Three things Unai Emery must do to improve Arsenal this season
12th August 2018 was a momentous day in Arsenal’s 132-year-old history. Their longest-serving manager, Arsene Wenger, wasn’t in charge of the club anymore. Now, a new era under Unai Emery has dawned at Emirates Stadium.
Unfortunately for the Gunners, their campaign have gotten off to a poor start. By the time the referee blew his final whistle, it felt like the same old Arsenal with the same old problems. The manner in which Manchester City outplayed Arsenal and beat them 2-0 at the Emirates was simply embarrassing, to say the least.
Today, we look at three ways in which Unai Emery must improve this Arsenal side.
Play Bernd Leno
The German goalkeeper made a switch from Bayern Leverkusen to Arsenal this summer for a reason. After all, Arsenal had the worst defensive record among the top-six last season and a large chunk of those goals was conceded because of Petr Cech’s mistakes.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Cech manned the goal for the club’s season-opener last weekend. And the Czech Republic goalkeeper was at fault again as he almost scored a humiliating own goal.
He also failed to implement Emery’s passing out from the back style. Cech particularly looked fazed by City’s pressing and couldn’t switch play from one side to another. The former Chelsea keeper has had his chances between the sticks and its high time the Arsenal boss plays Leno in that position.
Play Torreira and Guendouzi
Emery opted with a midfield trio consisting Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, and youngster Matteo Guendouzi for the game against Manchester City. But it was quite surprising to see that the 19-year-old Frenchman was the best among the three midfielders.
Xhaka and Ramsey constantly lost the ball in dangerous positions. City pressed them into making mistakes and then quickly hit them on the break. But around the 70th-minute mark, Emery finally decided to change the midfield dynamics and sent in new signing Lucas Torreira for Granit Xhaka.
Torreira recycled the ball quickly and tried to break City’s attacks by not rushing in and leaving lots of space behind. In his 20-minute cameo, he completed 14 passes, played 2 accurate long balls and made 2 interceptions. Arsenal would need all these qualities and more if they are to work wonders this season.
Play wide players on the wings
Arsenal’s front-three of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan seem like a world-class attack on paper but nothing clicked for the trio last weekend. Ozil and Mkhitaryan are not natural wingers and that created a lot of troubles for the Gunners.
Both are similar players who like to operate in the little pocket of space behind the striker and constantly come inside. This left Arsenal in tatters as they had no outlet on the wide areas. When the likes of Guendouzi and Ramsey got the ball and looked up, they often found Ozil and Mkhitaryan close to Aubemayang, depriving the Arsenal midfield of any options and making it easier for City to defend.
Emery made a huge mistake by not signing any natural wingers in the summer but he still has Alex Iwobi. The player might not be a great finisher but he could provide options to his midfielders by constantly moving in those wide areas.
Emery must ensure he doesn’t repeat the same mistakes against Chelsea this weekend, else it will be a long and painful evening for Arsenal fans. The Gunners have drawn their last two games at Stamford Bridge but if Emery gets his tactics right, he could get them their first win at Chelsea in more than 7 years.