What a week! Liverpool humbled 2-1 and then Manchester City dumped out of the FA Cup by an Arsenal side that’s had major problems on and off the field. Beating Manchester City 2-0 was a massive result for the Arsenal football club and continues their love affair with the FA Cup.
Watching the game, you could see improvements that are going to help Arsenal next season. Tierney is becoming a fantastic player, Martinez is as safe as Leno in goal, Luiz can play a ball and may have ended his football nightmare which began after the season restart, strangely enough against City. The Brazilian was incredible and somehow managed to turn back the clock by at least four years.
Xhaka looks more solid and much improved, as does Mustafi. Then, there’s a hint that Arsenal will restore their natural flair game under Arteta’s football philosophy. There were five things I noted during the epic Arsenal vs Manchester City game that bode well for the FA Cup final and beyond:
1. Both Strikers Scoring Freely
Both Lacazette and Aubameyang are scoring regularly and even against the run of play. Tierney and Pepe are providing the type of opportunities that were missing before lockdown. Lacazette’s work rate against City was incredible and he showed that he is more than a predator or tap in merchant.
2. Arsenal Capable Of Grinding Out Victories
Arsenal defended in numbers and are ready to grind out victories, if need be, they are prepared for long spells without the ball which tended to phase and frustrate them in the past. They closed down brilliantly and chased every ball reducing the danger.
3. Playing From The Back
Playing out from the back is no longer an issue. Remember the awkwardness of the Emery era and how many goals were lost attempting to play from the back. Aubameyang’s first goal was exclusively played back and forth in defence before finding the Arsenal skipper. 19 passes threaded together from defence, midfield and attack. Free-flowing football in the Arteta/Arsenal mode.
4. Playing Spirit
The players seem to care again, they want to fight for each other and win for the club. Their reactions and exchanges show that since his arrival, Arteta has achieved a strong bond with his players and among each other. Arteta mentioned the ‘Chemistry’ of his side and that was evident all over the pitch in every department.
5. Players Obeying The Manager
Arsenal are now following tactics and abiding by the plan, a ploy which has seen them overcome Premier League’s top two teams in consecutive games. Emery’s plans were confused, Wenger’s non-existent. Arteta is a modern coach who is brimming with ambition and ideas. Imagine, if he was given money to spend in the transfer window, what the end product would be.