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3 reasons why Nuno Espirito Santo is not the right man for Arsenal

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Published Dec 01, 2019
Dec 01, 2019 IST

Wolverhampton Wanderers boss, Nuno Espirito Santo
Wolverhampton Wanderers boss, Nuno Espirito Santo

Unai Emery has been let go after a tumultuous time at Arsenal. His sack comes as no surprise following a shocking run of 8 games without a win in the league, with only one win in the last 9 games in an unconvincing display against Vitoria SC.

Nuno Espirito Santo, former Porto goalkeeper and current Wolves boss is the favourite to replace Emery. The Daily Express UK have boldly claimed that the Arsenal board have opened talks with the Portuguese manager.

The interest is said to be mutual. That's not surprising, given how well his Wolverhampton Wanderers side have performed over three years. However, in this article, we analyse why he isn't the right man for the job.

#3 His style of play

Sporting Braga v Wolverhampton Wanderers: Group K - UEFA Europa League
Sporting Braga v Wolverhampton Wanderers: Group K - UEFA Europa League

Nuno Espirito Santo's sides generally show great tactical nous but cherish a counter-attacking system. He usually favours a three-man defence for his Wolves lineups, and one could argue that this is perhaps a necessity at his current club.

However, this is not the case. Even in the Championship, with Wolves technically far superior to other teams, Santo preferred 3-5-2 or 3-4-3. Now a formation is not bad in itself and may well use Arsenal's surplus strikers but does it fit Arsenal's core-values as a club?

The fans have forgotten the days of 'boring-boring Arsenal' in the 90s under George Graham. Wenger's 21 years was about transforming the club completely. Emery was a pragmatist and he lost the fans with his tactics as much as results. Santo's football might well secure results but how long can he keep the fans happy?

Moreover, there is no guarantee that he will adapt. Essentially, even with a quick transitioning style, Santo is first a pragmatist. His 'Plan B' as it was seen at Porto and Valencia is to move to sort of conservative 4-4-2 with a more direct style, once more establishing his pragmatic principles. Santo's tactics may have gotten better, but the former goalkeeper has never played an out and out attacking system. This could work in the very short-term but is very incompatible with the squad Arsenal have. His first season at Valencia was thought to be attacking but it was largely built on counter-attacking with quick transitions as opposed to an out and out attacking style preferred by Arsenal fans.

Though having spent much money on defensive reinforcements, the Arsenal squad remains attack-heavy. Will the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang and Alexandre Lacazette continue to want a pragmatic approach to their talents?

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