Arsenal defeated Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Emirates in their crunch Champions League showdown on Tuesday night. The Gunners’ tactical approach, demonstrated in the video below, was a huge factor in their success.
Arsene Wenger’s men have been guilty in the past of attempting to match the likes of Bayern and Barcelona by playing their own brand of passing football against them.
Given their lack of silverware, that clearly hasn’t been the right approach against the ‘big’ teams on many occasions, so Wenger has had to adjust in certain games and change the mentality of his side.
While it was also evident against Manchester City last season, Arsenal opted to stay compact and maintain their defensive shape in order to deny their opponents space between the lines on Tuesday, before breaking with pace and intent to make the most of their own strengths.
Coupled with their difficulties in breaking teams down at times, this may well be the ideal system and brand of football to play as a ‘Plan B’ if their preferred style is not paying dividends, and they certainly have the players who can make it a success.
Per Mertesacker’s lack of pace can be a weakness in this current side, but with the likes of Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin around him, the German international can use his positional sense and leadership to avoid that problem.
Furthermore, in the offensive phase of the game, the Gunners have the likes of Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil who can build play in midfield and are more than capable of playing balls forward to Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott to exploit teams on the break.
That duo have pace in abundance, and ultimately they can hurt any team on their day if Arsenal provide them with a solid base to go on and win games.
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Naturally, Wenger’s ideology of football would suggest that the Gunners will look to get on the ball, dictate possession and the tempo, and break teams down.
However, as has been witnessed on countless occasions, that doesn’t always work. As a result, this may well be the perfect way to play against the top sides in both the Premier League and Champions League, as it would undoubtedly give their rivals something to be worried about and to formulate an additional plan to avoid being exposed.
Arsenal can be accused of being one-dimensional with their preference to ‘out-play’ their opponents, but Tuesday night proved that they have more than one option to compete with the best that Europe has to offer.