Mikel Arteta remains faithful to the starting 1-4-3-3 system, although it is not difficult to see Arsenal adopting a 1-4-1-4-1 shape in offense involving both central midfielders highly, while in defence it is closest to 1-4-2-3-1 when the defensive midfielder (Partey or Jorginho) is always accompanied by an extra cover (Xhaka).
In higher pressing the central midfielders (Xhaka, Odegaard) limit the space in the centre which is supposed to induce rivals to play longer ball. Moving to a deeper mid or a low block the tasks of one of the central midfielders in pressing are taken over by a striker, while both wingers drop lower. Interestingly they do not shy away from the wider positioning of the central defenders, thus allowing the side defenders to actively support the pressure in the centre when the rival tries to force play through the center.
This then naturally prompts rivals to play wide and exploit the half-space, but the mobility of the side defenders (Zinchenko, White) supported by the wingers and the interchangeability of positions in the second line effectively counteracts the overload in these sectors. Hence in transition phases, both after losing and after gaining the ball, they very often adopt a deeper 2+3 formation, relying on the skills and work of their wingers (Martinelli, Saka).
In attack they impress above all with their fluid transitions, which guarantee an impressive variety of playmaking.
On the left they use a huge mobility of positions with a narrower attacking variant (Xhaka–Zinchenko vs Martinelli–Jesus), while on the right they generally maintain a wider positional variant that only changes as they approach the rivals’ box. The centre of midfield is then given more freedom of movement and generally creates a numerical advantage where the opponent leaves them more space.
Odegaard‘s mobility and freedom, both on the right and higher up in the centre, enable the striker and the two wingers to actively seek out open spaces.
Although when playing through the center Arteta‘s players are able to progress by positioning themselves closer and attempting short fast passing combinations, playing in the half-spaces and overloading on the wings has become a hallmark of Arsenal’s style this season.