It’s fair to say that Arsenal have found themselves in a fine mess. With Arsene Wenger refusing to comment on his future, a lack of direction from the board, fan relations reaching boiling point and two wins from eight league games, Arsenal need a miracle to finish in the top four. Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned the likelihood of finishing below Tottenham for the first time since 1995. But while it’s all very much doom and gloom at the Emirates, there are a few short-term fixes that Wenger...
Since the turn of the year, Arsenal’s biggest problem has been the lack of protection provided to the defenders. Too often, the Gunners are caught high up the pitch with multiple players out of position.
Wenger isn’t known for his tactical changes, but a move to the 3-4-3 formation could give the defence more protection, while allowing Mesut Ozil to play in a free role similar to the one Eden Hazard occupies for Chelsea.
Move Nacho Monreal to the left side of the centre backs – a position he’s played before – and give Kieran Gibbs a run at left wing back. The formation change could help Arsenal to be more solid at the back without losing any attacking flair.
They seem to have neither in the current 4-2-3-1 set up.
Start Alexis Sanchez Back Up Front
At the start of the season, Wenger played Alexis Sanchez in the no. 9 position. Since then, the Chilean has gone on to score 18 goals and assist a further nine in 28 Premier League matches.
The last four games, however, have seen Sanchez revert to the left wing - with Danny Welbeck occupying the striker role. In those four fixtures, Sanchez has scored once and registered zero assist,s while Welbeck has neither scored or assisted.
It was a strange move from Wenger to take his best player out of the position he was most effective in. Hopefully against Middlesbrough, Arsenal fans will see Sanchez back in the striker role and scoring goals again.
Play Per Mertesacker
Playing Per Mertesacker might seem like a controversial shout, especially considering the ire he has faced from Arsenal fans in the past, but the Gunners are usually more solid when the captain plays.
Mertesacker offers leadership and a calming presence. He’s also a good passer and excellent reader of the game. The World Cup winner’s shortfalls have come into focus when Arsenal play a high line, something that clearly isn’t working no matter who plays at centre back.
If Arsenal adopt a more cautious style similar to ones they have in the latter stages of previous seasons when they’ve needed to salvage results, they could still end this campaign strongly.
Yes, Mertesacker hasn’t played this season and might be a bit rusty, but right now the alternatives just aren’t working. It’s time for The Big F***ing German.
Ensure They Start on the Front Foot
Arsenal have been laborious and sluggish at the start of both the first and second halves of games too many times this season. They are more reactive than proactive to situations, which is a reflection of their manager.
For the final eight games they need to start on the front foot, pressing and harrying the opposition into making mistakes. Even if results don’t go their way, by showing some fight they might just start to get the fans who have recently turned against them back on side.
And Put Simply, Just Beat Middlesbrough
Ok, so it might be an obvious suggestion, but if Arsenal can win their next game hopefully they will be able to turn the tide and find some form.
All runs start with a win, and the longer they go without a victory, especially away from home, the harder it is going to be for them to get out of this rut. A good win over Middlesbrough, followed by an FA Cup semi-final victory over Manchester City, will set Arsenal up nicely for the final stretch of the season.
Otherwise, they could be looking at finishing 7th, and that certainly wouldn’t justify Wenger’s comments about leaving the club in a better position than when he took the reins.