Sorting Arsenal’s winger problem is just as important as fixing the defence

Fixing Width Just Important As Defence! By Dan Smith

Some fans are wondering why 72 million could be potentially spent on a wide player while nothing has been injected into improving our defence. Indeed, the majority view seems to be they rather we break our transfer record on a Centre back, due to that being our problem position, while our attack doesn’t need support.

In reality, in terms of ever being title contenders again we have issues in every area apart from our first-choice strikers. It would take over 200 million to build the squad to compete with Man City, which is simply not going to happen in one summer.

What we have to do this window is improve in as many aspects as we can and make zero mistakes, having pace and width needs sorting as much as anything else. The suggestion that a defender is more important then a winger is a myth. It’s just a case of when Mustafi makes a mistake it’s more harmful because it might lead to a goal, while an Iwobi can get away with being poor in the final third.

Think back to the first half of the Europa League Final, how many times did we get on the overlap only for a basic cross to be fed straight to Chelsea’s keeper? Put Nicolas Pepe near the bar- line and the result could have been different. I remember posting an article that morning worrying if our front three didn’t perform what was our plan B from the bench? I was called negative but was proven right. By Unai Emery having two DM’S in front of a back 5 he was essentially relying on Auba, Lacca and Ozil to win us the game.

Would Pepe not give us more of a chance to break down a Brighton at home?

Don’t get me wrong it would be foolish to go to Newcastle with a weaker back 4 or 5 and expect to finish any higher, but it’s one of many positions currently owned by players not good enough for this level.
Fixing the wing is a positive step in the right direction…

Dan Smith


  1. Reyes says:

    How did ceballos fair yesterday

    1. ThirdManJW says:

      He did very well. Lots of energy and determination. Isn’t afraid to tackle, lots of movement, and very positive with his passing, with a lot of forward passes. Hard to judge off one friendly performance, but I would have him in the starting XI based on what I saw.

      1. Sean Williams says:

        A good winger is vital. Especially one who can use the ball well. How many times does Iwobi waste the ball, as you say, too many times. I think a qualty CB and a quality winger would put us as a clear challenger for 3rd place. Zaha holds the ball well and is very direct. Pepe plays at high intensity, too intense for Xhaka. Either would improve us a lot.
        We are so obviously crippled at the back. Chambers is OK and Socratis is OK too. Mustafi is always a mistake. Pay him his money but do not play him. We desperately need a CB. If we do not sign one we are insane. No CB, 5th place at best.

        1. lol says:

          What has Pepe’s intensity got to do with Xhaka?

          Would Zaha be too direct for Xhaka?

          1. Sean Williams says:

            Because Xhaka hasn’t got the speed of body or mind to keep up with Pepe. Xhaka is a poor slow player. You obviously see that…..don’t you? Maybe you don’t see much.

          2. jon fox says:

            lol, I wondered precisely the same as you did. Even Sean’s silly so called explanation to your post is nonsensical. You are correct and what he says is nonsense. AND IT WAS MADE FAR WORSE BY HIM BEING RUDE TO YOUR ASKING A SENSIBLE AND PERTINENT QUESTION( IN HIS FINAL TWO SENTENCES). Had he instead made the separate point that Xhaka should not be in the team at all, I would heartily agree. But he did not!

        2. lol says:

          Sean Williams

          Yes I feel that Xhaka is slow, but why should a DM need to keep up with a RW?

          Do you watch a lot of games and feel that DMs should run into forward positions to keep up with wingers?

          1. Sean Williams says:

            I only watch every game. Although I live near the Emirates and have been a regular attendee at Highbury and the Emirates for more time than I can remember, like many, as we get older our bodies let us down, so I watch every game on Virgin/Sky, BT Sports, Premier Sports or TotalSportek. Obviously Jon Fox gives his usual Kingly pronouncements on behalf of his Royal Court. I bow before your Royal Highness your Foxship. You say very little but hubris.
            To you lol….. Xhaka is too slow and to my mind cannot keep up with play. His concentration is as poor as can be and his accuracy leaves a lot to be desired. The best of players in his position do keep up with play.

          2. lol says:


            It’s not about how many games you watch, how near you live to the stadium or how old you are.

            When you say things like a DM needs pace to keep up with a winger in attack, I feel that you either don’t really understand football or are so biased against a player that you just want to say something negative about him, even if it doesn’t hold water.

            The only time I want to see a DM alongside a winger in attack is when we are absolutely desperate for a goal or when conceding one doesn’t matter.

            If you had said that Xhaka is too slow to catch up and cover for the defense when we are hit on the break, I would agree. That’s a part of his job that he doesn’t do well

            When you say Xhaka’s accuracy leaves lots to be desired, I don’t see any of our other DMs and CMs with better passing or shooting accuracy, so why single him out on accuracy?

            If you had said that Xhaka doesn’t have the ball control to hold the ball under pressure, tends to make mistakes when being challenged and puts us in danger when he loses the ball, I would agree too.

            My point is, Xhaka has some glaring weaknesses and he may not deserve a spot in the team, but we should stick to the pertinent points and not bend it to blast it

          3. lol says:


            Sean can say that I can’t see the obvious, I don’t see much or I’m hubris. It doesn’t really bother me, as long as he keeps it logical and call a spade a spade.

            What sets me off is when someone stretches the truth or doesn’t make sense

          4. Protiq says:

            because he does not play as DM

          5. lol says:


            So where has he mostly been playing for us?

  2. lol says:

    Fixing our width is a must. Otherwise, we will again have to overly rely on fullbacks for width.

    Last season, we were a poorly balanced team that was often out of shape and easy to exploit on the counter

    1. CannonBoy says:

      Agree completely. Proper wingers will allow us to have a balanced formation and strategy with proven attackers.

      Wenger left our squad so unbalanced that we really needed this last year and will likely need another year to really sort the squad out and get rid of players that don’t make the cut, as well as getting in a couple proper full backs and wingers. Iwobi has only ever played wide because he was asked/forced to, like the Ox used to as well and like Maitland-Niles has been doing. They’re all central midfield players with the ability to cover wide areas but they struggle to really excel there.

      On the defenders too, a big restriction for us is that we do have a lot of central defenders, so need to move a couple on before we can get in a permanent signing!

      1. lol says:

        Glad you notice that our shape and HOW we attack has a direct bearing on the defense.

        We do need better CBs, but without improving our balance and shape, we are exposing any new CBs we buy to the same old problems

  3. gotanidea says:

    Arsenal need lethal and tricky wingers, because:

    – Relying on our strikers to score and being dependent on our fullbacks/ wingbacks to create crosses are very predictable. This is why we struggle to score in away matches

    – When our fullbacks/ wingbacks move forward to attack, our backline is empty. This is why Arsenal are highly vulnerable to the opposition’s quick counter-attacks when they use 4-2-3-1 formation

    – I prefer to watch open play tactics, but unfortunately Arsenal still cannot play like Barcelona and Man City. That’s why we still need free kicks, which can be awarded if we have skillful dribblers that are able to invite fouls

    – Having two skilled inverted wingers will make Arsenal more unpredictable. Because unlike conservative wingers, they can play on either side, swap positions with each other and do overloads like Ajax

    1. Amitosh says:

      And score. Not many wingers can score these days the numbers Auba and Pepe can produce

  4. ThirdManJW says:

    If we think about it, the wings is our weakest area. Nelson is our only natural winger, but a has almost no experience in England, especially as winger (yet another, Wenger played out of position).

    Defensively, we are a shambles, but Chambers is back, Holding to return, and looks likely Tierney will sign. Emery has had a year with these players and isn’t afraid to drop players, so even if Mustafi stays, I feel confident he won’t be used as much.

  5. matt l says:

    Absolute rubbish ?
    A match starts at 0-0 if you don’t have the ability to stop the opposition from scoring you can’t win it’s as simple as that.
    You don’t build a house on quicksand you build on a solid foundation. If you looked at the last 20-30 years you’ll find the team that wins the league will be in the top3 defensive teams that year. We have enough attacking options especially with the loan signing of Celabos and the promotion to the first team of Nelson, Willock.

    1. AndersS says:

      Finally some sense 🙂 Basically every area, except maybe for our 2 forwards, Lacca and Auba, can be improved, but no area is as vital as our defense.

    2. Dan says:

      A match starts at0-0
      Idea is to outscore opponent
      You have better chance of doing that if you have a Pepe instead of Iwobi
      I get your logic of keep a clean sheet and we only need 1 goal but it’s a bit Sam Alladyce

  6. Loose Cannon says:

    Like Pepe’s work rate and coupled with Cabellos in the middle and Laca / Auba at the goal, we can expect fireworks afters seasons of tiki taka and backwards / side passing. Our football will be exciting. Ozil will definitely rise to the occasion this year like he did with Sanchez.
    Pepe is definitely an upgrade over Zaha, younger and lethal, unlike Zaha who produces 10 goals/less per season. Looking forward to Tierney and Rugani deals and we are serious tittle contenders this year. Mustafi needs to have his confidence back, fans booing him is not helping the cause.Ideally he should be benched for a while. The main culprit is Xhaka who is immobile and a weak link between attack and defense. This player needs to be shown the door even before Mustafi.

    1. lol says:

      How do you know Pepe is definitely an upgrade over Zaha and will surely score more than 10 league goals a season?

      1. McLovin says:

        We don’t know that nor do we know if Zaha will flop at Arsenal like he did at United (big club).

        Zaha or Pepe, both could flop.

        1. lol says:

          Yes this I can agree.

          I still don’t know how some fans can be so certain about things in the future, like they have a crystal ball of sorts

          1. Loose Cannon says:

            If the players have the pedigree they survive. Auba & Laca had it and are fantastic. Mkhi flopped at Utd and at AFC too. Mustafi was poor at Valencia and poor over here too.
            Lille were 2nd in their league, CP finished 12th.
            In 2018-19 Peppe scored 22 goals (above Cavani, Dembele, Neymar, Falcao), Zaha 10 goals.
            In 2017-18 Pepe scored 13, Zaha scored 9!
            Pepe is 24, Zaha is 26. Pepe will definitely improve and we can get a fee . Pepe signing is a no brainer.
            Wilf is not a bad player, an upgrade on what we have, but Pepe is the better all round player.

          2. lol says:

            Loose Cannon

            Laca scored 28 goals in Ligue 1 the season before joining us. He scored 14 in EPL the season we signed him and 13 the next. What’s the point of comparing stats across leagues that are so different in quality?

            Age does not necessarily mean improvement. Both Mustafi and Xhaka signed for us at 24 and 23, respectively. How much have they improved and what fee can we get from them?

            Pepe can well be a star but he can also be a flop. I’m just saying that since you and I cannot predict the future, how can you be definite about it?

  7. Adajim says:

    I totally agree with you Dan, in fact your thought and objective analysis is one of the best here.
    Some fans just seems to have an hardcore hatred towards some players and wouldnt care to know wrong or right, its either Ozil, Iwobi,Xhaka, or Mustaphi or defence,
    There a some games we lost to defensive calamities last season, no doubt, but many games we drew were as a result of indicisive, ineffective attack but seems our attack is pardon by fans while defense is made scapegoat everytime things goes south.
    @Eddie, this is one major reason i do say fans are becoming ‘too critical of our defence’, just like yesterday friendlies, Brighton game that cost us top 4 last season and host lost were all lost to attack rather than defence.
    In game where we score a goal and miss chance upon chance and so on, we put pressure on defence because when attack fail to show up opposition confidence grow as the game progress, our system is attacking, we are attacking team, we cant afford to score a goal and sitback then invite opposition to come at us, this are issues a good winger will resolve

  8. mayert says:

    With the capture of Pepe, there are some “fan-favorites” like Ozil, Mkitaryan, Xhaka that won’t see the light of day again.
    To see the utter incompetence of this coach, he’s going to bring up the “left-footed players” conundrum that affected Wenger when he had to play Ozil, Xhaka and Wilshire in the same team. (I know he’s going to play Ozil, Pepe and Xhaka – all left-footed)

    To have more balanced team, he has to play 4-2-3-1


    This team will beat anyone!!!

    1. lol says:

      So teams that play 3 players who are all left-footed would have problems? How about if they play 3 players who all right-footed? Would that be an issue?

      1. mayert says:

        It’s no secret that left-footed players often tend to over-utilize their left foot even in tackling that often makes teams unbalanced.

        1. lol says:

          So right-footed players tend not to over-utilize their right foot even in tackling that often makes teams unbalanced?

    2. ozziegunner says:

      mayert, according you both Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery are incompetent. Who do you propose comes to the Emirates at the end of this season, should Arsenal not extend Emery’s contract or he leaves? Maybe you will apply yourself?
      There is a big difference between offering suggestioms/opinions and calling experienced well credentialled and respected managers/coaches as having “utter incompetence”.

    3. Joe says:

      This team wouldn’t beat anyone worth their salt.
      Both ceballos and torreira are number 8s and would leave centerbacks exposed Micki has poor delivery, besides, how does having xhaka ozil and Pepe cause imbalance if xhaka is to be invariably patterned with a right footed number 8 and Pepe will have a right footer behind him?

    4. Loose Cannon says:

      This coach is a Europa 4 time finalist, 3 time winner, League 1 winner.He has his flaws, like all humans do, but calling him “incompetent” is not right word in my opinion. He had the guts to bench players and the right coach for AFC.Players want to sign for him, last year we improved, minor but forward movement. Many pundits spelled doom and gloom when Wenger left, Emergy did a satisfactory job with the players available with him.

    5. Protiq says:

      moan moan moan, last season moaning not enough left footed player, this season too much left footed player. also you rate iwobi more than laca.

  9. Joe Jackson says:

    Agreed. A winger is definitely a priority. Iwobi and Micki have shown that they cannot be relied upon to produce goods consistently and Nelson is still raw and inexperienced. Having said that, I would like to know who most fans would choose between Everton and Pepe. I have watched the preseason games and it seems to me Auba is either effective as a striker or a right-winger. He seems to struggle on the left for some reason. So maybe we should look for a winger who can play on the left like Everton or Zaha. This way, we will have Auba on the right, Laca in the middle and Everton/Zaha on the left. I don’t know what y’all think.

    1. Joe says:

      I think the best solution is a false 9 front three with Auba, Laca and Pepe moving fluidly through the front 3 positions. Tucking inwards on attack to let the fullback create an overload. They are all lethal so I don’t think that would be too hard for them

  10. lol says:

    Think you are right that Auba seems to play better as a RW than LW.

    With Zaha we know what we are getting. Certainly one of the best dribblers in the league, but tend to hold on to the ball too long

    Pepe can turn out better or worse than Zaha. Either way, he probably needs some time to adapt to the intensity of EPL.

    Everton is the biggest gamble. Huge transition from Brasileiro to EPL. Not sure if he has the physicality to excel in EPL.

    Of the 3, I prefer Zaha, but CP is just asking for too much

  11. TOM says:

    Laca, Auba, Pepe
    Toerrira, Ceballos (assumption he stays on)
    Tierney, Holding, Saliba, Bellerin
    Nelson, Eddie, Ozil
    Mhikt, Willock
    Kosalinac, Sokraits, Chambers, M.Niles

    For me fixing the defence is not going out and spending again unless we sell one or 2 of our current defenders. Otherwise we keep to what we have for now. It is not like we are short of defenders. We also have youth players ready to come join the first time fold.
    We need competition for places.

    But considering the other end of the pitch and Nelson, Eddie, ESR, Saka at there – some ready now, some needing another season to join the 1st team…and then you have Laca Auba Pepe.
    Get that final piece of the jigsaw in place an then we are set for the next 5 years atleast upfront.

    Pepe is still…in my eyes 50/50 but Boy What a statement for the EPL that would be!!! #P.A.L

  12. Welbeck says:

    Who said attack is the best form of Defence? The opposition cannot score without the ball but we can’t handle teams who play us at our high pressing game. We can’t hope to outscore the opposition every time, especially with our defensive lapses. On the plus side, only Man City and Liverpool scored more than us, its the defence that let us down.

    If we can improve tactically and cut out the defensive lapses, we can easily finish fourth.

    I think Emery will drill his team until they get it right. He’s very driven and has all the right qualities to succeed at Arsenal.

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