The False 9, contrary to popular belief has been around for decades. Utilised for the first time in the 1930’s. The idea is quite simple, the striker drops back into the midfield creating space for the wingers to exploit behind the back line. It’s a position that requires a player that is good with his feet and knows exactly how and where to move (read Lionel Messi). Last night, was a prime example of how NOT to play a False 9.
It’s been leveled at Arteta many times before that he is too clever for his own good. Knowing how obsessive Unai Emery is about the other team, Arteta tried to throw him off. It didn’t work, mainly because we don’t have the players to operate in a False 9 effectively. Behind within minute following some truly awful play from Ceballos, who got sent off in the second half. Then conceding again from a set piece, where Mari was flat footed and Partey lost his man. It was a mess.
Going forward it was disjointed, our passing was sloppy and we looked out of ideas. Chambers crossing into an empty box, due to our lack of a striker says it all. Eventually we won a dubious penalty but hey we’ll take it. Pepe with the weight of the world on his shoulder showed fantastic composure to put it straight down the middle. Aubameyang came on and had a great effort saved.
The Bottom Line
We’re only in this courtesy of Unai Emery getting cold feet (for a change) and trying to shut up shop. But make no mistake we’re having by a thread and Arteta MUST get it right next week. Before then we travel to Newcastle in a dead rubber.