Football fans didn’t fail to spot Pep Guardiola’s reaction after Bernardo Silva made it 2-0 against Arsenal on Sunday.
The Manchester City boss, sitting in the dugout, immediately turned to his right and embraced Mikel Arteta.
It wasn’t just a celebratory hug. Guardiola wanted to congratulate his assistant coach for a tactical choice he had made.
The Telegraph reported that Arteta helped devise a plan to exploit Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil. The idea involved shifting Raheem Sterling to the left, adding pace to City’s flanks.
The input of Arteta and the rest of Guardiola’s coaching staff is often overlooked but they are all vitally important to the success of the team.
Back in April, when Arteta was linked with the Arsenal job, he received a glowing endorsement from Guardiola.
“He is one of the reasons for our success this season,” the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss said.
How Arteta influenced second goal
So, what was it about Silva’s goal that prompted Guardiola to celebrate with Arteta?
Marti Perarnau, Guardiola’s biographer, has explained just how influential Arteta was in the goal, which came after Benjamin Mendy played a one-two with Sterling before cutting the ball back for Silva.
“Do you remember from Sunday’s game, after the second goal, Pep’s hug with Mikel?” Perarnau said on the 93:20 Podcast.
“That was because Mikel said to Mendy, ‘Don’t make a high cross when you get to the end line, make a cut-back along the floor,’ and after that Bernardo scored the goal.
“He [also] talked with Mendy and Sterling to try to make a double pass before the last cut-back.”
That’s exactly how the goal came. Mendy linked up with Sterling and, instead of playing a lofted cross into the box, passed the ball on the ground.
Silva latched onto the pass and buried it beyond Petr Cech.
So Man City’s second goal came straight from Arteta’s mind.
Quite ironic when he could quite easily have become Arsenal’s manager.
With nuggets like this emerging, there's no doubt that Arteta will attract plenty of interest at the end of the season.