Premier League 2018/19: 3 changes Unai Emery needs to make at Arsenal
Arsenal's first season under Unai Emery has not been bad so far, but it has not been great either. The Gunners sit in 5th place in the Premier League table at the moment and are still very much in contention to finish in the top 4. But with each passing match it looks more and more likely that that fourth place finish is moving further away from them. After missing out on a Champions League spot in the last two seasons, Arsenal need to get back into Europe's top club competition to be considered a top team.
Arsenal could get into the Champions League next season by winning the Europa League this season. But with top clubs like Inter Milan, Sevilla, Chelsea and Napoli all looking to go all the way in the competition, Arsenal will certainly have a tough time here as well.
The Premier League is considered the toughest league in the world for a reason and Emery was never going to find it easy to change an Arsenal team that has been playing the 'Arsene Wenger way' for 21 years. The Spaniard will need at least another three transfer windows to buy his type of players and set up the team his way before they can be considered a proper top 4 team.
Here are 3 key changes Unai Emery needs to make at Arsenal right away:
#1 Buy a top class defender in the January transfer window
Even after Wenger's departure, Arsenal's defense has not improved at all. The Gunners have already conceded 31 goals in the Premier League this season and for a team looking to finish in the top, that is not allowed. While Sokratis has certainly added some steel, he alone is not enough.
With Shkodran Mustafi constantly making mistakes and Laurent Koscielny's Arsenal career coming to an end, Emery needs to invest big money in a top class defender. The Gunners need a leader, a strong, robust, powerhouse of a defender who can make an instant impact on the team.
They need someone like Virgil van Dijk.
#2 Find a way to integrate Ozil into the team or sell him
Mesut Ozil is a world class player and on a good day, he can destroy any and every defender out there. But the German has been struggling a lot lately and has just managed four goals and two assists from 16 games this season. For a player of his calibre this is way below par. The World Cup winner is one of Arsenal's highest paid players and you would expect him to deliver on a regular basis.
Ozil has a good game once a month and then is injured for the next few. Undoubtedly, Ozil is one of the most talented playmakers in the world and Emery needs to play him in a No.10 role instead of of playing him out wide to get the best out of him. The former Real Madrid player thrived in that position against Burnley most recently, and Emery needs to build Arsenals attack around him if he is to have a future at the club.
At 350,000 pounds a week, it is completely useless to keep Ozil on the wage bill and if Emery cannot find a place for him, he should sell him now and find a suitable replacement.
#3 Start playing Aubameyang and Lacazette up front together
After Arsenal signed Aubameyang in January of last year, every Arsenal fan was excited to see the Gabon international link up with Lacazette. However, up until now, the duo have not got a string of games together to show just how lethal they can be together. Individually, both of them have already proved that they are two of the best strikers in the Premier League.
It makes no sense to have two top class strikers if they cannot play together. Auba and Laca have amazing chemistry both on and off the field, and Emery needs to find a way to fit both of them into the team so that Arsenal's attack can be taken to the next level. Lacazatte's frustration was clearly visible after he was substituted against Burnley and Brighton.
The Frenchman has a fantastic work rate and is constantly running around. That, combined with Aubameyang's runs off the ball, can form an even better partnership if they are just given a few games where they play up front together.