‘I want to become more dominant. I want to have 55 shots on target every game’: Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hopes his side will evolve to become like his former outfit Manchester City… and admits he is still in contact with Pep Guardiola
- Mikel Arteta wants to limit Arsenal’s reliance on a counter attack system
- Gunners boss has found great success in recent matches against domestic rivals
- However, he wants to make his Arsenal team more dominant on the ball
- Spaniard was assistant manager to current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola
Mikel Arteta says that Johan Cruyff would need to moderate his Total Football philosophy if he were Arsenal manager today, as he vowed to continue the counter-attack revolution he has instigated at the club and resist football’s possession purists.
Arteta, graduate of Barcelona’s world famous La Masia, the youth academy that produced Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta is regarded as the home of passing football. He was once a Cruyff disciple is also a friend, confidante and former No 2 to Pep Guardiola, the high priest of possession.
And yet he is now the man who regularly beats the biggest teams playing on the counter attack with long balls and 40 per cent possession, with Liverpool falling victim again in the Carabao Cup last week after also losing the Community Shield to Arteta’s team.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has his side well drilled tactically against domestic rivals
The Gunners defeated Liverpool for the third time in their last four matches on Thursday
Guardiola’s Manchester City and Chelsea have also fallen victim to the Arteta’s unique blend of counter attack, which he says is an evolution of Cruyff’s game and a needs-must approach.
Arteta, who takes on Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United on Sunday, said: ‘Our game is a mixture of both. The game is evolving and you have to be able to adapt, most importantly I have to be able to adapt to the players that I have and try to give them maximum security and comfort and ask them things that are able to do at the moment.
‘When you play against a type of opponent [like Liverpool] which, at the moment, is the one of three most-dominant teams in Europe you have to know and be realistic and play the game that you are able to play against them.
However Arteta still wants his side to become more dominant on the ball during his reign
He hopes he can make the Gunners into a feared attacking side in the shape of his former side Manchester City, where he was assistant to Pep Guardiola (right)
‘Not the game that you are able to put with the magnets [on the tactics board] or on the video. It’s actually the game we have to play against them. If we are able to do that game we can compete against them and give ourselves a big chance to win that game. And this is what we have to go, game by game, not forgetting where we have to get and how we’re going to make that process and evolution.’
Arteta does aspire to emulate the City team he coached last season but is clear that the players he has inherited at Arsenal mean that is a work in progress.
He said: ‘I want to become more dominant, I want to press even higher than we do. You can see last night how aggressive our team is. I want to have 55 shots on target and concede zero goals every game.
‘This is the aim and where we want to get. We’re going to evolve and in relation to who we play, and we will adapt things to make it difficult to them and give ourselves the best possible chance.
Arteta admits he is still in contact with the City boss whom he helped achieve much success
‘But people cannot deny as well the way we try to play, because we score making 40 passes, using the goalkeeper to build up from a goal kick to score some great goals against some of the best opponents in the country. But at the moment we need that mix, we need that adaptability and that unpredictability to attack and defend teams.’
And Arteta says he is still in contact with Guardiola and that City also have developed a counter attacking facility since Guardiola adapted to English football.
Arteta said: ‘We have some really good discussions about both teams and how we are evolving. I think he’s happy to see the way our team is evolving as well.
‘We practiced a lot, City, and it was one of the things we did much better over the years, the way we countered and use the spaces. We killed opponents when we had open spaces to attack and it’s a big part of football right now.’
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