Two things Arsenal need to improve on to challenge for a top-four finish
Arsenal kicked off their Premier League campaign with a 1-0 win over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Sunday. It was far from a convincing performance but they got the job done on a rainy day in Tyneside thanks to a brilliant goal by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Ultimately, given the starting XI Unai Emery had decided to field at Newcastle, the Gunners could not have expected much more from their afternoon. Emery’s aim was to get the new campaign off to a positive note, to get three points and move onto the next game.
Arsenal have beefed their squad over the summer, spending big on the likes of Nicolas Pepe, David Luiz and Kieran Tierney, whilst adding Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid. The new signings will go a long way to improving the overall squad, while Unai Emery did well to ship out the deadwood.
However, there are a couple of areas Emery needs to improve on to propel Arsenal back into the Champions League. That being said, here are those two issues the Gunners boss should address.
1. Defending from set-pieces
Arsenal were defensively all over the place last season and they kept only their second away league clean sheet under Emery in Newcastle, despite Hector Bellerin, David Luiz, Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney missing out.
The Gunners have been boosted with the arrivals of Luiz and Tierney but on a whole, Emery needs to work upon the basics while defending. When Newcastle were chasing for the equaliser, the visitors looked sloppy at the back when Joelinton was in the box.
Arsenal’s vulnerability from set-pieces was visible in the second half, with Sokratis Papastathopoulos looking particularly poor with his anticipation and clearances. Hence, it’s an important aspect Emery needs to work upon if his team are to achieve rich success this season.
2. Ability to retain possession
Emery wants his Arsenal team to play out from the back, retain possession and counter-attack the opposition quickly whenever a chance is presented. But more often than not, their players are guilty of losing possession far too quickly, especially the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Granit Xhaka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
In Emery’s system, the north London outfit losing possession anywhere on the pitch is potentially dangerous as it allows the opposition to quickly initiate a counter-attack.
Thus, Arsenal must take a leaf out of the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City’s books and show more composure while retaining the possession.
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If they can improve on keeping hold of the ball and making accurate passes, Arsenal can become a deadly proposition to keep at bay for the opposition.