Following a tough opening couple of games against Manchester City and Chelsea, Arsenal have done well to put three straight wins on the board. The latest of which came against Newcastle on Saturday, however, despite this being an overall positive the are some underlying problems lingering.
In this tactical analysis, I’ll examine the trends of Arsenal’s defensive setup that has led to this.
Issues Out Wide
When looking closer at the manner in which Arsenal have conceded those nine goals, there seems to be a clear theme. Their weakness comes from the wide areas. The main thing that can back this up is that six of the nine goals they’ve conceded have come from crosses/cutbacks into the box.
Of course, its going to take time for Unai Emery to get Arsenal to play how he likes both on and off the ball, but here are a few issues that have been popping up quite frequently.
What we saw here was a lapse in concentration that has been almost too common a theme at Arsenal in recent years. Many may think Bellerin would be in the wrong for following Willian up the pitch but if, however, if Mkhitaryan had filled in, Arsenal would’ve been able to deal with the Chelsea attack a bit better.
Trouble Keeping Shape
Another issue that seems to be running strong is the positioning of the defence. There times when it’s understandable to see them dragged out of shape, however, too often do they lack a proper shape to begin with. This is something we saw yet again this weekend:
This problem is something that should be very easy to fix, however, we’ve seen time and again over the years that leaving men free in the box has been an issue. Hopefully for Arsenal, the introduction of Stephen Lichsteiner could help them become more structured off the ball.
However, the issue with keeping shape isn’t one that is solely to do with full backs but the defensive line as a whole. When certain situations occur, the defence don’t seem to be a unit as some may react differently to others rather than moving as one.
We’ve seen this various times this season, but the most disappointing time was on the opening day.
Looking at the goals Arsenal have tended to concede this season, the main issue has been a mix individual mistakes and teething problems.
We’ve seen that the players are trying to implement Emery’s playing style in pressing high up the pitch to regain possession. With that, however, we’ve seen that the transitions some players will need to make in those stages are taking a while to grasp.
On the positive side though, these goals were preventable and these issues can be worked on, on the training ground going forward. As we’re only five games into the season we shouldn’t have to worry too much, however, should this continue as consistency as it has done as the season goes on, a shift in defensive personnel may have to be considered.