Arsenal – Leicester City: Majestic Özil shows Arsenal the way after Leicester’s good start (3-1)

For the opening 40 minutes of this match you could have been excused for thinking you were watching Arsène Wenger’s toiling Arsenal side against Claudio Ranieri’s title winning Leicester City team. While Arsenal’s slow, short passing in midfield was achieving little, Leicester’s fast, direct breakaways were creating opportunities for a lively Kelechi Iheanacho. After some time, Arsenal woke up to the fact they could do what their opponents had been doing - only better.

Unai Emery’s Arsenal set out in a 4-2-3-1 formation that settled into a 4-4-2 when Leicester had the ball, a ploy that granted Mesut Özil very little defensive responsibilities. The three attacking midfielders behind Alexandre Lacazette played in a fluid but very narrow formation, with the full backs being instructed to provide width going forward. Stephan Lichtsteiner replaced the injured Nacho Monreal at left back and, being pushed so far forward, appeared to be a target for Leicester’s counter attacks.

Claude Puel set up his side in a 4-3-1-2. The technical James Maddison played just behind Jamie Vardy and Ihenacho, instead of out on the left as he has been recently. The recent England call-up showed off all his best qualities - always looking for the ball, using his agility and ball control to spin away from challenges and dribbling at defenders before finding a teammate with an intelligent pass.

Arsenal attacking, with the attacking midfielders playing narrow. Ball displayed at the feet of Mesut Özil.

Leicester dominate the opening
Maddison’s energy was just a sign of what was to come from the whole Leicester team in the . . .

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Neill Barclay (32) has taken an interest in tactical analysis for many years. Writing analytical reports on teams from his native Scotland and all over Europe for various sites alongside gaining experience of producing technical scouting reports at local matches. On a mission to visit as many iconic stadiums around Europe as possible but just as happy standing on the sidelines of a Highland League match. [ View all posts ]

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