and we have to do that for longer periods of the game.”
The original game plan went out of the window midway through the second half. Having fallen 2-1 behind, Arteta decided to chuck the kitchen sink at the Eagles. On came Gabriel Martinelli and Alex Lacazette and the bravery was rewarded courtesy of the latter’s last-gasp equaliser.
“The play in the last 20 minutes is something that we haven’t done a lot as well, but it worked because we generated what we wanted,” said Arteta. “We have to be flexible and we have to play players in their strengths and when they are not playing.”
Following comments by Jurgen Klopp about Liverpool’s ‘dirty’ win over Atletico Madrid, it was put to Mikel Arteta that his side also needs to get in the groove of winning even when they don’t play well.
“My focus is to win and play well, and this is what we have to do,” he said. “When we were playing well, and in the phases that we were playing well we dominated the game. We generated the chances, and we deserved to win the game.
“The issues come when we don’t start to do that. But when you do that you have to show enough resilience and know-how to manage those situations; like we had to do against Brighton in certain moments, and still be able to win the match.
“Sometimes individuals actions, [such as] a set piece helps you to do that. Of course, it’s another way of winning, and it has to be present in the way the team acts and thinks.”
Arteta’s players will certainly have their work cut out tomorrow when Aston Villa visit the Emirates.
The Villans have won their last three Premier League meetings against us, as many as they had in their previous 36 (W3 D9 L24). They last won four consecutive league matches against the Gunners in September 1962. Thanks to Opta for the stats.
This quote just reminds me of the bit in Fever Pitch when Arsenal score the first in the Liverpool game and Paul goes “Ah yeah, this is perfect. I bet we fucking win one nil now. That would be so Arsenal.”
And to that his buddy Steve replies, “What do you want them to do, score the second before the first?”
Two very important games coming up for Arsenal and Arteta – Aston Villa and Leicester City –
Brilliant film adaptation of an even better book; Hornby is a genius. The film perfectly captures the mood of that incredible season. Great soundtrack too. Sadly, it has become something of a timepiece, not because of the film, which is indeed brilliant, but because the football world and, by extension, the ‘real world’ have both changed so much – and, one has to concede, not necessarily for the better. I think it’s difficult for many of those who lived through that era to reconcile the fact that it’s now over 30 years since it happened. Whether we all like it… Read more »
It’s such a good film. I did it the other way and watched the film first so, although I enjoyed the book, it will always be within the context of the film.
Mark Strong and Colin Firth as good as I’ve ever seen them. One of the best British films ever made.
‘There She Goes’ will always give me goosebumps.
Who and why downvoting it? Please answer me, because I don’t understand your point.
I don’t know mate. There are folk who downvote whatever I write, regardless.
I don’t let it bother me and neither should you. Thanks anyway. 👍🍺
TBF, the film was a minor period piece even at the time of it’s release.
It was made in 1997 (thanks, Wikipedia) and it is, of course about the 1988-89 season.
By 1997, most English stadiums would have been all-seaters. The PL had been established.
So it was about a football world which had already profoundly changed.
Like all Arsenal fans, I think 1989 is great. But we should have some perspective. When you talk to a Liverpool supporter, they don’t think of 1988-89 as the year they lost the league in the last second to Arsenal. They think of Hillsborough.
What the fuck?
Sorry I’m drunk and I’ve agreed with you on some things but flipping heck if you weren’t there why are are you lecturing us and if you were, have a word with yourself
I don’t get why the players don’t do the things Arteta supposedly is telling them to do. Like why don’t we press all the time like the manager wants them to. Seems really odd to me..
Imagine how Arteta feels …
Why do people seem to hate on you bro? Always down voting you! Takes the piss really. I thought your comment above was a decent comment an this is a laughing face to a funny comment wtf? You got my up votes
Pressing, yes, definitely an issue. But there are still fundamental problems with our setup. Just look at any of the position maps from the last 2 months. The team is still an incoherent mess. Last match it was Tierney and Saka stepping on each others’ toes, while Pepe was back on his island, with no support in sight. We say the midfield played badly, but what is in front of them? It’s not working at all. All signs are pointing to the fact we are a back 3 team. I don’t like it, but there’s no hiding from it. Just… Read more »
Maybe they need better instructions? At the moment it feels like a bake off technical challenge where the instructions are ‘make a custard’. Perhaps some more guidance on options and in-game tactics on maintaining bravery and scoring a second goal, working through those would be better than whatever we’re doing now, which seems to amount to telling players to just be braver.
I’m sorry, but this is like the CEO of a massive global fast food chain outlet complaining about the growing levels of obesity in modern society.
If you want your players to score more goals Mikel, then STOP continually instructing them to pass backwards and sideways ad nauseam. Take the fucking handbrake off and -until we’re three or four up – leave it off.
Come on, Q, you know as well as I do that Arteta doesn’t want to play recycled football. He started a 4-1-4-1 (433) and put more attackers than defenders on the pitch, and the team were clearly instructed to go for it from the off. He didn’t instruct them to go passive after the first goal — it happened, and I think it is more a symptom of our lack of confidence as a side than it is the manager’s system. Yes, he wants us to be organized and positionally sound, but he doesn’t want us to stand there and… Read more »
If the players aren’t confident of the system they’re playing in, then whose fault is that? At some point you are going to have to accept that Arteta isn’t up to the job.
As I said above, I think it is a fault of both the players and the manager. They all need to be better.
As I said above, I am, too, filling up with doubt that Arteta is going to deliver the targets this year.
But I don’t see a managerial change anytime soon so long as we remain with 6 points of the top six spots.
You’re defending a manager of a football team that you readily admit cannot play football for ninety minutes.
I rest my case.
I’m defending him against your inaccurate criticism. I didn’t say he wasn’t above criticism – just yours, Q. 😉
I upvoted this just because it was funny
I dunno, but I somehow think it’ll soon be Qwaliteee who’ll be having the ‘last laugh’ as far as Arteta is concerned.
Well, let’s just see how ‘accurate’ you are between now and Christmas, shall we?
Just putting more attackers on the pitch doesn’t really mean shit if it isn’t properly balanced. In this one we simply weren’t bar the first 10 minutes (when we actually played with some tempo) we completely lack cohesion through the middle. Seemed we regressed badly to classic Arteta doughnut ball in this game. Again, there was a disconnect between Partey and ESR/Ode ahead of him (hence the doughnut play). The other major issue with Partey’s isolation is how much more risk we’re under against the press ourselves. Two turnovers by the deepest mid both of whom were quite isolated from… Read more »
Well at least he recognises part of the problem. Many people have been saying that we don’t have a style under Arteta but I don’t think that’s true. Our style is the same as Man City, but unfortunately with worse players physically and technically, and seemingly less well drilled. It’s very difficult to get a team to play tiki-taka effectively and we’re seeing that here. We play a lot like a Pep team does on their very worst days: sterile possession, no pressure on the ball, readily exposed defence and not winning any second balls. Notably we had all these… Read more »
He can’t beat Brighton, Villa, Palace or Brentford. Got smashed by City and Chelsea. But he is our manager of the month. One more transfer market and pre season should get the Pep skills out of him. 😂 😂 😂 ffs sack him…
There are always people saying he should not be sacked. I am still waiting for one of those people to say what they see with their eyes not stats or some weird analysis as to why Arteta is worth sticking with.
I see a team struggling to assert their game over 90 minutes. I see them being able to do it in fits, but not consistently. But I don’t think Arteta should be sacked just yet. We invested a lot into him and his setup, and the players and people in the club seem to have a lot of faith in him. I think we would not be irresponsible to give him a little more time — not beyond the Norwich game in December, mind you, if we aren’t within a win of the top six.
Whoever brought Arteta as manager (or coach, if you prefer) has done the club the greatest disservice ever
Yeah – certainly should have stuck with the ‘champagne manager’ Emery. Weren’t we good under him?
No but we were better – by the only measure that counts – league position.
Signing Arteta was a gamble worth taking. Sadly, I’m old enough to remember us bringing in George Graham who hadn’t done much as a manager. He became a massive success.
The problem now is that Arteta has flopped and needs to be moved on. The job is too big for him. But can you see Stan acting decisively? Me neither.
We need an experienced boss to get the best out of these players. We’re good enough for a top-six finish, but not with Arteta in charge.
Sorry thats bullshit. If we sack Arteta today, the team is in a good shape for the new manager to build on. Maybe thats all we going to get from him.
We were in a steady decline since 2016, the last couple of years of Wenger and then Emery was terrible. I believe MA has arrested the decline, built a base. Whether he can take the team upwards from this point is remain to be seen.
What decline did he arrest?
We fell out of European football for the first time in 25 years under his reign.
What decline is worse than that?
By definition decline is a long term process and it started years ago. The result of last season is a manifestation years of decline. We were playing badly without any proper structure since 2016. People forget the mess we were in when MA took over- not just the results, the players, defensive frailty (exemplified by the goals and shots we were conceding) etc. One could argue it could have been worse than finishing 8th in his first (half season). Not to mention the tangible success in the form of FA cup victory (We would have been out of Europe a… Read more »
I’ll take Zidane now thanks. French, bald, thinks forwards toward the opposition gol and has won everything as a player and a manager.
conte would be a better option
Conte has an absolute brilliant record of coaching youth and investing his time developing young talent. Yeah, he would be a perfect fit for us.
Talks a good game does Mikel. The weight of evidence from 22 months of football suggests he’s not so good at managing a good game. He really should have been sacked last season. Instead we’ve kept him on and let him spend big and there’s a mental sunk cost where he has to be given a chance with these players.I understand that. In the meantime, all we can do is hope things turn around while waiting for the decision makers to inevitably catch up with the continually growing evidence base that he’s not up to it. The quote from today’s… Read more »
His tactics are as rigid as his hair. I said it before Arsenal should be taking a VERY close look at Ten Haag at Ajax. Despite having to sell off top assets, they have rebuilt quickly and are slicing teams apart in CL. So much more exciting than Arsenal and done with much smaller budget plus Academy development. IF the current Arsenal owners have any ambition (Which we know they don’t), they would first get rid of Edu, get a proper football man in who has had experience in the trenches with transfers. Overmaars at Ajax doing a fantastic job… Read more »
He could also start subs earlier instead of waiting. Second goal? How about put Martinelli on much earlier, Lacazette could play alongside Auba. As I said, nothing against Odegaard but we overpaid and frankly we needed a versatile tricky player in like Aouar (barely a year older but so much more experience) We also could have added Neves (It will be hard now with Newcastle in the hunt with money) And as I said, I would have kept Xhaka even with Neves bc the idea is not one in one out but to add layers of capability and back up… Read more »
Strange. I saw him gesturing for them to fall back.
How impotent we are creating chances has been an ever-present theme for the best part of Arteta’s tenure, in the attacking third we just don’t show up. Still, those stats on our inability to string three passes together against Palace seen in today’s blog are disastrous. This whole Arteta adventure is a schizophrenic ride. It is like ancient taboos are demolished, the only fix pillars of the Arsenal I have known for twenty something years (high possession %, secure technical level, being attack-minded, taking risks, being rewarded for it more often than not) are gone. Change is natural, but I… Read more »
The obvious sarcastic quip is that he should have told them that 20 months ago.
BTW Mikel, if you’re reading this, tell them to go for the third goal too. And fourth, fifth – basically as many as they can get. You’re welcome. I’ll mail you the check.