Tactical Points from Arsenal’s frustrating draw with Leicester
By Alfie Cairns Culshaw (Chief Editor)
Our tactical analyst, Vinay, was unfortunately unable to cover this game and provide us with his excellent tactical insight, so I’ve stepped in for him- and what an interesting encounter to analyse it was:
· Arteta again set up in a 3-4-3, having had success with this shape in recent weeks. Leicester tried to counter this by also setting up in a three at the back formation, although were forced into it due to injuries to key personnel.
· Leicester’s unfamiliarity in this shape showed, and we took advantage of this.
· Arteta again used this five across the frontline to good effect, with Bellerin and Tierney’s marauding overlaps providing us with width, and Saka and Aubameyang’s roles as inside forwards getting the best out of Lacazette.
· We again looked to press the opposition intensely, using the insurance of a back three to allow our double pivot in Ceballos and Xhaka to aggressively squeeze Leicester, penning them into the own half for much of the first period. Mustafi and Kolasinac were also very dominant and aggressive in their positioning, and overall it created a very cohesive pressing unit.
· Arsenal clearly targeted Leicester’s left-hand side in the first half. Marc Albrighton playing as a left-wing back was inevitably going to leave them vulnerable on that side, with the former Villa man’s one footedness and lack of defensive awareness exposed by Bellerin and Saka’s clever movement and interchange. Soyuncu looked uncomfortable as that left centre-back, and Arsenal’s ability to find space in behind Albrighton time and time again was no coincidence, and subsequently meant our best moments came from that side.
· Lacazette’s impressive hold up and combination play was key to drawing out Jonny Evans which allowed Arsenal to isolate their two wider players on either side against the sluggish Bennet and unusually sluggish Soyuncu. The Frenchman was clearly instructed to drop off in between the lines, pulling Evans with him, and thus creating the space for Aubameyang and Saka to run into.
· When Leicester pressed Arsenal deep in their own defensive third, we either played through it with short, triangular moves in which Ceballos was at the heart of, or through long accurate balls from David Luiz. In general, Arsenal negated the Leicester press very well.
· The second half however, was far less positive tactically for Arteta- continuing this theme from recent weeks. We sat off Leicester a lot more, and struggled to control possession or territory.
· What is causing this drop off after half-time is intriguing-perhaps fatigue given our first half intensity, or possibly even complacency. Whatever it is, it’s unlikely that it is instructional; it’s very unlikely Arteta wants this to happen, it’s probably not part of his game plan.
· In recent weeks, the drinks break and fresh legs from substitutes seem to have rejuvenated us in the last 15/20 minutes, and the introduction of Nketiah and Willock were probably designed to do this. However, the red card to the former blew this out the water, and we sunk back into a deep, compact shape to try and protect our lead.
· Unfortunately, a lack of concentration (perhaps inevitable with the back three we deployed) cost us, and our lack of out ball after that made it difficult for us to mount any sort of response.
· Leicester returning to their familiar four at the back allowed them to impose their typical possession based football, and we struggled to combat that.