After watching Arsenal this season and last season I have concluded these are the areas that need to improve if the Gunners want to maintain championship hopes in all levels. (These are within our control so no bad refereeing decisions or luck).
1. High Balls: The team has let in three headed goals already from corner kicks. Last season Arsenal only let in three goals directly from headers so the problem is not only just limited to corner kicks but open play too. Chelsea last season was an example were the Gunners failed to sufficiently clear long balls which resulted in two goals and more throughout the season. Toure and Gallas are both around 6 feet tall but it may be a case they are not aggressive enough and lack that bit of concentration and nous to get to the ball first. Djourou and Silvestre are two options that can fill this void. Arsene Wenger argues that the team overall is small, not just the defenders. Maybe a bigger opportunity for Diaby beckons than first though.
2. Central Midfield and Cesc Fabregas: The partner to Cesc Fabregas continues as Denilson has made an up and down start to the season. Mathieu Flamini looked to have perfected the role as the partner to Fabregas, but what made him a success? It was not just his work rate and determination, he positioned himself well (also telling others where to go, showing he was tactically aware) and was always encouraging and motivating players. So far Denilson’s best moments have been higher up the field and hasn’t had the same influence as the frenchman. The Brazilian may be affecting Fabregas’ influence on the game as he would now have to do more defensive work. Could Diaby, Song or even Djourou be able to provide this? The philosophy has become more attacking but there needs to be a tackler and someone who could provide resilience.
3. Injuries: It is widely agreed if it weren’t for injuries the Gunners would have made a better challenge for honours last season. This exposed a lack of depth but do Arsenal have the quality this season. Arsene Wenger let a few players go out on loan to maximise playing time but which may have lessened the size. The youngsters have the quality now to step up and added experience but if injuries get Arsenal again then it could be yet another season of frustration.
4. Ruthlessness (and beating ‘smaller’ teams): Arsenal consistently have many opportunities to score (just look at the match stats) but if they scored more the Gunners could have fared better last season and indeed so far this season. Man Utd stuck with Arsenal last season when wewere balsting every team that came at us because they were winning and the Gunners dropped points for drawing.
5. Going 1-0 down: Arsenal had to claw back from a goals down many a times last season (early goals usually) which led to opponents sitiing back and trying to squeeze the game out. The Gunners went behind 12 times last season in the league losing once and only winning the four times.