Arsenal’s Woeful Draw to Southampton Proves Unai Emery Needs Sacking Yet Again

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LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23: Unai Emery, Manager of Arsenal looks dejected after his team concede during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Southampton FC at Emirates Stadium on November 23, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images)

Arsenal once again dropped points in the Premier League on Saturday as the drew 2-2 with Southampton. The latest Emirates disappointment went exactly like so many have in recent months for the Gunners. They had the majority of possession yet the minority of chances and just about deserved to lose. With fans discontentment reaching feverish levels, one is left to wonder just how much longer Unai Emery will have a job in north London.

Arsenal’s Southampton Stutter Another Unai Emery Debacle

Too Defensive

Arsenal have been known to line up in a back three over the past few seasons. It started under Arsene Wenger en route to the 2017 FA Cup as a sort of mental trick to kick-start a run of better form for his side.

At times since then it has been a useful tool when going up against the bigger sides. However, when used against clubs which will almost universally yield possession to Arsenal, it just hasn’t gotten consistent results.

So, when Unai Emery set out his side in that formation on Saturday it was a harbinger of what was to come. Arsenal played out their typical tactics of playing out from the back with the ball and trying to stymie the opposition without possession.

On the day, this was the wrong decision. This is a Southampton side which shipped nine goals to Leicester City earlier in the season. There is no reason for Emery or anyone else to think that the Gunners couldn’t go out in an attacking formation and take control of the match if not blow the opposition out of the water.

Just as against Leicester, Crystal Palace, Wolves and a number of other matches from the 2019 calendar year, however, Arsenal set out more or less not to lose. That’s exactly what they got.

Unmotivated Players

What was perhaps worse than the result was the clear lack of conviction from the players on the pitch. Sokratis Papastathopoulos nearly gifted a goal to the visitors after almost going to sleep on the ball in his own box.

The entire defence is to blame for the first goal as none of them was aware of Danny Ings. They were simply out of position and the striker made them pay.

Then, at 2-1 down, the back line again went to sleep twice. Luckily both fell to Moussa Djenepo who was unable to find the target once and saw the other blocked. He could have easily had a brace as he was left unmarked on both occasions inside the attacking penalty area.

All of these incidents came from poor decision-making and general unawareness. Clearly the players are not responding to what their coach is telling them to do. Otherwise, the only real possibility is that Unai Emery’s instructions are unclear.

Either way, it is an issue more with the head coach than with the squad.

Fan Discontent Under Unai Emery

There were a number of boos coming from the standing at the Emirates Stadium at halftime on Saturday as the two sides went into the interval level. However, the jeers sounded near-universal from the home fans at full time after another dismal performance.

Stan Kroenke and the rest of KSE saw similar scenes under Wenger devolve into such theatrics as the now infamous airplane banners. They didn’t respond quickly then and instead stuck with the manager.

Arsene Wenger, of course, had three Premier League titles to his name at that time. Unai Emery has no such record to fall back on and the good will given to him by fans has clearly run out.

Kroenke will have to act at some point. He has never been one to make his intentions known publicly so his silence may mean nothing at the moment. However, the longer he leaves the decision, the worse off his club, and more importantly to him his investment, will become.

After this latest performance, Unai Emery’s Arsenal days must be numbered.

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