Pep Guardiola made one big change that helped Manchester City destroy Arsenal
Manchester City reverted to a 4-4-2 and a long ball to beat Arsenal in the de facto title-decider. Well, kind of
Mikel Arteta's Arsenal looked tactically confused and disorganised at times during their 4-1 defeat to Manchester City on Wednesday night.
And there's a very simple reason for that: the Manchester City team they prepared for, er, didn't turn up.
Pep Guardiola has a bit of a reputation for 'overthinking' big games and making unnecessary tactical changes that are directly responsible for many of his team's downfalls.
But if you think that's going to stop him doing it again, then you don't know Josep Guardiola Sala as well as you think.
In a game that was being widely billed as this season's Premier League title decided, and facing a manager who knows him better than anyone else in the division, Guardiola opted to go for a tactical surprise.
While Man City and Arsenal may line up with slightly different formations – City tends to be something roughly akin to a 4-3-3, while Arsenal's is more like a 4-2-3-1 – both sides tend to move into a 3-2-5 with a box midfield while in possession.
As FourFourTwo's Adam Clery explains in the video above, however, that's not really what City did at the Etihad on Wednesday evening. Instead, they reverted to something that looked a lot more like a 4-4-2, soaked up pressure from Arsenal's high press, and did a fair bit of knocking it long to the big man up front.
And if that wasn't enough to convince you of the transition from Pep-ball to Pulis-ball, they even had a centre-back score from a set-piece for good measure.
It wasn't just that Arsenal have forgotten how to defend, though. While the Gunners had plenty of possession, there is clearly some level of fatigue that has set in within the squad. As well as having some major injuries in the squad, many of the big players have put in huge shifts across the different competitions, with the likes of FourFourTwo cover star Martin Odegaard playing over 600 more minutes than Kevin De Bruyne this season.
That might explain the N'Golo Kante to Arsenal rumours we've been hearing...
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Conor Pope is the Online Editor of FourFourTwo, overseeing all digital content, and joined the team in February 2019. He plays football regularly, both on grass and artificial surfaces, and has a large, discerning and ever-growing collection of football shirts from around the world.
He supports Blackburn Rovers and holds a season ticket with south London non-league side Dulwich Hamlet. His main football passions include Tugay, the San Siro and only using a winter ball when it snows.
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