On paper the result for Arsenal isn’t a total disaster tonight as they do go back with an away goal and a real chance of making the final, but Villarreal were clearly the better team and you worry that they might not manage to overturn the first-leg defeat.
It will hurt more because it’s Unai Emery who has got the better of Mikel Arteta, but one decision in particular has come back to haunt the Arsenal boss.
It looks like he tried to go with a false 9 up front with Nicolas Pepe leading the line, but it meant they didn’t have a clear focal point and they really struggled to take control of the game and create any meaningful chances.
Arteta has had issues in the past where he’s tried to be too clever and those decisions have come back to bite him, and there are plenty of fans who are furious with him tonight – including Everton’s Yannik Bolasie:
SMH! Dead the false 9 experiment we need to see Gabi up top pronto
— Yannick Bolasie (@YannickBolasie) April 29, 2021
#arteta should be fired simple, trying to do what city did and failed we have pace upfront and dea?ly striker but decided to play his nonsense,for me I'm done with arteta
— Njabulo jakalacy (@NjabuloNdebele9) April 29, 2021
No striker, midfielders that wont/cant shoot. Ceballos strolling around and even a blind man could see he would get sent off. Terrible team selection by Arteta but lucky to be still in with a shout
— Paul Noonan (@noonchild11) April 29, 2021
I always say that Mikel Arteta's in-game management is his greatest weakness. Didn't need a fortune teller to reveal that we needed an out and out striker right from 46' and that Xhaka though he did well would've done better complimenting Partey in the middle. And the timing ?
— I remain Chinedu Hector Rupert Nnaemeka???? (@hector55) April 29, 2021
*arteta before the game*
"we're playing without a striker tonight"
— . (@annoyedgunner) April 29, 2021
Arteta need to explain his starting line up without striker…
— Sodiq Adekunle (@Sodexintl) April 29, 2021
Arteta got lucky tonight we were appallingly bad in the 1st half. Who plays a totally new system in the biggest game of the season and leaves 3 strikers on the bench! Made no sense #VILARS
— Steve Coates (@Coatesy1963) April 29, 2021