Man City 4-1 Arsenal | Guardiola vs Arteta | Tactical Analysis

Guardiola outplayed Arteta in what may have been the decisive game in the title race.

Manchester City

In possession

We started by analysing Manchester City in possession who played in a 4-2-4, instead of the expected 3-2-4-1, with the full-backs wide open, while Rodri and Gündoğan were very close in the double pivot, making it very difficult for Arsenal to press due to City’s wide build-up. Arteta tried with 6 players pressing the defensive line + the 2 midfielders. This meant that when Bernardo Silva and Grealish dropped down to receive, the full-backs had to jump on them, creating big gaps, making it impossible for Zinchenko and White to help the center backs in transitions, with Haaland having several chances to score by getting past his defender in the duel. In addition, the energy and aggressiveness shown in other games by Arsenal was absent, allowing Rodri and Gündoğan to play too comfortably, with at least one of the two always free. Akanji also made the most of the space left by Arsenal carrying the ball once others have fixated the defensive structure.

Although the ones who understood the game best were De Bruyne and Haaland, who were left in 2 on 2 situations against the centre-backs. This is why they were happy to bait the pressure looking to create space to build. One play we saw repeated several times was the pass to De Bruyne to win the aerial duel and set up Haaland. As soon as De Bruyne appeared between the lines he was covered by a center back coming out of position, leaving Haaland 1 on 1.

The key move in almost all of Man City’s chances was Haaland receiving with his back to goal, holding up the ball and linking up. That has been a weakness for him throughout the season, but he’s rapidly improved recently, dropping deep but on the right side of the pitch suiting his footedness. This helps him to turn or to give a pass inside as in the first goal where De Bruyne receives after a great acceleration attacking the space. This play is a brilliant read from the Belgian as there was an easy pass to Grealish wide left but he takes advantage of the positioning of the defence and scores with a nice shot.


Out of possession

When Arsenal were in possession Man City put in an incredible oriented press, creating a lot of problems for Arsenal not being able to put 2 passes together. Arteta decided to use a 4-2-3-1 formation with Zinchenko wide instead of as an inverted full-back, being much harder for him to get involved on the ball and help the team progress. Gabriel Jesus with a lot of movement off the ball dropping deep or wide to receive meant there wasn’t a pin in City’s centre-backs allowing them to anticipate in many plays. Arsenal’s midfield had to drop deeper and deeper for the ball unable to get into the opposition half.

As soon as the ball reached a flank, City accumulated many players in that region to win it back, as in the 4th goal.

It is worth highlighting the great level of Walker against Martinelli and Grealish and the City midfield helping Akanji, deactivating Saka.

Set piece


Last, the second goal was from a set piece, a situation in which Arsenal had a lot of problems against Manchester City in the last game with 2 headers from Rodri. In this one a good movement at the far post and Stones finishes without being offside.

Manchester City are once again very close to winning the Premier League.

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