Why can’t Arsenal impose themselves on opponents in the first half?

It is totally amazing that Arsenal have won 11 games in a row, but even more amazing is the fact that the Gunners have not been leading at half-time in every single one of those games, and sometimes we’ve even been lucky to not go into the break with a deficit. Unai Emery admits its a problem, and he is hoping to find a solution with his players. He said after the Lisbon game: “The match is 90 minutes and different things happened tactically and individually in the game,”

“In the game, the team deserved to win this match. But the first half is not clear for us.

“The balance for the two teams, I think there are a lot of chances to score. And in the second half, I think, step-by-step, we imposed our jobs and we imposed our good play in the second half.

“For us it’s very important, because we want to finish first in this group and at the moment, the other team who is with us is Sporting Clube de Portugal and we are happy. But also, for continuing our process with the players, different players and also with the rhythm with every player in all the matches we are playing, I think there are positive things today here in this work.

“Each match is a very big opportunity to improve things and one thing is this. We spoke in the dressing room before the start of the match today about our objectives. And one objective is this. But the most important thing is that when we were in the dressing room at half-time, we spoke.

“We cannot impose our ideas in the first 45 minutes but in the second half we have the chance and the opportunity to change the result and continue in our way, thinking only to win this match and to improve things in the second half. I think we did that in the 45 minutes of the second half. But we need to continue finding the solution for us to be better in the first halves.”

So why do you think we only take control after the break? Is it because of Emery’s half time team talk? Is it because the boss has had a chance to see where our opponents weaknesses are (and ours!) and make the necessary changes to make the difference? Or is it simply that our squad is so much fitter this season and can assert their superiority as our opponents get tired?

What do you think the reason is?



  1. Break-on-through says:

    Good options/conclusions there at the end. It might be a case of, all of the above. We do look fitter, even Xhaka is looking more toned. Welbeck looks like a boxer. Bellerin is playing, like he has a fire-cracker shoved under his bum. I heard something after the game, about Emery’s team-talk, I think even Emery brought it up himself. The tactics, Emery working on weaknesses, again good point. His decisions in the second half have been paying dividends, so he is working things out, and I remember a commentator saying, how, Emery looks like he’s suffering as he’s walking around his area. Allot might be going through the mans head, so I would say yes, that all spills out at half time. You answered your own question here, Admin, showing off, are we?

  2. Victor Kay says:

    The reason why arsenal is not so impressive in the first halves is simply because of the team selection. He should put his right foot forward. When all of us know that Toreira is our action DM he leaves him out in the first halves. This season, we have depth so he should stop toying with team selection. It is because of this reason that Paul Merson is afraid of what liverpool will do to arsenal. If koseilny miraculously makes the liverpool game, the arsenal team will be as strong as the liverpool’s.

    1. Hardave Singh says:

      Toreira has been starting most of our PL games. Emery rest him for EL. Which is perfect because Crystal Palace is not gonna be easy.

  3. jaheim says:

    Tactically worrying,some times you just don’t get so lucky. Needs to start finishing games right from the first half but overall we are doing good for now.

  4. ThirdManJW says:

    I agree with what Victor Kay says about the team selection, but to be fair to Emery, he’s new to the club, and he’s still going through that process of figuring out who, and what, works best. He’s still going to have problems all season in regards to getting players in their best positions, e.g. Auba, and Laca both fighting for one position, Ozil, Ramsey, and Miki, all fighting for the same position, and so on.

    But our second half performances do prove something though…clearly Emery is extremely good at identifying what is, and isn’t working for us, spotting the weaknesses in the opponent, and then changing it up. Fantastic in-game management from Emery!

    1. Victor Kay says:

      Against Liverpool, Emery should not play Myki and Ozil together and sacrifice Auba or Lacazette. Bellerin needs cover and Iwobi provides that more than Myki; that’s the type of balance if arsenal is to do well against the big teams.

      1. ThirdManJW says:

        Completely agree! Way too risky. If you’re going to use a player like Ozil or Miki, then play them in the middle in a kind of free role, with the likes of Iwobi, and Welbeck putting in the hard yards around him.

        Cannot believe I now don’t mind seeing more of Iwobi, and Welbeck. I wanted them gone! Haha. But they have improved under Emery, especially Iwobi, and cannot wait to see Nelson next season, unless we can get him back in Jan?

  5. Gogo says:

    I believe its game management. if we press and impose on our opponents early in the first half we might not be able to sustain our stamina till the end.

  6. Maks says:

    I think reason is freshnes and determination of our oponent at the begining of the match. Some of them still think we can be pushed and bullied and some of them just fight we everything they got to
    prevent our game. When their energy level drops then it is much easier for Auba, Ozil and co. to fly over them.

    1. Maks says:

      …fight with everything…

  7. Big G says:

    I think it’s a new team and manager that are being more cautious than we are used to, certainly its a more defensive approach but the change up’s now are paying off with the new tactics and strike force that have been employed for each various game.

  8. Lanert says:

    I think the coach try to utilize the energy of certain players (e.g, Auba, Guendouzi, Iwobi) to bring a total different tune to the party at half time. When certain player are unleashed at 2nd half, they mount on opponent defence like hungry lions, this in other way also boost the other player’s tenacity, by that time, opponents are tired and not fully charged like they were from the early part of the game, then we strike them down.

    However, Emery never gets out of the defensive consciousness of the game even when he makes tactical changes to the attack. For example, I noticed he moved Shaka to the left immediately he substituted Liechsteiner and Michitaryan for a ST and MD respectively. At that point, the opponent knew they were in trouble, yet, he pulled Shaka to the left back when most fans least expected.
    I bet anyone would have thought he intended for a back 3, but he proved otherwise. Morealso, I think Emery is trying every possible means to know the full potential an attributes of every player and how they best compliment one other to produce final result on the pitch, yet, giving the players the ability for cohesion and understanding with one another to produces different end results. If you ask me, I’d say that’s just an idea to make it more difficult for our opponents as we come out unpredictable.

  9. Jah son says:

    @ Lanert
    That was a very good post like your substance that one deserves a ?

  10. Aubamezzette says:

    Against Liverpool i want Welbeck n Iwobi to man the flanks.
    But first lets beat Crystal palace

    1. Thomo says:

      Agree,emery puts out a team to suite the opposition so.i do.hope iwobi & welbeck play to combat the energy and pace of Liverpools midfield

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