Arsenal have always struggled to take that next step and there was a general belief that they would lose to Chelsea at the weekend, which they did. Pat Nevin has been speaking about the match and suggested that Antonio Conte knew exactly how to win, executing the perfect game plan on Saturday. It was an important victory for the Blues as it made up for the loss earlier in the season, while it also put Arsenal out of the title race.
“They got a bit excited by the fact that because Chelsea were playing from the back,”
“It gave them a couple of little sniffs, but they were running straight into a trap set by Antonio.”
This is a little concerning for Arsenal supporters as they are very predictable to play against, which instantly puts them at a disadvantage in big matches. They are great to watch and their brand of football has had a lot of success, but they need to become less predictable, especially in the big matches. The Premier League is becoming more tactical with the arrival of some of the best coaches in the world and Arsenal are being left behind in this regard. Arsene Wenger has been a great manager, but his tactics are too one dimensional for them to win a league title.
Another problem that many believe Arsenal have is a lack of leadership and fight within the squad. This is becoming one of the most common criticisms of this Arsenal side and a number of former players have alluded to it recently. The right mentality is important and Arsenal do struggle to react when things are going against them on the pitch. Sol Campbell said the following on the issue:
“I don’t know what’s happening now, but when I was there we used to police it ourselves. We had the characters to police it ourselves,”
“We didn’t allow the whole 45 minutes to go by, we would address it on the pitch because if you wait for 45 minutes and you are in, you might be 2-0 down.”
Although this is important, I don’t buy into this criticism too much. Arsenal have shown fight when they were 3-0 down against Bournemouth and that has been ignored. Their problems lie more with the tactical side of the game as they are too predictable and easy to beat. It doesn’t look good when Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez fail to close down, but Arsenal aren’t a heavy pressing side. Their defensive set-up creates a lot of issues and is why they struggled on Saturday.
Arsenal haven’t made a huge number of signings this season and those that have come in have struggled to break into the first team. Lucas Perez was their main attacking sign in to add some pace to the front-line. He initially struggled to make an impact, but he is slowly growing into English football and will have an important role to play over the coming months. He spoke to the Arsenal website about his season so far.
“Players are all different, so some take longer to adapt than others. It was still quite a change for me to get used to the English league when I moved here from Spain. Everyone needs some time to adjust.
“Now I feel really comfortable and I’ve fitted in well to the team – that’s particularly important for a player.”
It is good to hear that he has settled in England now and Arsenal fans will be hoping for the improvement to continue over the second half of the season. He has shown that he can score vital goals and offers something a little bit different to the other attacking options. Although he wasn’t the marquee signing that supporters wanted, he is a good squad player to have.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Stuart MacFarlane