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Arsenal’s problems are still deeper than Wenger
13 September 2018, 16:50
Arsenal’s problems are still deeper than Wenger

The Unai Emery reign got off to a whimper as Arsenal fell to back to back defeats to open the season. No one said the post-Arsene Wenger era would be easy and Gunners’ supporters are now experiencing the effects of the manager’s departure.

It is a re-building season at the Emirates and growing pains are occurring with more likely to come. Arsenal aren’t in bad shape all things considered, and it could be a lot worse right now.

Arsenal’s defence is porous and is no better than it was last term. The team has given up eight goals in four games. Despite adding a new goalkeeper (who hasn’t played yet), centre-back, and two defensive midfielders, Arsenal are giving up two goals per game. Even lowly West Ham scored against the Gunners. Meanwhile, Cardiff tallied two strikes in a thrilling five goal game.

Emery’s playing personnel decisions have seen 19-year-old summer signing Matteo Guendouzi start all four Premier League games. It has surprised many as £26 million transfer Lucas Torreira has only been used sparingly off the Gunners’ bench. He tallied an assist in Arsenal’s last match and could start this weekend against Newcastle.

Striker Alexandre Lacazette has also been used sparingly. He received his first start against Cardiff. Lacazette scored and added an assist, raising questions over why he hasn’t been deployed from the start of games.

The Arsenal manager doesn’t seem to know his best XI yet. Against Cardiff, it looked like Emery was nearing a set starting team. Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was deployed on the left which allowed his speed to expose defenders. His passing stats were poor, but Aubameyang did score Arsenal’s second goal of the game.

While Arsenal’s attack racks up goals, eight this season from four games, the defence is worrying. Cardiff had yet to score in the Premier League when Arsenal arrived at Cardiff City Stadium. Twice Cardiff were able to level proceedings.

Defenders Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Shkodran Mustafi, Hector Bellerin, and Nacho Monreal have failed to keep the goals out. While Sokratis was expected to be an answer at the back, he is just a bandage on an open wound. New goalkeeper Bernd Leno is yet to see action. The new man is 10 years younger than Petr Cech, who is looking his age in goal. Arsenal are yet to keep a clean sheet this season.

The Gunners face off against Newcastle, Everton, and Watford to finish September. Both Everton and Watford have scored plenty of goals this season and played well. Once expected to win those games, Arsenal are now a team that will be pushed the entire 90 minutes by Everton and Watford.

The team will also begin its Europa League campaign. Arsenal don’t have the deepest squad and several first team players will be called up for their group stage fixtures.

Emery may have been a good choice to succeed Wenger, but the club’s problems were not solely the former manager. While clubs like Manchester City, Manchester United, and Liverpool have spent to improve, Arsenal haven’t. There is an expectation from ownership that a new coach can make up for Arsenal’s deficiencies. While the Gunners may beat the likes of Cardiff, West Ham, and Newcastle, the league’s elite teams will be a different story.

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OVERALL TABLE PTS GP W D L GF GA +/-
1. Manchester City 32 12 10 2 0 36 5 31
2. Liverpool FC 30 12 9 3 0 23 5 18
3. Chelsea FC 28 12 8 4 0 27 8 19
4. Tottenham 27 12 9 0 3 20 10 10
5. Arsenal 24 12 7 3 2 26 15 11
6. Bournemouth 20 12 6 2 4 21 16 5
7. Watford FC 20 12 6 2 4 17 14 3
8. Manchester United 20 12 6 2 4 20 21 -1
9. Everton FC 19 12 5 4 3 19 15 4
10. Leicester City 17 12 5 2 5 17 16 1
11. Wolverhampton 16 12 4 4 4 12 13 -1
12. Brighton 14 12 4 2 6 13 18 -5
13. West Ham 12 12 3 3 6 14 18 -4
14. Newcastle Utd 9 12 2 3 7 9 15 -6
15. Burnley FC 9 12 2 3 7 12 25 -13
16. Crystal Palace 8 12 2 2 8 8 17 -9
17. Southampton 8 12 1 5 6 8 21 -13
18. Cardiff City 8 12 2 2 8 11 25 -14
19. Huddersfield 7 12 1 4 7 6 22 -16
20. Fulham FC 5 12 1 2 9 11 31 -20

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