HAS EMERY NAILED IT, FINALLY? By Nicholas
Arsenal are on a 19 game unbeaten run. They have actually won 15 of these games and drawn four others. It must have been the draws in the against Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Wolves in rapid succession that must have forced Emery to rethink rebalancing defence and attack. Clearly, Arsenal needed to score more but not concede in defence. For instance, in these three matches Arsenal were dominant and could have got away with wins if we had more balance.
After Liverpool and another tough game on the horizon in terms of an away match to Bournemouth, Emery tweaked the system to bring through a three at the back formation. It was a tactical reaction to try and ensure that the mistakes that may bring bad results like happened at the beginning of the season when Arsenal lost two matches on a trot, did not happen.
Arsenal came out with a win in the match. Something happened, Arsenal scored through an own goal and was about to rewrite this season’s script to go into the break with a lead, but Arsenal conceded, yet again. We needed a strong second half to win the match – but it was a return to winning ways.
The three at the back pattern was continued against a fancied opposition, Tottenham Hotspurs. Tottenham had beaten Chelsea, Manchester United and Inter Milan and coming into the North London Derby, they were quietly fancied to stop the Arsenal unbeaten run. But as the game went on, Arsenal quickly did something they have not been doing – a quick goal in 10 minutes, courtesy of a penalty. However, again Arsenal conceded, not once but twice! It was 1-2 for the visitors at the Emirates. Then again for the umpteenth time this season, a scintillating second half saw Arsenal score three remarkable goals to take the derby win.
Emery had to make the substitutions that brought the performance and switched to Arsenals two fancied strikers on the pitch for this performance to come through, in a big way. If Arsenal can play like that always we cannot be beaten.
3.4.3 is a pattern that can finally bring out the best of Arsenal. It will have the two strikers finally playing together upfront, either Ramsey of Ozil playing slightly behind the two strikers in the false number 9 role, Torreira and Xhaka partnership in the anchor role is looking like the real deal and now there is Kolasinac and Bellerin playing wingbacks. Against Manchester United, this is the team that should play in my view.
With Xhaka out suspended, and Mustafi mysteriously substituted and possibly injured, then Guendouzi and Lichtsteiner, if Mavropanos is not back, can cover. Emery has been concerned about keeping the attacking flair working and ensuring the defense was sound. He must have nailed it… finally.