Saturday, March 23, 2019

Arsenal need to become more than flat-track bullies

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 8 Mar 2019

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Arsenal are such a Jekyll and Hyde team. At the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners are so strong, yet as soon as they go away from home they wilt. A 3-1 defeat at Rennes in the Europa League last 16 on Thursday evening means the Gunners have a mountain to climb in the second leg to make the last eight.

This weekend they face a potentially massive clash in the race for the Champions League when they host Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.

Is poor away form down to a weak mentality?

Arsenal seem to have struggled on their travels for a good while now. A short period earlier in the season saw the Gunners go on a five-game winning run on their travels. The run suggested that new Spanish boss Unai Emery was on the way to turning their poor away form on its head.

However, in recent months the Gunners poor away form has resumed. Emery’s team have won just twice in 11 matches on their travels at League One Blackpool and the Premier League’s bottom club Huddersfield.

The Gunners squad has been accused of suffering from a mental weakness in the past. The fact that they wilt away from home against seemingly most opposition suggests there is a problem. When Arsenal managed a draw at Tottenham recently, it looked like their away form may be turning again. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

Arsenal record easy wins over most teams at the Emirates

In truth, when Arsenal are on song, especially at the Emirates, they swat most teams aside. Unless another big six team visits the Gunners, the opposition team usually ends up on the receiving end of a beating.

Arsenal have won seven of their last nine competitive games on home soil. They have dispatched the likes of Burnley, Southampton, Cardiff, Fulham and BATE Borisov. All of those are teams that Gunners would be expected to defeat on home soil.

Emery’s side has beaten Chelsea and Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium this season while drawing with Liverpool. However, Tottenham and Manchester United have also both won at Arsenal in domestic cup competitions.

On their own patch, Arsenal are a tough team to defeat. However, if the Gunners are handed much of a challenge, they even struggle to beat their rivals at the Emirates Stadium. Beating only poor sides makes teams flat-track bullies, which is why the Gunners have been outside the top-four looking in for the last few seasons.

Arsenal favourites to beat Manchester United

Arsenal will kick-off Sunday’s home game with Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium, just a point adrift of the fourth-place Red Devils. Interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done an exceptional job reviving United’s fortunes in recent months.

Despite the Red Devils positive recent results under Solskjaer, Arsenal are favourites to beat United on Sunday at odds of 7/5. Those odds are likely because the Gunners have won their last six league games at the Emirates Stadium.

However, Manchester United are a dangerous team at the moment, full of confidence with their star players in form. This will be a real test of Arsenal’s quality and mental strength. It would not be a major surprise to see Arsenal win the clash, as they have the capability.

It is in these sorts of big games that players and teams prove their quality. However, too often Arsenal have failed to live up to their billing. A victory over Manchester United would not prove that the Gunners are not flat-track bullies, but it would be a step in the right direction for Emery’s side.

Will Arsenal beat Manchester United on Sunday?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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