As we usher in a new era of Arsenal football under recently appointed head coach Unai Emery, I am excited to see if we can establish a more motivated and not-stop-till-the-job-is-done attitude. The pieces have seemed to be there (for the most part) for years, though I must say I’ve expected to see a more rapid rate of growth for some players. We’ve missed a ferocious, frightening aura for a decade, and if we want to be successful on the European stages, we need to figure that out quickly under Emery.
Here are some improvements I feel are critical for our starting lineup.
He’s been given more chances to prove himself than I could have imagined. He’s got the speed without question, but how many times does he turn the ball over on a transition? On top of that, how often does he win the ball back? According to Squawka, he averaged ONE defensive action for the entire Premier League season. Under Emery, this will not fly. His style requires players to press hard when they lose the ball, and we will see if he can step up in this regard. I’d also like to see him take more players on with confidence, or at least use his speed to his advantage. Too many times when he gets the ball wide, his first inkling is to pass it back to the middle, which kills the rate of play we need to be deadly on the attack. I am all for possession, but at this level, everything must be done with a purpose. These extra passes are wasteful in my eyes. If he can be more successful in taking players on, add some physicality to his game, and improve his shooting, we may see a transformed Iwobi. That’s a lot to ask for, in Emery I have faith.
The guy loves Arsenal, and as a lifelong fan, there is nothing better than seeing an Arsenal player proud to wear the crest. I want to see Xhaka successful at the club, but there are many areas that I think require improvement in his game if we want to up the ante. Unnecessary, forced passes from deep midfield, slow decision making, unnecessary fouls (resulting in costly cards at times), and inaccurate shooting from distance are my main issues with Xhaka’s play. I think his best consistent play or pass is the classic left-footed ball that he drops into the left side of the box to create a one-time pass from one of our attackers into the six-eight yard area. If he can add some additional passes to his bag (with accuracy might I add), focus in on his hard tackles, and find the back of the net from deep another 5 times a year, he can be a heck of a player for us moving forward.
Another player with outstanding speed, and, to be fair, has banged in some nice crosses this past season, I don’t feel that his game is anywhere near where it should be at this stage in his career. After five seasons at Arsenal, his shooting has been abysmal in my opinion. His shot accuracy for 2017-2018 (thank you again Squawka) was 44%. I think building shooting into his training sessions from the top right corner of the box to inside the box is necessary. Even if he just keeps the ball low and makes the keeper pop the ball back out into the box for Auba, Laca, Ramsey, etc., we will just be adding another threat on the attack. Also- whipping balls into the box, not from the touchline, but on the run and on the transition, would be a massive value for us. This will draw attention from the defensive midfielders and outside backs, and open space for our central middies to receive and create.
He is a TANK! Not just a bulldozing tank, but the kind that somehow has the touch and passing ability of a central midfielder. And he can shoot, to boot. Kolasinac has no business being on Arsenal’s bench for any match. His physical but calm and collected approach to the game has captain-like qualities. He is a handful on the attack and defensively sound. Bringing up his name to any Brighton supporter most certainly brings some anger (or maybe fear is the better word) after he bowled over Ezequiel Schelotto this season. Fear is actually the emotion I experience when we don’t play him, because of player of his caliber would be useful to any team challenging for Champions League.
That’s my spiel and I’m sticking to it. See you all soon.