by Steve the Pundit (@stevosten)
Arsenal season started on a low under the new manager Unai Emery. Although after losing the first two games of the season, they went on a 22-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
Unai Emery came into the Arsenal fold after he was sacked by Paris Saint Germain, taking the reins from Arsene Wenger.
Ever since then, Arsenal’s form has been a rollercoaster ride, full of up’s and down’s. Some may say Unai Emery’s full impact has not been felt. Others may talk about how Emery has found it hard to change the fortune of Arsenal following a below-par performance in 2017/2018.
Of course, there was a lot of noise about Arsenal’s 22-game unbeaten run. But that same run is what I’ll refer to as the worst ever unbeaten I have witnessed. Any club on that kind of run would either be top of the table at the end of such run or at least make progress on the log table.
For the Gunners, they stayed stuck in 5th position all-through these 22 games. Since the run was brought to an end by Southampton, Arsenal has produced shambolic performances, both against bigger and smaller oppositions.
Typical of some sect of Arsenal fans, #EmeryOut banners have sometimes found their way to the stadium. Their form may have improved of late, but they still remain fifth. The season is coming to an end. Being outside the top four is not good enough for any Arsenal fan. Not when they’d love to see their club play Champions League football.
In this post I will discuss some issues that have made Unai Emery’s season disappointing and what must be done if the Emirates will ring out the UEFA Champions League anthem next season.
Emery’s Formation and Tactical Approach
Unai Emery has tweaked his formation so many times this season. From 4-3-3, to 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1 and to 3-4-3. He hasn’t really gotten hold of a permanent formation for his team, something that has become a major issue in their current campaign.
His tactics and formations in some games have not been top notch, especially away from home.
Arsenal’s away form has been poor this season as they have dropped more points than they have gained while on the road. Formation wise, he needs to find a permanent and suitable formation for the team. Being flexible is understandable. Not all situations are the same.
However, a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation is good enough. He can field Aubameyang and Lacazette in the 4-4-2 formation and if he wishes to go for a lone striker, then Aubameyang can be moved to the flanks.
Unai Emery has got to stick to one or two formations so his team can blend to his style of play.
Ever since the start of the season, only few Arsenal players have started every game. Players like Leno, Xhaka, Sokatris And Aubameyang are the only regular starters so far in this Arsenal side. He rotates his squad in every single game, and this means he does not have a regular starting XI.
Unai Emery seems to get confused on the players to pick in every game, and it remains a wonder. Randomly choosing players for every game is affecting the team, thereby causing regression. Mostly in the midfield and his forward line, he switches Torreira, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Xhaka and Ozil in every game.
Only Xhaka is guaranteed a starting berth amongst them. If this type of rotation continues, it will be tough for the players to get a hold on Emery’s philosophies, making it hard for them to understand themselves and the style of play.
Managing the Big Names
This has been a major problem for some managers and Unai Emery is not excluded. The fact that most managers of this era can’t control and manage the presence, style of play and ego of some big name players or signings has caused a lot of problems for them.
Unai Emery has this big issue with big name players and it has made many Arsenal fans go gaga on him.
While at Paris Saint Germain, he was unable to cope with the presence of Neymar Jr and Edinson Cavani. The presence of the Brazilian in the squad seemed to terrify him. He couldn’t stand their ego’s. If he had the power, he would have sold then both to get new players.
When he came to PSG, he has issues with the players and was unable to interact and give them instructions. And this affected them on the field of play. Some PSG players confessed that Emery was difficult to work with.
Although he promised to avoid such power tussles, Emery’s lack of control and management of big name players is still affecting him at Arsenal.
Ozil has been a key player and the only playmaker Arsenal has got. Emery’s inability to understand Ozil is making Arsenal create fewer chances.
Still Unai Emery hasn’t realized that Ozil is the most important and integral member of that team. On a good day, Ozil can do extraordinary things on the field and he can make teams pay for opening little spaces in their defense.
Emery keeps giving excuses like “he is not physical enough for a particular game”, “he does not recover well to regain possession of the ball”, “he lacks pace and strength”, “he should try to prove himself if he wants to start in his team”. I don’t believe in all this excuses.
If you want pace, Ozil has it. I don’t believe in a manager benching a key player because his style of play does not suit his. I believe a good manager should be able to adjust or blend the player to suit his own style of play. There are other ways of using Ozil to suit your style of play.
If he is not good enough for tackles and does not have the physicality to bully players, he can find other player to do the dirty works for Ozil. Torreira and Xhaka can do the tackling and marking for him and leave Ozil with the creative job for the team. After all, he played under Jose Mourinho in Madrid and other managers.
Unai Emery should start using Ozil from time to time and find a solution for his lack of strength and physicality. Ozil is still Unai Emery’s best bet if he wants to rejuvenate Arsenal and qualify the team for the UEFA Champions League come next season.
Ozil can do it for Arsenal if he’s given the chance.
What do you think? With Manchester United’s revived form, can Arsenal still make a top four finish? Join the conversation by dropping your comments. .
Author: For The Goal
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