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Talking Tactics

How Wenger bounced back at AFC Bournemouth

Adrian Clarke 27 Jan 2017
Arsenal's Lucas Perez scores their second goal

What did Arsenal do to recover from 3-0 deficit to earn point at Vitality Stadium? Adrian Clarke explains all

Premier League managers spend much time plotting a match-winning strategy, but it does not always work. Adrian Clarke looks at five who changed their tactics mid-match to win the day.

After analysing how Ronald Koeman masterminded Everton's victory at West Bromwich Albion this season, and Pep Guardiola's tactical changes in the Manchester derby, Clarke explains how Arsene Wenger pulled of a great escape from 3-0 down against AFC Bournemouth.

Perez partners Giroud

He only had 11 touches and made just six passes in total, but a 33-minute cameo from Lucas Perez at the Vitality Stadium, has to go down as one of the most inspired substitutions of the season so far.

Lucas Perez, Arsenal
Lucas Perez's 33-minute cameo at Vitality Stadium was one of the most inspired substitutions of the season so far

Losing 3-0 after 62 minutes, some will say Arsene Wenger had no option but to throw the Spanish striker into the fray against AFC Bournemouth in place of Alex Iwobi, but it was how he used Perez that took many observers, and possibly the Cherries too, by surprise.

Rarely deviating away from a 4-2-3-1, it is an extremely rare occurrence for Wenger to line up Arsenal in a standard 4-4-2.

See: How Koeman's Plan B beat West Brom

But that is the system he chose when sending on his summer signing.

Instead of being used on the flanks, Perez was told to go up front and make a nuisance of himself. His sole intention was to capture the attention of AFC Bournemouth’s spare central defender, and create confusion with his movement inside the final third.

Perez positioning

Perez average position v AFC Bournemouth
Lucas Perez's advanced average position at AFC Bournemouth (Number 9) aimed to create confusion

It worked. The extra body in and around the penalty area made Eddie Howe’s men nervous.

Arsenal’s first goal owed much to the presence of a second striker. Showing for the ball 25 yards out, Perez linked play from a position Olivier Giroud would usually have to occupy as the lone forward.

This allowed Giroud to loiter inside the penalty area instead, and as the right-wing cross came in from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the Frenchman was in the right position to provide a vital touch, flicking the ball on to Alexis Sanchez to score.

Sanchez opener

Sanchez goal v AFC Bournemouth
Perez's involvement at the start of the move freed up Olivier Giroud (12) to assist Alexis Sanchez's goal

Perez scored Arsenal’s second goal in a move that showcased how effective this strike duo could be.

As the ball was fed into Giroud by Granit Xhaka, the Spaniard made a short but clever burst across Giroud into space behind him and, after collecting a subtle one-touch pass, he volleyed in left-footed.

Without a striker like Perez to make runs off Giroud, this goal and Arsenal’s unlikely comeback would never have occurred.

Perez strike

Perez goal v AFC Bournemouth
Perez's combination with Giroud for Arsenal's second goal showed how effectively the two strikers dovetailed

Throughout the final half-hour, the front pair worked in close proximity very well together, pegging AFC Bournemouth back and swinging the match in Arsenal’s favour.

Arsenal do not know how important the point from this 3-3 draw will be, but if it makes a difference in the title race, this second-half change will be remembered fondly.

See: Guardiola's Manchester derby masterclass

Tomorrow How Conte broke though the West Brom wall

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