Mikel Arteta has been relatively stringent with his tactics thus far. As Arsenal prepare to return, here are three changes we could see the Spaniard make.
If you had watched just one of Arsenal’s matches under Mikel Arteta, you would know the system that he likes to play: a slanted 4-2-3-1 with specific roles at right-back, left central midfield, left-back and out wide. He stringently stuck to this system, keen to provide some structure and identity to a team that previously lacked clarity, definition, and the confidence that comes with it. However, after several months of analysis and training, Arteta has had the opportunity to make changes, if he wanted to do.
With that in mind, here are three tactical tweaks we could see from the Spaniard when the Premier League returns later this month.
3. Swapping the wide roles
Principally, Arteta has used an inverted left-winger and more traditional right-winger. In possession, Arsenal take up a 2-3-5 formation in which the furthest right of the front five is the right-winger and the second from the left is the left-winger, moving into the half-space between the full-back and centre-back in a back four.
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With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang largely used from the left flank, this makes lots of sense. He is a centre-forward by trade, a prolific goalscorer who comes alive in and around the penalty area. Leaving him standing on the sideline is a waste of his talents. But the same argument could be made for Nicolas Pepe on the opposite flank.
Pepe is not a centre-forward, but he is left-footed and he excels when he can cut inside on his left foot and unleash shots on goal. When staying out wide, such opportunities are limited and his performances have been inconsistent under Arteta thus far. Nevertheless, given his pedigree and undoubted talent, could we see Arteta switch the wide roles, especially if Bukayo Saka, a natural left-winger and left-footer, is now free to play on the left flank?