In many respects, we didn’t learn a lot of new information during Arsenal’s win at Old Trafford on Sunday. Arteta has built a system that is a custom fit for games where Arsenal are not expected to dominate the ball. They had already beaten Manchester United (albeit at home), Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City under Arteta’s charge.
None of which is to take away from the execution or the satisfaction of Sunday’s victory of course. However, there were some subtle differences between this game and the aforementioned victories at the back end of last season- chiefly the ferocity with which Arsenal pressed and harried United.
We haven’t really seen much of a high press under Arteta and, given the players available to him at the back of the team, you can maybe understand why the defence and midfield have taken on a more stand-offish mid-block quality. Firstly, last season’s midfield combo of Ceballos and Xhaka doesn’t have the attributes for a high press.
Pressing high also compels defenders to jump out of their foxholes and snuff out enemy fire on the halfway line. A defence containing Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz is not one you want stationed high up the…