There is no doubt that when they are at their attacking best, Arsenal are a wonderful team to watch. The problem they have at the moment is their frailties defensively. Having shipped club captain Thomas Vermaelan out in the summer, Arsene Wenger is left a touch short on real quality at the back. Per Mertersacker and Laurent Koscielny have performed admirably at times but have a tendency to switch off and have struggled with injury. Having had an up and down start to the season both in the league and in Europe, Wenger will need to make sure his side are more sturdy as they head towards the festive period and beyond. They face Liverpool and Manchester City either side of Christmas with difficult matches against Stoke, West Ham and the north London derby against Tottenham to contend with. They must balance all that with their European adventures, so must make sure they are more resolute at the back to take the pressure off the attacking players.
Arsenal games can tend to follow a familiar pattern at times. They fly out of the blocks, go a goal up and sit back, and then either concede a late equaliser or go onto lose the match. What Arsenal must do more often is when they get their first goal, continue to press for a second to get that buffer that will see them win more games from positions where they have held a lead. Last season they spent more time at the top of the league than any other team and still only finished fourth. Too many times Arsenal have thrown away leads to end up only getting a point or even worse coming away with nothing. If they are harbouring genuine ambitions of winning the league or even the Champions League, they must first be more clinical in taking their opportunities and be more ruthless in their attacking mindset and need to kill off games, especially against mid-table opposition.
Yes, Arsenal are a great team to watch at times. Yes, when they are in full flow, they are difficult to match. The problem is, when they get caught up in gritty games against teams that are tough to break down and are intent on defending, they struggle and look short of options. They aren’t the most physical of sides, despite always seeming to pick up their fair share of red cards.What they need to do is impose themselves more and front up to the strong challenges and physicality that the less skillful teams bring to matches. It is this toughness that is seeing them left behind by the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, two teams that have made an art out of winning the hard way. Yes teams want to play entertaining football but they must also grind results out at times if they are to get the important points and challenge for league titles again.
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