It has been a strange start to the season for the Gunners. They started the season with two wins in a row for the first time in ten years, but since then their form has slowly disappeared.
They have maintained so kind of form to ensure that they are well placed for a challenge for a Champions League place. The recent defeat against Sheffield United has raised questions whether anything has really changed since Arsene Wenger left the Emirates.
Defensively they were once again found lacking, with the Blades goal coming from a corner. That was the 21st goal that the club have conceded from a set-piece since the arrival of Unai Emery. Meanwhile, the Gunners have only made 72 interceptions so far this season, which is the lowest of all Premier League sides.
That defensive frailty that was ultimately the straw that broke the camels back under Wenger remains, and it is likely that it could prove decisive when we reflect on the reign of Emery.
He has threatened to address these concerns, but the quality in crucial areas is still lacking. Granit Xhaka wouldn’t get into any other elite European club as a holding midfielder, while the partnership between David Luiz and Sokratis is lacking chemistry.
The area that has limited the Gunners for the past ten years has been in the heart of the defence. The Gunners aren’t even seen as a leading title hopeful because of this weak defensive backbone. Right now they probably are as likely to get into the title race, as the Miami Dolphins to battle for an NFL Superbowl place.
Arsenal have a lot of talent in the final third and have a good development system with the evolution of Bukayo Saka. However, this weak defensive foundation will be the reason why they won’t be able to compete.
Emery went into the summer transfer window, knowing that he would need to bring in at least one central defender. Luiz was always going to be a gamble, and Arsenal aren’t in a position where they should be taking risks.
Gary Cahill was available on a free transfer over the summer, and his abilities would have made a solid choice.
Sokratis is looking weaker with every passing week, and that means the Gunners will need to dip into the January window to address this issue. They will have to pay more than they would have anticipated, but with the battle for a top-four finish in the balance, the Gunners will need to pay what they need to, in order to get the player that would solve this issue.
Gunners fans would be familiar with a dominating presence in their midfield such as Patrick Viera, but those days feel a million years ago with the inclusion of Xhaka in the starting eleven on a weekly basis.
He doesn’t offer a great deal in that position. His tackling is mistimed, his passing ability is weak, and he isn’t the quickest. It is a vital area of the pitch in this modern era, and that is highlighted by Manchester City and Liverpool, both paying big fees for Rodri and Fabinho over recent seasons.
Leicester City’s title success was made possible by N’Golo Kante, and Chelsea noticed this quickly by snapping him up. However, whoever is in control of transfers at the Emirates has failed to grasp the importance of the position.
The Gunners will never be a leading hopeful for the Premier League title while Xhaka is the man playing in that position, and the sooner that this issue is addressed, the sooner that the Gunners will be nearer to the top of the table.