Tactical Points from Arsenal's win over Brighton
By Vinay Shankar (Tactical Analyst)
Certainly not the first half to back up Saturday’s performance but the growing confidence in
attack seemed to flourish in the second half to get the three points:
The need of the hour was to showcase the same energy in the all-around play that was seen against Chelsea to sustain the momentum and build on that performance. But none of that was seen in the first half at the Amex. Whether it was the quick turnaround or some other reason, there was no ball progression, movement off the ball, and not much in the way of a coherent press, especially Aubameyang from the front. Martinelli kept dropping deeper to track his opposing wing-back rather than press high, making it that much harder to counter-attack.
On the other side, Brighton had rotated heavily as well and weren’t posing too much of a threat. They seemed to press only around Arsenal’s penalty box and dropped back into a low block very quickly. They were always looking to target Bellerin aerially using their wing-back Bernardo to progress the ball upfield. Arsenal seemed too sloppy, leggy, and were second to almost everything in the first half which gave Brighton a foothold in the game and some scraps for the attackers to feed on.
Things opened up in the second half as Brighton pressed higher and played a high line, giving Saka and Smith-Rowe more space to operate. Arsenal looked to be more direct and counter quickly to catch Brighton out from turnovers and move the ball more quickly. The confidence started to flow through the players as they started to make more runs without the ball, play one-twos, and in general, take more risks and they started to pay off.
Back in June, I had written about Arsenal’s game plan revolving around getting Pepe in behind the lanky Dan Burn and exploiting his lack of pace on the turn. The service to the Ivorian wasn’t the best then and his inherent left-footedness made a very smart plan ineffective. The goal yesterday came out of Saka exploiting this tactic perfectly and the teenager’s ability with both feet certainly played a big role in giving the assist to Lacazette.
In the first half, things were far more static when trying to cause Brighton problems down that flank but as the spaces opened up in the second half, both Saka and Smith-Rowe got a lot more joy down that side to hurt Brighton.
Overall, a much-needed three points heading into the New Year with some confidence building up once again. With another low-block side in the form of West Brom coming up, the team must show the right attitude and energy if we want to break a Big Sam side down.