Manchester City all-star Kevin De Bruyne has offered some insight into how the Citizens were able to swarm Arsenal and nullify their strengths during the 4-1 defeat on Wednesday night.
He explained how Pep Guardiola gave his players freedom to roam, which confused Arsenal’s pressing trap – they were often caught in two minds as to who they should advance upon.
He was very complimentary of Arsenal’s playing style, however, mentioning how it is ‘almost impossible’ to play out from the back against the Gunners.
“The way Arsenal press the opposition is top, it’s class, honestly. It’s really, really good, it’s almost impossible to play from the back, especially when it’s a goal kick, it’s like a set piece.
“We know we had to play longer today, we tried a couple of things in training, I tried to get a little bit deep then run off Erling when he kept the ball and I think we found that a couple of times.
“Normally we play with two No.8s and I think he [Guardiola] wanted a little bit more control because of the way that they press. So Gundo would be a double No.6 and I had to choose more the moments depending on who presses out of Xhaka or Partey. If Partey was pressing I would try to go on his back and then the opposite way around.
“Then it was difficult for Holding and Gabriel then to [think], ‘do I need to go with Kevin or are we staying with Erling?’. I could find the moments in the first half then obviously they switched a little bit in the second half but I was a little bit more free today.”
In the game against City, Arsenal were largely dominated for the majority of the contest. Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring with a low drive, followed by John Stones on the stroke of halftime.
De Bruyne doubled his tally in the second period – Rob Holding managed to get one back late on, but this was subsequently cancelled out by a goal in added time from Erling Haaland.