Arsenal Rotation Options Disappoint for the Gunners

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 14: Callum Wilson of AFC Bournemouth scores his sides first goal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal at Vitality Stadium on January 14, 2018 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

In a fixture where the two biggest names at the club were left off the starting XI, Arsenal revealed plenty of their flaws again, losing 2-1 to Bournemouth on the South coast.

Arsenal fall eight points behind top four

Arsenal put in a poor performance that has become all too familiar in recent times, as they collapsed after taking a 1-0 lead through Hector Bellerin. Arsenal is becoming known for their lack of bite and leadership in away matches as they lose their third away match against a lower-ranked side.

The Gunners were poor on the front foot for the entire 90 minutes, mustering fewer shots than Bournemouth with fewer on-target.

Arsenal took the lead just after half-time with Alex Iwobi’s through-ball sent Hector Bellerin in. But the second half was a disaster that eerily resembled the stunning loss to Watford earlier in the season.

A mistake from Cech, which could have been influenced by a lack of trust between him and his backline, gifted Callum Wilson the equaliser. Jordon Ibe, who had never scored a Premier League goal for Bournemouth, added the winner to cap off a fantastic performance for the ex-Liverpool winger.

Arsenal was left to rue their ineffectiveness in front of goal, as they watched the Vitality Stadium erupt with pure euphoria.

Lack of Star Power

It’s now nine games in a row without a goal for club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette, and he looks like a man seriously lacking in confidence. It’s easy to see why he struggles. Without Özil and Alexis, he isn’t getting the service he needs. But as a £52-million signing, you’d still expect better.

Arsenal play a very compact game which is very focused around the central areas of the pitch, where midfielders typically thrive. The team rarely has players running in behind due to this philosophy, causing Lacazette to suffocate in a crowd of defenders. He is drowned out by his lack of presence, in this case.

It’s a worrying sight for fans to see Lacazette frustrated so early in his Arsenal career.

Going into the season, Wenger mentioned that Arsenal had a massive squad, making it easy for them to rotate the starting XI in the Europa League and cup competitions. Despite the number of players available, it is quite evident that Arsenal’s squad players are just not good enough to be a top-four side.

When Özil is out of the line-up and players like Welbeck, Iwobi, and Walcott are expected to pick up the slack, you’ll always have problems. The team becomes far too predictable.

Weak Options Means a Weak Result

Being one-up into the second half, you would normally expect a top side to close out the match and secure the points. The clear lack of quality at the top-end of the pitch, however, continues to let them down. Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi continue to disappoint as rotation options, with their lack of ability close to goal very evident.

Rob Holding and Calum Chambers have been disappointing of late as well, after coming into the XI in place of the injured duo of Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal.

It’s always important for a team to have quality options off the bench. Having someone who can make an impact off the bench is crucial. Looking at current runaway league leaders Manchester City, their options off the bench include top-class players such as Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan. Defending champions Chelsea had the likes of Willian and Fabregas playing bit-part roles in their title-winning season in 2016-17.

Backup options remain crucial to the success of any team. It will be important for Arsenal to not only seek to replace Alexis Sanchez, but to also look to improve their 25-man squad.

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