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Arsenal vs. Southampton: counter-attacking and poor positioning

Thursday 1st December 2016
In life, all good things do have to come to an end and for Arsenal fans, the one shining light of a dull season so far has come to an end. Arsenal's 19-game  unbeaten streak is no more, but for a lot of fans the disappointment is not unexpected. 

This was a chance for the Gunners to reach a League Cup semi-final for the first time in five years. Instead, the Gunners opted to pass on the chance of silverware despite having such a barren trophy cabinet.
Arsène Wenger made 10 changes to the side that scraped past Bournemouth on Saturday. Showing a clear lack of care for the EFL Cup. In came youngsters Jeff Reine-Adélaïde & Rob Holding, alongside experienced players like Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs & Francis Coquelin to strike a balance. Southampton also gave rare starts to Shane Long, Maya Yoshida & Cuco Martina.

A lack of Creativity



November didn't have the usual effect on our results but it had a severe impact on the quality of our performances. Throughout the whole of November, Arsenal only mustered six shots on target in five games. It took until the 48th minute of yesterday's game for Arsenal to get a shot on target. This performance just epitomised the whole month really, a lack of clear cut chances and a bunch of passive passing. Aaron Ramsey was anonymous at #10, he didn't bring others into the game, neither did he make any driving runs in the final third.
Even our focal point, Lucas Pérez, was ineffective. The Spanish wide forward was good at finding pockets of space in between the full-back and centre-back, however, when he did receive the ball in those dangerous positions, he wasted it through his poor link up play. But it's not solely his fault if the players around him aren't making runs off him. What can he do? Arsenal were laboured in the middle and static in the final third. Alex Iwobi was the only attacker looking to force the issue with quick one-twos and direct play. Unfortunately, his teammates weren't on the same wavelength.

Ineffective MF Pivot



Once again, the Mohamed Elneny-Francis Coquelin pivot was awful. I'm not necessarily saying the two aren't competent players, but chemistry isn't based on the ability of players. For two defensively minded midfielders they sure did leave the Gunners wide open. The two failed woefully in sharing defensive duties. They didn't know when to interchange between pressing, covering or man-marking, instead, they left our defence exposed and vulnerable.
They didn't offer anything offensively either. In possession, they are both limited. Coquelin would often receive the ball, pass it to the side and then run off. Leaving the receiver of the ball with one less close passing option. It was playground stuff at times, no rhythm, no organisation, nothing. Elneny was passive in possession, simply going backwards or sideways. At least when Granit Xhaka came on there was a bit of aggressiveness through the middle.
Let's be honest, Arsenal haven't put in a good performance since their demolition of Chelsea, instead, they've been edging past week after week, grinding out undeserved results. This season has been the opposite for Wenger, in recent years his teams have played good football but not produced the results, instead, now they're playing poorly but grinding out results. You can't fault a team for grinding out results but you can't then be surprised when they finally get found out.
Yes, you can say this was a weakened Arsenal side but Southampton also made several changes. Wenger fielded a team mixed with experience and youth, but they were all players we've seen before. But fair play to Southampton, they came with a game plan that completely nullified Arsenal and overloaded us on the counter. In the end, the Saints could have stretched their lead by 3 or 4 more goals. For Arsenal, it's time to shift all resources to charge for the title. Really & truly the English Premier League is the only trophy that would justify a contract extension for Wenger come the end of May.
Mathaeus Abuwa

Arsenal fan with ample amounts of passion for both Cristiano Ronaldo & Real Madrid. I'm one of those bandwagonist hipster fans that will claim to know everything about football, but only watches the El Clasico outside of the Premier League. Forgive me, I'm trying. Oh yeah, #WengerOut. 


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