2 things Arteta got right and 2 he got wrong as Arsenal’s unbeaten run ends

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Arsenal's unbeaten run came to an end as they were beaten 2-1 by Manchester City on Saturday afternoon, meaning fifth-placed West Ham can close the gap on them to just a point with a victory over Crystal Palace.

Unlikely goalscorer Rodri bundled home the winner in the 93rd minute after the ball fell to the Spaniards feet inside the penalty area.

The Gunners will feel hard done by as they dominated the first half and went into the interval with a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal from young winger Bukayo Saka (31').

However, it soon fell apart for the North London side in the second half.

Riyad Mahrez equalised from the penalty spot in the 57th minute after Granit Xhaka pulled Bernardo Silva to the ground somewhat controversially, with VAR overturning the on-field referee’s decision to initially not give the penalty.

Gabriel was booked in the heart of the drama for trying to tamper with the penalty spot, and moments later he was dismissed for blocking a run by Gabriel Jesus, just moments after Nathan Ake prevented an Aymeric Laporte own goal and Gabriel Martinelli missed a sitter.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta wasn’t actually at the ground to watch the defeat having tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week, but he still made several managerial decisions that influenced the game from the comfort of his own home.

Daily Star takes a look at what the Spaniard got right and wrong…

What Arteta got wrong

Lack of experience

Although Arsenal have flourished recently thanks to their young talent, they paid the price for it on Saturday.

Gabriel’s red card highlighted that there is still a lack of know-how in the side and the need for another one or two experienced heads to be sprinkled into the squad.

Picking up two yellow cards in the space of two minutes, with the one being for trying to scuff the penalty spot, showed that Gabriel isn’t always the cool, composed head that most thought he was. He cost his side a point at the Emirates Stadium.

Also, as one of the oldest players in the Gunners squad, Xhaka’s challenge on Silva which led to the spot-kick was rash too, pulling him down and making contact with the Portuguese midfielder's legs was always going to end badly.

Replacing Odegaard

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  • Jurgen Klopp forced to miss Liverpool crunch game with Chelsea amid more Covid chaos

Of course, Arsenal needed to bring on a central defender when Gabriel was sent off, but replacing Martin Odegaard with Rob Holding meant that the Emirates Stadium outfit lacked a lot on the counter-attack.

The Norwegian was central to all of the Gunners’ attacks and when he departed, Arteta’s side were aimless in the attack and City's late winner felt inevitable.

Subbing off Gabriel Martinelli, Saka or even Xhaka would have enabled the home side to still pose a threat to Pep Guardiola’s side, instead, the entire team had to sit and suffer.

Arteta tried to right his wrongs by bringing on Emile Smith Rowe for Alexandre Lacazette, but the change in setup had already happened by that stage.

What Arteta got right

Reuniting Tomiyasu and White

Having been absent for the 5-0 victory over Norwich on Boxing Day due to testing positive for Covid-19, bringing Takehiro Tomiyasu straight back into the first team was a smart move by Arteta.

The Japanese defender gives the Gunners a lot more defensive stability down the right and also brings out the very best in centre-back Benjamin White.

White thrives when he is able to press high and fuel attacks from defence, and Tomiyasu’s instinct of dropping deeper to cover allows the ex-Brighton defender to do so – as he did when he retrieved possession to kickstart the move for Saka’s goal.

Tomiyasu kept Raheem Sterling under wraps for the most part and rarely allowed the Englishman to cut in onto his more favoured right foot.

High pressing

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Arteta has spent big money on his defence since becoming Arsenal boss, and he is now beginning to be able to start reaping the benefits – despite the immaturity of Gabriel.

The attacking players of Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli and Lacazette were able to play with freedom in the final third knowing that they had the safety blanket of a strong defence behind them.

It allowed the aforementioned players to press high against Pep Guardiola’s side when they had ten men and really put the Etihad Stadium outfit under a lot of pressure.

Although usually praised for the way they play out the back, City struggled when pressed so aggressively and were dispossessed in dangerous areas on several occasions.

  • Arsenal FC
  • Mikel Arteta
  • Manchester City FC
  • Premier League

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