Arsenal still have a big problem they have to resolve

The return of Kieran Tierney, Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin is a huge positive from last night’s impressive win over Nottingham Forest and they could easily be the cure to the Arsenal defensive problems but that does not mean that there are not other issues to resolve.

The front line is just fine and is already very strong but the midfield remains the one area that continues to haunt Arsenal Unai Emery.

Some of it is self-inflicted, especially Emery’s insistence on playing Granit Xhaka whenever he is able to but there is more to it than which players the Spaniard selects.

Link up play, tracking back, defensive midfielder. negative or positive play are just some of the issues that infect the Arsenal midfield and there appears to be a lack of strategy and vision from the coach.

The midfield is rotated far too often, there are no real partnerships developed and too often they are asked to fulfil roles that they are not best suited to.

Unless the pressure is released from the defence by the midfield then the defensive problems will continue, they need help and have not been getting it.

If the midfield does not link up better with the forward line when the pressure is on the defence then there is no outlet, again, an issue that Emery has to get to grips with.

So, the defence is starting to have better prospects but the midfield still needs an overhaul and an identity, hopefully, Emery has the answer.

61 Comments

  1. Sue says:

    The ads keep going over part of the article, so i can’t read a couple of lines. Plus, they cover the name on a comment, so i can’t see who posted it!

    1. Phil says:

      Sue-I look forward to the ads only when the Mya Brest Enlargements are shown.Perfectly suitable advertising in my mind

      1. Sue says:

        πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ and i bet you don’t mind missing out on the article or the name of the poster then!! I wouldn’t mind either if it was male thighs, triceps or pectorals – no such luck!!

      2. gerry burke says:

        hahahahahaha.

    2. Eddie Hoyte says:

      Sue not only you! It’s sickening TBH

  2. Phil says:

    I’m in agreement with you on not putting all the blame on the defence as the midfield is blantantly not protecting them.Too many times this season teams have swarmed through our Centre too easily. Why is Torriera not played as the CDM we bought? Surely that was his obvious position.Xhaka can’t tackle.He doesn’t provide cover.He doesn’t track his runners.
    Your correct in saying that the continual changing of playetscfrom one game to the next is preventing the partnerships developing but until Xhaka is out we will continue to leak goals.In his three seasons at the Club he has only had a handful of games where he has stood out.Teams target him knowing he is brainless when it comes to defending.Just play Torriera as a CDM and develop the other midfielders around him

    1. Eddie Hoyte says:

      Well Emery doesn’t know that.
      Instead we’ll always have Xhaka as CDM, Torreira as B2B.
      Dhaka slows the midfield down too much, yes he’s got the pass but for someone too overhyped about his pass, he hardly sets the world on fire with em. He’s the main reason people keep calling Guendouzi poor.
      People keep saying Guendouzi is running headlessly, lacks awareness.
      FFS the boy is always on the pitch, driving the team, trying to do the creative work, trying to cover for the defense, trying to mark and chasing ball all around the pitch while Xhaka stays back and gets the ball only to safe pass or give it away, and people say Guendouzi is this and that

      1. Phil says:

        Your right Eddie-Its almost as though Guendouzi is having to cover Xhaka as well as try to influence our midfield with his own game. As much as I want Ozil in the side I can see a midfield three of Guendouzi Willock and Ceballos giving us discipline and balance.Emery has Ozil out of the side for not performing consistently at the beginning of last season.Yet now he refuses to acknowledge that Xhaka is not only under performing but also continuing to play him.Why FFS? The player offers us nothing

    2. gotanidea says:

      I think it’s because Emery considers Torreira as a mobile DM instead of a traditional DM

      Torreira’s physique, mobility and abilities are similar to Kante’s. Kante has never played as a lone CDM in EPL as well and he is always accompanied by another defensive minded midfielder like Drinkwater/ Matic/ Jorginho

      I believe Torreira is more suited to play like Kante if the team play with 4-2-3-1 formation. He could thrive as a traditional CDM like Makalele, but only if playing in 4-3-3 formation

      1. Sylva Olabanji says:

        M.Guendouzi and Torreira for me will be good Central midfield partner in a 4-2-3-1 setup. J. Willock can also win possession well bcos he is young and agile. But this players lack certain experience apart from Torreira who has played for his Country national team at World Cup & Copa America. U.Emery should be bold and make right call.I believe we have the materials to make our midfield better. Chambers can also be converted to midfield; he did well playing as a defensive for Fulham when on loan.

    3. ken1945 says:

      Phil, I understand your reasons and views regarding Xhaka, but I also read your views on Mustafi and how he has turned the corner (I know they are not your exact words just summarising), so do you think that might just be the case if Xhaka was also dropped and told to find a new club?

      I always find it very difficult to criticise our players, but did so with Mustafi, who I felt was one of Wenger’s worst signings. I had lost patience with the numerous mistakes he constantly made and felt UE showed excellent character when telling him to find a new club, as he had no future with The Arsenal.

      I’m not sure that Xhaka has reached that level of incompetence (nearly but not quie!!!) but he needs to be rested for his own good.
      This is where UE is making such a grave error, when the player he bought in and who we needed for so long, Torriera, has, firstly, been relegated to the bench and, secondly, when selected played not as a CDM…in order, it seems to accomodate Xhaka.
      This has put more pressure on the player in my view.

      Last night we saw Mustafi play a decent game against a side from a lower division and, suddenly, he’s a better player…I find that hard to believe after so many games of calamitous mistakes, suddenly he is given “wriggling room” and yet Xhaka is condemned.

      I also have to address the Ozil issue, after last night.

      There is no question, in my view, that Ozi has been treated in a disgraceful manner by UE and, therefore, the club.
      How on earth can a coach ignore a player for nearly the whole of the season so far and then makes him captain of a team consisting of players coming back from injury, younger players without any experience or very little first team experience.
      I am not arguing about the man as a player, if he is good or bad, but how he is being treated and how that undermines the club.
      Until UE acts in a manner becoming of a Arsenal manager/coach on this issue, our fanbase has no idea exactly what the future holds on the issue of Ozil and how he intends to manage the players he has under his wings…surely not in the way he has treated Ozil and, I might add, Chambers?

      1. Phil says:

        Agree on all points Ken- Mustafi β€œ could β€œ get given a second chance as a CB as a replacement for Sokritis. Somehow I believe UE would pick Holding ahead of all our other CB’s and few would disagree with that.I too have been scathing of Mustafi but like you I can’t see why Emery sees his mistakes and discards him yet fails to do the same with Luiz Sokritis and Xhaka.Its double standards is it not? And doesn’t really send the correct message to the other players if a select few are seen to be untouchable and others immediately dropped.It will be interesting to see what happens to Calum Chambers in the next few games.I think he will be upset if Holding is considered in front of him.But at least the competition for places is there providing Emery fails to drop the players who are mistake ridden.I honestly believe a back four of Hector Chambers Holding and Tierney will give us a more youthful and balanced defence with enthusiasm and confidence of knowing both Sokritis and Luiz are not considered above them.Mondays team will be interesting.
        In regards Ozil I am just so disalousioned with how Emery is handling him.There is still an outstanding footballer there and Ozil would surely benefit our attack.But I’m convinced we will have
        FOUR defence minded CM in the team Monday.Probably lining up in a diamond.Likely to be given a run around by possibly the worst Utd side for a long long time.If Emery allows us to lose that game then the clock should surely be ticking for him.He is not impressing me one bit this season.And very encouraging to see Freddie on the sidelines last night.If he took over from Emery I’m sure we would see more open attacking football than we are getting in the EPL.
        Time will surely tell

        1. ozziegunner says:

          Ken and Phil, is it possible given that Ozil himself has admitted that his performances and availability were affected by carrying an injury, that Emery is trying to introduce Ozil into the team and not lose him to injury. Surely Emery is in the best position to assess Ozil’s and manage his game time.
          I know that Ozil was frustrated/annoyed at being replaced, but Arsenal was in control of the game and Emery would be slated, if he was injured. It is a long season and Arsenal needs Ozil fit and firing at his best. These conspiracy theories make no sense, with the money Arsenal has invested in Ozil.

  3. John0711 says:

    Unfortunately I think emery will continue to play Xhaka
    I personally think it will end up with emery getting the boot

    The frustrating thing is I think we are so close to getting back in the top 4
    Mustafi has not value than Xhaka at least Mustafi wins occasional duels

    1. John0711 says:

      More value than Xhaka

  4. Loose Cannon says:

    Yesterdays match tells the truth, we have talented players but a coach who is not as talented as his players.TBH the first team mid and defense should be playing in the league cup and vice versa.What it would have been if Klopp had these players at his disposal.Unai belongs to a mid championship level team, forget the EPL teams.#Unaiout

  5. Kev82 says:

    What a player Kieran Tierney will be for Arsenal! He can defend, attack, cross he’s got everything! Was envious of Liverpool having Andy Robertson but KT will be just as good if not better!

    1. Sue says:

      πŸ‘πŸ‘ excellent comment Kev & i totally agree! 😁

      1. Kev82 says:

        Easily our best left back since Cole Sue πŸ˜€ people will say don’t get carried away after one game against NF but I’ve seen enough of Tierney to know he’s the real deal πŸ˜ƒ the Celts didn’t idolise him for being just homegrown and a Celtic fan, they know he’s quality 😁

        1. Sue says:

          He was spot on last night & i hope he plays on Monday πŸ˜‚
          What an absolute gem!!
          Loved last night, Kev.. really enjoyed it & didn’t once have to watch through my fingers 🀣

          1. Kev82 says:

            I told you he’s a proper player didn’t I ? πŸ˜„ Out of all our summer signings he was the one I was looking forward the most to seeing 😁 Kolasinac watching that game be like agent find me a new club πŸ˜‚ haha yeah Sue πŸ˜‚ we were good and I have to say Chambers is starting to win me over although he’s not winning Emery over apparently he didn’t listen to him πŸ˜†

          2. Sue says:

            You did indeed!! Haha bless old Kola, he knows his days are numbered!
            I must admit he has been really good these last 2 games, and that goal on Sunday – what a beauty!! I’m warming to him also!!
            He has to start on Monday!
            Been a great week, Kev 😎

          3. Kev82 says:

            It’s Emery though Sue he’s bound to be benched πŸ˜‚ can’t play Niles if he does recover, I’d play the team last night just include Pepe and Aubameyang πŸ˜† yeah Kolasinacs got soul but he’s not a soldier πŸ˜† might take a day trip to Colchester this weekend πŸ˜‚

          4. Sue says:

            He’s a tank πŸ˜‰
            I bet they’ve got an open top bus parade planned!! Bloody brilliant, i loved it.. now come on Rochdale & MK Dons!!

          5. Kev82 says:

            Hahaha πŸ˜€ beating Colchester isn’t for everyone is it Sue πŸ˜‹ Harry Kane wasn’t best pleased πŸ˜‚ The dons almost scored πŸ˜„ what game you watching Sue ?

          6. Sue says:

            I’m not.. although i might put on hesgoal and check out Oxford v West Ham πŸ˜‰
            The draw is later…

          7. Sue says:

            Maybe not then.. it’s not on there 🀣

          8. Kev82 says:

            Haha jack Wilshere needs to turn it on πŸ˜‚ utd struggling against the mighty Rochdale πŸ˜‚ who do you want ? πŸ˜€

          9. Sue says:

            I don’t really know, Kev.. how about you? A home tie would be good though!

          10. Kev82 says:

            Preferably an easy one at home Sue like Rochdale πŸ˜‚ if the draw is kind we have a chance to win it although my bet would be man city they have a very strong squad. Needing Brighton to score πŸ™πŸ˜… how’s Coco Sue ?

          11. Sue says:

            Haha Rochdale will do just fine!!
            Have you got a bet on by any chance?!
            She’s not too bad thanks, Kev! She’s getting better..😊😊

          12. Kev82 says:

            Good to hear Sue I’m glad love staffies 😊😊 haha yeah but it’s beat now anyway damn Belgian team let me down πŸ˜† shouldn’t greenwood have about 5 goals about now ? The way utd fans talk about him, you would think it’s Messi 2.0 πŸ˜‚

          13. Sue says:

            Aww thanks, Kev 😊
            Oxford are beating the hammers!
            I just saw a trailer for Ready or not – looks good πŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚
            I can’t believe it’s still 0-0!!! Come on Rochdale πŸ‘Š

          14. Kev82 says:

            Messi 2.0 just scored Sue 2 goals against the mighty Rochdale and Astana the world’s at his feet πŸ˜‚ haha as good as West ham can be that isn’t a shock πŸ˜… yeah saw the trailer too it looks good Sue πŸ˜€ 3 Oxford now πŸ˜‚

          15. Sue says:

            The goalscorer for Rochdale is 16!!!
            I can’t believe Oxford won 4-0!!! My nephew will be pi**ed!
            Have you seen You’re next?

          16. Kev82 says:

            I bet you’re happy with that Sue πŸ˜„ utd held with Rochdale lol Roy Keane thinks that extremely poor utd team is better than us πŸ˜‚ I haven’t Sue is it good ? Have you seen orphan?

          17. Sue says:

            Oh he’s such a bell end!!
            Gutted Rochdale lost ☹
            Yes it is good, reckon Ready or not will be like it… yes seen orphan – quite good..
            So the draw.. please be kind to us πŸ˜€

          18. Kev82 says:

            Can’t stand him Sue πŸ˜„ unlucky Rochdale 😩 but how bad are man utd ? Yes Burton Albion incoming πŸ™ yeah it was good Sue πŸ˜€ haha is it a hide and seek film then ? πŸ˜†

          19. Kev82 says:

            Liverpool πŸ˜πŸ˜†πŸ’ͺ

          20. Sue says:

            Oh ffs those bloody bell ends and up there… urgh..
            Oh great, Kev 🀬
            Haha well no, but things take an unexpected turn for the worse….

          21. Kev82 says:

            Your in for a treat Sue πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜‚ revenge on the cards πŸ˜„ oh I must watch that then πŸ˜ƒ we must beat utd on Monday we must πŸ˜ƒ

          22. Sue says:

            Not sure i can even watch πŸ™ˆ if we see one glimpse of those teeth, i might just launch the remote at the tv πŸ˜‚
            Oh i know, Kev.. huge game.. nothing but a win will suffice.. i just hope UE picks a decent team (attacking) and doesn’t go all defensive 😳

          23. Kev82 says:

            I doubt firminho will play although we will see Klopp and his glow in the dark gnashers πŸ˜† haha he usually does in most games now not even just the away ones πŸ˜‚ but it we don’t beat that utd team at OT on Monday we’ll never win there πŸ˜‚ I never imagined when cesc slipped ade through and watching him score it’d be the last time in 13 years and counting we last picked up 3 points at old trashford πŸ™„

          24. Sue says:

            Real poor record up there, Kev… if we don’t win, I’m gonna be so pi**ed off…shame Laca will miss it… we’ve got options though….just hope we go for it

          25. Kev82 says:

            Martinelli, Tierney, Chambers and holding must all play Sue no ifs or buts πŸ˜† and unleash Mustafi on them it’ll be like lamb’s to the slaughter πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I think your confident we’ll win on Monday so I’m taking your confidence πŸ˜€

          26. Sue says:

            Well yes we know that, but does Unai??
            Gonna be a bummer waiting till Monday.. Liverpool are being shown live AGAIN 😴
            I’m not overly confident, Kev.. we’ve been in this position many times before…….

  6. kenyanfan says:

    I just wish xhaka gets two continuous yellow cards to at least miss a game and this will show Emery what we are all trying to put across. Was it not for the human nature and humanity in me, I would be wishing for a knock on him

  7. Jo3l says:

    β€œTonight I told him when he played at left-back β€˜be calm here, help and support Bukayo [Saka], give the ball to Dani Ceballos’. He was overlapping lots of times with Bukayo. He did one very good pass for the goal for [Reiss] Nelson. He didn’t listen to me.”

    That is Unai Emery on Chambers…I believe we can only win when players decide the game plan on the pitch.
    I saw it during the win against Astonvilla.
    Unai’s instructions are outdated

    1. Al Mubaraq says:

      Its better for them not to listen for their career sake

    2. RSH says:

      last time we beat City at home, it was the players that organized the match as well. When we have talented players that aren’t being use to their full potential, it can be frustrating.

  8. Daulat says:

    Starting Xhaka limits team selection choices in the midfield badly. First, just to start him, you need someone alongside him to mop his mistakes, cover for his lack of pace and tackling ability, and also cover more of the midfield area just because he’s too slow. No wonder Guendouzi looks like a chicken without head running around aimlessly. He just has too much area to cover, both offensively and defensively because Xhaka doesn’t do his part. He just passes. And that’s too limiting for a CDM. You need at least one other skill other than that, like good tackling, or good positioning and interception, or good areal ability or tough physicality, good pace maybe, good dribbling and pressure evasion, etc. Xhaka doesn’t seem to excel in any such skills other than passing. Compare that to Torreira, his passing is good for the range that he attempts, has good tackling and interception, better positioning than Xhaka, good under pressure, better dribbling than Xhaka, you name it. Willock is very balanced midfielder, perfect balance of offense and defense, pace and physicality, a great player to build the midfield around imo. The only B2B I see in the current roster. Guendouzi can be developed into what Emery wants Xhaka to be. He has the right ingredients. Currently Xhaka really needs to get good at something other than passing and making silly mistakes to at least compete with the other options. It’s really baffling why Emery insists with him. That is making midfield slow, less adaptive, and very rigid as well putting undue pressure on the defense.

  9. David Rusa says:

    I wouldn’t want to comment negatively on Unai Emery because the truth is that he is a good coach who has won several trophies including 3 Europa trophies in a row and a French League trophy with PSG. Thus it is wrong to refer to him as a mid table team manager. He might not make the right team selection at times or use wrong tactics but we should not denigrate him as being a low cadre coach. Very few coaches have set the EPL alight in their first two seasons. How long has it taken Jurgen Kopp to reach this level? Suppose the fans had been irrational would he still be at Liverpool? Patience pays and Emery will prove a good coach for us in the end. After 22 years under Wenger it was expected that Arsenal would take a bit of time to adapt to a new coach. Manchester United has not stabilised since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure. I believe Arsenal will find its bearing soon.

    1. ozziegunner says:

      πŸ‘

  10. Josh says:

    How about Luiz/Torriera as our standing CDM…. They can protect the back four of Holding, Chambers, Bellerin and Tierney…
    Then free the CMs and forwards

    1. soccer says:

      @josh, that a good dm partnership.Luiz/Torriera

    2. Daulat says:

      Luiz Torreira would be really effective.

  11. Gunnerphilic says:

    I am not sure that Emery is prepared to take big risks. He might be doing himself (as the club) a favour if he attempt to find out the best of our players to deploy as a midfielder saddled defensive duties.

    Chambers, AMN, Luiz, Torreira are all potential owners of that portfolio in the team. But is the coach seeing that? Is he ready to risk his neck to find out? Hardly. It will take a brave man to take that kind of plunge.

  12. Grandad says:

    The fact is we do not have a physically powerful DM like they have at Man City and Liverpool,With such a player on board we could also play a 4-3-3 system with Willock and Guendouzi as box to box workers and with Torreria and AMN as back up.No room for Xhaka nor Ozil in that set up.

  13. O'NEIL Gordon says:

    I think Callum chambers should be able to fit in perfectly as a defensive midfielder and give the defense a little more cover. He played that position very well for i think fulham on loan last year. Torreira needs a little more muscle to boss around the midfield and we need a Rambo in there.

  14. Texasgooner says:

    Xhaka is a soldier who does what he is told. Doesn’t think. Just does. Doesn’t work in this era or any era of football. Don’t put a marine in the middle of creativity. It’s a broken link. Xhaka plays because he does what he’s told despite the fact it’s incorrect

  15. Abu adil says:

    Thanks admin Martin this is what I’ve been saying all along you’ve hit the nail on it’s head hope the same sinks into emery’s head which I hope it will or in fact it has
    Nevertheless it implementation will be stagnated coz of the very factor involving the chronic player “power power” and let me tell you any outfit in sports teams is segregated into three or more cliques based on friendship due to affliction and a share of common lines
    Mustafi for now is about okay even if ozil is neglected but if weigh that on top of xhaka’s exclusion then expect a retrogressive result on mustafi’s performance….a pure sabotage
    And this how it works and I believe the most hard task of any gaffer is man management and it’s not easy as we might think
    Emery needs time to iron out these issues and now it is much easier to turn the corner that we have new injections from the healing table
    The very reason xhaka was handed the captaincy is bcoz of enticing him to give it all for the team than for the antagonists coz can’t see any leadership trait in him

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