Unai Emery Invited the Loss to Leicester City

Unai Emery Leicester
LEICESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09: Arsenal Manager Unai Emery during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Arsenal FC at The King Power Stadium on November 9, 2019 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

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.

This worked reasonably well defensively as, although they gave up 18 shots, Arsenal held the home side to an xG score of 1.37. On paper, the offensive idea was easy to see as well.

That was to use width to break quickly via Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac with Mesut Ozil picking out one of Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the final touch.

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.

In-Game Management

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.

What’s Next?

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.

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