WILL the individual who understands what Mikel Arteta’s huge strategy is, please make themselves understood to the closest steward.
Due to the fact that no-one else quite understands what they are expected to be doing at Arsenal– least of all the gamers.
They may well review this night for years to come in North London as the game when Arteta’s self-indulgent supervisory style blew up in his face.
It’s all well and good working and learning with Pep Guardiola’s all-stars at Manchester City, but that gives no-one the God-given right to just show up and be the business elsewhere.
City, Arsenal are not. Not by a long chalk.
And the quicker Arteta pertains to terms with that the much better. The only difficulty is, 15 months into his job at the Emirates he reveals little indication of grasping hold of reality.
What had him to ignore a string of protectors and utilizing the ever-unreliable Granit Xhaka at left-back?
Barely four minutes were on the clock prior to that belter of a concept exploded in his face, as Xhaka displayed all the full-back abilities of a five-year-old, enabling his man to very first drive into the area then beat him to tee up Manu Trigueros to open the score.
Cedric Soares, Hector Bellerin and Gabriel would all have actually done much better but no, Arteta understands better just because at City they can throw somebody like Fernandinho into defence without being exposed. The clue needs to be in the quality, or absence there-of, in this Arsenal group to stop taking such choices.
Which brings us to Pep’s old favourite, the incorrect number nine. A system employed so well by the Spaniard at Barcelona and latterly at the Etihad.
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However asking players like Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Kevin De Bruyne to run an ever turning development is one thing.
Getting ₤ 72million-flop Nicolas Pepe and novice Emile Smith Rowe to try such a challenging function, as well as preserve a high press when not in possession, is mission impossible.
The result was pitter-patter football across the field with absolutely no cutting edge, mainly because that was the quantity of players in the assaulting locations that matter through the middle for Toolbox.
It was a case of being smart for clever’s sake, and the semi-final of the Europa League is not the time for that.
Unai Emery in the opposite dug-out played no video games. He did an overall number on the Gunners, tactically perfect to nullify any threat they had and expose the glaring holes left by Arteta’s unusual set-up.
They beat journalism with worrying ease, exposed Xhaka for the goal and after that highlighted yet more dismal safeguarding with the 2nd as Toolbox stood like statues safeguarding a corner.
It was also plain for all to see that Dani Ceballos was going to be sent off before he was. What was Arteta thinking leaving him on?
Yes, Alexandre Lacazette was injured and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is well except fitness after malaria. Their absence of course hurt.
But managers need to offer themselves the very best possible possibility of getting a result, and Arteta didn’t do that because he thought he might get creative.
Football constantly has actually been, and constantly will be, an easy video game. The trouble is, the Arsenal manager knows much better.
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