A lacklustre performance by Unai Emery’s Arsenal against West Ham United on Saturday probably capped off the Gunners’ worst team performance under the Spaniard’s reign this season.
Forget the drubbing at Anfield a few weeks ago, Arsenal’s showing at the London Stadium was terrible to say the least and it’s quite ironic coming from a team who boast players such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in it.
But the main concern from an Arsenal perspective should be the fact that the manager continues to play with a back-three formation, despite the tactic being exploited by opposition teams in recent matches.
Emery had Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal return from injury this week but they were only good enough to make the bench with Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac operating as wing-backs.
And, although Emery could be excused for not wanting to risk players like Bellerin and Monreal against a physical team like West Ham, it is becoming ever more evident that he is a manager that likes the formation and believes it’s the best system for the team.
Kolasinac has had a couple of good performances as a wing-back but since the injury of Rob Holding, Arsenal have struggled to stay composed in defence with the loss against the Hammers meaning they’ve only kept one clean-sheet in their last 15 matches.
The North London club should, therefore, revert back to the back-four defence they started the season with, which saw Bellerin and Monreal as right-back and left-back respectively and Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi as the centre-back pairing.
It’s the only way for Emery to bring more stability to back, which would also make the work of the midfield easier and it was quite clear on Saturday that Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi struggled in the centre of the pitch.
Emery can’t afford to lose sight of the top four at the moment and with big matches coming up he also can’t afford it to experiment with a formation that has brought him more failure than success recently. With a place in the Champions League at stake, he needs to sort it out.
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