Date revealed: Saturday 17th October 2020 8:28
Pep Guardiola refuted the apparent grasp versus apprentice narrative within the build-up to Manchester Metropolis’s conflict with Arsenal. The edgy 1-Zero win over his former assistant confirmed that Guardiola wasn’t simply blowing smoke up Mikel Arteta’s bottom – however Pep demonstrated that he can nonetheless train his former sidekick a factor or two.
A possible basic on the Etihad was drowned within the respect these former colleagues nonetheless maintain for each other. The wariness of each side, comprehensible it have to be stated, turned what might have been a slugfest right into a cagey affair settled by one second of decisiveness on Metropolis’s half and a minor lapse in focus on Arsenal’s.
That can do exactly effective for Guardiola. Metropolis have gone balls out of their final two matches and have suffered embarrassment in each. Leicester picked them off with staggering ease three weeks in the past, whereas Guardiola’s mentor, Marcelo Bielsa, went toe-to-toe with the Spaniard throughout Metropolis’s final Premier League outing earlier than the worldwide break when Leeds had been unlucky to not take all three factors in a thriller at Elland Highway.
With the roles reversed and Guardiola being pegged because the grasp to Arteta the apprentice, having likely stewed on it for the final fortnight, the Metropolis boss opted for a extra disciplined method to keep away from being proven up by his former right-hand man.
Guardiola’s intention was to keep away from a repeat of what occurred at Wembley within the FA Cup semi-final. Metropolis by no means acquired to grips with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang coming off the left flank however Pep hatched a plan to keep away from historical past repeating itself. And it labored.
Learn: 16 conclusions on a Merseyside derby basic
It wasn’t fully evident within the early phases what that plan was, with all kinds of numbers being thrown round in all method of sequences to explain what form Metropolis had been taking, however the precept of Guardiola’s choice was to shut the channel between his right-back and right-sided centre-back, the area the place Aubameyang likes to trigger havoc.
On this event, Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker squeezed out Aubameyang and the Arsenal captain didn’t register a shot of any sort on Ederson’s purpose. Walker was particularly spectacular alongside Ruben Dias making solely his second Metropolis look.
That isn’t to say the Metropolis goalkeeper wasn’t labored. Ederson needed to be sharp off his line twice within the first half with one save to disclaim Bukayo Saka, after Aubameyang teed up the teenager – proof that the keeper had put his pricey mistake at Leeds behind him.
🗣”He is aware of our gamers however I dont know his gamers”
Pep Guardiola reacting to Sol Campbell’s touch upon the sport being nearly ‘chess like’ contemplating his shut relationship with Arteta pic.twitter.com/EQXnoZnUcL
— Soccer Day by day (@footballdaily) October 17, 2020
That chance, and a penalty shout simply earlier than the break when Walker’s boot strayed dangerously near Gabriel’s face, ought to have inspired Arsenal. However the Gunners appeared too preoccupied with the potential ramifications of being drawn out. Metropolis resisted the temptation to be too adventurous however that’s considerably comprehensible given their latest fortunes.
The actual fact Metropolis had received their final seven league conferences with Arsenal, coupled with the Gunners not having haven’t but overwhelmed a top-six facet since 2015, possibly contributed to the guests’ wariness however with Metropolis creaking within the opening weeks of the season and Arsenal in reasonably higher kind, maybe this was a possibility missed on Arteta’s half. This was a brand new Arsenal facet haunted by the failings of previous ones.
Arsenal needed to adapt their plan instantly earlier than kick-off when Rob Holding dropped out after sustaining an damage within the warm-up. David Luiz got here in, however thankfully for Arteta, this was the Luiz which shackled Metropolis’s assault within the FA Cup semi-final, reasonably than the one who shambled his method by means of Arsenal’s journey to the Etihad.
However Arteta steadfastly refused to stray from that plan. Even within the second interval, when Metropolis smothered the sport with possession, Arsenal didn’t tweak their method. Arteta’s adjustments had been like for like, even when Alexandre Lacazette changed Willian with 1 / 4 of the sport nonetheless remaining. Willian performed as a false 9 and if something, Lacazette, a correct 9, performed even deeper.
Arsenal’s lack of journey was gratefully noticed by Metropolis, who collected their first clear sheet of the Premier League season with an unfamiliar again 4. However that rearguard was assembled with one factor in thoughts – to cease Aubameyang – and Guardiola will take nice enjoyment of a job effectively carried out.