Saturday, 3 February 2018

Deadline Day Dealings Don’t Disguise Defensive Deficiencies At Arsenal

With the transfer window closed Arsenal have added Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Henrikh Mkhitaryan as they look to improve their attacking options after the departure of Alexis Sanchez. As good as both players might be they’re not going to do an awful lot to stop us conceding goals or throwing games away. Judging by the midweek performance at Swansea it’s going to take not only a whole new defence and midfield, but also a complete change in how we play.

Don’t get me wrong I’m delighted with the arrival of both players and they are both genuinely top quality. We had to dispose of an awful lot of other players to bring them in though and there is a worry that the squad has been left a little on the thin side. Aubameyang can’t play in the Europa League as Borussia Dortmund will be in it which means Alexandre Lacazette will have to be our main striker in what is our best route to Champions League football for next season.

In the group stages of the Europa League we played reserves and fringe players, but I can only imagine we will take the competition a lot more seriously now. To be honest a lot of those players have now departed the club and there is a sense we could actually be building some genuine strength for the future. Meanwhile we have to hope those players we have can stay relatively injury free with our options slightly limited.

Unfortunately it didn’t look like we even tried to bring in a defensive midfielder and that’s where the team is really struggling. We don’t have a disciplined player who will sit in front of the defence, break up opposition attacks and track runners. Some of our players can put in performances that suggest they know how to play the role on occasions, but none of them can do it on a consistent basis.

Arsene Wenger and his coaching staff seem either unable or incapable of teaching any players to play in that role or how to defend as a team. Again we can put in good performances on occasions, but we consistently give the ball away in very dangerous positions and fail to track runners. As bad as our defence can be at times they will always struggle when the players in front of them continue to expose them.

Those performances are accentuated away from hone, but we don’t seem to suffer so much at home. The manager has said there is no reason why a team should be any different away from home than at home, but we are the team with the biggest disparity between our home and away form. Maybe we need to change the way we play away from home because it is definitely working at home.

Speaking of home games we face Everton at the Emirates today in what is another must win game. We’re now eight points behind the top four and it looks like we are going to have to settle for sixth place. With Liverpool playing Spurs tomorrow we can make up ground on one or both of them and Chelsea seem to have hit a wall too, but we are in a worse place than any of those teams.

The chances are Aubameyang will start on the bench today as the manager usually introduces new players from the bench as long as he’s passed fit to play. I was at the last home league game when we put four goals past Palace in the first 22 minutes and more of the same would do very nicely today. I can’t see Everton making it quite so easy for us, but I still expect us to win by at least a couple of goals. Only City have taken more points and scored more goals at home than Arsenal and that home form needs to continue to keep our slim chances of a top four finish alive.

We will see the return of Theo Walcott today after we sold him to Everton only a few weeks ago and life at Everton has started well for him. He scored two goals in their mideeek win at home to Leicester and he could benefit from the game time he was clearly not going to get at Arsenal. I have no doubt he will get a good reception from the Arsenal fans today because we chose to sell him and he didn’t agitate for a move.

Everton have turned things around under Sam Allardyce and moved away from the wrong end of the table, but they were in danger of slipping back before they beat Leicester. They have a very poor record away from home with only one win in 12 games and only two teams have scored less goals on their travels. I’m not certain they are finished with their skirt with the bottom half of the table and I thought they were more than a little lucky to beat Leicester.

I expect the manager to play a similar team to the one that was so poor in midweek with the possibility of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jack Wilshere coming in as well as Aubameyang if he’s fit to play. We certainly have to do more defensively than we did against Swansea and we have to do an awful lot more offensively too. That hasn’t been a problem at home this season and I don’t expect it will be today either.

That’s it for today.

See you tomorrow.


  1. Agree 100% with headline. The fm is only interested in attacking soccer.
    He doesn't bother about the defnce.He was lucky to inherit the GG
    defence. Since then it has been shambolic and is the main reason'
    why the gunners bottle it when closing on the title not once but
    at least for to five times.
    At any other top team e would have been fired ages ago. Don't be
    surprised Walcott runs riot and the blues win.

    1. With our home record and their away record that would be a huge surprise.