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Inside Information where you can start adding

Brought to you by The Lead Agency,

9 November 2022

Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday was slender in terms of scoreline, but considerably more convincing in terms of performance.

Mikel Arteta’s side scored the winner from a set piece. But their dominance in open play was obvious — and, in a subtle way, the winner was perfect.

The goal itself was an inswinging Bukayo Saka corner, missed by everyone and turned into the net from precisely a yard out by Gabriel Magalhaes. But if you work backwards, you find the key to Arsenal’s performance. The corner came from an Edouard Mendy save, from a Gabriel Jesus shot, and the move for that shot started when Thiago Silva was tackled by Jesus.

By now, we’re accustomed to the idea that a team’s centre-forward must play a significant role in regaining possession, but few take that as literally as Jesus. The Brazilian isn’t merely someone who starts the press, he’s a proactive ball-winner.

The best pressing centre-forwards don’t necessarily win lots of tackles. It’s more about understanding passing angles and which direction to press from, about tempting the opposition in a particular direction so team-mates can win the ball.

For example, a common way a striker will contribute to a successful press is by forcing a centre-back wider, giving his team-mates the cue to shift towards that side. The centre-back will play the ball into a full-back who is being closed down by a second attacker, the full-back will hurriedly offload the ball, and a third attacker will collect it. The striker has contributed to the press, but he won’t be regarded as having literally won possession himself.



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