After Monday night’s abject 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United, plenty of Arsenal fans were questioning their side’s shocking lack of verve and creativity.
The dissenting voices in north London are growing louder and Unai Emery’s tactics have come under the microscope.
There are worrying parallels with the 47-year-old’s tenure at PSG, problems that grumbled under the surface and then burst into the spotlight with ‘La Remuntada’ (The Comeback) when Barcelona famously battered Emery’s side 6-1 (6-5 aggregate). Maybe the scars remain.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) looked dejected after another away defeat on Monday
It could be argued that Unai Emery is a more cautious manager after La Remontada
Emery landed in the PSG hotseat as one of Europe’s most forward-thinking and exciting managers.
But after steering Sevilla to three successive Europa League titles, his methods were met with resistance in the star-studded Parisian dressing room.
Thiago Silva, his club captain, is understood to have led the rebellion and key players such as Blaise Matuidi and Javier Pastore were among the more vocal critics of Emery’s 4-2-3-1 formation.
The manager had two choices. He could persist with his tried and tested set-up and approach that had brought him so much success in Spain, or bow to player power.
The 4-2-3-1 was abandoned for a 4-3-3 and the French press claimed Emery had been ‘bullied’ into it.
PSG then tried a number of different tactics after the fallout, leading to confusion and a lack of confidence. It infamously came to a head on March 8, 2017, when Barcelona overturned a 4-1 first-leg deficit with a 95th minute goal at the Nou Camp.
|PL 2019-20 – Away||Shots, Total (inc. Blocks)|
|West Ham United||62|
|Brighton and Hove Albion||55|
At PSG, it was reported that Thiago Silva (right) led the rebellion against Emery’s tactics
Edinson Cavani (left) and Co were hammered 6-1 at the Nou Camp in a scarring night
Sergi Roberto celebrates scoring Barcelona’s sixth in a damaging defeat for Emery
The French side were dumped out in the Champions League last-16 and Emery looked a broken man.
At Arsenal, he returned to the 4-2-3-1 but away from home in particular, the system is failing miserably and his team selection has been negative.
The Blades rarely looked in trouble on Monday. Arsenal’s timidity, caution and pussyfooting attack was crying out for something fresh.
But Emery’s policy has been reactive rather than proactive. He prefers to make dramatic in-game changes or provide an impetus from the bench rather than set-out with attacking intent and Arsenal are paying for his tentative starting point.
They are yet to win on the road in the Premier League this season and have had 43 total shots in those games, placing them 13th out of all teams.
Newly-promoted sides also have a superb recent record against Emery’s men, with the Gunners losing four of their last seven away to teams coming up from the Championship.
Emery watched his Arsenal team fall to a dismal 1-0 defeat against Sheffield United
Matteo Guendouzi played in the 1-0 defeat at Bramall Lane and the midfield ran out of ideas
His midfield of Joe Willock, Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi enjoyed 69 per cent of the ball at Bramall Lane without ever really threatening and the lack of guile in the final third is a massive problem.
Aaron Ramsey’s departure continues to sting and some suggest Arsenal lack the creative forces to make a difference. But that argument falls flat when you look at the difference between the team’s home and away form.
Mesut Ozil, while pilloried by many, would no doubt help unpick stubborn defences but the German playmaker remains out of favour.
When asked about it on Monday, Emery was hardly forthcoming. ‘He can help us, yes’, was all the manager offered.
Since making his debut for Arsenal, Ozil has created 522 chances for the team, that’s a staggering 250 more than the next best player, Ramsey on 272.
Clearly there is a major issue behind the scenes but Emery must decide whether to use or lose Ozil for good.
Mesut Ozil cannot get a game for Arsenal at the moment and Emery is being coy as to why
With Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the ranks, Arsenal should strike fear into opposition defences and their counter attack on the road could be blistering.
Dani Ceballos would also be a far more positive selection and the Real Madrid loanee showed how effective he can be at the start of the season.
But Emery refuses to throw caution to the wind and pressure is cranking up.
If he fails to break free of his own fear, be bold in his tactics and team selection, then those Nou Camp demons could continue to haunt him.
Original article: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-7600013/Arsenal-news-Unai-Emery-picking-teams-without-creativity-haunted-La-Remuntada.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490