Arsenal Boss Gets It All Wrong Again – Tactical Lessons From The Premier League Weekend
4 November 2019 Sport
The Spaniard set his team up in a system which did nothing to suggest he had studied Saturday’s opponents as rumours regarding his future grow louder
It’s as you were in the Premier League title race, though both Liverpool and Manchester City left it late to record come-from-behind victories on a dramatic weekend in the English top-flight.
Pressure continues to build on Unai Emery, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Mauricio Pochettino as their sides again failed to record victories, allowing Leicester City and Chelsea to pull clear in the race for a top-four finish.
But what were the main tactical takeaways? Goal breaks down how the key coaching decisions impacted the weekend’s action…
Against Wolves on Saturday fans witnessed yet another example of Unai Emery’s bizarre tactical decision-making.
His diamond 4-4-2, with Mesut Ozil at the tip, meant Arsenal were far too narrow to face a team with such dangerous wing-backs and inside forwards.
That should have been obvious to anyone who has watched this resurgent Wolves side in recent weeks, and yet it took until the 73rd minute before Emery changed shape to a 4-2-3-1.
Wolves dominated the flanks as Arsenal’s widest midfielders, Lucas Torreira and Dani Ceballos, failed to get across to help; the visitors consistently found themselves in two-on-one situations when counterattacking out wide, confusing Arsenal by doing so in two distinct ways.
On one side Adama Traore hugged the touchline as Matt Doherty underlapped, with Traore bursting clean past Kieran Tierney, and on the other Diogo Jota drifted into the half-space as Jonny Otto overlapped, with Calum Chambers getting lost as he tried to close down both players.
Presumably Emery’s plan was to swamp Wolves through the middle, creating a four-on-two in central areas that would allow them to dominate possession, but Jota, Joao Moutinho, and Ruben Neves put in superb performances that prevented the hosts from finding a rhythm.
Remarkably, Emery said afterwards that he felt his team’s tactics were correct. The fact that Wolves had 25 shots to Arsenal’s 10 while Jonny and Doherty completed seven dribbles and seven key passes between them, suggests not.