In recent years, Arsenal Football Club has experienced a resurgence in the English Premier League, with a noticeable shift in their performances and results. After struggling to compete against the top teams in the league for several seasons, the Gunners have now become a formidable force and are consistently challenging for a top-four finish. Behind this rise, however, lies a series of unseen tactics and strategies employed by the club to regain their standing.
One of the key factors that contributed to Arsenal’s rejuvenation is the appointment of Mikel Arteta as the club’s head coach in December 2019. Arteta, a former Arsenal player himself, brought with him a deep understanding of the club’s traditions and values. His coaching philosophy focuses on maintaining a strong defensive structure while simultaneously encouraging attacking fluidity.
Under Arteta’s guidance, Arsenal’s tactical setup has undergone a significant transformation. The team has shifted from the traditional 4-2-3-1 formation to a more flexible and adaptable 3-4-3 system. This change allows the Gunners to have a more solid base in defense while maximizing the offensive potential of their attacking players.
The increased emphasis on defensive solidity has been one of the most visible changes. Arsenal has become more organized at the back, with a cohesive defensive unit that is well-drilled and disciplined. The players have become adept at positioning themselves to deny the opposition’s attacking opportunities and restrict their space. This has resulted in a significant reduction in goals conceded and an improved defensive record.
One of the unseen but crucial strategies implemented by Arteta is his meticulous analysis of opponents. The Spaniard places great emphasis on studying the strengths and weaknesses of opposing teams, focusing on their style of play, key players, and vulnerabilities. This research allows Arsenal to tailor their game plans to exploit these weaknesses and nullify their opponents’ strengths.
An example of Arteta’s tactical acumen was visible in Arsenal’s victory over Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals in 2020. Arteta, having previously served as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City, knew the intricacies of Guardiola’s tactics. He devised a plan that nullified City’s possession-based style, pressing them high up the pitch and denying them any time and space to build attacks. Arsenal’s counter-attacking prowess was on display, ultimately leading to a pivotal victory that secured their place in the final.
Another aspect of Arsenal’s rise has been the development of young players within the squad. Arsenal has always had a strong focus on nurturing young talents, and Arteta has continued this tradition. Players like Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, and Gabriel Martinelli have been given opportunities to shine and have played essential roles in the team’s success. Their energy, enthusiasm, and fearlessness have injected a new life into the side and provided a refreshing approach to the game.
Off the field, Arsenal has also made strategic signings to strengthen their squad. The acquisitions of key players such as Thomas Partey, Gabriel Magalhães, and Kieran Tierney have added depth and quality to the team, providing a balance of experience and talent.
The rise of Arsenal in the Premier League is not just the result of chance. It is a culmination of behind-the-scenes tactics and strategies employed by Arteta and his coaching staff. From implementing a new tactical system to meticulous analysis of opponents, Arsenal has transformed into a more competitive and consistent side.
With Arteta at the helm, the Gunners now possess a clear identity and purpose on the pitch. Their defensive solidity, counter-attacking expertise, and emphasis on nurturing young talents have all contributed to their rise. Arsenal’s return to the top-four contention is not just an accident but a result of well-crafted tactics and strategies that have breathed new life into the club.