Football Tactics for Beginners: The Low Block

What is the low block?The low block is generally referred to a football team's defensive shape without the ball. Generally the low block consists...

Latest Posts

The Power of Football in Politics and Society

Football, and footballers, have long been stuck with a bad reputation. Hooliganism colours many people’s opinions of the sport just as much as the...

Mourinho’s return to form makes Spurs Premier League contenders

When any club hires Jose Mourinho, they do it to win trophies. Daniel Levy had the same expectation when he appointed the Special One...

A look at Marcelo Bielsa’s tactics at Leeds United

Leeds achieved the perfect start in their comeback season to the Premier League. Leeds’ amazing beginning of the season has been mostly because of...

PSG 1: 2 Man Utd- Tactical Analysis

In this analysis, we will be looking at the tactics of Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Thomas Tuchel in PSG and Man United's most recent...

Man United’s possible lineup against Chelsea based on the new and exciting back 3 formation used in the PSG victory

Manchester United's victory against PSG came after a tumultuous start to the season with questions already being raised over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's eligibility to...

Serie A’s Last Outsiders Part 1: Hellas Verona, 1984/1985

With the 2020–2021 Serie A underway, there is a general sense of uncertainty about a league that has fallen from the heights of its...

Have Opponents Got Used To Liverpool’s 4-3-3 Formation This Season

Liverpool are conceding goals at an alarming rate when you consider that they only conceded 33 Premier League goals throughout last season’s title-winning campaign....

Football Books

Foul- The Beautiful Game, An Ugly Truth [Book Excerpt]

The clip-clop of football boot studs on concrete echoed through the tunnel over the hum of distant crowd noise. A drenched team of players...

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...

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.

Related

The Power of Football in Politics and Society

Football, and footballers, have long been stuck with a bad reputation. Hooliganism colours many people’s opinions of the sport just as much as the...

Mourinho’s return to form makes Spurs Premier League contenders

When any club hires Jose Mourinho, they do it to win trophies. Daniel Levy had the same expectation when he appointed the Special One...

How the signing of Osimhen changed Gattuso’s approach

Napoli has started this season in an incredible manner. Unfortunately, Napoli didn’t show up to the Juventus game, which meant they would receive a...

A look at Marcelo Bielsa’s tactics at Leeds United

Leeds achieved the perfect start in their comeback season to the Premier League. Leeds’ amazing beginning of the season has been mostly because of...

PSG 1: 2 Man Utd- Tactical Analysis

In this analysis, we will be looking at the tactics of Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Thomas Tuchel in PSG and Man United's most recent...

Man United’s possible lineup against Chelsea based on the new and exciting back 3 formation used in the PSG victory

Manchester United's victory against PSG came after a tumultuous start to the season with questions already being raised over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's eligibility to...

Arsenal need to get back where they belong

Arsenal are one of the teams who have fallen from their usual place in the English football system over the last decade or so....

Serie A’s Last Outsiders Part 1: Hellas Verona, 1984/1985

With the 2020–2021 Serie A underway, there is a general sense of uncertainty about a league that has fallen from the heights of its...

Have Opponents Got Used To Liverpool’s 4-3-3 Formation This Season

Liverpool are conceding goals at an alarming rate when you consider that they only conceded 33 Premier League goals throughout last season’s title-winning campaign....

Latest Posts

The Power of Football in Politics and Society

Football, and footballers, have long been stuck with a bad reputation. Hooliganism colours many people’s opinions of the sport just as much as the...

Mourinho’s return to form makes Spurs Premier League contenders

When any club hires Jose Mourinho, they do it to win trophies. Daniel Levy had the same expectation when he appointed the Special One...

Barcelona plot final bid to bring Premier League star to Camp Nou in January

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:'SW9InB3wQvFgzlegD2mLlQ',sig:'KGb3mzJds9Dl0oHdVay70nKo-0sGTXn0i9QWapQLbMM=',w:'594px',h:'420px',items:'1184273934',caption: true ,tld:'com',is360: false })}); According to the English outlet, Mirror, Barcelona are ready to make one last offer in order to...

How the signing of Osimhen changed Gattuso’s approach

Napoli has started this season in an incredible manner. Unfortunately, Napoli didn’t show up to the Juventus game, which meant they would receive a...

Don't Miss

Hungary – The Golden Team that never quite made it.

When you look back at the history of past World Cup winners and European Championship winners the usual names by in large stand out....

The long & bizarre history behind why Red Bull chose Leipzig as the hub for their football club

When Red Bull tried to set foot into German football for the first time, they initially tried to use the same method they had...

A look back at Liverpool’s treble winning 1983/84 season

In the wake of Manchester City’s record-breaking claim to the Premier League, The False 9 will look back at some of the greatest club...

‘The Diamond demolition’ in the Kolkata derby

The year was 1997, and on the 13th of July, the stage was set for the biggest clash in Indian football – the Kolkata...

FC Start and The Death Match

“Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we must not forget those acts of courage with which men have lived.” – John...

Football History

Cruyffism through Spain

Spain has developed a unique commitment to technical football which has put them in good stead to make the past decade a period of Spanish dominance. The story to this dominance begin decades before hand when Cruyff decided that Barcelona would be the club he would next manage after his time at Ajax was over. He would create a cohesive identity for the club which kept the vision while finding success. This vision began with a number of manager who came before Cruyff but after Cruyff left, there would be many managers in Spain who would use his methods to discovery their own success.

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...

A look back at Liverpool’s treble winning 1983/84 season

In the wake of Manchester City’s record-breaking claim to the Premier League, The False 9 will look back at some of the greatest club...

The long & bizarre history behind why Red Bull chose Leipzig as the hub for their football club

When Red Bull tried to set foot into German football for the first time, they initially tried to use the same method they had...

The Original Invincibles- Preston North End 1888/89

In the wake of Manchester City’s record-breaking claim to the Premier League, The False 9 will look back at some of the greatest club...