Arsenal’s defensive faults and Transformation under Unai
Arsenal has triumphed in 12 games in all competitions with 1 draw and 2 losses with Arsene Wenger’s successor Unai Emery in the driving seat.
That marked the end of Arsène Wenger’s error and was the 21st and final season for the French man, as he sadly announced his departure from the club on 20 April 2018.
A new era began under Unai Emery and there have been significant changes from the Team’s style of play, tactical aspects and character.
First there are negative and positive things to look at in this article. Let’s divide them into three aspects, that’s Defense, offence and midfield;
The major difference between Unai Emery’s Arsenal and Wenger’s, is the general shape of the team.
Under Wenger Arsenal didn’t press the opponent much as they had Sanchez Upfront as the only man running and pressing and not getting any support from the teammates, Whereas Emery has improved Arsenal’s pressing very significantly and defense is an important part of pressing.
Pressing high up the pitch, you need to do it as one team, with close gaps not more than 15-20 meters between the offensive and defensive line. This is the same exact style Maurizio Sari is using at Chelsea; attack and defend as a team.
In the picture there above arsenal are keeping the gap as Chelsea is playing the ball back and also closing the gap up.
But for this system to work well you have to be with a perfect organized defense and that is where arsenal needs much more improvement because sometimes they switch off more so on the right back side where Bellerin plays.
Playing as a close unit has many benefits but on the side of Arsenal they still needs to improve on it, to avoid these runs behind the line.
Another observation I have taken and it’s of great change is, Arsenal playing the ball out from the back, has many advantages when it’s done in the right way because it invites the opponent to press you creating the open spaces for your team to attack and also to keep the possession so that your opponent is forced to move up the pitch and press creating spaces in the middle which helps to play short passes while attacking the opponent.
Ball played out from the back.
The opponent side is not well organized and they have a big space in the midfield.
Becauses the opponent side is disorganized the player in red is left out with three options to pass the ball, with also another support behind a little on the left hand side.
In order to perform in this transition, you need to have a goalkeeper who is very good with his feet and he should be a very good ball player.
Now this becomes a challenge when Arsenal plays Petr Cech in goal. Cech is a good goalkeeper but he is not someone who is good with this style of play that’s why he struggles when he is under pressure which is a disadvantage when your team plays from the back.
Chech receives the ball.
He is having two passing options out wide.
Chech passes the ball to the opponent, just to escape from being punished. (Cardiff vs. Arsenal)
This has been the biggest Arsenal problem ever since Unai Emery arrived at the club.
Chech did three mistakes against Cardiff which would have costed the team three points, he was almost losing the ball against the opponents quite often and sadly he almost scored in his own goal after passing the ball to the near post against Manchester city.
Unai needs to sort this out otherwise this could be a big problem for the club in the near future.
Finalizing with defense let’s look at Bellerin.
Hector is a good player going forward but he forgets his responsibility of defending, he continuously makes mistakes which puts the entire team under pressure.
He leaves a very big gap between the defense line which leaves the entire team helpless and that caused Chelsea’s first goal in a 3-2 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Bellerin is wide apart from his defense line which opens the door for the opponent.
Looking for all these examples, means Unai still has a lot to do to stabilize and strengthen his team defense wise.
See also my next analysis on Unai’s Midfield in my next episode coming soon.