Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he instructed his players to play more directly to Erling Haaland in the second half against Arsenal on Friday night.
The Gunners surprised Guardiola by deploying a man-to-man marking system in the first 45 minutes at the Etihad, and the Spaniard said he decided to change his setup in order to get the better of Mikel Arteta‘s side after the interval:
“I didn’t expect this approach with this courage, the man-for-man, when this happens it makes the process difficult. In the second half we make contact more than usual with Erling [Haaland], it’s what you have to do.”
City did find it difficult to make any headway before half-time during the FA Cup tie, but the tactical changes worked, as Guardiola’s team pushed Arsenal further and further back as the game wore on.
Nobody would dispute the fact that the Premier League champions deserved the victory, with Nathan Ake’s expertly placed effort with his weaker right foot ultimately being the difference between the two sides.
With the league clash at the Emirates not far away, it will be interesting to see whether Gunners boss Mikel Arteta throws up another surprise or if Guardiola can come up with one of his own.