“Score! Make some moves! Pass the ball! Make some substitutions!” These are the shouts echoing in my house while watching an Arsenal match; I am sure you can relate to this if you are an Arsenal fan.
Since the beginning of this season, they have been underperforming, and it leaves fans so sad. They have been unbeaten for the last six games and recorded a clean sheet in 5 of them across all competitions.
Despite the impressive plays in the recent matches, their form is still not up to average. Looking at their position on the table since the beginning of the season, you would understand they need to strategize and act fast.
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Flaws noticed in Arsenal FC.
Arsenal began the season with a win against Fulham in Craven Cottage. They have had four wins in fourteen games until their last five games.
Starting from the board’s shortcomings, they froze Mesut Ozil and Sokratis Papastathopoulos from the group, i.e., they were not included in the team for this season.
Since the post-lockdown era, both had issues with the board when the clubs continued the 2019/2020 season. They didn’t agree to a pay cut on their salary because they felt the board didn’t provide enough justifiable reason to do that. As a result of the issue, Mikel Arteta, Arsenal’s coach, excluded them from the squad list for this season. The center back and the midfielder are undoubtedly key players in the squad.
On the coach’s side, he has been too defensive since the beginning of the season. He lacked the use of creative players like Mesut Ozil, Dani Ceballos, etc. The gameplay has been more of “not to lose” than “to win’. They are not expressive enough, and it has been affecting each of their game. It is understandable to play defensively against bigger teams like Manchester City and Liverpool, but teams in the lower ranks of the league are supposed to be faced offensively.
Arsenal’s formation has been 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 for a while. The past matches have been played with a 3-4-3 style. Using this formation, you are conditioning at least six players to play defensively.
On the players’ side, they have not had a stable starting XI due to injury-prone players, inconsistencies, lack of form. They have lots of injury-prone players like Gabriel Martinelli, Thomas Partey, Pablo Mari, and Rob Holding. Injury causes inconsistencies.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been out of form for a while. The one-time golden boot winner has always scored 20+ goals in a full season since he came to the Premier League. This season, he has just five goals in 19 games (half of the season), and it is not impressive. He has been played out of position by the coach. He is a natural center-forward being played as a left-wing forward. He can’t deliver as expected if he continues in the wrong position.
Arsenal doesn’t score many goals; no goals also result in no wins. In their fourth game of the season against Liverpool FC, they bottled a goal lead. Lacazette scored the opener, then Liverpool scored three goals after and won that game. If Arsenal had added more goals, the game might have ended in a draw.
What then is the solution?
Arteta and Arsenal underperforming stars have a lot to do concerning the form. Sokratis is not in Arteta’s plan; he should be sold so that the club can replace him with someone needed.
Aubameyang has been contributing more than 30% of Arsenal’s goal tally over the past two seasons. His performance will go a long way in turning the fortunes of the club. He should train harder to be back in form. As the captain of the team, his form would indirectly affect the morale of the other players. The coach should ease them into the squad for the injury-prone players as soon as they are out of injury.
On the coach’s side, he should make use of the creative players. The club should also work on signing Houssem Aouar (an attacking midfielder); to enhance the midfield flow.
The club also needs a Left Wing Forward (LWF) like Wilfred Zaha; so that Aubameyang can play in his right position alongside Alexander Lacazette.
In their last five premier league games, they won four and drew one; there were things also noticed. They switched back to the 4-2-3-1 formation, having Lacazette as the center forward. They also kept clean sheets in the five games, an impressive one indeed. The last time they had that record was in February 2009. They should study the changes in the game flow and try to keep to what works for them.