Manager Of The Week – Premier League Gameweek 10: Mikel Arteta

Manager Of The Week – Premier League Gameweek 10: Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta’s Intelligent Team Selection

Starting lineup for Liverpool vs Arsenal. [Picture Credit – Sofascore]

Ten out of the eleven players in Arsenal’s starting eleven were expected, but the inclusion of Tomiyasu from the start was surprising. However, it might be one of the best tactical decisions of the season so far. Due to the highly intense game that included five goals, Arteta’s smartness in selecting Tomiyasu was overlooked.

One of the signings of the season, Arsenal’s first-choice left-back Zinchenko, was out with an injury, and the Arsenal fans expected Tierney to start. However, Arteta picked Tomiyasu, who is predominantly a right back and a center back. For some, it was worrying as Tomiyasu has struggled with fitness lately and is facing Salah. However, Tierney has had performances in the past where he struggled against Salah.

Tomiyasu’s performance was pivotal. Salah had a terrible game, and a huge reason behind that was Tomiyasu’s defensive robustness. The Japanese defender recorded 6 clearances, and 1 interception and completed an imposing 3 tackles. He was dribbled past just once in the whole game. Tomiyasu also won 4 aerial duels and 3 ground duals and helped his side earn a crucial three points.

This decision is one of the most underrated decisions Arteta will make in his Arsenal career. Some might think, such a small decision might not be important, but it’s decisions like this that make the difference.

Arsenal’s Improvement In The Second Half

Comparing Arsenal’s statistics in the two halves against Liverpool.

Arsenal scored one goal in the first minute and one in the last minute of the first half. Apart from that, they did struggle to get a foothold in the first half, and Liverpool were growing into the game.

As any good manager should, Arteta must have noticed that. He would have told his players that it wasn’t good enough even though they were leading at half-time. However, if you don’t take warnings seriously, you soon get punished, and Arteta made sure his players stepped up in the second half.

Arsenal’s performance was much better in the second half. Liverpool didn’t have any significant periods of pressure in the second forty-five, and Arsenal were firmly on the front foot. The Gunners had 38% possession in the first while a massively improved 50% post half-time.

They had just 3 shots in the first half and recorded 5 more in the second half while also recording a better passing accuracy. They won 9 tackles in the second half compared to 7 in the first, despite having more possession in the second forty-five.

However, stats aside, simply on the eye test, they were much more composed and aggressive in the second half and didn’t allow Liverpool to get comfortable in possession.

Mikel Arteta’s Post-Match Interview

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Arteta said, “It feels great [beating Liverpool], especially the way we won the game, the way we played, the atmosphere, I think we deserved to win the game.”

“There were a lot of moments, the way they can open you up and exploit the space. They were very efficient with the chances they had. But we showed a lot of composure and character in difficult moments to overcome them, especially in the second half.”

“It was a lively half-time team talk, but I wanted to give them some encouragement and confidence the game was there for the taking. There were obviously a few things we had to adjust and be better at; more composure and more courage to play.”

“Everything was better in the second half. The organisation, the timing of the press, we won every duel and second ball. I was really happy with that.”

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