There has been plenty of media attention focussed on Arsenal’s opening to the new campaign under Unai Emery, with fans and pundits alike intrigued as to how the club will perform in a post-Wenger era.
Arsenal have started the season with 2 wins and 2 defeats from their opening 4 fixtures, which is not overly concerning considering they have played the champions Manchester City and the champions from the previous season Chelsea. But what is particularly concerning for the club is that the defensive problems which have plagued the club’s development in recent seasons remain ever-present – if anything, it’s more than fair to argue Arsenal’s defence has declined since Emery took charge.
The arrival of Sokratis, Lucas Torreira, Bernd Leno and Matteo Guendouzi were intended to instigate the desired improvement, but after conceding 10 goals in their opening 4 fixtures it’s fair to say that Emery’s arrival hasn’t quite had the desired effect just yet.
Whether he will be able to find a defensive formula which works for the club remains to be seen, but if he is to challenge for Premier League titles he may need to give his high-line strategy a serious rethink after Chelsea exploited the space in behind Arsenal’s defence in August.
Tony Adams weighed in on the discussion over Arsenal’s defensive problems recently on The Debate (as produced by Sky Sports) and he claimed that Arsenal’s lack of “resilience” is holding them back. More specifically, Adams highlighted the fact Arsenal have not had a midfield enforcer “since Gilberto” as one of the core reasons for their struggles before claiming “Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell were the last two defenders who knew how to defend”.
Strong words indeed from the Arsenal legend but it’s fair to say he has a point; the great Arsenal teams were formed on the backbone of a solid spine containing leadership figures and personalities who genuinely knew how to win.
The likes of Martin Keown and Patrick Viera epitomised everything that was good about Arsenal during a time when they had fire in their belly, but that has disappeared in recent seasons and contributed to the club slipping behind their title rivals.
The resilience which Adams has alluded to is exactly what’s missing from the club right now and until Emery installs a resilient mentality into the club they will continue to fall further behind the other top-six clubs.
After spending heavily in the summer it’s fair to say Emery has the players he needs to shift the mental character, it’s now down to him to install resilience into the squad and prove he is capable of helping the Gunners return to their former glory.
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