Arsenal’s season so far can be defined by their current goal difference: 0.
Going forward, the Gunners have been brilliant at times. Defensively, however, Unai Emery’s men must do better.
The newly-installed centre-back partnership of Shkodran Mustafi and summer signing Sokratis looks to lack pace, mobility and an authoritative, organising figure. Emery’s insistence upon having his side play out from the back has meanwhile reduced the veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech to a jibbering, nervous wreck.
Right now, solutions for Arsenal appear thin on the ground. Reverting to the three-at-the-back system introduced by Arsene Wenger in his final couple of seasons at the Emirates Stadium would improve things for now though.
A back three would allow Emery to introduce Rob Holding to the rearguard alongside the established pair. Though young, the Englishman is the kind of reserved, covering defender who could serve to bring balance to Mustafi’s and Sokratis’ more aggressive instincts.
Furthermore, having three central defenders ought to make playing the ball out easier for the Gunners’ goalie.
This system could also aid Arsenal going forward. Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin have proved very effective in attack so far this season, but having an extra defender behind them should leave the North Londoners less susceptible to counter-attacks should the wing-backs be caught out of position. This tactic would allow Monreal and Bellerin to become wing-backs rather than full-backs, which would also eliminate the need for Arsenal to field actual wingers. Which is good, because they haven’t really got any.
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Finally, a system featuring wing-backs creates space in the squad for a second centre-forward, meaning that playing three-at-the-back could even allow the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette partnership to flourish.
What do you think, Arsenal fans? Would you like to see Emery experiment with a back three?