Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

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Kai Havertz is Beginning to Perfect the Xhaka Cut-Back

This sequence is Arsenal’s bread and butter. Cut down the line into the left half-space, cut the ball back, and either a first-time shot or a lay-off. This looks well drilled into Kai Havertz now.

Figure 1.1 - Kai Havertz breaks free into the top left-hand side of the box.
Figure 1.2 - Kai Havertz crosses the ball on the ground to Gabriel Jesus.
Figure 1.3 - Gabriel Jesus perfectly lays the ball off Martin Ødegaard.
Figure 1.4 - Martin Ødegaard receives the ball in space, takes a touch to the left.

Disagree with Mikel Arteta all you want in regards to how he builds a team; you have to agree he is a world-class trainer. Havertz was not able to do this when he signed him in the summer.

Figure 1.5 - View before the shot.
Figure 1.6 - Shot saved, low to the right of Emilano Martinez.

What Arsenal missed this game was their finishing. This should have been planted top bins away from Emi Martinez’s outstretched hands. This could have been 1-1, but it’s a routine save.

Figure 2.1 - Oleksandr Zinchenko passes over-the-top to Kai Havertz.

This is what I mentioned in the match between Tottenham and Chelsea, that only Kai Havertz pulled off for Arsenal.

Figure 3.1 - Marc Cucurella begins his run while Reece James has the ball on the far side.

Chelsea got behind Tottenham’s high-line by making their run from deeper, like Marc Cucurella in this picture. This is how you beat a team like Aston Villa.

Figure 2.2 - Kai Havertz cuts the ball back into the dangerous area, the penalty spot.
Figure 2.3 - Martin Ødegaard shanks the ball wide with an open right side of the net.

2-1. These are two examples of clear-cut chances that should have been finished, but it was very tricky for both teams to deal with the wind. In this instance, the wind was blowing toward Ødegaard, so the ball moved at an unpredictably high rate of speed. That is why he missed the ball.

If you are Mikel Arteta, you can come away from this game knowing that the training is beginning to show in-game. Kai Havertz looked pretty confident in that left half-space cutting the ball back, like Granit Xhaka did so well last season. He is very good at timing his runs, which is a plus.

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