The Gunners were held to a draw in their last Premier League action against a resolute Brighton side who did just enough to come out of Emirates stadium with one point. Getting three points against Brighton was the ideal situation for both Gunners and Emery to break into the top four.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) December 26, 2018
This was accurately projected in the starting eleven which had Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang ably supported by Mesut Ozil, the creative fulcrum of the team. Despite having a long list of injured players and the prospect of facing a high-flying Liverpool side, Emery needs to be given an applause for choosing a strong team against the seagulls.
The first thirty minutes saw the Gunners dictating the game and was satisfactory for both Arsenal fans and Emery. This period also saw an Aubameyang goal which the Arsenal fans have been so used to seeing this season. Later in the first half Brighton managed to equalize through Lichsteiner’s error which saw the ball being headed straight onto the path of Brighton striker Jurgen Locadia.
Emery said of Lichtsteiner’s error.
“We are in our process, we are improving. It’s a difficult moment for us because we have some injuries. When an injury closes one option option for one player, it’s opening the door for other players to come with us and play.”
However, what really concerned Arsenal fans was Emery’s substitutions after the break. Emery replaced Mesut Ozil with Alex Iwobi at the break and just 15 minutes later Lacazette was withdrawn for Ramsey. The Frenchman showed his frustration by throwing his gloves on the ground, which it self is a sign that the players are not in favour of Emery when it comes to substitutions.
I’m sorry but Emery got it wrong today, we created nothing when Özil went off, playing 3 DMs is just pointless, and the substitution of Lacazette baffled everyone inside the stadium!
— MR DT © (@MrDtAFC) December 26, 2018
For majority of the season Emery’s substitutions in the second half have managed to cause a game changing effect. But in this match it failed to make the desired impact with his side unable to cause Brighton any real problems in the second half.
The withdrawal of Mesut Ozil in place of Alexi Iwobi is questionable considering the fact that Mesut Ozil is a playmaker who create chances for his team whereas Iwobi does rarely offer the same. Similarly, Alexandre Lacazatte’s removal from the match saw a further diminished the creativity that the side badly needed to get past the Brighton defense.
Lacazette who is seven goals short of Aubameyang’s, has more number of assists. Lacazette who is known for his poacher instincts is also adept at drawing out defenders with him thereby creating sufficient space for Aubameyang to do the magic with his foot. The goal against Brighton too came in this similar fashion with Lacazette the assisting the Gabonese striker. Aubameyang now has thirteen from just nineteen appearances making him the League’s top scorer.
“Tactically some matches I did that [make changes]. We wanted to control better the positioning on the pitch.”
“But in the second half we couldn’t do our ideas on the pitch. We created less chances.”
A disappointed Emery said right after the match.
We have to remember this is not Emery's team and of course he needs to be given time and money to make it so, but the way he's managed a Huddersfield – Southampton – Burnley – Brighton run of fixtures has been embarassing. We have a ferocious attack that's currently on a leash.
— ∞ (@TheFalseNein) December 26, 2018
A golden opportunity has gone begging for Unai Emery and his Arsenal side to establish themselves in the top four as the same night saw Chelsea slipping to a humbling defeat at the hand of Leicester. Right now the immediate task of Emery would be to sort out the problems in the his defense and get his side ready for the high octane match on Saturday against Liverpool. At the same time Emery would want to get his tactics spot on if he hopes to get three points at Anfield.