Tactical Points from Arsenal's thrashing of Everton and the season as a whole
By Vinay Shankar (Tactical Analysis)
A stress-free final game of the season saw the release of the handbrake against opponents who looked hungover from Thursday night.
Everything about this performance was the complete opposite of Monday night. The players were intercepting loose passes instantly and won a high percentage of their duels as well. Not much needs to be said about the difference in stakes between the 2 fixtures.
It boils down to the build-up patterns with the ball which define Arsenal's performances. When Ødegaard can drift around to receive the ball and progress the play, the fluency in attack goes up significantly. The impact of Partey on the frequency of these patterns and effectiveness is another big factor that has been missing in some important games.
There are variations of this build-up from game to game but the idea/principle remains the same. In this game, Everton's 5-3-2 was focused centrally forcing Xhaka wider to create the overloads. Building put wide and shifting centrally opened up the spaces against a lackadaisical away side.
There has been significant improvement in the attacking corner routines this season with the addition of Nicholas Jover, adding to the solid defensive foundation built last season. The primary tactic has always been for the centre-backs to escape their marker and attack the 6-yard box. Another option was to have players crowd the goalkeeper at the start and make a late-dart to the near post for the flick-on. This proved to be very effective against Everton, as they didn’t keep up with the late dashes. The days of going short and taking a long time to put the ball into the box have gone and a direct threat from set-pieces further adds to putting pressure on the opposition.
With the game done and dusted, reading too much into a cameo isn’t a sensible idea but nevertheless, it was interesting to see Lokonga being brought on for Xhaka rather than Elneny. The Belgian midfielder is seen as a 6 rather than 8 but the interesting bit was to get a glimpse at how an athletic midfielder would fare in Xhaka’s role. This is a very crucial role that needs to be addressed this summer for this team to reach the next level.