Conventional wingers: A dying breed?

In the good old days, the rules of playing football were simple, and so were the tactics. The big and sturdy lads played in...

Latest Posts

Man City 3:0 Arsenal Tactical Analysis- The Master vs The Apprentice

When Mikel Arteta was an assistant of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, they not only dominated England but were one of the best teams...

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

A look at Nigel Pearson’s tactics at Watford

4/12/2019, Leicester City Stadium. Watford suffers yet another defeat, and the ominous bells of relegation are echoing louder at Vicarage Road. The board had...

Great Squads From History – Bayer Leverkusen 2001-2002

The 2001-02 great Bayer Leverkusen side is infamous for their incredible choke job in the last stretch of the season, losing out on three...

How will Arthur fit in Juventus’s midfield: Sarri’s thrilling 4-3-1-2 formation

Sky Sports News has confirmed that Juventus and Barcelona have agreed upon a £72.5m fee for the signing of midfielder Arthur. The Brazilian midfielder...

The Man of Ten Thousand Voices

A young man graciously welcomes me into a room radiated with TV screens, computers, control panels, and flashing LEDs.  A small group of men...

A Tactical Look at how Marseille qualified for the Champions League

After a 7 year exile from Europe’s elite competition, the club from the south of France has finally restored their Champions League status by...

Football Books

Best Football Analytics Books

We have compiled a list of the best football analytics books for the casual football fan. Football analytics and data science/machine learning in general...

The Best Football Books of 2019

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2020, we have compiled a list of the best...

The Best Football Books of 2018

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2019, we have compiled a list of the best...

5 Books every Soccer fan needs to read before the FIFA World Cup 2018

The FIFA World Cup is just around the corner and it's the perfect time to brush up your history and facts about the World...

Best Soccer Coaching Books

We have compiled a list of the best soccer coaching books which every soccer coach must have in his/her bookshelf. No matter whether you...

Man City 3:0 Arsenal Tactical Analysis- The Master vs The Apprentice

When Mikel Arteta was an assistant of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, they not only dominated England but were one of the best teams in Europe playing mesmerizing passing football. After Arteta’s departure to the Emirates, the game between Man City and Arsenal was always going to be a highly anticipated battle between the master and his student. In this tactical analysis, we will be looking at how Guardiola’s Man city beat Arteta’s Arsenal.

Lineups

Manchester City lined up in a 4-3-3 formation and shifted to 2-3-5 formation with possession with Ilkay Gundogan as the defensive midfielder, David Silva as the left central midfielder, Kevin De Bruyne as the right central midfielder often occupying the half-spaces during the offensive phase. Aymeric Laporte and Eric Garcia as the two center-backs, Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy as the fullbacks and Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez upfront.

On the other hand, Arsenal lined up in 4-3-2-1 formation but shifted to 4-2-3-1 formation very early in the game. One surprise exclusion was Mesut Ozil, Kieran Tierney made his fourth premier league start and Eddie Nketiah as the center-forward.

Manchester City’s build-up play

When Mikel Arteta was an assistant of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, their build-up play featured the heavy usage of Ederson, he usually steps out of his line to create the numerical advantage and to break the pressing line, in this game also Ederson played as the deep playmaker, he completed 87% of his passes. During the build-up phase, the center-backs would split, Gundogan, who was responsible for getting the first pass from the goalkeeper would often drop to create a vertical passing lane. One of City’s attacking midfielders usually De Bruyne in this game would drop in the left half-space to break down Arsenal’s press and to create a passing option.

In the image below, we see an example of this, Ederson stepped out of his line, De Bruyne dropped deep and took out one Arsenal’s player, Guendouzi was following Gundogan and Kyle Walker was free on the right flank. Man City have created a 6v3 situation in their own half and were easily able to build their play from the back.

The image below highlights one more situation of how City build their play. Here, Ederson again stepped out of his line to create a 5v2 situation as there was a clear lack of pressure from Arsenal and City were easily able to build their play.

City’s offensive phase

One of Guardiola’s beliefs is to keep the ball in the opposition half as much as possible, he followed this in this game also by limiting Arsenal to just 32% possession. As mentioned above Man City shifted to 2-3-5 formation during the offensive phase with wingers staying wide, attacking midfielders occupying the half-spaces and fullbacks playing at the inverted positions.
But they often changed this system with Sterling getting narrow to open up the space on the left flank for Mendy’s runs and De Bruyne at the left midfield position but keeping the 2-3-5 formation with possession.

The image above highlights this situation, here, wingers Sterling and Mahrez are staying wide, Silva and De Bruyne occupying the half-spaces and the fullbacks Mendy and Walker at the inverted position. It is also important to see that De Bruyne pulls out Tierney and that left Mahrez free on the flanks as Aubameyang was not tracking back to mark Mahrez.

The lack of defensive help from Aubameyang often left Tierney in 1v2 situation with De Bruyne and Mahrez on the right flank. Most of the city’s attack(35%) came from the right side. The image below, we can see that Aubameyang was not tracking back and that left Mahrez totally free.

In addition to this, the diagonal runs of Sterling also made it difficult for Arsenal to defend. City tried to overload the right-sided zones with three players, Walker, De Bruyne and Mahrez, from here they would look for either Sterling or Jesus to make the diagonal runs in behind the Arsenal’s defensive line. The image below highlights this pattern of play.


Another common pattern of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City throughout this season has been to overload one side of the pitch and then switching the play. On one side of the pitch they would often create a numerical advantage with Kyle Walker playing at the inverted fullback position and dragging one Arsenal’s player with him, this allowed Laporte to switch the play to Mahrez who often found himself isolated on the right flank. The image below highlights this pattern of play.

Arsenal’s lack of presence in between the lines

Arsenal only created two chances in this game. Without the presence of Mesut Ozil, there was a lack of creativity in between the lines. Manchester City defended with 4-3-3 formation with very little gap in between the lines, making it difficult for Arsenal to progress the ball in the attacking third as there was never an Arsenal player dropping into the space to create a new passing option. The image below, highlights this pattern, Here, Dani Ceballos can only pass the ball to his center-back as no one is dropping into the space to create a passing option.

Following David Luiz’s red card, Arsenal shifted to a 4-4-1 formation making it further easier for Manchester City to progress the ball in the attacking third with more space further up the pitch and on the flanks. In the situation seen below, Mendy has enough time and space to quickly scan his multiple passing options, he decides to play a long ball to De Bruyne, who is totally free on the right flank, De Bruyne then crosses the ball to create a goal-scoring opportunity.

Conclusion

In this tactical analysis, we saw how Pep Guardiola outsmarted Arteta on the field. Arsenal are yet to win a game against the top six this season. David Luiz’s lack of discipline also made it all the more difficult for Arteta. His team made the wrong decisions in the attacking third and were simply outplayed by the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and David Sliva.

- Advertisement -

Related

A look at Nigel Pearson’s tactics at Watford

4/12/2019, Leicester City Stadium. Watford suffers yet another defeat, and the ominous bells of relegation are echoing louder at Vicarage Road. The board had...

Great Squads From History – Bayer Leverkusen 2001-2002

The 2001-02 great Bayer Leverkusen side is infamous for their incredible choke job in the last stretch of the season, losing out on three...

The Man of Ten Thousand Voices

A young man graciously welcomes me into a room radiated with TV screens, computers, control panels, and flashing LEDs.  A small group of men...

A Tactical Look at how Marseille qualified for the Champions League

After a 7 year exile from Europe’s elite competition, the club from the south of France has finally restored their Champions League status by...

Why Ruben Neves is a perfect signing for Klopp’s 4-3-3 formation

The English outlet The Sun is reporting that Jurgen Klopp has made the Wolves midfielder, Ruben Neves a summer transfer target. The report also...

Are defensive players undervalued? A quantitative analysis

I always believed that defensive players might be undervalued compared to offensive ones, especially in the Premier League. Now, this was just a point...

A look at Imanol Alguacil’s tactics at Real Sociedad

The 19/20 season has certainly been one to remember for Real Sociedad as the side located on the northern coast of Spain have sailed...

How will Ole fit in Bruno & Pogba together: Man United’s thrilling 4-2-3-1 formation

Before the lockdown due to Covid-19, Manchester United were possibly playing their best football for a long time. The arrival of Bruno Fernandes in...

Latest Posts

Jürgen Klopp Pressing system

Jürgen Klopp is regarded by many as one of the best managers in the world. He started his managerial career with a German Club...

Man City 3:0 Arsenal Tactical Analysis- The Master vs The Apprentice

When Mikel Arteta was an assistant of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, they not only dominated England but were one of the best teams...

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

Three best Premier League transfers of all time

The Premier League is famous for its lavish spending on player’s transfers. Top clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United have been spending...

Don't Miss

Lifted Over The Turnstiles: Scotland’s Football Grounds In The Black & White Era

This most comprehensive book about old Scottish football grounds ever published, Lifted Over the Turnstiles contains almost 200 photos of 42 football stadiums here...

How Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona Reinvented Total Football

Arrigo Sachi, the mastermind of the Milan side of the 80′s, had once staked a claim that the next tactical revolution in the game,...

Dr. Carneiro or: How I should learn not to stop the game and love the boss

Hundreds of journalists this week have condemned Jose Mourinho for his treatment of Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn after they wrongly ran onto the...

Barcelona Vs Real Madrid:The Dream Team vs The Galacticos

An imagining of a match between two famous El Clasico sides. The 1992 European Cup winning Barcelona team, known as “The Dream Team” versus...

Descent into darkness: Osvaldo Zubeldia and the era of antifutbol

EVEN if Billy McNeill was really nicknamed Cesar rather than Caesar, there was no denying that the scene on May 25, 1967, was one...

Transfers

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

Three best Premier League transfers of all time

The Premier League is famous for its lavish spending on player’s transfers. Top clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United have been spending...

Where will Kai Havertz play for Chelsea? A look at Lampard’s exciting 4-2-3-1 formation for next season

There have been several rumours surrounding Kai Havertz's transfer to Chelsea and Havertz's current boss, Peter Bosz has indicated that the winger might not...

Man United expected lineup against Sheffield United: Pogba & Bruno to start together for first time

Manchester United salvaged a draw against Tottenham in their first game post the lockdown. Their performance improved after the substitutions of Paul Pogba and...

How will Arthur fit in Juventus’s midfield: Sarri’s thrilling 4-3-1-2 formation

Sky Sports News has confirmed that Juventus and Barcelona have agreed upon a £72.5m fee for the signing of midfielder Arthur. The Brazilian midfielder...