Speaking exclusively to CaughtOffside, former Arsenal star Michael Thomas has commented on the Gunners’ crossing-heavy style under Mikel Arteta and the comparisons to Man City’s methods.
As per Squawka, Arsenal’s 44 crosses against Spurs set a top-flight record so far this season, with only nine of these deliveries being completed, a damning percentage of 20.4%.
Thomas, who spent nine years with the Gunners and cemented his legend with a title-winning goal in the 1988-89 season, also commented on the clear similarities to Manchester City’s attacking style.
Pep Guardiola’s men are known for being clinical when it comes to drilling the ball in from the wide areas, which is something that Arteta has noticeably picked up on during his time as their assistant.
Thomas makes the key point which should encourage Arsenal to move away from this approach though, quite simply they don’t have a player of Kevin de Bruyne’s ‘quality’.
The former midfielder, who won two caps for England, adds that the key if finding a man not an ‘area’, something that Arsenal are unable to do as it stands.
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Arsenal attempted 44 crosses against Spurs, the most by any team in a single Premier League game so far this season.
Nothing to show for it. ? pic.twitter.com/HKqeBqJSoY
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 6, 2020
Here’s what Thomas had to say when questioned on how this style obviously drastically impacts the productivity of a striker like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang:
“When you look at Pep Guardiola, who Arteta was learning from, you can see that Manchester City use the wide areas regardless of the strikers’ playing style.”
“It’s all about the quality you put into the box. Find a man, not an area. Unless you have a player of De Bruyne’s quality to put it on the money where the striker has to be there.”
Thomas also commented on how poor the Gunners were in possession, despite dominating with 70% of the ball:
“Possession in this day and age is not enough. You have to be incisive with the ball and Arsenal didn’t have that cutting edge unfortunately.”
Arsenal don’t have the midfielders, full-back’s or wide attackers that are skilled enough to deliver pinpoint low cross into the box for someone like Aubameyang.
It’s also not productive for them to be floating the ball due to the captain’s style, he’s not an aerial threat, so crossing like this will also be unproductive.
With City and Arsenal both boasting centre-forwards that aren’t proven aerial threats like Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and Aubameyang, combined with both sides commitment to low crosses, it’s clear that Arteta has tried to adopt this style with the north London outfit, unfortunately to no avail.