Two games into the season, playing against 2018/19 champions Manchester City and away to Chelsea. Arsenal are on zero points. But there is no need to press a panic button
Arsenal have beaten Manchester City just once one 7 games – that FA Cup Semi-final, and not beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since 2011 – when Robin van Persie scored a hat trick.
Last year we got 1 point from the two games in a torrid draw against Chelsea.
There are positives to be had. Whilst we did not get the result against Chelsea, it is the best I have seen us play at Stamford Bridge for 7 years.
Moving forward, things are hopefully about to get a lot easier for Arsenal.
We start today with a home game against West Ham, the start of a run of 8 games which you would be disappointed if Arsenal did not get at least 18 points out of. 5 wins and a draw.
West Ham will be the 2nd game of the season I have already missed.
The club messed up my away scheme which meant they did not buy a Chelsea ticket on my behalf, and I am with family over this Bank Holiday weekend so unable to go West Ham.
Luckily for me going down The Arsenal is not a job, but something I choose to do, so I do not need to rely on going to every game just to earn a modest income. I have the Monday – Friday grind for that.
That panic button is certainly not ready to be pressed, but it might be time for Emery to ring in a couple of changes.
The first is formation.
During the first half of pre-season, Emery seemed to favour 4312 with 2 up top.
With players returning from World Cup duty, and perhaps under pressure to try and put Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan into the same team, we started the season 4321, leaving Alexandre Lacazette on the bench.
It might be worthwhile for Emery to revisit the formation he favoured during pre-season.
Lacazette and Aubameyang. A dual threat.
Some will say that they can not play together, but both are smart players who enjoy each others company. Lacazette has a tendency to drift to the right during games, Aubameyang the left. So whilst the would both be down the middle, they would not be getting in eachothers way.
Thinking out loud, they could become the new Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole.
The problem with playing the two upfront is then we sacrifice any sort of width we had from playing Mkhitaryan, Ozil and Alex Iwobi (or Aaron Ramsey). We would ultimately play one number 10. A shoot out between Mkhitaryan and Ozil.
This would mean that we are once more relying on our full backs to provide the width.
Nacho Monreal is the only option on the left, but it is perhaps time for Stephan Lichsteiner to come in at right back.
This is not a slight on Hector Bellerin. He has not been as poor as some are making out.
On another day against Chelsea, if the finishing was better, he would’ve come away from the game with a hat trick of assists. Instead he was horribly exposed towards the end, with Chelsea’s winner coming from his flank.
The problem is under Emery’s system he does not have the cover of a winger. He is expected to defend and attack, and it is draining.
Mauricio Pochettino up the road uses his full backs in a similar way, but he rotated them almost every game.
If Emery is to ask his full backs to bet up and down the wing every game, he is going to have to expect them to run out of gas.
In Lichsteiner Arsenal have an experienced, dependable right back who needs to be rotated in and out with Bellerin to ensure that both men do not tire too quickly.
It actually would have been a smart move to sub Bellerin off for Lichsteiner on 70 minutes against Chelsea, such was how tired he looked.
The same scenario is on the left. Once Sead Kolasinac is back I would expect him to share the duties at full back with Monreal.
That leaves the middle of the park.
By playing a central 3, it will give the defence a lot of cover, and also ensure we have men who can drop out wide when the full backs have bombed forward.
You see Manchester City do this a lot when Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy have bombed on; Fernadinho sits between the centre backs ensuring defensive stability.
Lucas Torreira needs to start alongside Matteo Guendouzi.
I think as the weeks role on, we will see Granit Xhaka come in for Guendouzi, but the moment the Frenchman certainly deserves his place in the team on merit.
So do we got for Aaron Ramsey or Granit Xhaka?
My preference is the Welshman.
As we are at home, Ramsey is more attacking than his Swiss team mate. With a 3 man forward line rather than a 4 man, we need one of the midfield 3 to be able to break forward and support. Ramsey is the best player in the squad for that.
Lichsteiner Mustafi Sokratis Nacho
Ramsey Torreira Guendouzi
*since writing this blog Ozil has called in “sick”