The reaction of everybody after the match was quite bizarre to say the least. Most of the people in the footballing world seemed to play down the result. It seemed as if the majority was trying to find excuses for Arsenal’s loss. I have read articles in reputed papers stating this match will not have an impact on the Premier League title race. People were having all sorts of excuses including stating that a loss was actually a better result for Arsenal. Now, they can focus solely on the Premier League campaign. But, all of these people miss a very important point here.
There are no greater loses and smaller loses. Every loss stings the same. You could clearly notice it in Mikel Arteta’s disappointment after the match. I know this logic might seem outrageous. But, have a think yourself. Why is Pep Guardiola so obsessed with winning the domestic cups every season. No one would even question him if he just focused on the league and won it every time. The answer is simple. Pep is obsessed with winning. It’s the same with every legendary manager out there. There are so hungry that they want to win it all to satisfy their appetite. So, this loss will surely hurt Arteta and the Arsenal team.
The match as a whole was one of the most intense matches of the season. Arteta did something very different that surprised Pep. Arteta went man to man and none of the City players were spare. This was surely something Pep did not expect. We know this because of his line up. Rico Lewis is pretty much useless when the opposition man marks you all over the pitch. This was apparent after Kyle Walker came and we had much more control.
The difference between Walker and Lewis was that Lewis went inside to make an extra man in the build up. But, when the opposition man marks you that extra man is actually limiting your space on the pitch. Instead, in these circumstances you want someone to stay wide and stretch the pitch, so that you drag defenders over and make those 1v1 duels that much difficult.
People were also surprised by the long balls to Haaland. But, it was purely tactical by Pep. The keeper was the spare man and those long balls seemed the best option to by pass the press. As the game went by, you noticed both the managers making those little tweaks to stay ahead in the game. This was a game where the scoreboard did no justice to the tactical games that were going on. Arsenal fans say that Julian Alvarez would not be free if Partey was on the pitch. This is simply not true. Julian Alvarez played very well just behind Haaland. But, the significance of his position was that City now had 4v3 advantage in the midfield. This meant there was always a spare man with space and time to shoot.
This is where City’s goal came from. It was a result of Pep Guardiola tactically outsmarting Mikel Arteta. I have a feeling that these games against Arsenal will be decided by the tactical nous of Pep more than any other factors. Pep has once again shown the world that his tactical hunger is far from finished