Are Arsenal getting bored of Emery?
As I watched on with a slight grimace at the first few games of Arsenal’s new season, I kept telling myself “it’s a process, it’s a process, it’s a process “.
There was a disjointedness about the team, which you’d almost allow due to the fact Unai Emery had only just started coaching the side but there were more problems.
My main bug bear was the defence, it seemed almost more jittery than in previous seasons , the full-backs pushed too high up, with no one covering the space left behind, which lead to constant through balls put behind them, and many goals being conceded as a consequence. How did we get so nervous? Arsenal over the years have been one of the best ball-playing sides in Europe, yet our centre backs, looked as uncomfortable as Vinnie Jones at a One Direction concert, as they were being asked to play from the back.
I think the season as a whole was encapsulated in Arsenal’s final game of the season, the Europa league final defeat to London rivals Chelsea. In January, when Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-0 at The Emirates, they used a 4 4 2 diamond formation. It was a performance full of energy, full of ambition, there was always someone on hand to help out a team mate – either in defence or attack.
With Xhaka sitting in front of the back 4 and an energetic trio of Ramsey, Guendouzi and Torreira in front of him, Arsenal were able to outnumber Chelsea in the middle of the pitch whilst also helping out on the wings if needed thanks to these 4 battlers.
The tactics were a triumph, yet for the final, for some reason Unai Emery decided to scrap the tactics that worked so well previously against Chelsea for playing his more recent formation of 3 4 3. Sure Arsenal had been getting results in Europe with this formation but as a whole, as Brighton would attest, this hasn’t been the best of tactics against English teams.
The game was a disaster, with the same problems that have haunted Arsenal all season, being exploited to devastating effect by Chelsea. Time and again Wing backs Kolasinac and Maitland Niles would fly up the wing, slowly saunter back and Chelsea would pass the ball into the acres of space they had left behind them. No one was successfully solving this problem on either wing.
Another obvious problem was that in having just the wing backs providing the width on the wings and having just two more defence minded midfielders centrally, it left Arsenal constantly outnumbered as you can see in the picture , if Maitland Niles didn’t have Emerson to deal with , he had Hazard darting behind him.
Due to this problem of being outnumbered the wing backs filed back leaving nearly all of the wings to Chelsea , meaning Arsenal could neither defend or create much from that point on.
Besides the complete lack of energy and competitiveness shown from Arsenal, I thought it best to highlight these tactical problems because, they are still here from day one , they’ve been here because of Emery and yet he hasn’t been able to prevent the goals we concede from the wing backs pushing too high up the pitch and no one covering them , or a complete lack of consistent creativity that seems to almost exclusively lie on the shoulders of a Mesut Ozil or even an Alex Iwobi producing some magic out of nothing.
Put aside the rumoured falling outs with players like Ozil and Ramsey, the signings that have mostly been 7 out of 10s so far and just go by the facts and the tactics. On paper this is a better side than Arsene Wenger ever had over the past 5 years, signings like Lucas Torreira and Aubameyang added graft and fire power to a team in need of it. So you’d be hard pressed to not think Wenger would have gotten better results from this team.
This isn’t about Wenger though , he was merely the most recent manager, on a grander scale , many other managers would have gotten a better tune out of this team. Arsenal don’t need a manager who can be tactically flexible , we need a manager who wins, who plays football worth paying for and who’s obsessive nature doesn’t lead to him second guessing himself into another defeat.
In conclusion Max Allegri has recently left Juventus, he is a winner, at times his teams have played some amazing football. Sure – at times it can be defensive, but on a whole it leads to titles and success. Arsenal would be complete fools if they have not seen sense by now and are begging on their hands and knees for Allegri to replace Unai Emery.
I got into football as a kid watching Italian football in the afternoons and ever since I’ve been hooked on tactics and the continental side of the game. I’ve written about Italian football in the past among other things but now it’s time to write about, the embodiment of how I see the beautiful game, Arsenal. Hopefully writing things and opinions about the game you haven’t seen before, I like a bit of a joke too.