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Tactical Points from Arsenal's narrow win in Vienna

By Vinay Shankar (Tactical Analyst)

A game mirroring the one against Sheffield United with the substitutes ultimately saving Arsenal’s blushes in Austria:

• This game saw both the right-sided 3-4-3 and the left-sided 3-4-3 being employed with different personnel.

• Cedric played in the three while Kolasinac pushed up the pitch on the other flank. This opened up a lot of space for Gabriel to push into and play through the lines, but the lack of movement ahead of him, Arsenal were forced to keep going backwards.

• Nketiah in the wider position just doesn’t work as it's not a role that suits him and it just seemed like an attempt from the manager to play both the strikers.

• With Pepe not really getting in the game, the focus on Saka to make a difference became much more integral to our attacking plans. The teenager seemed to try too much in the first half and gave the ball away a few times, and the others needed to step up. It’s never a good idea to put all hopes on a talented youngster, even one as talented as Saka.

• Luiz was another player who really struggled with the movement of Rapid’s pacey forwards, and whenever Arsenal tried to push the defensive line higher, the control of the game became weaker.

• Despite the see-saw nature of the game for the first hour or so, Thomas Partey really looked comfortable in midfield. While his qualities were never in doubt, it’s the ease with which he settled in with a new team and displayed the various parts of his game that were great to watch. Be it ball progression, diagonal passes, recoveries- it was all there to see.

• Once Auba and Bellerin came on, Arsenal moved to regular 3-4-3 with Kolasinac stepping back and Bellerin playing a more attacking role. And then came the goals and Arsenal controlled the game comfortably.

• The control displayed in the latter stages of the game would have been the game plan from the start but as Arteta put it, “we understood much better the spaces that we have to attack, we played with more purpose and we generated much more”. This has to be the way forward in terms of how we progress as a team and become a much better side in attack.

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