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Burning matter: Will Arsenal finish in the Top 4? | Premier League 2018-19

Harsh Pillai
ANALYST
Feature
372   //    22 Jan 2019, 21:58 IST

Arsenal look a better side under Unai Emery
Arsenal look a better side under Unai Emery

It was said to be a new Arsenal era as the board signed Unai Emery from PSG after seeing off their longest-serving manager Arsene Wenger. Emery made his type of signings in the start of the season but it is the mid-season again, and Arsenal are struggling to keep form. There is the need to discuss the problems faced by Arsenal in full depth.

What has been the issue at Arsenal? Is it about the gaffer's game style, or is it because of his incompetent players? There's much more to it, to be honest. Though Arsenal registered a convincing win against Chelsea last week, their problems remain the same.

This bit is a bit different from the other articles. In this piece, the problems faced by Arsenal are listed and also the logical and feasible solutions to it. So without further ado, let's get straight into it.


#3 Worst defence in the Premier League's top 6

Arsenal have conceded 1.4 goals per game in the Premier League
Arsenal have conceded 1.4 goals per game in the Premier League

Starting off with one of the major reasons why Arsenal have failed to keep up with the other top dogs of the Premier League; defence. Arsenal has conceded 32 goals in 23 games, thirteen more than Chelsea and only one less than Manchester United.

Emery has often switched back to a 3-man defence in order to concede less, but the result has been the same. Arsenal has managed to keep only four clean sheets out of 23 games; a big reason to worry.

The only solution to this is to find a quality ball-playing centre back. Arsenal was on a great run till the time Rob Holding got injured, and since then, they have been immensely struggling at the back. According to reports, Juventus have offered Medhi Benatia to Arsenal in a swap deal involving Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, going the other way. This is a great deal and both the parties will benefit from this.

If Arsenal fails to get Benatia or any other CB this month, Emery should approach every game with a back four as he did against Chelsea. Firstly, because Arsenal's centre-backs are often caught pretty high up the pitch.

A back four ensures more midfielders in the centre, and more midfielders in the centre would certainly reduce the job of defenders, as Torreira and Xhaka are perfectly good at protecting the backline if they are played as double pivots.

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#2 Lack of creativity in the centre pitch for Arsenal

Ozil's playing time has not been consistent
Ozil's playing time has not been consistent

Though Arsenal has been on top form when it comes to scoring, they have clearly lacked the required creativity against quality defending teams. Emery is not a big fan of Mesut Ozil, and the German is yet to prove his worth to his new gaffer. However, Emery has been active in the transfer market to find players who can help him with creativity in the middle of the pitch.

This problem can be tackled with either making signings, or giving Ozil more chances. There is no one in all of England who possesses the vision Ozil has, but his inconsistency has forced the manager to keep him out of the starting eleven.

According to media outlet the Express, Denis Suarez is closing in on a move to the Emirates and the out-of-favour midfielder is keen to reunite with his former manager Unai. They both worked together at Sevilla and he might be the solution to the attacking issues Arsenal are going through.


#1 Injuries

Holding's injury came in a match against United
Holding's injury came in a match against United

Just when everything was going perfectly alright under Emery, injuries had to interfere. Rob Holding started to flourish under Emery as the Spanish man preferred him over the likes of Sokratis and Mustafi to lead the defence line. However, a knee injury couple of months back has sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Following Rob's injury, just after a few weeks, it was Danny Welbeck who was forced to keep off his boots for a while as he suffered an ankle injury. Like Rob, Welbeck had won his manager's trust and he was a definite starter in cup games for Arsenal. But he got injured as well, which was a big blow for Arsenal.

Mkhitaryan was the latest one to be added on the list of injured players, followed by Hector Bellerin. Arsenal are heavily linked to Yannick Carrasco, Denis Suarez and James Rodriguez, but none of the transfers is yet materialised. It's yet to be seen how Emery copes up with their injury problems, and the best way is to make signings.

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