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[ODDS and EVENS] Takehiro Tomiyasu Plays a Key Role in One-of-a-Kind Goal

Arsenal snapped a 12-match losing streak to Manchester City, with substitute Takehiro Tomiyasu making the pass that led to the assist for the lone goal.

For Takehiro Tomiyasu, Arsenal's lone goal on Sunday, October 8 will be one that he'll never forget.

It was one of the most unique goals of the 21st century in the English Premier League. A goal that bolstered Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta's reputation as a tactical wizard and underscored the team's place within the league's pecking order.

The Gunners scored 88 goals in 38 matches last season, completing the 2022-23 campaign, Tomiyasu's second in an Arsenal uniform, in second place. And in each of the past eight English Premier League seasons, more than 1,000 goals were scored by the circuit's 20 clubs, including 1,084 in 2022-23. (Check out the season-by-season totals on the Premier League website.)

So, as Sherlock Holmes or any other observant individual could point out, there's plenty of goals that have a shot at being unique, exciting, lucky, amazing ― or a combination thereof.

Arsenal's goal in the 86th minute against Manchester City resulted in a 1-0 triumph at Emirates Stadium in London. 

'A Great Feeling' for Arteta and His Team

It was also a psychological victory for Arsenal. The Gunners snapped their 12-match losing streak in league play against reigning champion Man City dating back to December 2015. 

"It is a great feeling," Arteta was quoted as saying by Reuters. "We have not beaten them for so long, but I am in no doubt we have beaten the best team in the world.

"I am really proud to be part of this team. We have to keep believing in what we are doing."

Arsenal is tied with Tottenham for the best record (both with six wins and two draws) in the Premier League, giving both teams 20 points. Man City has six wins and two losses.

Takehiro Tomiyasu
Second-half Arsenal substitutes (from left) Takehiro Tomiyasu, Kai Havertz and Thomas Partey wait to enter the game in the 75th minute. (David Klein/REUTERS)

Takehiro Tomiyasu Makes an Impact

On the winning play, four second-half substitutes ― Thomas Partey, Tomiyasu, Kai Havertz and Gabriel Martinelli ― touched the ball in succession. The sequence ended with Martinelli's shot ricocheting off Man City defender Nathan Ake and the ball sailing into the bottom left corner of the net.

Barney Ronay, The Guardian's chief sports writer, summed it up this way: "This was a goal made and scored at the end of a move involving all four of Arteta’s second-half substitutes, something that has perhaps never happened before in any football match."

Effort, determination and playing with a collective purpose paid off for Arsenal.

Partey, Tomiyasu and Havertz all entered the game in the 75th minute, while Martinelli, a Brazilian forward, stepped onto the pitch to begin the second half, replacing the injured Leandro Trossard (hamstring).

"We know how hard it is to play against them. It was a great performance from the team and a great win," Martinelli said, according to BBC Sport.

Tomiyasu recorded six passes in his 15 minutes of playing time, none bigger than his header from the left side to Havertz in the box. Partey initiated the action with a long pass to Tomiyasu. 

In this dynamic moment, Havertz wasted no time in passing the ball back to Martinelli, who unleashed a quick, long-distance strike that defined the afternoon. 

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Analysis of Substitutes' Play Against Man City

"To be fair, the subs were excellent again," Arteta said, according to the Daily Mirror, a British newspaper. "They were involved in the goal, but they brought so much physicality, energy and quality to the team." 

In its analysis of Tomiyasu's performance on offense and defense, the London Evening Standard wrote: "He was brought on to deal with [Jeremy] Doku and [Kyle] Walker, but he played an important role in the goal."

Takehiro Tomiyasu
Takehiro Tomiyasu made his Premier League debut in September 2021. (KYODO)

Tomiyasu's Versatility Gives Arsenal Lineup Options

Officially listed as a defender, the 187-cm Tomiyasu has the size, strength and athleticism to challenge opposing forwards and midfielders.

The closing minutes of Arsenal's match against Man City illustrated this point.

Arteta had called on the Fukuoka native to directly compete against Doku, a Belgian-born right winger.

But Man City manager Pep Guardiola decided to switch Doku to the left wing. 

Arteta countered by shifting Tomiyasu's position, too. 

In a post-match news conference, the Arsenal boss described what unfolded on the field: "After they changed him (Doku) to the other side, we made the changes straight away, and then we see him as a left winger chasing the 'keeper." 

Mark your calendars. Arsenal meets Man City again on March 30 at Emirates Stadium.

Will Tomiyasu, who turns 25 on November 5, be involved in another unforgettable goal?

Maybe.

It's clear, though, that his focus is on trying to become a regular fixture in Arsenal's starting lineup. He's started once in his six Premier League matches this season.

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.

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