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Home > Arsenal > Tactical Masterclass, Lethal Aubameyang and the Magic of the Cup: Tactical Breakdown of How Arsenal Propelled Themselves to a Win Over City

Tactical Masterclass, Lethal Aubameyang and the Magic of the Cup: Tactical Breakdown of How Arsenal Propelled Themselves to a Win Over City

Arsenal vs Manchester City, Arsenal vs Man City, Arsenal v City

No one expected us to win the Arsenal vs Man City match. No one wanted us to win this match. We all knew that we were going to be the underdogs against a ruthless side like Manchester City who thrashed us 3-0 last time. However, this is the FA Cup and anything can happen in the FA Cup.

It’s no secret that City look to press high and Arteta knew that too. Therefore, he set his team up in a 3-4-3 formation when in possession of the ball. We were brave in trying to play out from the back against a team like Manchester City, but this was done to drag their players out of position and use the space behind them and Martinez was crucial to this. According to WhoScored, he completed 37 passes, the most in the team.

What was more visible to me was the formation we set up without the ball in the FA Cup tie. Arteta set the team up in a 5-2-3 formation like the previous game against Liverpool, with Lacazette marking Gundogan. To counter this, Pep made De Bruyne drop deep. As City approached our half, we sat deep in a low block.

Arsenal vs Manchester City, Arsenal vs Man City
(Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Like in the previous game, City tried to drag our full-backs out of position and use the space behind them. But this is where David Luiz comes in, every time Mendy or Walker crossed the ball, the Brazilian was there to intercept it. David Luiz also played a crucial role in blocking De Bruyne’s through passes and the stats don’t lie. He made 4 interceptions and a mammoth 11 clearances, the most in the Arsenal vs Man City game. As Willock made way for Pepe, the team switched to a 5-3-2 without the ball, with Aubameyang and Lacazette leading the line.

According to OptaJoe, we made 18 passes in the build-up to our first goal. It’s impossible to accept the fact that 18 passes were made to score a goal against a team like Manchester City and the goal was a typical City goal. Bellerin, who was momentarily playing as an inverted full-back, passed it to Pepe. Pepe puts the cross in towards Aubameyang, who cleverly positioned himself behind Walker. Aubameyang then slides the ball past Ederson with the outside of his right foot.

The second goal was a proper counter-attack goal. Pepe, under pressure from Walker, lays it back to Tierney. The Scotsman then lofts the ball over Walker’s head to Aubameyang and the Gabon striker puts the ball through Ederson’s legs for his second goal.

Manchester City played in a 2-4-4 formation with the ball. De Bruyne had to drop deep to provide an extra passing option as Gundogan was being marked out. In the first half, Pep allowed Walker to go higher up the pitch. However, Walker struggled against Maitland-Niles. As Walker pushed higher up the pitch, Mahrez moved to the centre alongside Jesus.


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Without the ball, they switched to a 4-4-2 formation, and later to a 5-4-1, with Jesus leading the press. As City were trailing by a goal at halftime, Pep instructed Walker to play as an inverted full-back. This meant that De Bruyne could move forward and Mahrez could go wide and take on Maitland-Niles. Pep then set his team up in the usual 2-3-5 formation with Mendy advancing up the pitch. City tried to attack from the right more with De Bruyne and Mahrez, keeping Maitland-Niles busy. Nevertheless, City looked toothless in attack.

According to SkySports, they had 16 shots to our paltry 4, but they only had 1 shot on target in comparison to our 4. When Phil Foden came on for Mahrez, I thought it was a like-for-like swap, but Pep made Foden play on the left, where he isn’t effective enough. It was clear that Pep’s substitutions let them down in the Arsenal vs Man City game.

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