Three key talking points from Arsenal's defeat to Man City - Aubameyang was ineffective.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad Stadium on October 17, 2020 in Manchester, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Arsenal failed to continue their promising start to the campaign, losing 1-0 to Manchester City at the Etihad on Saturday. Mikel Arteta, however, made some eye-catching changes to his tactics and team selections in that game, and here, at The 4th Official, we will talk about three key talking points from Arsenal’s defeat to Man City this past weekend.

Arsenal Shifting To A Back-Four

The most noticeable change from Arsenal’s setup against Manchester City on Saturday was the return of a back-four, as Arteta seemed to start with a traditional 4-3-3.

It was a change long overdue as the Gunners lacked significant creative firepower due to the lack of a designated number ten. It also allowed Kieran Tierney to operate in a more natural left-back position, with Bukayo Saka supporting him in a slightly advanced role.

Arsenal did shift to a back-three during certain stages of the game, with Tierney dropping in at central defence and Saka assuming the left wingback role. The change is a breath of fresh air for fans, who are desperate for their team to create chances going forward.

Dani Ceballos Should Be Unleashed Upfront

Dani Ceballos played a curious role against Manchester City, operating almost as a holding midfielder. The Spaniard, in fact, was playing in a deeper role than the more defensive natured Granit Xhaka, who, in turn, had the license to join the first line of press whenever it was necessary.

Three key talking points from Arsenal's defeat to Man City - Arteta changed to a back four.
Arsenal’s Spanish first-team manager Mikel Arteta reacts on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020. (Photo by BEN STANSALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Ceballos, over the past year, has improved on his defensive game and has proven to become a courageous tackler. But, deploying him in a more defensive role than Xhaka was a bizarre move by Arteta, especially if we consider how ineffective the Swiss international was, in terms of creating chances.

Hence, it would perhaps be a wiser move by Arteta to unleash Ceballos in a number ten role, with Thomas Partey playing in that holding midfield role. It should significantly improve Arsenal’s chance creation in the final third.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Struggles Continue

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has had a barren season so far, scoring just one goal in the first five matches in the Premier League. Operating down the left-hand channel, the striker has often lacked game involvement, and this game was no exception.

Aubameyang did well, at times, to link up with Saka and provide delightful through passes. He even made a couple of good runs in behind the Man City backline, but that was about the extent of his performance this past weekend.

The Gabonese international clearly lacked the hunger to score goals. Given his past performances so far this season, it comes to a point where one could even argue that Aubameyang should be reinstated in the more familiar number nine role in the upcoming matches.

Jack O’Brien

A 22 y/o football nerd seeking my way into football writing. I love Irish football and also the Premier League. A huge Arsenal fan! Aside from writing, I like to spend my time fishing and drinking beer.