The five things Unai Emery needs to do improve Arsenal in September
The fixture list did Unai Emery no favours as he was handed Manchester City and Chelsea in the opening weeks of the season. Two defeats and countless defensive errors had supporters on edge already, but a 3-1 win over West Ham settled the nerves – at least for the time being.
Emery’s upheaval of the side’s playing style has been a rocky process and one that will take a lot more time to complete. Meanwhile, there are a handful of things the Spaniard can do to improve his team for next month’s fixtures against Cardiff, Newcastle, Everton and Watford.
Here are five suggestions for Arsenal’s new coach.
#1 It’s time for Torreira
Arsenal had lacked a quality defensive midfielder for years until Lucas Torreira was signed from Sampdoria. The Uruguayan had a stellar season in Italy and stood out at the World Cup with his intelligent positioning and dogged attitude towards defending. He was the club’s most exciting signing this summer by a distance.
That he started on the bench for their first three games surprised many. Granit Xhaka retained his place, while it was 19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi who was selected as his partner. While the teenager has impressed, Xhaka’s deficiencies remain a concern.
The Swiss midfielder is one the best passers in the side and possesses a fierce long-range shot that occasionally produces exciting results. However, his tendency to foul the opposition after missing a tackle and the ease with which he’s played around means he’s a risky player.
The lack of defensive stability in midfield came to the fore again against West Ham, but was mitigated by the introduction of Torreira.
Torriera has a positional sense and discipline that no other midfielder in the Arsenal squad has. Emery will feel he has several options to form his midfield with, but at this point it surely must be Torreira plus one more. The very balance of the side could depend on it.