ARSENAL are really struggling on the road — because they don’t earn the right to play.
They’ve been brilliant at the Emirates all season, but the problem boss Unai Emery has is trying to play exactly the same way in away games.
For us it was all about trying to bring them down to our level.
The first 20 minutes can set the tone, so we would get at these sides physically from the first whistle, as you knew you would get beaten if it was just about their quality.
That was their aim, and once we’d done that they had earned the right to play how they wanted.
But Arsenal appear naive and seem to think they can play their passing style from the word go against everyone.
THE BEST TEAMS ADAPT
They did exactly that against Everton, and they paid the price. The biggest problem was a lack of anyone stretching the game.
And as a defender, if you know you don’t have to worry about runners in behind and down the sides, then you push up and press much higher.
Everton would have been delighted at Arsenal persevering with playing out from the back.
Unai Emery’s side constantly lost the ball in their own half at Goodison Park — and yesterday was no one-off.
In their 17 home league games they have lost the ball 67 times in their defensive third.
But in two fewer games on the road they have lost it there 16 more times.
Arsenal have been great at home playing this way, and they have created a real fear factor at the Emirates.
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Teams sit back and look to contain, so the Gunners have the time and space needed to stamp their authority on the game with their passing style.
But unless you’re Man City you just can’t do the same on the road and expect the same result.
The best teams adapt when playing away — and if Arsenal had found a way to do so, they’d most likely have a Champions League spot sewn up by now.