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Mikel Arteta’s Key Tactical Decisions That Led to Arsenal’s Cumulative Flourish Against Norwich

Arsenal vs Norwich

The Gunners were on fire during the Arsenal vs Norwich game on Wednesday. Arteta’s men put on a superb performance against the Canaries as they whipped them 4-0 at the Emirates.

Easy win this one! Its been a while since we dominated a game. Last time we had a win like this was against Newcastle United, with a similar score-line. We have improved from the last couple of games where we struggled to defend.

Now, onto the tactical breakdown. Arsenal went for a 3-2-5 formation when in possession of the ball. With Bellerin and Tierney operating as wingers, Aubameyang and Nelson had the freedom to be closer to the goal. For the third game in a row, we’re seeing Kolasinac operating as a third centre-back. But every time Tierney progressed forward with the ball, Kolasinac would push forward playing alongside Xhaka and Ceballos.

Shkodran Mustafi was given the license to progress the ball forward as David Luiz stayed back. With Luiz playing as a sweeper, Mustafi felt confident to bring the ball forward. Xhaka and Ceballos were more central in the Arsenal vs Norwich game. They formed a double pivot to neutralize the opposition midfield that had Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia. Without the ball, we went into a 5-2-3 formation. Considering how Daniel Farke likes to play out from the back, I’d say the formation was bold and genius.

Arsenal vs Norwich
(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The reason why Arteta went for a 5-2-3 formation is that Norwich plays out from the wide areas. So, every time the ball went to a full-back, two of our players would pounce on him. Nelson and Bellerin would pounce on Jamal Lewis, while Aubameyang and Tierney would mark out Max Aarons every time he had the ball.

In the second half, the positions of Xhaka and Ceballos were changed, both of them switched sides. Rob Holding (substituted on for Mustafi) was given the same instruction – progress the ball forward. When Willock was subbed on for Nelson, he was instructed to play more centrally. He played behind Lacazette (and later, Nketiah). This is a change from his role in the last game where he played in the right.

The Canaries played out a series of formations with the ball. In the first half, they tried to use the 2-3-5 formation. Todd Cantwell was everywhere on the pitch. He played at left-back, central midfield, and on the right side and Norwich looked to get the ball to him so that he could put Pukki through on goal. But since they played a 4-2-3-1 formation without the ball, Pukki was isolated from the rest of the team.

The second half was where they changed formation with the ball. They went for a 3-1-2-4 when Idah, Drmic, and Hernandez came on for Pukki, Trybull, and Buendia. Norwich looked more threatening in the second half as Idah had Drmic, Hernandez, and Aarons alongside him. Ben Godfrey looked more threatening than any other Norwich player and he’s a centre-back. His two long-range shots on our goal had Martinez scrambling but other than that, the Arsenal goalkeeper had nothing to do.

Both goals that Aubameyang scored came from mistakes by the Norwich defence. Tim Krul, for some reason, tried a Cruyff turn of sorts as the Gabon striker made a predatory finish. Xhaka found space between three Norwich players as he slotted Aubameyang’s pass home. A blind pass by Drmic led to Aubameyang’s second goal. And what a debut Cedric Soares had. He came on for Bellerin, intercepted a loose ball and unleashed a stunner with his left foot. He’s certainly proved his doubters wrong with his performance.


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Our domination in the Arsenal vs Norwich game is backed by stats. We had more of the ball (51% to their 49%), more shots on target (8 to their 2) and more interceptions (13 to their 4). Aubameyang was the best player for us. With 4 shots on target, 1 assist, and 1 key pass, he clearly is the Man of the Match.

The Arsenal vs Norwich match will unquestionably keep the morale up as we face Wolves, Leicester, Spurs, and Liverpool in the coming days.

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