The goal for Arsenal Football Club needs to be a sustained challenge for the Premier League and Champions League. This reality check against the champions elect reiterated the abyss between where we are and where we need to be. Our football brand is weak, and no team appears to fear playing us. We are perceived as a good team, that can mix it with the best on our day, but who are vulnerable and will give opponents ample opportunity to score. The opposition therefore, particularly top sides, show us ZERO respect. Until we start to defend like a top four team and force them to respect us, we will continue to get pumped 5-1.
At the start of the season I stated that success for Emery would be to not go backwards and therefore a sixth-place finish would suffice. However, I confidently predicted we would get the 75 points I think we’ll need to finish fourth for the following reasons:
Reason 1: Our goal scoring ability
Reason 2: We won’t be as bad away from home
Reason 3: Better competition and a fresh approach would improve player focus
Unfortunately, our away form has taken a nose dive and player focus is as dreadful as it has always been. Yes, we are in desperate need of defensive reinforcements, but we are good enough not to defend like a bottom five team. Liverpool did not have to get out of third gear to score five goals and that’s frightening. Not only do we lead with the number of errors leading to shots, but we also have the highest number of errors leading to goals (see Sky Sports article). That has nothing to do with structure, organisation or tactics and the players must take responsibility. For too long Arsene Wenger protected them, but repeated errors cannot be tolerated if we are to rewrite the narrative around brand Arsenal and force the opposition to respect us. We can start with eradicating our remarkable ability to concede immediately after we have scored!
It’s obvious that when Emery was appointed, he was tasked with improving some of the existing squad. He has had success with Iwobi, Holding and Bellerin, but our performances since the North London Derby highlight that some players are just not good enough. That being said, the worst thing we can do in January is panic and acquire personnel onto the wage bill that don’t get us closer to the ultimate goal. For example, I would rather we sign no-one and get Harry Maguire in the summer, than bring in another average player with no world class potential.
I’m fully behind Emery as are most fans and firmly believe that with the right reinforcements over the next four transfer windows he can rejuvenate this club. Let’s just hope the board provide him the backing he needs!
Bring on 2019
We kick off 2019 with a home fixture against Fulham. Usually I would breathe a sigh of relief at having that game after the pummelling we took at Anfield, but my confidence in the team is shattered. If we are to get Champions League football this is a must win. However, with the resurgence of Pogba, I fear the Europa League may be our best hope.
Happy new year and god bless