Arsenal have come in for criticism recently for lacking a creative spark, something Mikel Arteta has addressed before Arsenal’s trip to Manchester United.
Arsenal have a goal difference of plus one so far in the league this season. That is, of course, better than the negative goal difference Unai Emery seemed to love so much, but there’s no denying that the majority of Arsenal fans expected to see more offensively from a Mikel Arteta side after nearly a year in charge.
There have undoubtedly been improvements in both Arsenal’s attitude and structure. We are not as defensively stupid as has been the norm over recent years, but there’s no doubt that watching Arsenal attack, for the most part, has been more Burnley than Manchester City.
So what’s that about?
“That structure is just to limit our opponents to certain things when we lose the ball,” Mikel Arteta told Arsenal.com.
“The other structure can flow. We have so many different patterns to try to attack these situations, depending on the formation that they play, and the value of spaces. That will be in different things. It’s more about our aggression, when we have the ball, our purpose, our aggression, our runs in behind.
“When do players take someone on and think, ‘I have to make something happen’? We want them to think about themselves, not him or him, we want them to take accountability. They need to want to put the ball in the box more often, because this is what top teams do. If the other team want to defend the box, make sure they’re defending the box all the team, and that we’re being very aggressive in the final third.
“It’s something we haven’t faced so much since I arrived here, but I think it’ll happen more and more.
“It’s a lot of things that we’ve improved on in my opinion and we have all the stats to do that. Our thinking after Leicester, the reason why they did what they did in their game plan, to sit so low against us when they are not normally a team that do that – they’ve been really dominant and play really attractive football – I came to the conclusion that we have the respect from other teams for them to do that.
“Now we have to try to change our strategy a little bit and try to train against more certain blocks that I think are going to happen a bit more often. We have made teams think, ‘If we do that, we’ll be in trouble so we have to try to do something else’. We’re going to work on that and the moment we improve that, we’ll become even better. “