Tactical Analysis: Manchester City vs Arsenal

By Luismi Loro

20-October-2020 on Users

7 minute read

After a short break for international games, in which we analysed France vs Portugal, we return to the big leagues this week with a game chosen by you on our social media channels. Manchester City vs Arsenal proved to be everything we expected with two of Europe's best managers, Guardiola and Arteta, serving up a game filled with tactical intrigue.

 

This analysis was done using Nacsport, InStat and KlipDraw, working together in perfect harmony.

 

Note: This article was originally written in Spanish by pro analyst Luismi Loro and translated to English. As such, pictures are captioned in Spanish and the translation is provided below in italics.

The student couldn’t best the teacher as Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal made the trip to the Etihad to face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. 

 

It was a duel of styles which shared similar features. With both teams preferring to start the build up from the back, there was a notable high pressure and attempts to steal the ball in the opposition half.

 

Manchester City vs Arsenal Line Up

 

Flexible Systems

 

Man City came out in a 3-5-2 formation, keeping the game tight on the inside and leaving Foden and Mahrez to roam the wings.

 

Arsenal started with a 4-3-3, which they didn’t maintain during defensive phases.

 

Both City and Arsenal played with precaution when playing out with the ball, with the Gunners perhaps risking a little more. City applied high pressure with 6 or 7 players pushing forward at any one time, leaving a defensive line of 3 with Rodri floating in front.

 

Manchester City vs Arsenal High Pressure

 

Manchester City vs Arsenal Pressure

 

High Pressure with up to 7 players trying to steal

 

For his part, Arteta also chose to push very high, sometimes with a 4-2-4 and others with 4-4-2 with the intention of stealing high and counter attacking with City players out of the area and unable to regroup quickly.

 

Manchester City vs Arsenal Pressure Arsenal

 

High pressure in 4-4-2 by Arsenal

 

Manchester City vs Arsenal Pressure Arsenal 2

 

High pressure by both teams leaving space between the lines

 

Guardiola’s team managed to take advantage of this high pressure by pulling Arsenal into their own half before playing the long ball over the head of the midfielders, causing Arsenal to be split into a 4-6, allowing City to easily control the midfield.

 

Manchester City vs Arsenal Between the lines

 

City pulling Arsenal upfield before playing into open space in midfield

 

It was a situation such as this that led to the Man City goal which would eventually decide the game. A ball between the midfield and defensive lines left a 3-vs-3 situation in which City’s forwards took full advantage.

 

Manchester City vs Arsenal Goal

 

City bypass Arsenal's midfield to get into 3-vs-3 or 2-vs-2 situations

 

Manchester City vs Arsenal Goal 2

 

Holes ripped in Arsenal's defense lead to the only goal of the match

 

Throughout the game, it was in these situations where City managed to do more damage. Since Arsenal tended to retreat into a 4-4-2 when City maintained possession and easily managed to negate the lines of pressure.

 

 

Manchester City vs Arsenal 4-4-2

 

Arsenal behind the ball in a 4-4-2

 

One of the plays that worked best for Arsenal was playing the deep ball and attacking the spaces. This gave them clear opportunities to attack Man City, who seemed to be on cruise control whilst a goal up, and even up the game.

 

Manchester City vs Arsenal Space

 

City in a 4-4-2 in midfield

 

Manchester City vs Arsenal Attack Space

 

Arsenal doing damage to City with deep crosses

 

Arsenal’s rapid transitions after stealing the ball also caused problems for City, who struggled to get back into their defensive positions.



Manchester City vs Arsenal Counter Attack

 

Conclusions

 

• Both teams risked the high pressure game in order to steal in their opponents half and do some damage.


• City’s tactics of pulling Arsenal forward and playing over their heads into midfield was successful.


• This was the deciding factor in the match causing several 3 vs 3 situations, one of which ended in a goal.

 

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