Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta jokingly refused to answer an interviewer’s question regarding his side’s tactics against Everton on Sunday. The Gunners were called out by Gary Neville for timewasting during the narrow win at Goodison Park.
Leandro Trossard scored the only goal of the game in the 69th minute. The Belgian finished expertly with his left foot to move Arsenal up into the Premier League top four.
Everton barely laid a glove on their opponents as Arsenal dominated much of the ball. They had nine corners in the game and used a new tactic for most of them.
Two of Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Fabio Vieira were often on corner duty and took their time over the set pieces. They sometimes waited over 20 seconds before playing it short.
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It ultimately worked as Arsenal eventually scored from one when the ball returned back into the box. Manchester United legend Neville was on co-commentary for Sky Sports and he repeatedly pointed out the tactic and even suggested referee Simon Hooper was close to brandishing a yellow card for time wasting.
Arteta was asked about the new routine in his post-match interview. Sky’s Patrick Davison attempted to get an insight into the plans.
Davison said: “The goal comes ultimately from a corner, you took a lot of short corners today and actually it was noted in commentary that you took a bit of time and then went. Can you just tell us the hard work that goes in?”
But Arteta quickly replied: “No.” The pair both laughed as Davison responded: “What do you mean no?”
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Arteta did eventually give some reasoning behind the tactic, suggesting it was easier to cause Everton issues at the back that way. He said: “There are different ways to attack, different ways to try to take advantage of opponents’ weaknesses.
“Obviously they are very strong in the box and we need alternatives and we found a way to open it up. You can [put it in the box] and you can still score.
“It’s about the possibilities and the probabilities that are different. It’s about creating a story in the game and the players have to feel when it’s the right moment to do it.”
During the second half, Neville often made a point of how long Arsenal were taking at corners. He said: “I just asked how long that ball was in the corner for and apparently it took 26 seconds to take that short corner which is an absolute mountain of time, particularly in this climate with the referees trying to pick up on everything but it worked.
“You saw Mikel Arteta and the coaching team start to celebrate because it’s worked so they must’ve been working on it in training.”
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