Arsenal woes continue: Why couldn’t they break down a three-man defence
After Arsenal’s 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United on Saturday there was usual criticism and hostility from fans and critics alike.
Unsurprisingly fans on social media are calling for manager Arsene Wenger’s head, predictably Piers Morgan being the most vocal out of them all.
Although he is always a controversial presence on Twitter when discussing Arsenal, in this case he makes a valid point that – This is the gunners’ worst start in 32 years after gaining only 17 points from 12 games.
What’s hurts fans more is that Arsenal were the dominant side throughout the game and they couldn’t take their chances against a defence consisting of a back five (due to injuries). Not just any back five but a back five with three centre-backs consisting of inexperienced duo Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair and liability Chris Smalling. Most attackers would see that defence and think Christmas came early, Welbeck and Wilshere however were unable to unwrap their presents.
Louis Van Gaal now has his first away win for United and probably still cannot believe his luck with the result.
Three days later, WNOL have highlighted three observations we identified from the clash at the Emirates.
Firstly their defence, we must sound like a broken record criticising Arsenal’s defence but it is such a huge problem it must be addressed again. Both sides are struggling with injuries and their back four which reflected in the respective line-ups but realistically United’s was much worse. The visitors’ defence that day lacked leadership, experience, consistency and wing-backs one of both of which are natural wingers before defenders, Arsenal’s however had a World Cup winner and two experienced left backs.
This begs the serious question of how the Gunners conceded two out of a possible three while the Reds only conceded one. The first goal as shambolic as it was, was a freak accident of an own goal by Kieran Gibbs. This can be forgiven, the second goal however, not so much. When your chasing the game and you’re team of Arsenal’s experience you do not commit so many men forward.
The way United were able to punish on the counter and score from what was only their only shot on target must have been an irritating to watch for Gunner’s fans. Wenger summed it up the problem himself simply stating: “At the moment defensively we are a bit naive.” However this isn’t acceptable as a similar defensive display happened in their champions league group match against R.S.C. Anderlecht. The irony is the poorest defence were not punished enough which brings me on to my next point.
As I mentioned before United’s makeshift defence were there for the taking, Chelsea or Manchester City would have seen that as a gift and would have taken full advantage. Arsenal however couldn’t step up on their own turf, not that anybody was surprised.
The Gunners had a whopping 23 shots throughout the whole match nine of which were on target, yet only one went in the net. A reason for this was a brilliant display of keeping from man of the match David De Gea but another reason was the woeful missed chances mainly from Jack Wilshere and former Red’s striker Danny Welbeck.
Wilshere who should have been off for his unprovoked head butt (or chest butt) on Marouane Fellaini, missed a glorious chance following sloppy United defending but shot straight at De Gea instead of simply lifting the ball over him. He later went off injured another one on Arsenal’s list. Welbeck then missed a simple opportunity to make Van Gaal regret selling him on deadline, sending what seemed to be a simple header up and over.
Finally what we noticed is that Arsenal, similar to United, can’t stay away from injury. Questions have always been asked of Arsenal’s medical team as every season there are always a number of injuries in their squad. This is similar in many teams but for Arsenal its usually similar players such as Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and let’s not even get started on Abou Diaby. They must also be the only team stupid enough to take a player on loan knowing he was inured, that Kim Kallstrom if anybody already forgot his name.
Before that bizarre own goal from Gibbs, Wilshere had to come off the field following a heavy challenge from McNair. Arsenal Wojciech Szczesny keeper was then injured by teammate Gibbs after a heavy collision, leaving him unable to prevent the left back from putting the ball in his own net.
Szczesny then had to be replaced after the goal leaving Arsenal behind without two very important players. The Arsenal keeper will probably make their next match against Borussia Dortmund, as for Wilshere it’s not looking as promising.
So is it the manager’s fault they couldn’t make anything of their dominance? Not really but their “defensive naivety” is definitely his, it is something he should have corrected it the last time everyone noticed and he now faces a tough time to correct it before Arsenal’s eventual demise in the season starts to happen.