Mikel Arteta has said that Arsenal will continue to refine their increasingly successful set-piece strategy and praised the “really strong impact” of his specialist coach in this area, Nicolas Jover.
Arsenal’s improvement in this department coincides with Jover’s arrival in north London, after he was recruited by Arteta in the summer of 2021.
The 2020/21 season saw Arteta’s side score just five goals from set-pieces, the third lowest of all the teams in the league that season. This figure rose to 16 and 15 respectively the next two seasons with Jover now at the club, and the trend seems to be continuing this campaign.
Jover, who previously worked for Montpelier, Croatia and Brentford, met Arteta when the two were at Manchester City, with the Gunners boss then convincing the Frenchman to join him at Arsenal.
Speaking exclusively to TNT Sports, Arteta explained both the importance of the tactical approach and of Jover’s work.
“Many years ago,” he said of when he discovered how vital set-piece plays could prove. “Especially when I was at City, and I believe that we needed somebody who specialised in that.
“And I gave my advice to go and recruit Nico. I met him, we started to discuss how we could apply set pieces to the open play, which is also connected, they’re not two separate things, it’s all connected in the game, and how we could maximize that.”
He added: “I knew Nico from before, and I asked him to come and join our project, he did, and he’s having a really strong impact on the team.”
Arsenal’s set-piece prowess has not gone unnoticed, with many now highlighting their strengths, particularly in light of the goals scored in the Palace win.
The official Premier League account even posted a detailed breakdown of Gabriel’s opener against the Eagles on X (formerly Twitter).
Arteta is aware of the added interest in Arsenal’s corner and free-kick routines and says that he and Jover will need to keep things fresh at both ends of the pitch, and in all areas of their game.
“Everything evolves, everything adapts,” Arteta said. “Opponents are intelligent. They look at everything.
“One day, they defend that way and next day, they adapt, so you have to be able to adapt.
“It’s nothing different to anything that we’re doing in open play, it’s a final set action when you’re attacking, and it’s a way of defending deep when you have to defend an action very close to your box, so that’s crucial.”
Arteta also stressed the importance of having the players to execute the constantly changing routines, and how that can factor into both team selection and recruitment in the transfer market.
“It is a big part of the game,” he said. “Like you do recruitment, you need to have the right players.
“You have to maximize everything that you do. Like any other thing.”
He added: “Like any sport, it is about tricking the opponent and being consistent and believing in what you do.
“In the end it works because players believe in what we do, and when that happens then you have a bigger chance to do it.”
How to watch Nottingham Forest v Arsenal?
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