Arsenal 2-0 Man City: Tactical analysis shows how Mikel Arteta bested Pep Guardiola


Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta continued his side's incredible record in the FA Cup this weekend.

The odds were stacked against the Gunners as they locked horns with Manchester City, who won the trophy last season and have collected three consecutive League Cups, too.

However, City's dominance in the domestic cups was convincingly halted as their London rivals ran away 2-0 victors with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring either side of half-time.

Arsenal 2-0 Man City

The Citizens still had some major chances to book themselves a place in the final, but brilliant performances from David Luiz and Emiliano Martinez ensured that Arsenal held on.

One of the biggest storylines of the result was, of course, that Arteta had masterminded a victory over the head coach that tutored him at the Etihad Stadium: Pep Guardiola.

It was even joked on social media when Guardiola appeared to be giving instructions to an empty seat that the City boss was missing having Arteta by his side.


How Arteta outthought Guardiola

But how did Arteta pull it off? Besides, Arsenal had struggled so terribly against the very same opponents in their first game back from the COVID-19 lockdown with a 3-0 defeat.

Well, assessing the various tactics that Arteta used to ensure Arsenal learned from their mistakes is crucial in evaluating how Guardiola was outthought by his apprentice the second time around.

And YouTuber 'Football Made Simple', who has amassed over 200,000 subscribers, has produced a fantastic tactical analysis on 'How The Student Beat The Master' under the Wembley arch.


Tactical analysis

You can check out the full video down below, but keep scrolling for our breakdown on some of the key tactics from both Arteta and Guardiola that were discussed.

Killing City's build-up play

Arsenal were more than happy for Ederson to play the ball into the defence, but forced Kevin De Bruyne to drop incredibly deep because Alexander Lacazette was constantly following Ilkay Gundogan.

Granit Xhaka would shadow De Bruyne if he ever crept too far up the pitch but, for the most part, the Belgian was pushed back into his own defensive third during the beginning of City's build-up play.

The success with which Arsenal pinned down City is proven by the fact their four most prolific passers were indeed their back four.


Taking advantage of Kyle Walker

Guardiola unusually gave Walker the freedom to bomb forward down the right-hand side, which was a clear tactic because Aymeric Laporte produced the most long balls for City and they were often switches to Walker.

However, Walker wasn't very confident challenging Ainsley Maitland-Niles one-on-one, meaning he tended to play the ball inside where Riyad Mahrez would quickly be smothered by the three centre-backs.

The Gunners also tried to abuse the space left behind whenever Walker ventured forward.


Soaking up the pressure to counterattack

And key to Arsenal bagging the match-winning goal was tactically inviting the pressure from City, prompting their defence to step forwards and even joining the midfield in the case of Laporte.

This gave them an advantage whenever possession changed hands, allowing them to abuse Aubameyang's pace with quick long balls, which worked perfectly for their second goal.


Forcing crosses into the box

In the closing stages, City tried to counteract how effectively Arsenal stunted their progression through the midfield and De Bruyne started to drift further forward.

But with Nicolas Pepe dropping back into midfield and Arsenal forming a solid central block, the world-class Belgian was forced wide to try and take on Maitland-Niles in the very way that Walker had failed to do.

This necessitated crosses into the box from City, which was easy for Arsenal to deal with given their three defenders - including an on-fire David Luiz - as well as City's diminutive attack.  


Clever thinking from Arteta

So, was it the most sophisticated tactical approach from Arteta? Absolutely not, but it was very shrewd.

Arteta knew that he could play on Arsenal's strength of transitioning down the pitch quickly with Aubameyang leading the line and kill City's own strength by strategically disrupting their passing.

It was, by all accounts, one of the most effective displays we've all season of how to deal with De Bruyne and that's quite the compliment for somebody who hasn't even been a manager for a year.

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