Why Arteta shouted at Xhaka, Gabriel and Odegaard as Arsenal’s red shorts decision is explained

Note taking

Since taking charge of Arsenal in 2019 there has been no doubt over Mikel Arteta’s commitment to the cause.

The Spaniard usually cuts an animated figure on the sidelines as he barks instructions at his players and almost edges himself over the white line.

Arteta has several trusted assistants who feed information to him throughout matches, but he took a more traditional approach on Sunday afternoon as the Gunners attempted to cancel out their plucky opponents.

Armed with a tiny notepad and pen, the Arsenal manager was seen scribbling down what appeared to be tactical reminders as his inexperienced team conceded a number of chances to Watford.

Those notes evidently worked as his team went on to win 3-2 in a match which showcased Arsenal’s exciting attack and equally worrying defensive deficiencies.

Red shorts

All the talk on social media before and during the game was about Arsenal’s choice of kit for the encounter at Vicarage Road.

The Gunners opted to wear red shorts for the match, having only done so just twice in the last 45 years with the last time coming during a 1-1 draw with West Brom back in December 2017.

Premier League rules state: “When playing in league matches the players of each participating club shall wear a strip which is of a sufficient contrast that match officials, spectators and television viewers will be able to distinguish clearly between the two teams.”

However, understands it was Arsenal’s choice to wear red shorts against Watford, and the Premier League approved the club’s request ahead of the fixture.

The shorts are listed as ‘alternate home shorts’ on the Arsenal website and perhaps they will be considered somewhat of a lucky charm as Arteta’s side go into the crunch period of the league season.

Why Arteta was angry

Arteta looked particularly angry after Arsenal’s second goal and made a beeline for Gabriel, Martin Odegaard and Granit Xhaka.

Despite his players pushing hard to secure the three points, Arteta admitted after the game that he was unhappy at how his side struggled to control the game.

“Because I didn’t like how we were controlling the game,” he said.

“We were allowing spaces against the team who, if we kept allowing that, we were going to suffer. I knew that. We had to put that right and we did it for certain periods.

“Then in the last 25 minutes, we lost it again. We have to show that maturity, understanding and capacity to control the game how we wanted to.

“At 3-1, after, we had to make 300,000 passes in the opposition half and when they have the right moment to come at us, then we can attack them. We didn’t do that.

“The game was open and you had the feeling that the game was open right until the end.

Gøaldegaard does it again

Martin Odegaard is a special footballer.

The Norway captain completed a permanent move to Arsenal for a fee in the region of £34million last summer, and that price is proving to be an absolute bargain in hindsight.

This season, he has created more shots per game than almost every attacking midfielder in the Premier League.

With four assists to his name, the only blotch on his copybook is that he doesn’t score as often as he would presumably like, which is hardly surprising for a player who drifts across the midfield at times.

Odegaard’s value is not necessarily determined by his ‘number’, but the value that he brings to the Arsenal midfield continues to justify why Arteta decided to sign him over James Maddison last summer.

Future captain?

As Alexandre Lacazette trudged off in the latter stages of Arsenal’s win at Watford, the captain’s armband was given to a member of the leadership group at London Colney.

Fans, pundits and ex-players have suggested in the past that Kieran Tierney could be a future Arsenal captain, and his wearing of the armband at Vicarage Road gave a hint as to what could happen next season.

Aaron Ramsdale, Gabriel and Ben White have also been touted for the armband in previous months, but it looks like Tierney may be the perfect candidate for the role if Sunday afternoon is anything to go by.