Arsenal have a terrible attack line in the 2019/20 season. The presence of Nicolas Pepe brought in from Lille with a record of 22 goals and 11 assists last season makes Unai Emery have many options up front besides being able to rely on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexander Lacazette.
Of the four matches Arsenal have traveled so far six have been printed by the Gunners . Aubameyang scored three goals, Lacazette two goals, while Pepe was one. But even though he only scored one assist, Pepe’s game has shown promising potential where he has fired 12 shots (the second most after Aubameyang) and six key players (most). Even though the minutes played are still relatively few compared to other players.
In the match against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (01/09), the trio of Laca, Pepe and Auba also became Arsenal’s mainstay in banging on the Spurs defense. Thanks to the trio’s contribution, Arsenal were also able to catch up from 0-2 to 2-2. Laca and Auba scored one goal while Pepe scored one assists.
Appearance in the match against Spurs became an opportunity for Laca, Pepe and Auba to play together from the first minute. By looking at the sharpness of Arsenal in the match, where Arsenal were able to release 26 shots, double the recorded Spurs. Just waiting for the time this trio will explode in the opponent’s defense.
But the sharpness on the front lines is not accompanied by the robustness of the defense. Of the four matches, Arsenal have only registered one time. With a record of six goals, Arsenal whose goal is escorted by Bernd Leno have conceded six goals. Arsenal have only recorded two wins, one draw and one defeat in the Premier League in the meantime.
Since last season, or the first season of Unai Emery, Arsenal’s defense line is fairly porous. Among Big Six, Arsenal conceded the second highest after Manchester United (51 goals). Though the number of goals scored Arsenal (71 goals) only lost to Manchester City (95) and Liverpool (89).
Unai Emery realized that. Therefore Arsenal brought Kieran Tierney and David Luiz as new players in defense. Arsenal also released players such as Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Carl Jenkinson, and Krystian Bielik.
But the overhaul of players in the back line is still unable to improve the quality of Arsenal’s defense. Tierney hasn’t played yet because he is still injured. The presence of David Luiz has not been a big influence, even the defender who was recruited from Chelsea on the transfer deadline was several times the main cause of Arsenal’s conceding.
This situation also makes Emery has not found the ideal composition this season. Of the four matches that have been undertaken, Arsenal did not even lose the same arrangement of players.
In Newcastle’s first match there were players like Calum Chambers, Henrikh Mikhtaryan, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson on a 4-2-3-1 base formation.
Then Dani Ceballos and David Luiz began to inhabit the composition of the players in the second week against Burnley. Against Liverpool in the third week, Pepe started playing from the first minute in a basic 4-3-1-2 formation. Finally against Spurs, Arsenal played 4-3-3 with a trio of Pepe, Laca and Auba playing since the first minute.
If you pay attention, Arsenal no longer register a breakdown after David Luiz made his debut in the match against Burnley. That means, the replacement of Chambers or Skhodran Mustafi to David Luiz is not an instant solution for the Arsenal defense, even though Luiz actually played for Emery when both of them defended Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
It seems that the change in formation and composition of the players was made as an effort by Emery to find a solution to the loss of defense by changing patterns and schemes in the midfield and front. In the match against Liverpool, for example, Emery played Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, and Matteo Guendouzi, all of whom were defending midfielders.
As long as Emery has not found a solution in defense, it seems that Arsenal will have difficulty competing to be champions. Look at how Liverpool and Man City who have sharp attack lines coupled with the solidity in defense with only conceded three times from three matches.
Keep in mind, Arsenal have gotten 65 shots from opponents in four matches. This is the fourth highest in the English Premier League, losing only to Aston Villa (77), Tottenham (71), and West Ham (68). This shows that Emery does have a large PR to improve the Arsenal defense system and scheme.
Actually Emery has great hopes in Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney who are recovering from injuries. Both are positioned as wing backs. It is also possible that the presence of both of them will further enhance Arsenal’s attack line in an effort to always score more goals than the opponent.