How Unai Emery gave Bayern Munich the blueprint to beat Arsenal

  • How Unai Emery's Aston Villa beat Arsenal
  • What Bayern Munich can learn from Spaniards tactics
  • Villa have done the league double over the Gunners
Emery masterminded the win over Arsenal
Emery masterminded the win over Arsenal / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

Ex-Arsenal manager Unai Emery perhaps went to the Emirates Stadium with a bit of a chip on his shoulder on Sunday afternoon.

The now-Aston Villa boss wasn't the most beloved figure in north London during his time in charge of Arsenal, being the butt of quite a few jokes regarding his post-match interviews and corner kick delivery during training sessions (which weren't great in truth) during his short tenure.

Up against his former club, the manager who replaced him, and in front of the the fans who regularly slagged him off, Emery pulled out all of the tactical stops at the weekend, inspiring his current team on the cusp of Champions League qualification to a well deserved win in the process.

Here's how Emery pulled it off, and created a bit of a tactical blueprint for Bayern Munich to follow against Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Restricting the left side of Arsenal's attack

Having drafted Kai Havertz into midfield and Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Jesus into the front three, Arteta explicitly planned to kill Aston Villa with overloads and swift positional interchanges on the left.

And, in the first half, it worked quite well.

Havertz, Troassard and Jesus all saw great chances go begging thanks to either wayward finishing or the brilliant form of ex-Arsenal man Emi Martinez between the sticks in the opening 45 minutes.

Emery reacted to this at half-time, opting to make his midfield and defence much more compact in order to close off the spaces that Arsenal's attackers were previously having joy in.

That change was successful thanks in large part to the chips-fuelled John McGinn who, after dropping into more of a defensive midfield role between Ezri Konza and Diego Carlos, completely nullified both Havertz and Trossard with a combination of expert positioning and extraordinary cardio.

If similar tactics are utilised by Arteta on Wednesday, slotting Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka into these defensive midfield roles would go a long way to containing Arsenal's offensive play.

Targeting Arsenal's weak point

Oleksandr Zinchenko
Zinchenko struggled / Catherine Ivill - AMA/GettyImages

After shoring up Villa's defence at the Emirates, Emery then went on the attack by targeting Arsenal's obvious weak point in their back-line: the left-back.

Arteta has rotated between centre-back Jakub Kiwior and midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko (even when he starts as a full-back he plays in midfield) in recent months trying to find a solution for their issues on that side. Judging by the last two games Arsenal have played, neither have worked.

In the first leg of their quarter-final with Bayern, which finished 2-2, Kiwior struggled so much that he had to be hooked at half-time. And at the weekend, Emery's decision to bring on Leon Bailey in the second half in order to hog the right flank ultimately allowed Villa to wrestle control of the game too.

The Jamaican was able to force Zinchenko to drop into the left-back role that he did not want to play in, exposing his defensive frailties in the process.

With the dynamic Leroy Sane on the books, expect Bayern and Tuchel to utilise similar tactics to pounce upon that vulnerability in Arsenal's armour at the Allianz Arena.