Bournemouth will test Arsenal’s improved defensive structure

Unai Emery’s new Arsenal have stopped winning.

They’ve drawn their last three matches,

So they need to win at Bournemouth to stay in touch with fourth place,
Those draws were 2-2 at Crystal Palace, followed by Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1 and Arsenal 1 Wolves 1, a match they could easily have lost.

Bournemouth played Man United and lost to 2-1 at home, then went to Newcastle and again lost 2-1.

But their previous consistency means they’re still in sixth place.They’re four points below Arsenal after 12 games.

In the first week of October, when Arsenal were winning 5-1 at Fulham, Bournemouth were winning 4-0 at Watford.

We’ve seen that Unai Emery is a proactive coach who demands a very compact shape and quick forward passing and he’s a dynamic interventionist during games.

He’s already shown he can win matches from the technical area. If he’s not happy, he makes changes early. His laptop doesn’t pick the Arsenal team or make the substitutions.

Sunday’s 1.30 game could be a 2-1 win for Eddie Howe or a 2-1 win for Unai Emery. Or another draw.

The great thing about this new era is that the atmosphere has come back, the team is now being backed by the fans again, and that makes a huge difference to the experience of being there, and to the players.

There will be bigger tests for Arsenal next month. But right now, as winter starts, we have an away game against a club who have lost a bit of form. An Arsenal victory would leave their fans looking  closely at the top four places. But a defeat might make gooners nervous about the winter.

Overall so far, I knew Unai Emery could improve Arsenal quickly : I could feel it. 

Because he looked like a Spanish George Graham, someone who said: OK guys, it’s time to get real, this is how we’re gonna play, this is what we do, this is what we don’t do. Football is all about good habits, so when I say Don’t, I mean NEVER! There are some things we never do, even in training.

Under Wenger I once saw Johan Djourou take a foul throw and then, in the same match, take another foul throw. That was a truly damning Arsene Wenger moment.

In an interview with Spanish paper Marca this week, Emery talked about his predecessor :

“Before Wenger came, Arsenal celebrated 1-0 and were based on defensive solidity. With Arsene, joy came from attacking, with players of good standing. And the perfect combination was the Invincibles.

“But over time, only technical quality and offensive freedom were taken care of, losing the defensive structure. What I want is to unite both essences and be more competitive. Arsenal was in decline. We had to stop it and start climbing.”

As I’ve noted on ANR, it’s a three-year turnaround and this season is a preview of the future.

Playing abroad: from Cesc Fabregas to Jadon Sancho & Reiss Nelson