Arsenal entered the international break having snatched a late 1-1 draw against a dogged and determined Wolves side who had a claim for all three points in north London. Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s late cross-shot cancelled out Ivan Cavaleiro’s first-half opener at Emirates Stadium.
It’s now 3 games without a victory for Arsenal, who’d won 7 league games in a row prior to playing Crystal Palace on 28 October meaning the Gunners haven’t tasted league victory since beating Leicester. And it wasn’t pretty viewing, a Wolves side who had 3 successive defeats in Spurs, Brighton and Watford before this, were well-drilled and took a deserved lead on 13 minutes when Ivan Cavaleiro’s finish had Wolves fans dreaming of a win on Arsenal soil for the first time in the Premier League era.
Arsenal barely created a chance in the first half, except Wolves’ rigid defence and midfield stifled the Gunners and Emery substituted Guendouzi on for Iwobi at the interval in a bid to provide a higher creative threat and it didn’t really make a difference, with Aubameyang, Lacazette and Özil all well off the pace, Bellerin’s cross was hit wide from point blank range by Aubameyang in the biggest chance of the game for Arsenal. But then Özil, who had no influence on the game, was substituted for Mkhitaryan – whose cross-shot evaded everyone and found the corner of Rui Patricio’s goal with 4 minutes remaining, but this game shows how much Arsenal have to improve under Emery.
I’m going to pick 3 players who I was raging with during the game, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alex Lacazette and Mesut Özil, all three who’ve been on and off the boil this season who were outstandingly poor on Sunday. Aubameyang, who’d recently won Player of the Month, was largely an isolated figure and if I’m honest I haven’t been totally pleased with him this season, yes he’s playing wide but missed a gilt-edged chance when he hit the post with the goal gaping from 3 yards out, which summed up his night. He keeps having games where he isn’t in them and I have a different feel to when he was scoring nearly every game towards the end of last season whereas now, despite being on 7 league goals, he doesn’t seem to get involved in the games and we really need to work out how we can get the best out of him.
Alex Lacazette, now a player who didn’t play on Thursday night and hasn’t been picked for France this season, has absolutely no excuse for his 1 in 5 9/10 performances recently, yes he scored against Liverpool but he was poor against Palace, missed a few chances against Leicester and today he just couldn’t get into the game. Now I really like Lacazette and think he’s been one of our best players this season it’s just recently I think he’s tailed off and I think the big task for Unai Emery is getting the best out him and Aubameyang in the same side.
Last but certainly not least, Mesut Özil. Now Özil has arguably played well once this season, Leicester at home when he grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck to turn things around. It’s so frustrating that he is so inconsistent, it’s really starting to annoy me, how can you not get your best player to play a little bit more consistently? Anyone who knows me will know how much I love Mesut Özil and he’s been my favourite player since he joined but it’s sometimes really hard to back him up when he just doesn’t get involved in the game, it’s hard to see because we all know the incredible quality he has. I just think at the moment, tactically we aren’t really getting the best out him, we need him in the half spaces and in the pockets trying to find the gaps, but instead he often drops deep to get the ball and isn’t really influencing the game, again, this is another indicator that Emery has so much work to do.
In summary, Unai Emery has done well so far but this game was a reality check that there are still many problems in the Arsenal team and some of the players need to wake up. Wolves are a good side but Arsenal were just so lacklustre and lazy with the ball and didn’t try to break Wolves down enough. It’s now 1 win in 4 league games and next Bournemouth who’ve had a great season host the Gunners which is another big test.