Arsenal‘s Unai Emery invited the loss to Leicester City with not only his formation but also his tactics. The 2-0 away defeat leaves the Gunners eight points off of fourth-place Manchester City, who will play their game in hand on Sunday against Liverpool.
The loss also leaves the Arsenal executive team with a decision over their head coach’s future.
Unai Emery Invited Leicester Loss
The Back Three
One could easily see what Unai Emery wanted his side to do against Leicester City. He lined them up in a back three in order to pack the box and force the Foxes to take low-percentages shots from outside of the penalty area.
That didn’t happen, although it was not for the want of trying; the Gunners just about deserved a goal on the day, tallying an xG score of .96. At the end of the day, however, the Arsenal defence couldn’t persevere.
It wasn’t that the tactical idea is flawed, far from it, the issue was that Emery is still unaware that his side can’t defend nearly as well as the tactics on the day required. Lining his side up in a back three proves as much.
Unai Emery also wasn’t pragmatic enough against Leicester City. The last of Arsenal’s eight shots on the day came in the 52nd minute, 16 minutes before Jamie Vardy‘s equaliser. His side clearly dropped their heads in acceptance of defeat immediately.
This should have provoked some sort of tactical response from the head coach. However, Emery waited until after James Maddison‘s 75-minute goal to call on his bench. That came two minutes later in the form of Nicolas Pepe and a formation change to a back four.
Both of those changes are positive, however, they should have come earlier. This side already struggles to create chances in a back four, so when chasing a game they can’t play with three at the back.
It is also worth a mention that Unai Emery did not use all three substitutions against Leicester City. Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli are both young but they are also both attacking options who have yielded goals this season.
All in all, this is a loss of Emery’s own making.
The international break is now upon Arsenal and it gives time for fans to stew in defeat, players to hopefully improve and for executives to mull the fate of the head coach.
Unai Emery looks like he has regressed during his time in north London. This time last season, the club had a magnificent streak of results, if not performance, but now the team is dropping points and playing poor football.
Emery still had 18 months left on his contract so firing the man would be expensive. With the club’s massive transfer spree in the summer and Champions League football for next season seeming impossible, that may be difficult to sell to the Kroenkes.
However, it is increasingly looking like the correct decision from the club.
Embed from Getty Images