Why Unai Emery is Arsenal’s Man
Arsenal have extended they’re unbeaten streak to 20 matches after today’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford.
While Jose Mourinho and the United squad looked to get a much needed win, an own goal in the 68th minute proved to be the turning point in the match. After a sloppy turnover by Marcos Rojo, Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan was able to put the ball through to Alexandre Lacazette, who’s shot bounced off of Rojo and dribbled into an open goal. United’s Jesse Lindgard would bring the match level just one minute later, where it would remain.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery is deserving of much praise in his first few months as gaffer of the gunners. The ex-PSG boss started his premier league tenure a bit rocky, losing to Manchester United and Chelsea in his first 2 matches. But the Spanish manager looks anything but uncomfortable these days in North London.
And Arsenal finally have the tactician they’ve hoped for.
Emery has built upon the defensive structure and high paced vertical play Arsene had instilled in the club, coined as “The Invincibles.” Under Arsene, the club built up play quickly from the back with long balls to attackers, and usually pushed the ball to the wings as their most comfortable destination of attack.
Unai Emery still enjoys a quick build up, but instead of Arsenal’s tradition 4-4-2, he employs an ever changing 4-2-3-1 and 4-2-2-2 combination. Instead of pushing the ball directly to his wingers, Emery tends to force the ball in the middle of the pitch by shifting winger Mkhitaryan to join Lacazette up top, while the opposite winger floats in behind for support.
By doing this, Arsenal creates traffic in the center of the field, while allowing space for his fullbacks to press up into the attack. As defenses are gravitated towards the center of the pitch, the gunners are able to kick the ball out to players on wide overlapping runs, creating a chaotic environment for opposing defenders who must choose whether to crowd the box or defend out wide.
This tactic has Arsenal averaging 15 crosses a game, and is a huge reason why striker Pierre-Emmerick Aubameyeng currently sits atop the Premier League in goals (10). Not to mention, arsenal are now 15-0-5 in their last 20 matches.
Arsenal play Huddersfield on December 8th, and have a chance to overtake Chelsea for 4th place on the table.