The Lack Of Natural Wingers.
Frankly, the lack of width at the club is frightening. In my opinion, every single player that has featured out wide this season is more suited to a central role. Aubameyang and Welbeck are strikers. Özil, Mkhitaryan and Iwobi are natural number 10s. Subsequently, this has a negative impact on the team in three ways. Firstly, we become incredibly predictable, particularly away from home. We don’t have any player who can beat a man, or lead us on the breakaway. This allows our opponents to push further and further up the field, knowing that there is no potential danger if there is a turnover. When we’ve had a natural winger in the past, for example Walcott, teams had to drop slightly deeper in an attempt to counter his pace in behind. This allowed more space for the likes of Özil to operate and lessened the workload of our defensive-minded players as teams were wary of over-committing against us. The second main concern about this is that our players start to crowd each other out. Particularly the likes of Özil, Mkhitaryan and Iwobi. All of them like to occupy the same areas, drifting across the front three in the free role. This makes it harder for each of the players mentioned to find space, which in turn makes it difficult for them to create chances to the best of their ability. This can be seen when you consider that they have a combined assist total of 16 this season, across all competitions. Undeniably, the assist count isn’t always a fair measure of creativity, as it doesn’t account for the finishing ability of the strikers. However, I think we can all agree that they are more than capable of producing much more than they’ve shown this season. The team’s attempt to prevent this is by relying heavily on our fullbacks/wingbacks to provide our width. Prior to his injury, Bellerín was key to our attack, and Sead Kolašinac has created the most chances of any Arsenal player this season, despite not making his first appearance until late-November. In some ways, this is a positive. However, it leaves our defense very exposed, which is clear to see when you consider that we have conceded 50 goals domestically this season, keeping just 8 clean sheets in the process. For the reasons outlined above, I believe that it is absolutely essential that we sign a natural wideman this Summer. I’m aware that Reiss Nelson will be returning, which is undeniably a boost, but I still think that we need another. Recent reports have linked us to Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser, David Neres of Ajax & Ivorian Nicolas Pépé. The Lille man would realistically be out of our price range, and is also being linked to the likes of Bayern Munich, however the other two seem attainable.
The Lack Of Consistency Regarding The System/Personnel.
In the past, we’ve criticised Arsène Wenger for being naive, and failing to adapt his system/personnel depending on the outfit that we’re up against. However, Emery seems to be guilty of the polar opposite at times. He doesn’t seem to be convinced of what our best formation is, let alone our best XI. We’ve seen him use the 3-4-2-1, 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-1-2 on numerous occasions, as well as dabbling in the 4-4-2. In terms of the players themselves, there are very few ever-presents. Aubameyang and Lacazette have faced spells on the bench, aswell as out wide. Özil seemingly isn’t trusted in away games. Torreira hasn’t always been guaranteed a start. Maitland-Niles has been used in a variety of positions, as has Xhaka. The list goes on. No one can deny that it is important to be capable to play in various systems/positions. However, it can also make it very strenuous to get a consistent run of form together. Playing out wide one week, then being benched and finally playing centrally, all within the space of a week. It has caused some players to have stop-start seasons, where they have one phenomenal performance followed by some sub-par displays in a different position. In terms of changing the system between one with three centre backs as opposed to two, no one seems to be clear of their role. If a striker drops deep, do you follow him? If three defenders are up against a lone striker; whose job is it to pick him up? Scenarios like that have problematic, and caused our system to be disjointed, with large gaps between players being exposed on regular occasions. Obviously, having a set system wouldn’t fix this completely, however I believe it would contribute to keeping this at a minimum if there was more consistency in our system and lineups.
Our Wage Structure.
Unfortunately, our wage budget is a complete mess. The January transfer window was a prime example. We were unable to sign a single player permanently because of the wage cap. This is because we have numerous players on over-inflated wages. Obviously, the most prominent of these is Mesut Özil, who penned a deal worth £350,000 in early 2018. Nonetheless, the problem lies much deeper than this. 30-year old HenrikhMkhitaryan, out-of-form Shkodran Mustafi, inconsistent Sead Kolašinac and squad players like Jenkinson/Elneny amass just under £500,000 per week. Which is over £25million per year. Due to confirmed departures, we’ll be recouperating the wages of Ramsey, Cech, Denis Suárez, Lichtsteiner and Welbeck. However, this must be simply the beginning. We’re in a vicious cycle where we can’t attract players because they’re seeking a wage similar to Özil, while we subsequently can’t afford to attract world class players because the majority of our recourses have been invested in the current group of players. We need a complete overhaul and restructure of the wage bill, or we’ll continue to suffer in the long run. It might be a gradual process, but it is necessary. If we have to sign youngsters with high potential on low salaries rather than the ready-made stars; so be it. In the long run we will see the benefits. At the moment, we’re going nowhere. So, in order to take two steps forward, taking one step backwards first might be necessary.
Sadly, these are far from the only issues visible at the club nowadays. I simply believe that they are three which must be rectified as soon as possible. Hopefully, we can have a successful Summer with some good additions to the squad, a clearout of some of the deadwood and some tactical tweaks which have a positive effect on our results. Here’s hoping that better times lie ahead of us.