Manchester City coach Mikel Arteta was specifically tasked by Pep Guardiola with finding and exploiting the flaws in his old club Arsenal – both this season and last. The 36-year-old was caught on camera being congratulated by Guardiola in the Emirates dugout last weekend for concocting the tactical plan that produced City’s second goal in their opening game of the new season. And the new Amazon Prime series All or Nothing: Manchester City reveals that Arteta has been unpicking the Gunners for quite some time, stretching back to last season’s Carabao Cup final.
Having already booked their place at Wembley, Guardiola took his coaching staff and all their families to a restaurant last January to watch the other semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. When the Gunners progressed, Guardiola turned to Arteta and said: ‘From now on, you’re going to be studying Arsenal. I want you to write me a report on their attack and defence.’
Another coach then added, ‘And their state of mind,’ before Guardiola continued: ‘Tell Rodo [Rodolfo Borrell] about the defence.’ After a brief interview to camera with Arteta – who claims he ‘knows how [Wenger] thinks, how he prepares things’ – the documentary cuts to the tactics room where Guardiola relays Arteta’s gameplan.
‘Dani [Danilo] and Alex [Zinchenko] has to attack that guy [points to full-back] like a winger, for the other side to move outside,’ says an animated Guardiola, pointing to the board. ‘Always the same concept, the third man sends the ball wide… into the net. We find here [in the hole], the third man sends the ball in the right moment.’
Guardiola’s instructions are played over a clip illustrating that exact tactic in training where Leroy Sane is played in down the flank, hits the byline and then pulls the ball back for a midfielder to fire into the net.
That is the very same routine that produced City’s second goal just last weekend at the Emirates, and which prompted Guardiola to grab and hug Arteta, only this time it was Benjamin Mendy steaming forward and pulling the ball back for Bernando Silva to rifle home.
Arteta very nearly replaced Wenger as Arsenal manager over the summer, interviewing for the position, but the north London club opted for the experience of Unai Emery instead – the former PSG boss will be hoping upcoming opponents have not seen Amazon’s new documentary!