Former Arsenal striker and Sky Sports pundit, Charlie Nicholas, has told the club manager, Unai Emery, how to beat Chelsea as the two London heavyweights clash at Stamford Bridge today.
The ex-Arsenal star told the Spaniard to prioritise defensive solidity over his hopes of getting Arsenal to play from the back.
He said this because his current squad does not have the quality to play that way.
The Gunners opened their new era under the Spanish manager with a 2-0 defeat at home to defending champions Manchester City.
The Gunners were unconvincing and barely managed to threaten the visitors offensively.
The former PSG boss attempted to get his team to begin their build-up from the goalkeeper but his tactics were widely questioned against City with his players consistently playing themselves into trouble.
Nicholas, who scored 54 goals in 184 appearances for the club told Sky Sports that “Arsenal are aiming for top four. It’s going to take time, but the scrutiny of this team will be have they strengthened enough?
“He’s identified weaknesses defensively but he’s not got the right personnel in yet, not identified who’s his best partnership at the back.
“[Hector] Bellerin looks a nervous wreck defensively. They ended up looking weak against Man City. They didn’t look as if they’d strengthened much.
“Arsenal now have to become a back four with two protectors and a front four of [Mesut] Ozil, [Aaron] Ramsey, [Alexandre] Lacazette and [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang and see where it takes them.
“He’s got a long-term future, the manager, but he has something to the team and the fans to say, ‘Ok, we’re in!’ Because these Arsenal fans are demanding.”
Asked if Emery’s desired style suits the current group of players at his disposal, Nicholas added, “No it doesn’t.
“If you keep giving it Sokratis and [Shkodran] Mustafi, eventually they’ll hide. They’ll make the offer but as soon as they get it, they’ll be panicking. You can see it.
“They’re not good enough yet to play the way that Man City play. Pep [Guardiola] created a change in football [by wanting his teams] to take the pressure, take the strain and be brave on the ball.
“Arsenal don’t have that quality yet [to do that]. If you don’t have that quality you have to adapt. You can stay with it and stay stubborn, but get the right personnel in and then it might work.”
Talking about Arsenal goalkeepers, Petr Cech and Leno, Nicholas added, “He’s been a world-class goalkeeper but he’s not a world-class goalkeeper anymore,” talking about Cech.
“Partly that reason is because of the defensive weakness that Arsenal have has downgraded him.
“I’ve never seen him do that before. Maybe 2-0, 3-0 he would do that. It’s about playing to your strengths.
“If this is going to be Arsenal’s new identity, I’ll watch with interest and not over judge or be overcritical because Pep started this.
“But there’s a difference between giving it [the ball to Gerard] Pique or Mustafi – a big difference.
“I’ve never seen Cech do that before. If you’re asking him to do it now, you don’t have a No 1 because he’s never done that before so how would he know if he’s good at it?
“It’s alright doing it in training but don’t do it when you’re coming against the best team in the league, your home debut. All the fans went, ‘Really? Where’s this come from?’
“When you see him mis-hitting that one and it nearly goes into the corner of the net, you can see the entire crowd go ‘Oh, well that’s that game over.’
“If this is the way they’re asked to play, they’ll give it time and trust the new manager but to fall into that pattern that quickly, in your first home game, for me is wrong. Try it in your next home game.”