Unai Emery did not have the largest of transfer budgets to work with last summer after succeeding Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager.
Taking that into account, the Spaniard moved for free agent Stephan Lichtsteiner when it came to trying to strengthen that right-back position and bring a winning mentality to the Emirates, while using what money he actually did have to improve the squad elsewhere.
Indeed, for a club lacking so much fight and aggression for years, signing a man who was once described by a top FIFA referee in Jonas Eriksson on Swedish TV station SVT (via Football.London) as ‘unpleasant’, looked like a good idea.
Still, with Hector Bellerin out for the rest of the season, though, it appears that Emery might have got his priorities wrong.
There is no doubt that down the years Lichtsteiner has been a very consistent right-back with the Switzerland international having played a big part in the incredible success Juventus have achieved under Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri.
But at 35 years of age, Lichtsteiner is no longer that player, which has been so evident to see this season.
Though Manchester City and Raheem Sterling are capable of hurting any team in Europe — just ask Chelsea — the former Juventus man was massively exposed in Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat at the Etihad back in early February, while he has also had his struggles against much weaker opponents.
It was Lichtsteiner’s costly error that allowed Jurgen Locadia to grab the equaliser in Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at Brighton back in December with the right-back putting in an entirely unconvincing performance on the day.
Luckily for Emery, though, he still has Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who has done a decent job at right wing-back whenever Arsenal have lined up in a 3-4-3 formation this season.
However, going forward, the Gunners need a more natural alternative to Bellerin. And based on this campaign, that certainly cannot be Lichtsteiner. Brought to the club in order to bring a certain steel otherwise lacking in their ranks, it doesn’t seem to have worked at all.
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