Mikel Arteta has done a phenomenal job as Arsenal head coach. But he hasn’t been perfect. Here are three key mistakes he made in Tuesday’s loss to Aston Villa.
The results have improved, the performances are mostly more consistent and spirited, and there is hope that he can deliver a special team, even in the circumstances of dealing with a lacklustre squad with limited finances. However, for all the improvements Arteta has inspired, he, like anyone, is not perfect.
In Tuesday night’s 1-0 loss to Aston Villa, he made three key mistakes. We analyse each of them below.
3. Substitutions were strange
Throughout Arteta’s tenure as Arsenal head coach, perhaps the most questionable aspect of his management has been his in-game management, specifically the substitutions that he makes in the second half and the subsequent changes in shape and approach that ensue.
On Tuesday, he again made some curious decisions. Now, the problem was not the personnel he introduced. With Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Martinelli absent through injury and Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi banished from the squad, the options available to Arteta were limited, to say the least.
However, the formation that he moved into and eventually settled on was curious. He took off David Luiz and played Sead Kolasinac as a centre-back in a back four. He then introduced Joe Willock and Nicolas Pepe but played without a right-back, asking Dani Ceballos to slide over at times. The uncomfortable front three, meanwhile, remained on the pitch throughout the 90 minutes.
Arteta was hamstrung by the options available to him on the bench, of course. But the eventual shape he used was strange and it did not help Arsenal move the ball quickly enough to create chances. All in all, it was a little messy.