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Tactical Points from Arsenal's emphatic win at Leeds

By Vinay Shankar (Tactical Analyst)

An incredible first-half performance, blowing away a depleted Leeds side and keeping up the great run of performances since the loss at Goodison.

  • After their thrashing at City, everyone expected Leeds to come out and play their typical intensive, high-pressing style despite the injuries. They were still man-marking the Arsenal players all over the pitch but they were not pressing the defenders and goalkeeper.

  • The simplest way to disturb man-marking is through movement without the ball and drawing players out of their zones, a very common tactic used in set-pieces as well. Lacazette kept dragging Koch all over the pitch, opening up the spaces for Martinelli to make the run inside the full-back.

  • The midfield pivot of Leeds was caught between pressing Xhaka and Partey and marking Odegaard and the Norwegian kept making them pay by popping up between the lines and feeding the runners on both sides. Xhaka and Partey were only called upon in the first half to pounce on the loose passes and release the front four to run at the backline. There was so much space to operate with for the attacking players and high-quality chances were being created consistently, so the number of goals scored was the main disappointment from the half.

  • After the visible lack of chemistry against Everton, it is great to see the front quartet gelling superbly and the increase in chances created since then has gone up significantly to back it up. Lacazette has had a major role to play in this aspect as Arteta is finally managing to get the striker involved in the build-up and utilise the Frenchman’s unselfishness. The number nine is willing to drop into half-spaces to receive the ball and play the link role, allowing Martinelli to drift inside and play as the striker or run at the full-back. Odegaard tends to stay on the right to link up with Saka but with Lacazette offering an option inside, he is opening up his body much more to add more balance to the attacking play.

  • While Partey making runs into the box and shooting from better positions was down to the chaotic nature of Leeds, another new feature to the attacking play from the West Ham game has been Granit Xhaka making late runs into the box to try and score. This aspect of his game has been rarely seen in his five years at Arsenal. Despite not scoring yet, being a nuisance in the box is enough for the time being, with the first goal scored evidence of that.

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