We’ve seen signs of progress in the early stages of Unai Emery’s time at Arsenal. But it’s going to take a while longer before he sorts out his defence.
The Gunners have one of the best attacking units in the top flight. They’ve bagged 46 league goals this term. Only Manchester City (56) and Liverpool (49) have more.
But they’ve already let in 31 goals. That’s more than three times as many as league-leaders Liverpool (10).
The Gunners are currently fifth, three points outside the Champions League spots. They’re 11/4 to secure a Champions League finish. Could Emery release the handbrake to get them there?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the joint-top scorer in the division with 14 goals. He’s 11/4 to win the Golden Boot. Alexandre Lacazette has seven strikes and he’s chipped in with five assists too.
Few clubs can call on two strikers of their quality. But Emery seems reluctant to play them together. He’s only named both of them in the starting XI in 11 of the club’s 21 leagues games this term. One of them has missed out in all four of the club’s league losses too.
They seem to get on very well off the pitch. And their games complement each other on it too.
Aubameyang often becomes isolated when he’s up top on his own. He’s incredible at getting into goalscoring positions, but he doesn’t have Lacazette’s all-round game.
The team looks more balanced with the Frenchman up front. He links play and holds the ball up, allowing Aubameyang to ghost into the box from wide areas.
Problems at the back
The other issue for Emery is that he doesn’t have a squad that’s built to keep clean sheets. He tends to leave out one of his star strikers to make the team more solid, but it’s not working.
He’s tried a back four and a back three. He’s tried different midfield combinations to protect the defence too.
At some point, he just needs to bring in better defenders. But until then, he should lean into his team’s biggest strength – the quality of his two strikers.
Arsenal’s best chance of returning to the Champions League could lie with Aubameyang and Lacazette firing them there.
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