Mikel Arteta defends tactics change with bizarre driving metaphor

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta used a curious metaphor about his daily drive to the Arsenal training ground in a bid to defend his recent tactical changes. Arteta has come under fire for using Ghana midfielder Thomas Partey as a right back with license to roam forward in Arsenal's first three Premier League games.

Arteta's experiment follows Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp using defender Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola doing the same with centre-back John Stones.

But the results have been mixed for the Gunners, who have opened their title challenge with unconvincing wins over Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace, followed by a draw against 10-man Fulham.

Asked if he felt like reverting to last season's approach for Sunday's clash with Manchester United, Arteta likened the dilemma to the challenges he faces commuting from his home to Arsenal's London Colney training base.

"Every morning I come from my house to Colney. Sometimes I leave at 6:00 and I need to go to the windscreen because it's icy. At six o'clock normally I go Finchley Road and then the A21 because it's faster," Arteta told bewildered reporters on Friday.

"Now Finchley Road is 20 miles per hour so sometimes I take a back door. But then I go on the M25. But depending on if it's a school ride I take one exit. If it's after seven o'clock I take a different exit and then I go."

While the notoriously traffic-packed M25 — a motorway that circles the outskirts of London — has driven many a driver to distraction, Arteta was attempting to use his bizarre answer to illustrate the different tactical choices he faces against varying opponents.

"One day I have a flat tire, what do I do? Maybe I have to replace it because there's a garage there. So every game is a different story guys. A different story," the Spaniard said.

"If we have another injury we're going to have to do something else. If Bukayo (Saka) is not there we're going to have something else. So the M25 won't be good enough. Maybe we'll take another one.

"If I speak to a taxi driver that has learned the whole of London for 20 years, I know nothing compared to him because he will tell me all the streets and options at the best time."


© Agence France-Presse

9 comments about "Mikel Arteta defends tactics change with bizarre driving metaphor".
  1. frank schoon, September 1, 2023 at 2:16 p.m.

    Bizarre???????, That is how you should think about soccer...When driving I always institute soccer thinking. I wrote a column back in 1986 , as follows...

    My students, while I drove to practice, asked "What is tactics or how do you remember it?"  I told him the secret was not in remembering tactics, or reading all the books about tactics, but in constantly thinking and anticipating what is happening, what can happen and how to find solutions, immediately. It requires that type of mindset.....

     Driving in rush hour under snowy and freezing conditions, I stated driving under these conditions require the same mindset as playing soccer. The only difference is that you're dealing with cars and ice therefore the concentration needs to be even sharper for there's little room for error. I told him to pay attention not to how I drive but how I think, my mindset.

    Seeing a stop sign in the distance, I began to pump my brakes early as I didn't know how icy it was coming to the intersection. The next street was downhill, cars were sliding and hitting cars going uphill. I noticed no cars were parked downhill, I proceeded to drive close to the curb  preventing me from sliding...Coming to the bottom at the intersection, I stopped the car at a slight diagonal facing the curb. I was preparing myself to drive up over the curb if the car behind was unable to stop.

    The next street was downhill and intersected at a major highway (Tysons Corner, Vienna ,VA. Route 7). I didn't know the conditions at the intersection and therefore I stopped the car next to the curb and watched how the other cars, proceeded. Sure enough,  they were all sliding into the major intersection.

    I watched for the amber light to appear for the other traffic, than I proceeded to go downhill and by the time I was there the light turned green, without having to stop. I decided to cancel the clinic and got on to the Dulles Toll road. Traffic was moving at a steady pace on a slippery road.
    I noticed the car behind me closing in, I immediate turned my emergency blinkers on began to slow down gradually.  This forced the car behind me to pass and thus 'creating'  space behind me , giving the next car more reaction time...... I also kept an eye on the shoulder in  case I couldn'tn stop from hitting the car in front of me.

    I looked at the car immediate in front of me, to see if it had passengers since often they talk causing the driver to turn their head and perhaps lose attention and concentration. I further looked at two cars further down to watch for the brake lights thus giving me extra reaction time.. Coming near the exit, I had to decide if it was safe for one was downhill and the next uphill... As we arrived home , my student had a better Idea and understand what is meant by tactical thinking.

  2. Ben Myers replied, September 1, 2023 at 3:17 p.m.

    Exactly!  Great teachable moment, Frank.

  3. humble 1 replied, September 1, 2023 at 5:39 p.m.

    I like your snow driving metaphor better than Arteta's.  This is what I found I preferred about soccer - the dynamic nature of the game - only known stop is half-time.  No time-outs, innings, quarters, just half-time.  Figure it out - on the fly.  Not so easy.  So many experts - so few that really grasp the game - even and maybe more in it's birth place than anywhere else as the Spaniard is showing the English they way and they are - bewildered about the metaphor for their own invention.    

  4. Philip Carragher replied, September 2, 2023 at 10:07 a.m.

    Good insights Frank. I hope they don't shorten the 45 minute half.

  5. frank schoon replied, September 2, 2023 at 10:54 a.m.

    Philip, what I forgot to mention while on the toll road was the car in front of me had 3passengers of which a woman was sitting in the back diagonal behind the male driver. So I figured that driver might turn his head towards the woman to acknowledge her as a gentlemanly thing to do that he ,otherwise, would not do if it was a guy.....

    You know what really is good is what I played alot of when I was young is Cowboys and Indians...Talking about tactics this is where I did a lot of thinking not to get surprise or get shot. My side always won that game. I remember actually walking about a 1 mile in circumference to get behind my enemy...Cowboys and Indians was great for you had to think for yourself as well show leadership to others on your team....

  6. frank schoon, September 2, 2023 at 10:16 a.m.

     Humble, Your quote is right on <" This is what I found I preferred about soccer - the dynamic nature of the game - only known stop is half-time.  No time-outs, innings, quarters, just half-time.  Figure it out on the fly">

    This is why pickup is so important to the development, not only for the skills but also the TACTICAL for it  forces the player to think constantly and improvise. And through this mental improvisation, the player begins to anticipate the future situations which he has gone through already, which makes his ballhandling skills better through preparation....

    This is what is missing in our development, the most important element of how a player develops....Sorry,  the Coaching Academy with their licensed coaches and the soccer Academies have failed teaching this element because theyare too busy teaching the 'standardized' crap which is supported by the money of naive parents who don't know any better.....

  7. humble 1 replied, September 4, 2023 at 1:08 a.m.

    Frank, this weekend, my son did a backheel pass off a corner to assist a goal, then headed one in, then passed in traffic, moved, got the pass back, dribbled in the box in traffic the, bang shot to the roof of the net.  I asked him after the game, as I was fliming, what he did on that one, could not see, he said, dad, all instinct, I cannot remember.  Let's see the film when we get home.  Where does this come from?  Countless hours of playground ball.  Twice a day at recess they played, at a private school school half French, half International.  French for whatever reason don't supervise, so there were always scuffles and handbags and sometimes even brawls, but alls well ends well, school let it go. Very old fashioned.  Not ever kid can do what he does, even with the playground, it's all in the minds eye, in the moment, for a long time, as he was designated defender, he did not do it, but he's in a new phase of development, has become a magnificent defender, maturing physically, and now working hard to improve lot of aspects of his game, including growing his offense back.  Today was turning point.  We watched film and he impressed himself.  Playground - make it happen for your kiddos if you are able.  It opens the mind and the possibilities.  If done right the context is a bit like Lord of the Flies if you know this book/film.  The Frenchies in their singular approach to education, some love it, some detest it, kind of created this on the playground for the kiddos. 

  8. frank schoon replied, September 4, 2023 at 7:36 a.m.

    Humble, that was great and feel good news...Also he's going to the right school, the school that sets the tone for "Lord of the Flies', a perfect description...What I like about the French is their way of looking at things. I was discussing with a frenchmen about a scratches or little dents in one's bumper, his reply was that is what bumpers are for, LOL. In other words, you have bumpers to receive dents and scratches... It's no surprise they've  came up with the term, "Laissez-Faire".
    Make sure he brings a little ball to school at times like one just a little smalller than size 3.

    Playing and competing along with a few hard knocks at times is good for him, it's good for his development, better than stupid practices the average soccer kid goes to.   Those recesses are great......Stress to him how important those pickup ,recess games are for his development.
    I would like to have seen him make that heel pass and that whole play...great Stuff....

    Thanks for letting me know, keep me up on his stuff.....

  9. humble 1 replied, September 4, 2023 at 10:36 a.m.

    all this stuff happens in a flash - I learned - that I don't need to leave it in the memory banks - I am self appointed video dad - kid is getting ready for college - bit of a late bloomer - this is ok - he will be impact player in collge - we know this - point was - how - all that playground time - back in the day - 6 years of elementary school - comes out in games now.  I catch it on the camera - not the AI type - the point and film with zoom.  Film goes to open site - kids can see their movements.  They eat this up.  This not done for clubs and coaches for analytics - though I share with them also - this is for the boys.  He is fortunate that his HS coach is old school - often lets the boy play in practice - and - in games too.  Figure it out.  There's a lot to complain about in youth soccer, a lot also, to be thankful for.  Gotta find the voices in the wilderness, like yours, Bob, others here, and SA as a whole.  We are thankful, because the kid plays on, he did not drop out like so many of his mates.  He will play four more years after H.S., conference, tournaments, maybe nationals, he has a path anytime he wants to have a go at the pro game,  that's in his court.  Thank you!  

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