It is early days for Arsenal’s new head coach Unai Emery. I am in the camp that the Spaniard needs time to turn things around in north London. The Gunners players had been complacent far too long under Arsene Wenger to suddenly turn in a world-beating team overnight.
One of the main problems the Gunners have is in defence. Saturday evenings 3-2 defeat at Chelsea showed the major job Emery has on his hands to turn the team’s fortunes around.
Both teams terrible in defence
In truth, both teams at Stamford Bridge defended as if they had never played the game before. Chelsea more often not in recent seasons have been pretty solid at the back, especially at Stamford Bridge.
Saturday’s game illustrated that the Blues needs to improve at the back and quickly. Their defensive problems may just be the players getting used to playing a new system under Italian boss Maurizio Sarri.
I wish I could say the same thing about Arsenal and the change of system. Ironically, the Gunners switched to three at the back towards the end of Wenger’s reign. Antonio Conte at Chelsea brought the formation back into fashion when the Italian guided the Blues to the title.
Wenger’s switch to a back three did little to help the Gunners defensive problems, especially on their travels. Emery has switched back to four at the back. To say the switch has not helped the Arsenal players would be ignoring the Gunners long-standing defensive problems.
The centre-back pair of Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis were poor, as were the full-backs Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal. Swiss defensive midfielder Granit Xhaka was so bad in the first period that Emery decided to haul him off at half-time.
Overall, the performance at Stamford Bridge will not have surprised anybody who has watched Arsenal on a semi-regular basis for the last few seasons.
No surprises from opening Premier League fixtures
We will not know much about the effect that Emery has had on the Arsenal players until a few months down the line. The opening two top-flight games against Manchester City and Chelsea were always going to be difficult ones.
The Gunners now have a fairly favourable run of fixtures, starting with a home game against West Ham next time out, a game the Gunners are favourites at odds of 2/5 to win.
In reality, most Arsenal fans knew that Emery had a big task on his hands when he took the job. The opening Premier League results for the Gunners have offered very little in the way of surprise, so it is up to Emery to solve those problems and prove he is up to the task over reviving the Gunners.
Can Unai Emery solve Arsenal’s defensive issues?