Three issues Arsenal must resolve to finish top-four

Arsenal must correct problem areas or face missing out on top-four

It is easy to get carried away when you are on an eight-game unbeaten run and sit third in the Premier League. But if Arsenal wants to finish top-four they must resolve three big issues that could spoil their chances.

Defence

The defence is still poor, do not let clean sheets against Newcastle United and Bournemouth fool you. Arsenal has conceded 11 goals this season, that is the eleventh worst in the Premier League. Sheff Utd, Wolves and even Man Utd have conceded less.

Teams are still able to come onto Arsenal almost at will. Bournemouth was restricted to long shots for the most part on Sunday but the fact they could build up a head of steam was telling.

Nicolas Pepe

I remain confident that we will see the best of Pepe but his time is running out fast to show us all what he can really do. The 24-year-old is struggling but he does not help himself by not tracking back to help out. Unai Emery needs to work some magic and get Pepe firing on all cylinders or he will have to make way for someone that can deliver.

Over-reliance on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

If it was not for the Gabon international Arsenal would not be sitting third today. Too often Auba has got us out of trouble and when he does not Arsenal basically struggle. Arsenal cannot rely on just one man to be their consistent saviour, they need a backup. There are players there, Lacazette, Saka and even Pepe but until they start to find the back of the net as regular as Auba then the over-reliance will continue. And that is not good for everyone concerned.

There are other issues but I feel these are the three biggest ones right now.

Updated: October 9, 2019 — 7:39 am

39 Comments

  1. I woulda thought the biggest issue was how to get Xhaka out of the team?

    1. hahaha indeed

    2. I almost agree Roshan but I think the absolute biggest issue is to get Emery out of the freakin’ Emirates. After all it’s him who’s responsible for picking Xhaka in the first place.

      1. Yes, I agree with Gunner Jack but remember it is Emery who is giving these young kids a chance to show what they can do. Not like Wenger giving the young ones away then us watching them flourish at our expense Well done EMERY I say

  2. LDDWWWDWW…

    Spot on. I believe we will see improvements as time goes on.

    Lacazette, Tierney, Holding, Bellerin..

    We will soon see a fast, free flowing football with this guys back.

    Lord, please open the eyes of Emery to see that Xhaka is the only virus in the team now.

    1. How on earth can you play 3 defensive players in Xhaka, Guendouzi and Torreira yet you have a plethora of attacking talents like Ceballos and the macurial Ozil …?

      Think Emery is a problem. Emery hates world class players. Yes, Ozil may be lazy but more efficient and all of us would rather have more efficiency than hard work.

      1. The statement that Emery hates world class players is just about the biggest rubbish I have seen on this site. Just because he does not play the lazy Özil, you cannot make such a sweeping generalisation. Is Auba world class? Emery has reasons for his team choices and we do not always know what they are, BUT WE ARE 3rd on the log.

  3. Roshan is right on the money. Arsenal are a 10-man team while Xhaka is on the pitch. I’m beginning to wonder if there is another agenda here as anyone – and I mean anyone – with any footballing insight will spot Xhaka for what he is; A lazy, slow show- pony who avoids physical contact (except when he can easily trip someone), and a poor headerer of the ball. Aside from the odd pass, he’s a mincer who would never make my team.

  4. I’m sure once Tierney comes in, with those top notch crosses of his, we’ll score a lot more (Yes, even Pepe 😱)

  5. spud and utd are going down….if we maintain what we are doing..we have a strong chance

    1. The return of Lacazette and the emergence of Martinelli takes care of the Auba overreliance aspect.A back four of Bellerin,Chambers, Holding and Tierney will stiffen the defence .The lack of balance and control in midfield is a concern which Emery needs to rectify for us to make real progress.Neither Xhaka nor Torreria are too quality defensive midfielders and an upgrade for both is needed.Guendouzi, Willock, Ceballos and perhaps AMN have the energy, skill and technique to make the grade as box to box midfielders in a 4-3-3 system which is used by virtually all the really top sides in Europe.No room at the inn for an artist like Ozil in such a system which is sad because at his best he was a joy to watch.With the very impressive Saliba to come on board next season I am optimistic for the future but a top DM is essential to strengthen the spine.

      1. Thank you for a wise and sensible comment sir.

      2. We’ve already got a top DM in Torreira. That’s precisely why he was bought! Chambers is also fine there. The problem is Emery:

        ‘His qualities are that he can give us good pressing, and he can win the ball HIGH UP ON THE PITCH to give us the possession to score,’ Emery said of Torreira (yesterday’s Metro I think).

        Great idea Emery. Play people out of position then drop them for not playing well.

  6. LDDWWWDWW

    I can’t wait to see this team out.

    Aubameyang..

    Saka, Lacazette, Pepe..

    Guendouzi, Torreira..

    Tierney, Luiz, Holding, Bellerin..

    Leno.

    Subs – Martinelli, Willock, Chambers.

    1. How about this one

      Auba-Laca

      Ceballos

      Tierney-Guendouzi-Willock-Bellerin

      Holding-Luiz-Chambers

      Leno

      *ball playing defenders
      *Wing backs whichbcoukd switch to a back 3 or 5
      *Hard working Midfield
      *Creativity
      *Auba and Lacs

      We used this formation last season. 22 unbeaten run.

      Just saying

      1. I’m glad you ain’t the coach, even though you and the coach gave a lot in common. What a weak áss negative team.
        You’re among those clamouring for depressing football innit?
        You also got blinded by that 22 games unbeaten run, still blinded by it though which your choice of formation and selection

    2. S.J.

      your line up doesn’t have a creative midfielder….That’s exactly where we r suffering, apart from the defense

      1. What about:

        — Auba – Laca
        —- Ceba/Özil
        — Willock – Pepe
        — Douzi/Lucas
        Tierney – Rob – Chambo – Bell
        ——- Leno /Martinez

  7. I’m glad you ain’t the coach, even though you and the coach gave a lot in common. What a weak áss negative team.
    You’re among those clamouring for depressing football innit?
    You also got blinded by that 22 games unbeaten run, still blinded by it though which your choice of formation and selection

  8. It is going to be a dog eat dog slog all the way through to May.
    Chelsea look the team most likely to get 3rd.
    Leicester/Arsenal/Spurs I think will compete for 4/5/6.
    Potentially we have a lot more goals in us with Lacazette to return
    Pepe to find form and Martinelli could step up to the PL
    Bellerin and Tierney give better quality on the flanks.
    Xhaka and Torreira are not great but they are battlers and that might be enough.
    CB is the real concern as Socritis and Luiz are dodgy
    Mustafi is not good enough while Holding and Chambers are unproven.
    Would love to swoop for a quality CB in January.
    Over all I think 6th is the best we can do because Spurs have a
    much better squad and Leicester look frighteningly good.

  9. @JahBen..

    I think Lacazette and Guendouzi is creative enough to supply our attack.

  10. LDDWWWDWW..

    I disagree with you Agu Emen. No one is guaranteed any spot yet. Form can change at any time so we can as well finish 3rd before Chelsea.

    I can say we have a better squad than Chelsea.

    1. No one is guaranteed a spot except Xhaka

      1. The problem in a nutshell Sue.

  11. As unpopular as this opinion probably is I believe we are finally reaching a point where we will be able to use literally everyone in the squad if needed.
    Take this line up as an example:
    Leno
    Bellerin, Holding, Mustafi, KT
    Pepe, Torreira, Guendouzi, Martinelli
    Laca, Auba (either 4411/4231)

    You could replace Mustafi for any of the other CBs,Holding for Chambers, KT for Kola/Chambers, Bellerin for Chambers/AMN, Pepe for Nelson, Martinelli for Saka/ESR, Torreira and Guendouzi could be replaced with any of the other midfielders (needs right pairing though), Laca could be replaced by Ozil/Ceballos and Auba could be replaced by Laca/Martinelli.

    The difference is that right now we need to use too many of the wrong players at once which screws with the teams balance, going forward we can rotate just a few players at a time without fundamentally changing the balance.

    This is what I think Emery has been aiming for all along…. Most teams have a starting 11 and if they get injured it shows, we quite possibly now have the second most squad depth in the league (behind City) that should be able to absorb any injuries without a noticeable drop in performance (unless we have the whole backline out at once again).

  12. With most injured players now available we will soon see the strongest team that is in UE’s mind. In all probability none of us will agree with it because Xhaka will be in there somewhere, but maybe, just maybe, UE will surprise us all. Be that as it may, I would hope to see this team in 4.2.3.1 at some stage:

    Martinez

    Bellerin..Mavropanos..Holding..KT

    Chambers..Torreira

    Pepe..Ceballos..Auba

    Lacazette

    Bench: Leno, Luiz, AMN, Willock, Martinelli, Saka

    1. No place for September’s player of the month then, not even on the bench? And why Torreira AND Chambers = 2 DMs?

  13. Please leave Pepé alone, you’re just feeding media trolls. The problem stems from the lack of creativity in midfield and from the defence while Guendouzi is having to buzz around trying to do the job of three players and Xhaka does pretty much naff all apart from short sideways passes and the odd Hollywood long ball. Try Ozil with Cellabos then at least their should be some decent through passes for Pepé and Aubamayang to get on. Once Bellerin and Tierney start together there will be more service from the flanks. EmeryOut – DeclanIn 🤓

    1. I support you!😁

  14. Our club’s problem isn’t that easy as black and white because the issues are a lot more nuanced.
    It’s easy to keep dissing our defence, but if you look at them individually they are good players, and all that is required is to have a good partnership where one CB stays back to provide cover for the goalie. It’s up to the coaches to iron out the kinks and build up there confidence levels.
    Our main area of concern is the middle third, which is being churned to accommodate Xhaka, thereby affecting the balance & continuity there. The DM is the keyman who needs to have some speed which Xhaka doesn’t have and ideally it should be Torreira. We have talented youngsters to cover the remaining two spots, allowing for the fact that Ozil is frozen out. Ceballos and Willock needs to have an extended run but with Guendouzi around, they cannot play together, which is a tad unfortunate.
    What we are lacking this season thus far, is the absence of good combination play and swift one-two’s and it seems a bad habit of taking that extra touch/touches have crept in. No one is releasing the ball fast enough to a colleague who is better placed to do something with the ball. The instinctive picking of a player running to empty spaces that Ozil does so well, is missing and I hope Willock develops that trait. The CAM’s need to attack more and provide service, otherwise the forwards suffer as we see with Pepe. Auba has carried us thus far and at some point he may lose form or get injured and that’s when we will suffer.
    Our final third is a problem of plenty, so that’s a positive headache to have especially after Laca comes back. It’s important that these guys don’t go into tackles and get injured, in the name of tracking back and helping defence, but stay fit and score goals for us.

    1. Hey Viju, are you trying to take my job as Arsenal manager?😁

      1. Putting my CV out as your support staff

    2. With you, Viju, the final 3rd has been Arsenal’s problem for some years. Vision is missing as is creating space. Always one pass to many, no-one prepared to take on the defence, have a go at goal etc. Midfield too slow to support isolated forward with ball, which is why we get the ball to the opppsition penalty area and then have to pass it back all the way to our backs or even goalkeeper to retain possession. Not sure the solution to this is Özil, since he has been part of exactly hat scenario for several years.

    3. The biggest problem we suffer now is about good marking and high pressing, if you seen last season we mate with hotspur we beat them 4-2, arsenal was better pressing and marking, no any games followed played better than it.

  15. It’s great to see some good lineups being suggested when Xhaka is taken out of consideration. See how easy it is without him? Why can’t Emery see that!!!!

    1. Unai ‘I hate Ozil’ Emery. Granit ‘The Handbrake’ Xhaka. Please, the pair of you, DISAPPEAR!

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