Arsenal have not been able to hold together a proper title challenge for a number of seasons now. Despite displaying the ‘pretty’ football that continues to be played at the Emirates, the Gunners have not been able to shut the door at the back for over ten years.
Emery is now trying to change this, but his attacking prowess isn’t doing anything to ease Arsenal supporters of their defensive capability. The signing of Pepe is a fantastic acquisition, but goal scoring wasn’t what was missing from the Gunners’ side. It was a strong centre-back who could lead the team. David Luiz came in for £8 million, but once more his lapses in concentration often cost Chelsea on a number of occasions last year, and there’s no doubt the same will happen this season at Arsenal. For the price, it’s a great signing but for what Arsenal need, it really isn’t excellent business. The same for Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac. Neither, in the top games have proved to be good enough, and funnily enough it’s because Arsenal have not spent big. That is the only way to improve Arsenal’s defensive problems, because they don’t have the players that they need already at the club.
Clean sheets win leagues, and Arsenal don’t have that. Last season the biggest struggle for the Gunners was the away form. It’s like they play to sell Arsenal tickets for excitement. Every time they travelled around the country they looked susceptible to conceding a hatful. They made it hard at strugglers Cardiff and lost to the likes of Southampton. Games, in which they have to be winning if they want top four. It’s massive, defence is absolutely huge and it separates the men from the boys. Liverpool needed an improvement on their goalkeeper and an upgrade on their defender. They went out and spent the money they had to on Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson. This led to the Reds getting 97 points last season and winning the Champions League, keeping a clean sheet in the final. It’s not a coincidence. They spent the money they had on what they needed rather than what they could get.
Until they fix these problems, the Gunners will never win the league. A solid centre-half is what they’re crying out for, and a more defensive outlet away from where they can play on the counter-attack whilst sitting deep. Something Tottenham mastered at times last season. Despite having all of these attacking players, it doesn’t mean that you have to play them. Something, at times Emery doesn’t quite get. He needs to, away from home sit three central midfielders in front of a back four, with two wingers who are able to track back – then a lone striker up top (most likely Pierre Emerick Aubameyang) who can then use their pace to play on the counter whilst adopting a solid shape.
Image from: https://www.premierleague.com/news/928066
It’s yet to be seen how Emery will play away from home at one of the top teams this season, but if they’re to achieve results then he has to try to find a way that makes them tough to beat, and perhaps start settling for draws – even away at Europa League sides such as Manchester United.