There were a number of positives to be taken from Sunday’s 2-0 win over Manchester City, but arguably the biggest was Arsene Wenger’s ability, or rather willingness, to adapt our tactics to the situation at hand.
I am a huge fan of Wenger, and strongly believe he is the right man to be leading Arsenal. The Frenchman is known for his stubbornness however, and one of his biggest shortcomings is his tactical inflexibility.
The manager has a huge amount of faith in his players, and fully believes they are up to any task. That unfortunately sees him regularly continue with rather foolhardy tactics and formations, hoping that the quality of the team will be enough to see us through.
This has been a major problem against the bigger sides in recent years, with the team just not set up to deal with the threats they pose. Jose Mourinho is a detestable character, but his ability to vary tactics depending on the opposition is a huge achievement.
Our win over the Premier League champions saw a change in formation which was evidently designed to nullify their attacking threat, with Wenger opting for a 4-1-4-1 over his usual 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. The entire team were playing far deeper, Francis Coquelin operating in the space between two rigid banks of four. Olivier Giroud was our main outlet, but he too spent large parts of the game in a deeper position; tracking back and harrying the City midfielders.
We surrendered possession to the home side, but still looked in control for the majority of the game. The attacking threats of David Silva and Sergio Aguero were smothered, and with Yaya Toure absent we were happy to let Fernando and Fernandinho see as much of the ball as they wanted; neither player really being able to influence the game.
While the players deserve a huge amount of credit, the tactical tweaks have to go down to Le Prof. We have generally not had problems beating the teams we are expected to defeat, those at the bottom of the table, so if we can get our tactics right against the big boys then we should be in for an exciting end to the Premier League season.