Arsenal boss Unai Emery has claimed that the Gunners lost the balance between defence and attack in the latter years of Arsene Wenger’s reign as boss of the north London side. That theory may have some weight to it, as Arsenal finished last season with their lowest ever points tally under Wenger.
Emery told Spanish newspaper Marca: “With time, only technical quality and offensive freedom were taken care of while losing defensive structure,”
“What I want is to combine both and become more competitive. Arsenal was in a decline. We had to stop this, and begin climbing.”
Have Arsenal really improved defensively under Emery?
Arsenal are no doubt enjoying a better season than Wenger’s last in charge. The Gunners are of course on a run of 16 games unbeaten, which must mean that the team is defending in a better fashion.
However, in truth, Arsenal have sailed quite close to the wind in terms of conceding goals at times this season. There are still major defensive vulnerabilities that have gone unpunished this season, that were maybe punished in the last campaign.
The team’s goalkeepers Petr Cech and Bernd Leno have had to bail the defence out on a number of occasions. While that is their job, it means that Arsenal are still giving their opponents too many chances to score. Arsenal still do not look as solid at the back as they should for a team challenging for a top-four spot, even if there has been a slight improvement.
Emery is a good coach and I am sure he is working hard on the team’s shape, which will include their defensive set-up. The Spanish boss is a coach who knows the little details matter, so the Gunners vulnerabilities will have been one of the first things he looked at on his appointment.
Gunners face a tough run of fixtures
Arsenal’s defence will face a tough test in the next few weeks and months. The Gunners visit Bournemouth on Sunday, a game the north London side are odds of 19/20 to win on the south coast.
The fixture against the Cherries kicks-off a tough run of games for the Gunners that include games against Manchester United and arch-rivals Tottenham. These are the games that could help define the Gunners season, and whether their defensive displays have really improved under Emery this season or if they have the same defensive vulnerabilities as last season.
Have Arsenal improved defensively under Unai Emery?