This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Speaking on The Season So Far (as quoted by The Daily Mirror), Lee Dixon has slammed Arsenal boss Unai Emery’s tactics this season.
The Gunners have endured a disappointing start to the current campaign, currently finding themselves in sixth in the Premier League table and already eight points behind fourth-placed Manchester City.
The north Londoners have looked incredibly shaky at the back, conceding 17 goals in 12 games, and facing 16.4 shots per game on average – a record that is the third-worst in the entire division. Now, Dixon has urged Arsenal’s players to challenge Emery over his tactical set-up, but feared that the squad lacked any real leaders to do exactly that.
He said: “From (having) a shot at one end to conceding a penalty at the other end in the space of 20 seconds – that cannot happen, that has to stop. Now that game was Watford – I could have done (Aston) Villa at home, I could have done Liverpool away when he played a narrow midfield and let the Liverpool full-backs run the game.
“I could have picked any number of games and done the same analysis and just overlaid it onto the pitch. It’s happening every week – that has to stop and the players have got to go ‘We don’t know what you’re doing gaffer, can we change it? Can we change something?’.
“But there’s no leaders in that team, there’s no Patrick Vieira to go ‘boss can we change the system or something?’. Unai is banging the drum about how he wants to play and the players can’t do it.”
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Arsenal this season, have been the absolute epitome of that. Repeating the same kind of mistakes and just watching themselves get punished time after time. They have been caught out in transition far too many times, losing the ball in the attacking third and simply not having players to cover back – case in point the clashes against both Villa and Liverpool.
As Dixon alludes to, the worrying issue for the Gunners is that there doesn’t appear to be someone with a strong enough personality to defy Emery and challenge him over his game-plan. Instead, it feels like players trying to blindly follow instructions without knowing what they’re actually supposed to be doing.