Arsenal

Mikel Arteta knows the Arsene Wenger trick to repeat at Arsenal after Antonio Conte announcement

It’s official, Antonio Conte is back in English football.

Three years and four months on from leaving Chelsea, the Italian tactician has taken over at another London club. This time it’s Arsenal’s main rivals in Tottenham Hotspur as an announcement of his appointment came on Tuesday afternoon.

Having sacked Nuno Espirito Santo just over 24 hours earlier, Spurs have wasted no time in bringing in a replacement and this decision will certainly impact the Gunners.

However, Arsenal fans may not need to worry about Conte’s return as history shows the new Tottenham boss often struggles for results against when facing the red half of north London.

During Conte’s two-season stint at Stamford Bridge, he faced the Gunners on eight occasions across all competitions – including once in the Community Shield.

And he mustered just one victory in the process.

Of course, the most notable defeat came in September 2016 when first-half goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil did all the damage and convinced Conte to switch to his favoured back-three formation.

Whilst the Italian gained a measure of revenge in the reverse fixture, not to mention the loss at the Emirates Stadium ultimately turning Chelsea’s season around – as they clinched the Premier League title – that was as good as it got for Conte against Arsenal.

Although, given the rivalry between his new club and the Gunners, it’s almost certain that Spurs fans will demand the 52-year-old improves on this particular record.

With both teams still in the Carabao Cup, entering the FA Cup at the third round stage and a reverse Premier League fixture to play, there’s a chance Conte will pit his wits against Mikel Arteta on four occasions between now and the end of the season.

If the Arsenal manager needs any tips on how to win his upcoming battle(s) with Conte, he needn’t look much further than Arsene Wenger’s blueprint.

The Frenchman was in charge for all of those eight meetings against the Italian and he clearly learned a valuable lesson from his one and only defeat when going head-to-head with the then-Chelsea boss.

After losing at Stamford Bridge in February 2017, Wenger didn’t have to wait too long for a chance to settle the score as the London rivals met in that season’s FA Cup final with the Gunners winning 2-1.

What was noticeable about Arsenal at Wembley Stadium that afternoon was their formation.

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal beat Antonio Conte’s Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. (Image: should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal beat Antonio Conte’s Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. (Image: should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Wenger had mirrored Conte’s back three system towards the end of the 2016/17 campaign, and used it against the Italian in the final and reaped the rewards.

So much so, that he stuck with it for the next four encounters between the two sides and that yielded a penalty shootout win in the Community Shield, two goalless draws at Stamford Bridge, and an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium.

Interestingly, for his final meeting with Conte, Wenger reverted back to a 4-3-3 and was still able to get the win that booked Arsenal’s place in the 2018 Carabao Cup final.

But for the Frenchman to even switch to three at the back having favoured a four-man defence during his tenure at the club showed he picked up a new trick from his encounters with Conte.

A trick that Arteta can repeat when it’s time for him to lock horns with the Italian.

What Wenger proved in five of those meetings against Conte was that matching the tactician’s system was key to getting a positive result – especially away from home as the Gunners didn’t concede a single goal in two trips to Stamford Bridge using a back three.

Arsenal have to visit Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the second half of the season and Arteta may need a positive result to ensure bragging rights return to N5 come May.