Opinion – Arsenal form is so bad it is time to face up to a new reality

Arsenal form

Arsenal form represents a team destined for the bottom half of the table.

Arsenal is now seven points off fourth and seven points of 18th and if their current form continues then they could finish closer to the relegation zone than top-four.

If you take the 14 games played this season and the last seven games of last season Arsenal will have collected 26 points in 21 games. By any reckoning that is bottom half form and not much better than relegation form.

Of course, seven points is not an insurmountable amount of points to make up on fourth-placed Chelsea but the form Arsenal are currently in is so bad that the gap may as well be 17 points.

In the last two games, Arsenal have drawn 2-2 against Southampton and Norwich, two teams in the relegation zone and you can add Watford into the mix as well, freakily enough we drew 2-2 with them as well.

But the thing is this, can anyone really say we deserved to win any of those games? I cannot. Think about that, outplayed by all three teams in the relegation zone and collecting just three points from a possible nine.

Now let’s look at our next seven fixtures up to and including 1st January.

Arsenal v Brighton
West Ham United v Arsenal
Arsenal v Manchester City
Everton v Arsenal
AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal
Arsenal v Chelsea
Arsenal v Manchester United

Now, let me ask you, how many points do you think Arsenal will get from those games? How many wins?

It is not inconceivable that we only pick up 5-6 points, in fact, I suspect some will say less.

We cannot say we will beat Brighton, not after the home performance against Southampton. West Ham is Jekyll and Hyde, lose easy to Spurs at home, go away to Chelsea and win. You have to be honest and say it is unlikely we get anything at home to City. Everton is in bad shape but even so, at home, we know what they did to us last season. Bournemouth away is never easy, then two home games to Chelsea and Man Utd, do I need to continue?

Unless there is a dramatic improvement and it has to be dramatic if we are honest then we are in some serious trouble.

New signing in January will not help with those fixtures and whoever we buy needs time to settle in.

I am afraid to say this, but the truth is we need to lower our expectations because if we do not we are in for a very painful time.

Updated: December 1, 2019 — 10:39 pm

26 Comments

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  1. We are paying the price for not being serious about our defense. Tierney is a good start, but far too long club has taken shortcuts with CB’s.

    Holding was cheap but hasn’t come along, Chambers played at RB, Mustafi bad transfer, Sokratis a joke, Luiz a cheap stop gap, on and on.

    Until we get serious about our back line managers and attackers won’t help us push on.

    Defense been our Achilles heel for several years, and wasn’t properly addressed under Wenger or Emery either. That needs to be sorted stat, or else we’ll continue to slide into mediocrity.

      1. And Tierney has yet to impress in a significant way – he is young and has done well everywhere else so I think it is a question of time. Bellerin is getting hurt a lot and has lost his form, Chambers is not a fullback, Maitland-Niles did not manage there either. Holding has been underwhelming to say the least – hopefully that is a combination of injury layoff and the general funk the team is in.

        Realistically we need right back and two in the middle – could make do with one good one and find a combination with Holding or one of the others.

        And that is just at the back.

  2. From Top 4 side to form of bottom 4 side…………………..scary !…………………and I dont see any change of fortune in sight !

  3. Sky Sports Football, Sunday Supplement was worth watching regarding the issues from ownership, management and players and the difficulties facing a new manager at Arsenal.

  4. Like above.
    Our defense is horrid
    And no creativity in midfield
    But biggest problem is Def our defence

    1. Don’t we have the best creator / no10 in the universe since time started in our squad creating defence splitting passes ever other minute? Oh, sorry, it was the defenders fault that our mid field is poor.Wake up and smell tge coffee! My expectation was a top 10, now I would be content with a top 17!
      There is no short term solution.Need to sign a pragmatic coach to oversee the project say 3 to 5 years to become contenders.Total squad overhaul and rebuild like Pool with Kopp or City with Manchini.
      No success with our aging useless,tired, timid,egoistic, overpaid,lazy squad.
      Say goodbye to Auba, Laca, Lucas and Leno.Two or three players have ruined the team and you who they are.
      And no wonder reputed coaches are turning us down.

  5. All we need is to play the right first 11 players available. Once I saw the line up I knew we were on for a tough game.

    A front 4 of Aubameyang, Lacazette, Martinelli and Pepe will worry any defense in this world.

    Midfield 2 of Torreira and Guendouzi is the best available out there.

    Tierney, Chambers, Holding and Bellerin unfortunately is our best Defense pairing.

    Play this line up and we will outscore lots of teams especially on the counter attack.

  6. As always spot on Durand. It goes
    without saying that AFC for far, far
    2 long have been criminally neligent
    in addressing the defensive issues
    that have plagued the club.

    Just a quick glance @ the past few
    years of transfer activity…

    Attacking additions:

    Ozil—£47M
    Sanchez—£42M
    Lacazette–£53M
    Auba—£63M
    Pepe—£80M (installments)
    Welbeck—£20M
    L Perez—£20M LMFAO
    Martinelli—£7M

    Apprx £332M spent

    Defensive additions:

    Paulista—£15M
    DeBuchy—£15M
    Chambers—£20M
    Holding—£3M
    Mustafi—£41M LMFAO
    Socratis—£17M
    Torreria—£28M (installments)
    Luiz—8M
    Saliba—£30M (installments)
    Tierney—£27M
    Xhaka—£41M

    Apprx £245M spent

    Other than Perez and Welbeck its hard
    to criticize the offensive
    recruitment, although its fair to
    question if the money spent to
    acquire Auba was necessary when such
    glaring defensive issues existed at
    DM and CB.

    The defensive recruitment sans
    Tierney and Torreria (hopefully
    Saliba as well) has been nothing
    short of an unmitigated disaster.
    Wenger and Gazidis spent over £100M
    on players that are either no longer
    with the team or quite frankly have
    never been good enough to be regular
    first team players. Imagine if during
    that time Arsenal would have signed
    VVD, Kante and Umtiti for the same
    money.

    Kroenke is a muppet of an owner but
    GD Gazidis and Wenger F#$@&d this
    club with there criminal decisions
    over player recruitment.

  7. It’s really funny listening to this constant nagging. Having played under Emery, in such a shitty style, players are expected to be in rusty state suddenly trying to play one touch attacking football.

    And some are here saying that tactics was good, but the team selection wasn’t good! What was Freddie supposed to, play 5 stikers? That’s not how offense works I’m sorry. Attack is a mentality and the manner players carry the ball forward.

    He started with the extra man in the midfield thinking he would help in keeping possession because our players aren’t half as good as Norwich players in terms of one touch passing! I don’t think anyone here watched how Norwich players completely outplayed Man City! Or maybe you guys have dismissed that match thinking it was a fluke, or just Man City playing bad. NO. Watch again if you can and see how a good one touch passing can destroy high pressing game.

    But yeah, Willock was very very poor yesterday so it didn’t work as it should have. But the thinking was right by Freddie.

    And he’s not playing Pepe, because he hasn’t played for a while now, and in yesterday’s match when everybody was watching Asenal game with a very keen eye, he probably didn’t want to bring Pepe, without knowing his FORM, and shoot his confidence even more. Emery hasn’t played Pepe for a while if you guys have forgotten.

    And what did Freddie promise before the match? That he wouldn’t change much because the instructions must stick to players as well and 2 days time isn’t enough for that!

    People here are acting as if he has been the manager for this whole season, and knowing Emery and the kind of control freak he was, I don’t think he included Freddie in his decision making that much. He even used to scout opponents teams that we would face himself and didn’t let the dedicated staff do it!

    Cut Freddie a little slack. I’m not making excuses for our defense. It’s terrible, it has been terrible for a long while, but it wasn’t addressed, neither under Wenger, nor under Emery. What Emery did was to cut our attacking efforts to reinforce our defensive efforts but that’s not how it works. Defensive strategy doesn’t work with shitty defenders!

    Instead Freddie went for the logical way, focusing on attack, but our players are not conditioned well for such an attacking game, because of playing under Emery. Because nobody ran under Emery! And they became tired later in the game. And we saw some glimpses of 1-2 passing attempts finally, which players were very rusty to pull off often, but it was there. That’s the only way creating chances work.

    Overall I saw encouraging signs in our Offense. It’s the defense that needs to be solved. January transfer is the key.

    1. Daulat, you are spot on. People think this is a FIFA game where you change the lineup and personnel and everything works out. I was more interested in the playing style, ball movement and player’s attitude than the score. They played much better than any game this season. They tried to play one touch football which has been missing since EU took over and they had attacking intent with passing. On the defence, we are not going to improve with this lot.we have 5 CB that are absolutely atrocious and will not improve underany coach.

    2. Very keen and thoughtful analysis. Better than most press reports.

  8. The defence has been a problem since 2005.Arsenal were 3-0down to boro and won 5-4.it was a similar result against Spurs. Wenger was smiling and the fans were happy because we won.
    Had they lost, maybe the defence could have been fixed.
    Its not too late to stiffen the defence. Get a defence coach. There are some top class guys around.
    Be humble. No manager can say he has nothing to learn.
    The moment he says that he become irrelevant if he can’t win.

  9. The only way were going to improve on the defensive front, until we bring good defenders is by playing attacking possession game. If we have the majority possession, our defense will be less tested. That was the thinking behind yesterday’s lineup by Freddie. And it could have worked if our one touch passing was any good. But that’s the way to go, because no team in EPL has the worse defense than we do, and if we keep the game open on both ends, we’ll concede more than any team, because no team has such abysmal defending, we do. So the right choice is to play possession game in the opponents half, and have numbers in the midfield who are good with the ball.

  10. It’s too early to be this depressive about things. Freddie had what, 48 hours to preapre for this game? Although I do think he made some big lineup mistakes, the most he could tell these players to do was to play with more confidence and belief and fight for the badge. Essentially give them a pep talk. And I think it did have a positive effect on this game and the players showed more fight. The long term issues with the squad are obviously very much still there and board needs to get serious and hire someone who has a vision that compliments the club. And the club needs to back this person wtih funds to completely revamp the defense, because it’s embarrasing. I’d be demanding money for TWO new CB’s, and a new RB. That is where all of Arsenal’s focus should be. Selling deadwood, buying top defenders. Get a coach who can put all of these elements together. I never really understood why the hierarchy was sold on Unai Emery, but it was clearly the wrong choice. Doesn’t mean the next choice will also be bad.

  11. Since Wengers final few years we play too many back passes. Even when the goal kick reaches someone in near half line, it will be reversed back to goal keeper. No one tries to dribble ball and take it forward. Instead pass it back to same player. This always slows down our attack. Fast counter attack is only remedy for our defensive problems. As long as we dont have players to keep possession try a fast counter attack through wings. I am pretty sure that Pepe and Martinelli can atack like Pires and Lungberg woth support from Tierny and Bellerin. Auba and Laca will finish it from a deadly cross from wing rather than everyone crowding inside the box and getting into a mess. I am dreaming of fast counter attacking 4-4-2 formation with Pepe and Martinelli on the wings..

  12. If freddie thinks that saka is better then pepe, chambers is better then bellerin, kolasinac is better then tierney… then he must left before his legend status turn to failure… i like the long balls, but defending is still not improving,,, show some respect freddie and put in laca/martinelli, auba, pepe and ozil, inda same team please,,,

  13. If you’re going to be an attacking team you want only two kinds of defenders…either shutdown types which allows you to have more players to join in the attack or those who are proficient in the passing game so that you can quickly transition from defence to offence…unfortunately for us we haven’t recruited any such defenders, minus Luiz, who has some passing qualities, and possibly Holding, although the jury is still out…this ineptitude on our part must be the reason why we play Xhaka in such a deep lying position, which is obviously not his natural position due to his glaring defensive deficiencies…under this deeply flawed plan he becomes the supposed link between our piss-poor central defenders and our offensive zone players…somehow in our infinite wisdom we primarily chose CBs who were neither capable defenders or useful transitional passers…even more frustrating is the fact that everyone knew their respective frailties yet we still brought them into the fold…the only central defender to come good was Paulista and he had to go elsewhere to do so…our only hope is that Holding or Marvo can figure it out before Saliba arrives so that we can replace our deadwood with those who hopefully have a real future with the club…this club has been a shambles for some time now and desperately needs a manager who won’t settle for anything less than winning the biggest trophies on the biggest stages…problem is I really don’t think our absentee landlord wants a Pep or a Klopp because that would require a commitment that he’s never been willing to make…so I guess we keep going through the motions, cross our fingers and pray that someday we have our own Leicester-type miracle season…OR we continue to press the issue with half-empty stadiums, making our opinions known through various social media platforms and/or expressing our disappointment in and around the stadium(signs etc…)until they either finally live up to their original commitment when the Emirates was built or we somehow, someway force them to sell to someone who actually gives a shit

    1. Finally someone who understands why Xhaka is rated highly internally, because our defenders are piss poor passers and also lack pace to track back if we play a high line. So our defenders need to stay pretty deep, and let Xhaka take the ball forward. Not a pretty scenario but we can do worse if we don’t play Xhaka. Guendouzi wastes time with additional touches, Torreira lacks range. And that’s about it.

      Xhaka is no DM, he never has been. But his range with passes helps connect our back line to the front.

      And I too think maybe Freddie should give a nod to Mavro. We can’t do any worse really.
      Also even major problem with our defenders is they are not drilled well to man mark. They just defend zonally, and it hasn’t worked yet.

      Yesterday, Norwich players really showed a masterclass in how to defend in numbers. It was so effective. They always had at least 2 players closing in on a player and just get up close and physical. It was so effective. Our defenders look like they are walking through a minefield when they defend.

      Per and Freddie have a lot of task in their hands. If they could somehow make this lot man mark at least semi-decently, we would still make it good this season.

  14. We have a deeper problem than just sacking Emery. Sincerely this board did not sack Emery because of poor performance but because of the turnout against Frankfurt. It was obvious the money will no longer come in if he continues hence the sacking. Similar to Wenger situation. When we ask some of us over here to stop renewing their season ticket, they complain of the number of people waiting to takeover, yet the barely watch matches till the end of the season. It is clear that only issues which affect finances tget our owners thinking.

  15. When I saw the line up, 7 defensive player and 3 attacking player, I knew its going to be the same performance. If Freddie Ljungberg plays this set up players in our next match, then believe me people, we have another Emery 2.0 on our hands. My advice for him now is to play our fastest players for now with 5 defensive and 5 attacking players and get them to play a quick one-touch,forward pattern football. I bet if Arteta was the manager, this are the players he would have on the pitch. Pepe and Martinelli would be his David Silva and Bernard Silva flanking David Luiz in midfield.

    ——————Leno————————

    Niles——–Chambers—-Holding——–Tierney

    Pepe——————Luiz—————-Martinelli

    Lacazette————Aubamayang———–Ozil

    1. I like that formation very much. But I’m afraid our one touch football isn’t there yet to pull this off. I would definitely love to see this one though. I had very similar idea but it all comes down to how good our first touches are.

      Laca and Auba also will be the weaker link in this one unfortunately. You realize how good Aguero, Jesus, Debruyne, Sterling and Mahrez are with their feet right? I would start Saka instead of Laca and keep Laca as backup for Auba.

      This could work, using Tierney and Niles or Bellerin as inverted FBs and cover for Pepe and Martinelli going front.

  16. Luis is yet another liability.Durand summed it up perfectly in an earlier post.

    1. He is liability in defense not as defensive midfielder.

  17. You speak about “lowering our expectations” Martin. I call that being a realist. With this fake “defence”, AKA no defence at all, we are not entitled to expect to win ANY Prem game at all. We have faioled to beat Norwich, Watford and so how can we realistically expect, as against merely hope, to beat Brighton?
    I have been watching Arsenal since 1958 ans have not a shadow of doubt that this so called “defence”is easily our worst in all that time. We have had many other rotten defences but at least they TRIED. This lot are useless, couldn’t care less, know nothing, not even the basics, cowards. COWARDS! THEY CHOOSE NOT TO MARK, TO CLOSE DOWN TO AS IF THEY WANT TO REALLY WIN THE BALL.They seem terrified to attack the ball. No wonder REAL MEN like Martin Keown are so scornful of them. They are not fit to wear our famous shirt and they are cheating us all. They are cowards and if I dared write what I really think of them and what I would like to happen to them, I would have the police knocking at my door. I loathe cowards more than anything else, other than lazy, bone idle, conman cowards.

    I think those who attend should start chanting that they are cowards and name them in the chant. I refer most of all to Luiz, Xhaka, Sokratis and Mustafi but others are almost as bad too. Some forwards too are bone idle and also midfielders. Pepe, Saka, and such as Willock too just don’t want to get hurt in the action. Ozil has long been like that too. In fact, right now I WOULD ONLY TOTALLY EXCUSE BOTH KEEPERS, TIERNEY, GUENDOUZI AND MARTINELLI FROM COWARDICE.

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