Tactical Points from Arsenal’s emphatic win over Norwich
By Vinay Shankar (Tactical Analyst)
A strong performance, albeit against a really poor side, in our first game back at the Emirates in almost 5 months:
Arteta continued with the 3-4-3 formation that has been working well in the last couple of games. This formation helps the team be less vulnerable in transitions (one of our big issues in recent seasons) and also provides the option of an extra man while building out from the back. Norwich thrive in transition with the likes of Buendia and Cantwell capitalising on turnovers to release Pukki in behind the centre-halves so preparing for this was very important.
Arsenal’s high press was the biggest takeaway from the game for me. The difference between when Nketiah starts upfront to when Lacazette does is evident in the way they press. Nketiah is typically the first to press while the wide forwards hang around just behind but are not as aggressive. Lacazette, on the other hand, typically hangs back to cut off the supply lines into midfield and in this game, Aubameyang and Nelson were harrying the Norwich defence.
Arsenal’s attacking build-up resembled the 2-3-5/3-2-5 formation seen before the break, with the attacking quintet being Tierney, Aubameyang, Lacazette, Nelson, and Bellerin, similar to how Liverpool play.
Ceballos’s all-action display in the first half really showed how good he can be when the team dominates possession and constantly look to maintain the pressure on the opposition. This display, coupled with his performances against Newcastle and West Ham before the break highlight the type of games where he can be at his most effective, but one difference in this game was how well he dictated the play and took on the creative burden without Mesut Ozil in the side.
Luiz and Mustafi seemed very reluctant at the start in terms of progressing the ball. Luiz in particular seemed to be worried about his knock from the previous game but as the game progressed, he became more comfortable and showed his passing range as evidenced by the second goal.
Lacazette did everything except shoot in the game for me. Playing in the withdrawn role while Nelson and Aubameyang got forward allowed him to focus on hold up play and really drive with the ball but the lack of confidence in front of goal is really worrying. As the saying goes, ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’ and this very apt in this situation as the Frenchman is getting in the right positions but just not pulling the trigger.
Despite a great team performance, Kolasinac just doesn’t work in the back three for me. Some of it is due to the coach’s instructions understandably but mostly it’s his lack of dynamism with the ball that stands out.
Arteta’s instruction to his defenders has been to wait for somebody to press before releasing the ball but the Bosnian just seems content on passing the ball as soon as he received rather than move forward and creating some spaces for his teammates to exploit. Nacho Monreal was very good at this when the 3 at the back system was utilised and he must take a leaf out La Cabra’s book. Arguably, having another midfielder instead could have been more useful to the team while in possession.