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Arsenal v Leicester, Leicester’s declining tackles, Arteta confirms tactic

By Bulldog Drummond

Both the Mail and Telegraph have reports on Mikel Arteta saying that Arsenal play better without fans.  He’s probably the first Arsenal manager to say something along these lines since Herbert Chapman denounced the “boo boys” back in the 1930s.

The Mail actually has Arteta saying, “When they play in front of 80,000 people it is much harder”, which is ok since we don’t play any league games in grounds of that size, even when there is no lock down.  But whatever the numbers, everyone seems to have caught up with the point we’ve been hammering for a long time – one of the problems for Arsenal is the sizeable minority of negativists and AFTV watchers who enjoy the gratification they get from spouting their views about how awful Arsenal are while remourcelessly booing the team.

As the Mail continues, “The Emirates has often swelled with discontent in recent years and, after a fourth successive win in all [ie both] competitions, Arteta thinks some of his squad are benefiting from playing behind closed doors.”

But Arteta did concede that some players play better with a crowd adding, “Others need that extra motivation, extra pressure, extra passion to perform better. Every player is a bit different,” while also agreeing that in the victory over Wolverhampton the players seemed “less rushed.”

The manager also said that he had (in the words of the Mail) been putting “his language skills to good use,” as they report “Arteta revealed he has been barking out instructions in Spanish, English and French, in part to stop opposition managers knowing what he is saying.”

The interview also included a comment on Guedouzi saying “some things have to change” for him to stay, while in contrast Arteta wants Dani Ceballos to stay adding “he’s becoming a really important player for us.   We are talking to (Real); obviously we don’t own the player, he’s not in our hands so the clubs will need to have a communication and see what we can do.”

And the Mail concludes, “The Emirates has occasionally been a hostile stadium for Arsenal’s players this season, especially during the final weeks of Unai Emery’s reign.”  But amazingly many “fans” deny they have had any negative influence.

So, although we are not yet at the situation where the “last six games” table just reflects the new reality of games behind closed doors it is showing an increasingly relevant chart of current performance.

 
Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester United 6 4 2 0 15 4 11 14
2 Chelsea 6 4 1 1 15 7 8 13
3 Wolverhampton W 6 4 1 1 7 4 3 13
4 Newcastle United 6 3 3 0 11 4 7 12
5 Arsenal 6 4 0 2 10 5 5 12
6 Liverpool 6 3 1 2 8 8 0 10
7 Manchester City 6 3 0 3 13 5 8 9
8 Southampton 6 3 0 3 8 7 1 9
9 Burnley 6 2 3 1 4 7 -3 9
10 Crystal Palace 6 3 0 3 4 8 -4 9
11 Leicester City 6 2 2 2 9 4 5 8

Leicester’s experience is a patchy mix containing just two wins in the last six, but in which they have still managed to score nine goals and conceding four, which means they are likely to bring a packed defence to the game tonight and go for the breakaway.

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It will be interesting to see if they try to return their tactic of multiple tackles, hoping to get far fewer fouls given against them per tackle than any other team in the league.  Watching a video of them I am wondering if they are getting away with it simply because the sheer volume of tackles leaves the referee unwilling to blow for foul after foul after foul.  (Details of that analysis are here – full links below)

The table of the last six home games is particularly interesting, although it does of course include only one game from before the days of lock down. However there is a chance that such a good run at home could carry Arsenal through, despite the lack of a home crowd.

 
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 6 6 0 0 17 3 14 18
2 Manchester City 6 5 1 0 18 3 15 16
3 Arsenal 6 5 1 0 15 3 12 16
4 Manchester Utd 6 4 1 1 13 4 9 13

This hope is bolstered bolstered by the fact that Leicester have had a poor time away from home both before and during the crisis.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Wolverhampton W 6 4 1 1 10 6 4 13
2 Southampton 6 4 0 2 11 9 2 12
3 Liverpool 6 3 1 2 5 8 -3 10
4 Burnley 6 3 1 2 5 9 -4 10
5 Manchester Utd 6 2 2 2 7 6 1 8
6 Arsenal 6 2 2 2 7 7 0 8
7 Newcastle United 6 2 2 2 8 9 -1 8
8 Brighton & Hove 6 1 4 1 6 7 -1 7
9 Everton 6 2 1 3 7 11 -4 7
10 Crystal Palace 6 2 1 3 6 12 -6 7
11 Chelsea 6 1 3 2 9 10 -1 6
12 Manchester City 6 2 0 4 3 7 -4 6
13 Sheffield United 6 1 3 2 3 8 -5 6
14 Leicester City 6 1 2 3 6 6 0 5

Just one win away from home in the league in the last six, but an unexpected 6-6 in terms of goals although half of these came in their away win against Newcastle.   More anon.

3 comments to Arsenal v Leicester, Leicester’s declining tackles, Arteta confirms tactic

  • Ebere

    Most Arsenal fans are just too impatient and aggressive towards the players. I am sure we wouldn’t have gotten these results if they had played it with the fans around.

  • Ross

    Whilst I agree that the booing is a bad idea and the negativity has been quite rife and downright unpleasant at the Emirates over the past few seasons, from information gathered at footystats.org our home form in the PL has been better than our away form over the past few seasons, dating from the 2013/14 season and ‘peaking’ (for want of a better phrase) during the 2017/18 season when the home form was 2nd only to Man City. Therefore, it would seem to me that either the negativity at the Emirates isn’t quite as widespread or destabilising as it appears to be, or that the team are able to overcome negativity at home, in which case kudos to them, and that crowd issues remain largely with Arsenal’s away form. I’ve never been to an away match but I would imagine that the crowds at other London stadiums can create quite a difficult if not hostile atmosphere, not to mention teams battling relegation or drawn at home for a cup tie against Arsenal. We will have to wait until the end of the season for definitive evidence, but the results Arsenal have had since the restart appear to show that the absence of crowds has done more to improve the away form than the home form.

  • We’ve covered the home/away issue in some detail and across the league the away form is better than home.

    But the problem is that when the crowd is there, Arsenal were having a hard time of it under Wenger and thereafter. Who knows how much more success we might have had without that. One thing is for sure, it can’t have helped.

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