Why do Arsenal play so badly in the first half(s)?

It is an amazing stat that Arsenal have had 11 qins and a draw from our last 12 games, but in not one single game were we leading at half time. In yesterday’s draw at Selhurst Park we were behind at the break as well. So why on Earth do we always start so badly?

As Rob Holding said after yesterday’s game: “We’ve come out in the second half in our past few matches and really turned on the style and scored some goals,”

“We just need to start a bit faster and play how we do in the second half. That’s something to work on for the next game.

“It’s the end of the winning run and we’re disappointed with that, but as long as we don’t lose, it’s one of them.

“They has a couple of penalties and apparently our second goal was handball, but I haven’t seen anything yet. It was an entertaining game for the fans I suppose, but we’re disappointed not to keep that winning streak going.”

To be fair to Emery, last season we probably would have dropped our heads and lost to Palace after going behind, but it is still very worrying indeed. Can anyone explain why we can’t start at the same pace that we finish?

Darren N


  1. jon fox says:

    Much increased fitness form the Wenger era is one key factor. We are apparently top of the sprints per game table NOW. In football as in life, increased desire leads to better results.

  2. gotanidea says:

    Probably because of Arsenal’s training system, because this slow start problem has been existing since Wenger’s era. Emery and the other newcomers need some time to change it

    So just be patient and enjoy the upcoming Liverpool game. Maybe Arsenal would have similar pattern in that match, unless Emery can make his team more unpredictable

  3. Innit says:

    Most of our players are average so it takes time to for them to get going or play as a team As opposed to teams with more top players ie Chelsea who got big lead earlier than us.

    That’s my guess

    Chelsea played away against Burnley and did much better in the first half. They have much more quality in their first team than we do.

    OUR best players were Torreira, Guendouzi, Leno Aubameyang and Lacazette

    Also don’t forget we had Xhaka as a LB
    Bellerin isn’t a good defender
    Our CBs are average
    And Aubameyang/Lacazette pairing may not work well
    Ozil looked average out there

    If Koscielny, Monreal and Kolsanic were all healthy and Lichtsteiner played instead of Bellerin, it would have been different


    Play Bellerin at Right Wing or Right wing back with 3 at the back ie

    But Mustafi, Sokratis, Holding, Manyp are not good enough to start if we want to be a Top 4 team.

    We must get two top CB and a Top fullback

    Again just my humble opinion

    1. Sal says:

      they will line up 4 3 3 for sure, 4 4 2 would be my call to try to hurt them on the counter don’t forget we got auba and laca deadly up front, against this team i would be happy to counter and play direct football no short passing with liverpool that press with our gift goals no thank you , direct balls to our wings and our strikers to stretch them and keep the full backs on their toes we don’t want them to push up.

      the problem is who plays lb it has to be bellerin at rb the pace of those forwards makes bellerin and iwobi a must those runs need to get tracked or else!!! would love to have a fresh Kos, Sokratis, Montreal and AMN for this game, we need all of them here’s hoping for a draw or a sucker punch, a red card to appreciate the game would also be great to Keita or VVD 🙂

    2. Midkemma says:

      Bellerin can’t defend yet Emery has been picking him over Lich…

      I think Emery is telling both our fullbacks to push up and let the DM be the immediate cover with the CB for that side, the way both Bellerin and Lich was more central when Mustafi stepped out leads me to think this, Bellerin defending against CP was alright and it was a shame that he got subbed due to injury/muscular pains.

      Also, consider how far forward Lich was when he played LB, getting caught out a few times, this wasn’t what I would expect from such an experienced winner unless he was being told to be that aggressive going forward.

    3. Break-on-through says:

      Guendouzi for me, was one of the poor ones, too. Allot of the time, he had the empty space to run into, could then drag some pressure away from the guys further forward, if it’s done right. The transition, from our defence to our attack, it just wasn’t quick enough, for me he was partly responsible. Ramsey has allot to prove, he can be good at times, a decent threat going forward and is good at pressurizing, he can also last the entire 90. He’s on bad form ..but it’s for a number of reasons. I believe he needs to be utilized better and that maybe we could have used him from the start of our last game. Welbeck too, he’s in good form though, with the type of athleticism that we faced yesterday, they could’ve had much bigger parts to play, in my mind that is how I see it. Emery didn’t have enough time, to check the dossier and work on his tactics, compared to – per usual. Others, in here are probably thinking similar, but with different players, Elneny, solid for the most part, has allot of running in him, and he’s eager to prove himself. Someone, in my opinion, they should have been trying to reach the mindset, of some of our other players. A Captain, if he explained to them, how they can make their eagerness/competitiveness and their extra resources in the tank, work for them, in training, all while, our star players, might likely be taking it a bit easier. Tell them to do anything, other than, go easy.

  4. Sue says:

    Just saw an article on Martin Atkinson… since 2010 he has refereed 18 of our away games and we have only won two of them (both against Sunderland)

  5. Break-on-through says:

    Someone, can’t remember his name. During the game, mentioned how, it looked like we were reserving our energy for the second half. I agreed, it looked like they were waiting for the second half. Palace were not huffing and blowing though, the way Leicester did, they knew it was coming so they looked like they were doing the very same thing in return. It f**ked things up for us, we created good chances during that first half, this was the half that we should have tried to take advantage of. They were there for the taking, a lack-lustre Arsenal, edged ahead in the second, so that first half, that one, surely needed the quicker passing along with our trickiest players taking on their markers.

  6. Midkemma says:

    Emery has worked hard on the teams fitness and we have more gas in the tank for the 2nd half, when the opposition may slow down we do not and that change is what makes us lethal in the 2nd half.

    I guess there are many aspects and I think fitness is a big variable.

  7. Jerick says:

    We could have been a goal or 2 up in the first half had Lacazette took his chances. I don’t understand why the players are getting such bashing after playing their 3rd game in less than a week. I didn’t expect to be winning every game (though I wish we could) but a point away is okay. We’re playing with a makeshift LB (or the entire defense) but I hope top players will be rested in midweek.

  8. John Doe says:

    You guys can hate me as much as you want or call me idiot but i believe Emery is an average manager based on statistics and that’s why PSG sacked him , firstly just look at our XG in all of our matches , we have been lucky and should have lost most of them , in fact statistically we have been much worse than last season , in the XG table we are one the worst teams and based on the players we have it shouldn’t be like that , secondly last season despite our losses we had a much better control on the games , our possessions were much better than this season , if you look at XGs of games from managers like Tuchel , jardim , Klopp , Sarri , Guardiola or Pochettino you will see that they control games much better than us , they may lose some games but it’s because of bad luck BUT we have won some games because of Good luck and we should have lost many of them , statistically our decline will come and we will probably finish 9th or 10th this season.

    1. jon fox says:

      I don’t hate you. But you ARE an idiot! I assume, wrongly perhaps, that you DO believe in actually playing matches , rather than just decide the results by pre-existing statistics? Your post indicates otherwise, statto!

      1. ozziegunner says:

        jon, I think you are wasting your time and effort even responding to John Doe. His viewpoint on Unai Emery is not supported by anyone who knows anything about football.
        The interesting thing is that he has never put forward the name of a manager available at the time, who was better credentialed than Emery or would do a better job thus far, given the resources available at Arsenal.

    2. ken1945 says:

      John Doe, out of curiosity and using your statistics, could you tell me how Emery compares to those managers you mentioned when analysing first and second half performances in isolation.
      That’s what this post is querying and it might throw some light on to your views that Emery is an average manager.
      If, as I suspect, your stats show a marked improvement from first to second half, does that not show he is someone who actually reads the game and acts on it!
      Looking forward to your analysis.

      1. ozziegunner says:


    3. TH14-TW14 says:

      I have said exactly this about this season and last season in other articles. We were better as a team last season than this season, irrespective of the results. We were dominant at home and same cant be said of this season. Let the masturbation on Emery continue until the wheels come falling off.

      1. Admin says:

        Are you serious? We lost to Man City at home and have won every single other game!
        We have won 3 away games this season compared to 4 away in the whole of last season.
        How were we better last season? And can we have facts rather than rhetoric….

  9. David says:

    It’s simple. He’s feeling the league out, and to some extent his own team. Imo the Premier League is tough because it’s unpredictable due to the pace and intensity. Cmon Pep didn’t have a smooth 1st season and the team left behind by Pellegrini wasn’t as bad as this Arsenal team, at least not defensively. Get Barca into the Premier League I guarantee they won’t run away like they do in La Liga.
    Another factor you have to consider is the team wasn’t coached before. Maybe with Kozzy and Ramsey not playing as often they don’t have a leader on the pitch. Unlike Chelsea in Conte’s maiden season who still had leaders and regulars in the team who can actually function without a coach, Arsenal have no reference every time they go out so they get overwhelmed in the first 30.
    But like most teams give them time to find their feet and I’m sure some leaders will emerge.

    1. ozziegunner says:


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