ARSENAL’S KEY PROBLEM AREAS BY I
After watching our game against Leicester City last weekend, I pondered about what was the actual cause of the team’s problem areas. The following factors came to my mind:
1. The unpredictability of Premier League teams
2. Lack of coherence in our midfield
3. Lack of confidence among the players
4. Reported lack of understanding of the English language by the coach.
5. Lack of adequate options to playing out from the back
Let me give my views on the factors listed above.
UNPREDICTABILITY OF PREMIER LEAGUE TEAMS.
This factor ordinarily shouldn’t be a problem to us as it is one of the reasons why the Premier League is more interesting than other leagues. Every season top teams are surprised by lower teams. Only Liverpool has not faced such a result so far this season. Considering the form and confidence level of Leicester City, Arsenal fans wouldn’t have bothered so much about the result against them if we had obtained maximum points against the likes Watford, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace. Teams like Wolves are always a banana skin any day. The results we had before last weekend sent a negative feeling before the game. The league is what it is, no doubt. We must move on.
LACK OF COHERENCE IN OUR MIDFIELD
I am one of the fans who felt the treatment of Xhaka after his outburst came at the right time – at least for the sake of the benefit of the doubt. With the various calls for him to be dropped from the starting line up as he was a target for the lapses in the midfield, I felt dropping him would prove his doubters either right or wrong. That midfield has a chronic problem. I think it has to do with the way the players interpret how the coach sets them to play. One of the key issues I see about them is the slow transition from defence to attack which gives most opponents the time to reorganize themselves at the back. We have pacy finishers in the likes of Aubameyang and Pepe, but the suppliers are sluggish. Another area is how they help out the defence when we are under pressure. The midfield hardly adds reasonably bodies to the defence in this area. There seems to be two big holes. They are the spaces between the midfield and attack, and the midfield and defence. These are problem areas because there is no dominant presence in there.
LACK OF CONFIDENCE AMONG THE PLAYERS
This is one of our big problem areas. I have seen this team at their best confidence level twice so far this season – the first was against Liverpool (EPL) and the other was against Aston Villa (even with a player down). Even when they were a goal down at the break against Liverpool, pundits were singing the praise of the team. And the second half was lost due to an individual moment of madness. Against Villa they were at it till the final whistle.
I saw lack of confidence and inability to take risks come to play against Wolves and Leicester City. In the first half at Leicester, Tielemans, Ayoze and Pereira were having persistent joy down our left-hand side. Even when our defenders formed a block, they moved through them as if they were ghosts. Our tackling was diabolical due to lack of confidence. The same goes with our attack. We don’t find the kind of joy we give at our back in the opponent’s final third as we are supposed to find. Ozil on one occasion in the second half had a superb run at their defence on a counterattack. Instead of him going for goal and have a shot, or commit their defence, he fluffed on getting into their 18yard box. He seemed to have remembered just when he got to the 18 yards that he had no plans to score goal. The same goes with our passes. How many times did we pass directly to opponents?
REPORTED LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE BY EMERY
This isn’t supposed to be an issue supposing the right thing is done at the beginning. Watching Pep and Arteta on City bench last night something came to my mind. Pep needed an intelligent Spanish guy who has been in EPL for a long time. He found that in Arteta. See how far it got them.
LACK OF ADEQUATE ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS TO PLAYING OUT FROM THE BACK
Opposing teams have constantly set their attack in a way to put pressure on our defence whenever we play out from the back. They know that we are prone to errors in this area. I see an opportunity in there. That opportunity is the instructions to our players to always prepare for a second option. At a point in the second half between Liverpool and City, I noticed that when Bravo was about playing out from the back. Two Liverpool attackers ran after the two City defenders that were supposed to take the ball from the goalkeeper. Then a City player from the midfield came to the rescue through the middle. That player succeeded simply because there was no pressure on him. If it were us, the opposing player will chase about 4 of our players at this point. Such moves in most cases will make them (opponents) set their defence higher around the middle of the pitch. Why can’t we lob the ball forward for players like Aubameyang and Pepe to run at their defenders. Pretend as if we want to play out from the back while one or two players are set in areas where they can receive the ball in the opponent half, then play it to them. If that is done on two or more occasions the opposing teams will think twice before coming at us.
What are your opinions about my suggestions to fix some of our problem areas?