Arsenal yet to find its identity under Emery
paininthearsenal's Marc Gibbons writes on Emery's struggles to implement his brand of football so far.
"Throughout the season, on more than one occasion, Arsenal have ground out victories despite not putting in particularly great performances. At one stage, the argument was that Unai Emery had only been in the job a few weeks and was still trying to get the team to play to his style. The poor performances were not that concerning; winning was all that mattered.
"Fast forward to February, however, and Arsenal are not in the same form they were earlier in the season. And again, these victories are under the spotlight because the performances are still causing concern.
"I hate to be one of those fans who looks for negatives after a victory but Huddersfield [2-1], who are at the bottom of the table, hadn’t tasted victory since December and had scored once in 2019, had more shots, more possession and can feel unlucky to have scored just the one goal. It was a similar story when the Gunners recently played Cardiff when, again, they were second-best throughout until the breakthrough was made.
"Coupled with recent performances in defeats against Manchester City and Manchester United, a lot of fans are asking why the team just doesn’t seem to be clicking on the pitch. Since the beginning of December, you could argue that Arsenal have only put in two excellent performances: wins against Fulham and Chelsea.
"There have been some excellent individual performers within the team, with Alexandre Lacazette, Sokratis, Matteo Guendouzi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bernd Leno all impressing in recent weeks, but the collective level of performance has been somewhat lacking.
"On the plus side, they are still within touching distance of the top four, sitting just a point behind Manchester United. The results have not been the problem. It is the performances, and thereby the plan that Emery is attempting to execute.
"Injuries and a lack of investment have certainly hindered Emery and his plan, but the back-to-back games against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at the beginning of March will be a good litmus test for the Gunners to see how they fare against two of the form teams in the league.
"Before, though, Emery needs to do his best work with the players currently at his disposal and, at the very least, try to get them playing cohesively, as if they know their role within the team, rather than just running around like headless chickens. There is an absence of a plan, a lack of identity, and it is a problem."