Mikel Arteta explains Willian tactical decision after playing Arsenal forward in new position

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has explained his decision to play Willian in a central role during the Gunners’ 1-0 loss to Manchester City, with strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah benched.

City walked away from the tie with all three points thanks to a Raheem Sterling goal but Arteta was happy with his team’s performance and Willian’s display in the centre of a front three.

Speaking after the game to Sky Sports, Arteta said: “It was part of the game plan [to play Willian central], the situation we wanted to use. We wanted to create, and I think it was a good match for him.”

Arsenal forward Willian was used in a central role as part of a front three against Manchester City by manager Mikel Arteta
(Image: Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)

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He added: “I am upset as I feel we deserved more. I am extremely happy with the performance though, which we put in against a top team.

“I cannot demand more from players apart from we had three chances and had to score. Every goal the opponent scores there is something we can do better, we cannot change that.

“We know everything has to be perfect in both boxes to beat Manchester City.”

Arteta was impressed with the Brazilian’s display
(Image: Alex Livesey/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

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The result saw Arsenal continue their woeful record against other members of the so-called ‘big six’, having failed to win in any of their last 29 meetings against those clubs.

Arteta admitted his side needs to address this record, saying: “Absolutely. You want to go to every ground and win.

“To get into the position you have to do so many good things, throughout 96 minutes, and we did a lot of them but in the end, games are decided in the boxes.

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