Manchester City and Arsenal faced off in the final fixture of the opening game week of the new Premier League season as Unai Emery was pitted against Pep Guardiola in his first ever competitive game as Arsenal manager. It indeed was an exciting prospect as the league’s two top sides faced each other at the Emirates which saw a new manager take charge of their side since 1996. The game provided a lot of tactical features that stood out. I have outlined a few below here.
Made using TacticalPad
- Benjamin Mendy has been playing down the left halfspace in an inverted manner, helping City out while in possession by moving forward high up the pitch. Sterling’s goal resulted from Mendy occupying a high position in the left halfspace, promptly winning the second ball
- Arsenal have displayed an interesting shape off the ball with Ramsey in the centre on top, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan either side of him in a narrow 4-3-3. Ozil has joined Guendouzi and Xhaka in behind, with clear focus to deny City access within the block and force them wide
- It was worth noting that Arsenal were largely wasteful in their counterattacking attempts as a lot of chances went to waste because of poor execution in the final third. Mesut Ozil enjoyed a largely uncharacteristic game in the final third while City’s counterpressing did enough to stifle Arsenal and force them into quicker, unstable progressions.
Manchester City put in a commanding display as they showed why they are the defending champions. Their squad depth was also on view as they were able to play a strong side despite not featuring the likes of David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane in their starting eleven. Arsenal on the other hand would have been encouraged by their second half display in a match they were largely poor otherwise. There is still a lot of work left to be done for Emery’s men but they would not be too fazed by this result. City meanwhile have comfortably seen through a tough away game and gained three points in that process.