At least in Unai Emery we have a manager who tells us as it is
“We didn’t achieve our first target this year…[Chelsea] are now better than us”
No excuses, a simple comment that Arsenal were not good enough and this season has been a failure.
“We are really disappointed today but in general we made a new step in improving and being competitive. We made one more step than last year.”
Once the dust have settled, I imagine Arsenal fans views on the 2018/19 season will be as split as the EU referendum vote.
You have those who will see the step forward we made this year.
In the 1st season without Arsene Wenger, we finished a place higher, with more points and made a European final. We were better than last year and went on a 22 game unbeaten run.
On the other hand, we capitulated at the end of the season, finished outside of the top 4 and lost that Europa League final.
Emery is right that we have taken a step forward this season, but it is probably not a big enough step.
Some of the boo boys are already out, calling for his head and demanding the club go for Max Allegri. Emery needs to be given his 2nd year of his contract.
Manchester United have shown that chopping and changing manager following Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure does not work. Getting rid of a manager costs money and puts you back to starting again. A much better idea is to get behind Emery, for the club to support him and his vision.
If next season, we have not taken a bigger step forward, than we have a discussion.
I am sure Emery already knows he has lessons to learn from this season, but he will be defined based on whether he learns them to take us forward:
Sell Mesut Ozil
The time has come for Mesut Ozil to leave Arsenal.
It is not just about the money he is on, but also his overall attitude. The final he was the worst player on the pitch and he seems to drag everyone else down.
it is like having a moody employee in the office. When on top form, they might be your top performer, but their mood sets the mood for the office. If they are having an off day, they drag everyone else down with them. You get shot of them and the mood in the office immediately changes.
The Ozil problem needs to be solved.
Return to 4 at the back
I have never been a fan of 3 at the back.
It puts too much onus on the full backs, leaves too much space in behind them and not enough cover in front.
With Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira in the middle, it also makes Arsenal a little too defensive.
Against Chelsea, there was a huge disconnection between defence and attack.
Jose Mourinho calls it transitional players – players who can take the ball from defence into midfield, and then from midfield into attack.
When we play 3412 we lack the players in midfield who can take the ball off the defence and drive forward into attack – especially when Mesut Ozil is off form.
Returning to 4 at the back will see us return to 4231 and see us transition the ball much better
Sign genuine width
Alex Iwobi is not good enough to play week in, week out but is one of the few transitional players we have. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are not natural wide men. Arsenal need to invest in a pair of wide forwards.
In the early part of the season, we were a threat in behind the opponents fulls backs. This was due to Iwobi and Aubameyang getting in behind – or making space for Bellerin and Monreal to get in behind.
Playing 4 at the back, with Xhaka and Torreira in the middle, Arsenal have a stable base and centre. Add two wide men either side of a number 10 and the team is starting to take shape.
Decide his best striker
A tough decision needs to be made up top.
We have two top class strikers who both broke our transfer record. Unai Emery needs to decide who his first choice is; and stick to it.
There is no point having two of the best strikers in the world if you do not have the players to get the ball to them.
Sacrifice one up top to add an extra man deeper. That will lead to better control of the ball, better transition through the phases and more chances created.
Sign Exciting Youth
in the last few windows, we have seen the side sign the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Sokratis and Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Arsenal need to move away from signing experienced, highly paid players and return to signing younger talents.
Spurs have got to where they are with a transfer policy of buying players under 25-years-old. They are cheaper – both in terms of salary and wages – and can be sold on for profit. This enables you to continually evolve and improve the team.
Arsenal operated like this in the 00s, but in the 2010s we have focused more on buying senior pros – from Petr Cech through to Mesut Ozil and the more recent acquisitions.
This summer, we need to focus on young, hungry players that Emery can mould into what he wants.
“Next year is a big challenge to take another step in our way, with our young players and the spirit.”