How Can Arsenal Improve This Season?
On the back of a very superb preseason campaign, the start of the 2015/16 season can be described with one word – disappointing. With each passing West Ham result in the Premier League, the opening day loss to the Hammers looks like a blip but the win over Crystal Palace was no where near convincing. The Gunners opened the scoring with a brilliantly improvised goal from Olivier Giroud but the goal Arsene Wenger’s side conceded was a combination of poor defensive play and puzzling goalkeeping from Petr Cech.
Monday night was vital to both side and it’s fair to say it was a game of two halves. Liverpool put their hosts on the back foot and smashed the woodwork twice with Philippe Coutinho at the heart of everything good for the Reds. Calum Chambers had a shocking first half by his standards but he grew in confidence in the second 45 minutes. Francis Coquelin was made to work for his money and he was very influential before his substitution.
An improved second half performance wasn’t still enough to give the Gunners maximum points and with three League games gone, the Gunners have only four points to show for it. Five points off the pacesetters, Manchester City. Yes, it’s just early days but if Arsene Wenger’s side continues to drop points, they’d be out of the title race before they can even mount a challenge.
How can the side improve as the season progresses?
Better Ball Retention
One of the reasons why FC Barcelona is one of the best teams to watch because of their awesome ability to retain the ball, whether the players are under pressure or not. Their short passing has been a theme of their success because with such patient, incisive and intricate passing play, the opposition finally buckles and defenses are open like hot knife through butter.
Arsenal on the other hand, despite having talented football technicians like Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey, have been culpable for being very sloppy in possession. According to the Breakdown, the Gunners gave the ball away in their half 20, yes, 20 times against Liverpool on Monday night. Those that watched the game can vividly remember that every time the home team lost possession to their opponents, they were on the back foot and they had to thank some last-ditch defending and excellent goalkeeping to keep the scoreline intact.
As the games come thick and fast, the Gunners should try to hold on to the ball better.
Going back to last season, Arsenal has failed to score in five of their last six home games (Chelsea, Swansea, Sunderland, West Ham and most recently, Liverpool. According to the stats boys, Arsenal has had 103 attempts on goal in these five games but they’ve had no goals to show for it.
Many fans have made another case for the club to sign another center forward, but I wonder if Karim Benzema’s tweet would be the nail in the coffin on any plans to sign him. I feel we were never in for him though. Just some papers trying to get some hits.
Whether the Gunners find a new center forward or not, the players have to really improve in their finishing. When the Gunners were leading Crystal Palace, the Eagles pushed for an equalizer and they left gaping holes at the back. Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had glorious chances to put the game beyond doubt but they fired their shots straight at Alex McCarthy. Even Alexis Sanchez had a gaping goal in front of him in that game, and he fired it at a defender on the line. These are three clear cut efforts that weren’t taken.
On Monday night, the chances were hard to come by for the Gunners but there were some chances that were missed yet again, yet Alexis missing the most glorious opportunity on the night. If the Gunners don’t improve on their finishing, we would have more frustration as the campaign progresses.
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