Arsenal are getting that winning feeling back with two back to back victories after tough games against Manchester City and Chelsea. The game against Cardiff, however, was the first that Alexandre Lacazette started under Unai Emery and proved this should be happening more regularly. Our tactical analysis will tell you how below:
Lacazette Proved Himself
The Frenchman started centrally with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out to the left. As the central striker, Lacazette continued to do what he had done in his cameos and had a very positive impact on the game.
However, this wasn’t just when he was on the ball but also when acting as Arsenal’s first line of defence.
This is a very underrated aspect of Lacazette’s game. His willingness to unnerve the opposition defence physically is something that should lend itself extremely well to Emery’s style of playing. Wanting Arsenal to press high up the pitch, with Lacazette showing he’s able to do that, this could lead to more counter-attacks over the course of the season.
Throughout the game, Lacazette looked razor sharp. A big part of this was his movement off the ball as he was able to pull off into open spaces with ease. Continuously losing markers, he deserves credit for not giving up as this movement ended up changing the game:
Should Lacazette continue to start after the international break, his movement will be very encouraging. He should continue to make intelligent runs off defenders and even if he isn’t found, that will create space for others to take advantage of in front of the defence.
Ozil Coming Deep To Combat Cardiff
As the game went on, Cardiff, who showed great intensity in the first half high up the pitch started to sit off a bit.
Happy to let Arsenal have somewhat meaningless possession for the most part, this changed with a change of positioning. Mesut Ozil spent the first hour or so in the game as a more advanced midfielder, however, when Cardiff dropped off, he repeatedly came deep to dictate play.
Popping up so deep, he was often unmarked which led to him helping Arsenal regain their lead:
On his five year anniversary at Arsenal, Ozil yet again showed a side of his game that goes underappreciated by the masses at times.
Some may say ‘it was only Cardiff’ but he was able to get a feel for the match and adapt in the necessary way. Dropping deeper where he knew he wouldn’t be followed on multiple occasions he began to pull strings and was rewarded with his involvement in the second goal.
Cardiff’s Set Pieces
However, as the scoreline suggests, Cardiff didn’t back down and were able to frustrate Arsenal for decent periods of the game.
One way they did this was by pressing high which put Petr Cech and the Arsenal defence under a lot of pressure and caused a few decent turnovers.
However, when they had the ball, one way they unsettled Arsenal was with their set pieces. Throughout the game, Cardiff proved to have a clear and effective plan from set pieces. That was to find Sean Morrison.
For a while, this is where Arsenal have had to improve in defence. Not just on set pieces but doing the boring things all game long. We see that the Arsenal players noticed Morrison was a danger in the first half by doubling up on him, so why change in the second half?
Of course, this is just a small detail but on another day, that small detail of keeping within the routine could have prevented that goal.
Overall, in this game, we saw some very encouraging signs. We got to see how Lacazette fits into the team from the start and why he should be starting to give the Arsenal attack more balance and variety.
Along with Ozil’s performance, we saw a great cameo from Torreira where he seemed to be everywhere. I would’ve liked to fit him into this piece but didn’t want to make it too long, maybe sometime soon.
However, yet again we saw reasons for concern with the main one being concentration. From Petr Cech playing out of the back to the general concentration at set pieces this still needs to improve.
With Arsenal getting some momentum the international break isn’t coming at a great time but hopefully, the side can return well against Newcastle.