Mikel Arteta Deploys New Arsenal Tactical System: Is It Working?

Arsenal has started the new Premier League campaign with a new tactical system incorporated by Mikel Arteta. Fans are seemingly getting frustrated with the system following the 2-2 draw against Fulham at home, which in hindsight should have been a comfortable win for the Gunners.

So far, Arteta’s Arsenal have racked up 7 points, playing against Nottingham Forest (2-1 win), Crystal Palace (1-0 win), and Fulham. The next set of games is an actual test to see what the side has to offer this season. It will be interesting to see what personnel are deployed against Manchester United following the disappointing result versus Fulham.

Arsenal’s Tactical System Under Scrutiny

Manager Mikel Arteta’s new tactical system

Throughout the games played, we can see the tactical changes Mikel Arteta has made, and some are very surprising, to say the least. To accommodate this, Gabriel Magalhães has not started a single game, with the new back four being Kiwior-Saliba-White-Partey after Jurrien Timber‘s injury. Many are interested to see how this improves the side due to the performances provided by the partnership of Gabriel and Saliba last season.

The midfield consists of Havertz-Rice-Ødegaard, and the attacking front three is Martinelli-Nketiah-Saka, although he swapped Trossard for Nketiah against Fulham. On paper the formation is a traditional 4-3-3, however, this is not the case when it comes to watching how the team organises itself throughout different periods of the game.

Formation when on the attack

When in possession of the ball on the attack, the most common transition is when Thomas Partey pushes into midfield alongside a pivot with Declan Rice, with Kai Havertz and Martin Ødegaard moving up alongside Martinelli and Saka creating a 3-2-4-1. In build-up play, we can see either Partey or Rice dropping into the backline which allows either full-back to make space wide.

Credit: Football Made Simple

Transitioning to defending

Issues seem to have arisen with the introduction of this new style of play, in the transition where Partey was moving into midfield from centre-back, a pass was made by Saka to the area Thomas Partey was previously covering, allowing the opposition to take advantage and score one minute into the game.

Kai Havertz seems to be struggling to fit into his new role, previously playing the role of number nine at Chelsea profoundly. He has had little impact since playing for the side. However, as time goes on I am sure we will see a lot more from him and it is early days to judge what he has produced so far in an Arsenal shirt.

A more balanced Arsenal midfield?

Many are calling for a midfield of Partey-Rice-Ødegaard, as that will be the most balanced both attacking and defensively, to add it seems that Partey is wasted as a right-back and has more of a positive impact on the side when playing in the midfield area.

Ben White last season was one of the most consistent players in an Arsenal shirt, and was one of the best right-backs in the league, even though he is excellent at centre-back too, the connection he has with Bukayo Saka on the right-hand side seems to be something the side is missing, and you can see how Saka is being impacted by this change.

A side without experiments

With some big games coming up, it feels like one of the worst times for Mikel Arteta to be experimenting. After last season Arsenal will be on the hunt for silverware and ultimately the Premier League trophy, with a slip-up already occurring and now they find themselves chasing Manchester City. this is a side that is likely to perform.

In this side the players know their roles; Zinchenko can play the same role he played last season, which left the opposition in the water when he moves into the midfield. Going ‘back to basics’ with the tactics and squad seems to be the most beneficial way to ensure things don’t go wrong in a hard run of games, and we saw what the side could do last season. With the addition of depth and new players, they should only get better.

From the outside, it seems with the amount of money Arsenal has spent on new players, Mikel Arteta wants to see if he can unlock a new way of playing with his side. Hence, the experimentation with who starts and what each player’s role is to be determined. So far the quality in the Arsenal side this season isn’t as fluid as it was last.

Will players and fans have the patience with Arteta’s new Arsenal tactical changes?

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