How much of this stylistic difference is due to pep adjusting team shape and strategy after signing Haaland? I feel like they used to be more aggressive in forcing high turnovers and had a higher press, while one of the things they've done to adjust those things is slow down in-possession play a touch to let the team take shape.

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It's less about Haaland and more about City's age profiles and depth issues. City are not a deep team, and are reliant upon much older players. KDB has been hurt most of the year and is 32. B Silva is 29, Grealish 28, Rodri 27, Kovacic 29, Walker 33, Dias 26, Akanji 28, Ake 29, Stones 29. Heck even Foden (23) and Alvarez (24) are older than both Saka and Martinelli (both 22). Arsenal doesn't have anyone older than 27 who is a key contributor other than Trossard, Partey (who's been out) and Jorginho. Hell even their defense is young :Saliba 22, Gabriel and White are 26, Kiwior 24, Tomiyasu 25. while Haaland is not the presser JesusSterling were in that role, I think it is definitely more about age onthe legs than anything else. City have been recruiting older and older players of late and it is starting to show. Leads me to believe Pep isn't long for the bench there.

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shout, yeah, feels like for all of Haaland's virtues that their press maybe suffers from him being on the field and they have found different solutions in possession (like the three number 10s against Brentford most recently) so he can be free to attack space with the ball

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*when Man City has the ball, not when Haaland does

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It's amazing what can be achieved when you outspend almost your competitors on genuinely good and slightly undervalued young players. Chelsea and United should take note. Also Liverpool, but for very different reasons.

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I think what you are seeing is the benefit of focusing on youth in recruiting and committing to their development, as well as not selling academy prospects. Form a recruitment perspective, I think the only Arsenal players recruited who were anything but young were Trossard (27), Jorginho(31) and Partey (27). Everyone other key acquisition recently has been pre or at peak:

Rice - 24

Havertz - 24

Timber - 22

Raya - 27 (young for a GK)

Jesus - 25

Zinchenko - 25

Viera - 22

Kiwior - 22

White - 23

Odegaard - 22

Ramsdale - 23

Tomiyasu - 22

Gabriel - 22

Recruiting youth works, at least if your ownership gives you space to give them time to grow (*cough* Chelsea *cough*)

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I do think the future is bright at Arsenal but they are all fit right now (compared to Liverpool) and I'm not sure how that squad handles a major injury in the run in, especially if they manage to turn around the Porto result. Their reliance on set piece goals has also been notable; curious if that regresses a bit in the spring or if they keep finding new solutions

Great write up as ever Grace, and very glad you're feeling better! I also just got my butt kicked by the flu, no fun!

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Partey and Timber are pretty big losses in the grand scheme of things and they've had plenty of issues with Jesus, Zinchenko, Viera, and Tomyaisu. Further, one of the benefits of youth is they generally stay healthier. As for set piece, per UStat they actually have produced leww xG from set pieces (corners and FKs) than Liverpool this year (11.48 vs. 13.76). Difference is that Arsenal have scored 14 from theirs while Liverpool have scored just 9. However, Liverpool's open play finishing has well outpaced Arsenal's so pretty much break even.

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