Earlier this week, Arsenal lost the match against Aston Villa, who started the day in the bottom three of the league. Not only did they lose, but they lost terribly, without any shot on target in the entire match. Being completely nullified by the Aston Villa defence that has shipped in 66 goals already this season, second only to Norwich as the team with the highest EPL goals conceded.
Arsenal attackers were completely nullified the whole match, by the second worst defence in the league. But why would arsenal a team that were consistently top on chances created in the league become this mediocre?
In truth Arsenal has been mediocre for years now
creating very little chances for their strikers. But this has been made less apparent by the presence of Aubameyang who is an elite striker, one of the best in the world. In the last two seasons he has completely obliterated his xG, already scoring 25 goals in all competitions this season (Transfermarkt ), scoring from half chances and sometimes making chances for himself.
Arsenal are 16th on chances created with 288 chances created, ahead of Bournemouth 272 and below bottom 3 Watford at 290.
By comparison rivals like Manchester City has 558 chances, that's more than twice the number or chances Arsenal has created.
What went wrong?
How did Arsenal go from super technical, not physical to (debatable) physical non technical?
People forget Arsenal replaced: Santi Carzola, Rosicky, Ramsey, Wilshere and Ozil who is on his way out, with Torreira, Xhaka, Ceballos (loan) Guendouzi,El-Neny and Willock. Players who are not good enough for a club as big as and with Arsenal's ambition, they're just not Arsenal or top 4 good.
Here ar some Examples:
- Xhaka: a limited player, he has the leadership skills and attitude needed, he can be good at times, but needs a certain mould partner to do well, in isolation, he's really flawed hence it becomes hard to set up a team without factoring in a partner to cover his flaws. He's not the only reason Arsenal hasn't finished top 4 since his signing, but you can't argue it hasn't played a part. I think he is slow and limited in the middle, hence Arsenal play a back three with defenders not good enough for that.
- Torreira: He's not what Arsenal hoped he'd be, I think they really need to move on. Never managed to get a string of games under former boss Unai Emery, Freddie Ljunberg or Arteta.
- Ceballos: He is the closest thing in the squad to what Arsenal needs, could be ok but he's not the end product needed right now, still young, and could be good enough with time.
- Guendouzi: Probably won't be good enough and should be sold.
- Ozil: He will probably run down his contract and leave in 10 months.
- Willock: Needs a loan.
- El-Neny: Should be sold.
- Lacazette: who's obviously a class striker, but has been on a rather bad patch for quite some time now.
Serious work needs to be done in that part of the pitch, to be able to compete.
What would be the solution to at least manage the root of the problem?
Since the midfield isn't creative enough (especially when playing 3-4-3, sacrificing an extra man), they should try a 4-3-3 and press high up the pitch, that way they can create chances and relieve pressure from their defenders (who are not even good enough to begin with) they should also focus on the FA cup final against Chelsea, and use the remaining matches to give some match experience to their youth players and rest the first team for Chelsea.
Arsenal's premier league season is over. The best position they can finish this season is 8th position and won't qualify for Europe, unless through the FA cup, which they'll play against Chelsea in the final. They're going to finish under local rivals Tottenham again for the 4th season in a row.
It's not so doom and gloom for Arsenal, with Aubameyang set to sign a new £250,000 a week contract in the coming weeks. But with the transfer window coming up in a few weeks, I think it's time for them to get their acts together and finally have a good transfer window, especially with rivals Chelsea strengthening having already purchased Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner. And Manchester United almost certain to sign Sancho having already strengthened in January by signing Bruno Fernandez, Arsenal are in risk of being left behind.