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The Regista - Arsenal vs Liverpool tactical review: Arteta produced tactical masterclass with box approach's tactics expert Connor Holden reviews Arsenal's crucial victory over Liverpool and declares Mikel Arteta's approach almost perfect for the 3-1 triumph.

Mikel Arteta's Gunners showed how they have tactically evolved against the big sides, having the best of the game in all areas, and exploiting Liverpool's new shape.

But I want to highlight just how impressive some of the tactical tweaks from Arteta were in this performance, and just how Arsenal took everything they wanted from this game.




Arsenal deployed Kai Havertz as their “false 9" for this game in the absence of Gabriel Jesus, but what Arteta did with Havertz and Martin Odegaard to form a box midfield was pivotal to them breaking Liverpool down.

Havertz would drop into midfield areas alongside Odegaard at the top of a box midfield, with Jorginho and Declan Rice forming the box with them. Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli would then push high and wide, pinning the Liverpool defensive line back.


By then engaging the Liverpool press, Curtis Jones and Ryan Gravenberch would push up onto Rice and Jorginho, trying to stop Arsenal building out from the back, however this left Havertz and Odegaard in an isolated area between the midfielders, with just Alexis Mac Allister in a lone pivot defensively.

This now meant when Arsenal played the ball into one of Havertz or Odegaard, Mac Allister would have to attach and jump towards the ball player, leaving the other man free.

Now with the wide men pinning the Liverpool defensive line back, the central defenders had the decision to make to step up on the free man (e.g. Havertz or Odegaard) or allow them to receive the ball with time and space.


This caused one of the Liverpool defenders to continuously jump out towards the “free man" leaving a huge gap in behind the Liverpool central defenders for the runners to attack (one of Havertz/Odegaard or a wide attacker drifting inside).

The positioning of Martinelli and Saka in this is key, as by pinning the fullbacks, it of course keeps the defensive line slightly deeper, meaning when Virgil van Dijk or Ibrahima Konate step out into midfield zones, the run in behind can be timed to be onside.



Arsenal's first goal is a perfect example of how Arteta envisioned this, engaging the initial Liverpool press and finding Oleks Zinchenko to beat that press, Mac Allister attached to Havertz leaving Odegaard as the free man, this causes Van Dijk to step out and creates the space for Havertz to run in behind (leading to the shot on goal, Saka scoring the rebound).


Another thing Arsenal wanted to get the most out of was the flexible positioning of Trent Alexander-Arnold, and exploiting space behind Trent to get Martinelli into situations to drive at Konate in 1v1 scenarios.

Martinelli was often the outlet for the Gunners, looking to get the ball to him early when Trent was pushed higher up on the right (something Jurgen Klopp did to try and give Zinchenko issues defensively). This stretched Liverpool, pushing their back line deeper as Konate was often the defender having to cover Martinelli's runs, and defend him in wide 1v1 isolations.

Whilst he only had 33 touches and completed 2 of his 3 dribble attempts, Martinelli's persistent wide presence caused issues for the Liverpool back line, and never allowed them to settle in position.

Martinelli was Arsenal's most advanced forward throughout this game, and once he was substituted, Leandro Trossard replaced him on the left flank, and scored a goal late in the game to secure the victory, also coming from that left hand side.


In conclusion, Arteta did everything right in this game, forcing Liverpool to play in areas they weren't comfortable, overloading central areas with their box midfield to win that battle, and putting his players in the best positions possible to be dangerous with their skill sets.

Jorginho had what many are stating as his best game in an Arsenal shirt, making three interceptions, two tackles, winning seven of his 13 duels (ground and aerial) and making one key pass, he kept things ticking in that midfield for Arsenal, and he and Rice were formidable.

Kai Havertz is also deservedly receiving his plaudits for his role in the 3-1 victory over Liverpool at the Emirates, making himself a nuisance and asking the questions of the Liverpool central defenders.

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About the author

Connor Holden


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