If you’ve been watching Arsenal for more than a few weeks, you probably already know how to beat them. But for everyone else, here is our definitive guide.
Pick at least one player no one’s ever heard of
This might sound like a bad idea, but trust me, it always works against Arsenal. Cuco Martina made his first ever league start for Southampton against the Gunners and scored a worldie.
Marcus Rashford kick-started his career with a brace against Wenger’s men. He scored as many goals in 80 minutes against Arsenal as he did in the next nine league games. That start was reminiscent of Wayne Rooney’s debut goal against the North London side all those years ago.
At the weekend, Nottingham Forest right-back Eric Lichaj scored more goals against the Gunners than he scored in his other 19 season appearances combined. Basically, Arsenal are the team you want to play to make a name for yourself.
Set up defensively, stay organised and put pressure on the ball
Setting up to defend is a surefire way to ruin Arsenal’s day. The team relies on finding space with intelligent passes and moments of individual quality. But there aren’t enough players in the team to provide that quality, so the onus shifts solely to their passing. As long as you set your defence up to shut off any dangerous passing lanes, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Then, if you ever want to get the ball, just force their midfield/defence into making quick decisions. The Gunners will gift you opportunities to win the ball under the slightest pressure. They might even pass it straight to you.
Then they’ll panic and rush to try and win it back. That gives you the chance to win a free-kick, a penalty, or to fake a shot and cut back into all the space you could ever want.
Counters, crosses and headers
First question: Is Per Mertesacker in the team?
If yes, great. Play a pacey striker and base your game around counter attacking. Arsenal don’t have any midfield cover, so you can just run full speed at the defence and they can’t stop you. If they try to stop you, they’ll probably just end up bringing you down and getting sent off.
If no, that’s fine too. Instead of relying solely on counter attacks, just play a tall striker and cross the ball in repeatedly. When Mertesacker’s not around, the Gunners don’t have any tall defenders to replace him. Nacho Monreal, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers and the rest don’t have a chance when you’re over 6’3″. So Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch, Christian Benteke and co., you’re in luck.
Pick your referee wisely
Most of the referees in the division will give you decisions if you’re up against Arsenal. But some officials in particular are better than others.
Mike Dean is the undisputed champion of that category, so if he’s available, great. As we saw on New Year’s Eve, Dean is more than willing to give you a penalty for a ball-to-hand. Plus, as we saw on the first day of the season, there’s no risk of him giving a penalty against you. Even if you actually move your hand towards the ball.
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) December 31, 2017
Then there’s Anthony Taylor, who gifted Chelsea a penalty for a tap on Hazard’s foot when Arsenal were ahead last week. Or Jon Moss, who is the only referee in England to send off Granit Xhaka (twice), and who awarded Nottingham Forest two penalties at the weekend. One of those penalties was converted with a double-touch, but don’t worry, Moss will allow that sort of thing.
As long as you’ve sorted the referee situation, you’ve got nothing to worry about with fouls and sending offs. So get in the Arsenal players’ faces. They’ll get frustrated and focus less and less on the game and more on the injustice of it all.
Plus, it’s easy enough to end a few careers without retribution. Just ask Marko Arnautovic, who pushed Mathieu Debuchy into an advertising hoarding and dislocated his shoulder. The former Stoke man received no punishment, and Debuchy still mostly sits on the Arsenal bench to this day.
So get involved, and enjoy yourself! After all, Arsenal are mostly just here to entertain everyone nowadays as the league’s clownshow.