Arteta explains major tactical change he hopes will fire Arsenal to the title
Mikel Arteta wants his Arsenal players to become his flexible friends this season.
Gunners boss Arteta has a clear mission statement to change his starting line-ups, tactics and formations on a frequent basis.
Last season, Arsenal mounted a title challenge based on a settled line-up which carried them through most of the campaign with a 4-2-3-1 system which served them well.
The only tweak was using an inverted full back but this time Arteta has deliberately signed more versatile players in Declan Rice and Kai Havertz who can play different roles.
But there is a clear aim to keep opponents guessing, use different formations for specific games and play to his team’s strengths and opponents’ weaknesses.
Arsenal started the campaign with effectively three at the back as Thomas Partey moved into midfield from right back against Nottingham Forest as they knew the visitors would not have many attacking players on the pitch.
But against Crystal Palace on Monday night, they are certain to make changes again to cope with more of a threat from Roy Hodgson’s side.
Arteta believes he will make more changes, the season will be more demanding with the Champions League back in the fixture list and squad players – like Emile Smith Rowe and Fabio Vieira – will get plenty of minutes through the campaign.
But the players are already bracing themselves for more instructions, different tactics and it was drilled into them through pre-season that they would be less predictable this term.
Arteta said: “We are going to need to do that in a different way, for sure. It’s a different context that we have this season. One is down to competition for places but as well the players we have and interactions, positions they can occupy as well.
“A lot has changed as well. The games are longer now, more minutes to play as well and how we start and finish the games will be critical so it’s something to bear in mind as well.
“I I love it. Because it gives you more options, better players, more chances to do what you can when you have to change the game, we have to change things and we’re going to ask players to do it naturally, not to force it when you don’t really know when that fits.
“But teams in the Premier League, their managers and staff, after two or three games they know and they try to find a solution. But it’s not about the solution. It was more about us.”
Arsenal won at Crystal Palace on the opening weekend of last season and that win set the tone for the rest of the campaign.
Arteta admits that he is hoping for the same outcome this time, although he expects a tough battle as he is a huge admirer of veteran Palace boss Roy Hodgson.
Arteta added: “You have to go to these grounds and impose yourself and it’s very difficult to do that. We had some experiences the way before at Brentford on that. It’s going to be different on Monday.
“They are extremely well organised, the results they have got, they have been really consistent, they don’t concede too much and it’s going to be a tough test for us.
“But it’s a test we like to have to understand where we are and how ready we are to go to these grounds and do what we want to do.”