Another counter-attacking performance saw Arsenal defend well in a big game and come out on top as a result.
Sitting back and allowing Manchester City to have a lot of the ball, Petr Čech was rarely troubled thanks to the players in front of him. Beating Manchester City with a defensive approach last season looks to have served as something of a blueprint, and a similar style was adopted in the win against Bayern Munich back in October.
“We are capable of doing different things sometimes and that is what makes it harder for the opponent,” defender Per Mertesacker, who was superb in Monday’s 2-1 win, said after the game. “That is why we implement it in games sometimes but we are still dangerous on the counter-attack and that makes us a real threat.
“Last season we played at Manchester City and showed a different kind of gameplan. That is what we had in the locker already but this year we are more consistent and it makes us a bit better as a unit.”
Without Alexis Sánchez, among others, Arsenal aren’t quite the same attacking force. The Gunners also lack the midfield to really take control of a game and dominate possession, but the players certainly are good on the break.
They have also proved their ability to sit in and stifle some of the best attacking players in the world.
“We don’t have all the players available at the minute so we [thought] that was the best way to win against City. We need to trust that way as well – it is not only thinking about it, it is also about putting it into practice.
“That means a lot of concentration and work in training, and everyone is up for the challenge.
“We go game by game and concentrate on having a gameplan and trying to implement it. That has been our strength so far against the big teams and it makes us stronger as a unit.”
The gameplan won’t always be the same, but Arsenal can play in different ways now. The ability to sit back and rely on our defence makes an enormous difference. After years of struggling in the big matches, the Gunners are able to mix it with the very best.