Unai Emery facing defensive crisis as his Arsenal revolution threatens to fall apart

UNAI EMERY is running out of answers at Arsenal.

The Spaniard’s project is in danger of stalling just six months in — and he faces a defensive crisis ahead of today’s home clash with Fulham.

Emery has lost three of his last four games
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Emery’s side were battered 5-1 at Liverpool on Saturday and just seven teams have conceded more league goals this term.

In fact, only Fulham and Manchester United have fewer clean sheets.

Emery has tried seven different players at centre-back but is yet to identify his best partnership.

He came with a reputation for organisation, but nothing he does seems to have an effect on his shambolic defence.

Arsenal were humiliated at Anfield as they lost 5-1 against Liverpool
Reuters
Arsenal conceded four in the first half at Anfield
Reuters

No doubt his work is being hampered by injuries.

Laurent Koscielny is easing his way back after eight months, Rob Holding suffered a cruciate injury in November and Nacho Monreal is often sidelined by muscular niggles.

Hector Bellerin is out with a calf strain, Shkodran Mustafi’s comeback lasted 45 minutes at Anfield and Stephan Lichtsteiner is looking every one of his 34 years.

No wonder Emery’s notoriously tough training methods are being questioned.

Centre-half Koscielny has returned after eight months out
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Maitland-Niles has covered at right-back in recent weeks
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Danny Welbeck’s broken ankle, Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s cracked metatarsal and Holding’s knee issue are unavoidable.

But the number of soft-tissue strains and tears suggests Arsenal’s stars are struggling to cope with the workload.

Yet keeper Bernd Leno said: “I don’t think that was the difference against Liverpool. We let in five goals but made too many mistakes.

“We’ve enough quality, even when somebody is injured. Injuries were not the problem.”

Defenders Lichtsteiner and Sokratis were signed in the summer to bring some grit to a soft back four.
But they have only added to the sense of panic in the Arsenal back line.

Arsenal have been plagued with injuries this season
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Lucas Torreira was at fault for one of the goals at Anfield
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Alex Iwobi assisted Arsenal’s goal at Anfield
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Yet Emery has been told there are no funds for a major signing this month so is looking at potential loan deals.

Gary Cahill, 33, is touted as a possible recruit but, even if Chelsea would let him join a rival, Emery is unconvinced.

Arsenal are now five points outside of the Premier League’s top four and already struggling to close that gap.

The problem is every year out of the Champions League costs Arsenal £40million and hits their reputation.

Chelsea skipper Cahill has emerged as a transfer target for Arsenal
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He addressed his players at training
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Yet their annual wage bill has still risen by around £30m in 12 months and the decision to hand a £350,000-a-week contract to Mesut Ozil is causing serious headaches for the bean counters.

Both Liverpool and Manchester City broke the bank in 2018 to sign a world-class centre-half and Emery believes Arsenal now need to do the same.

Persuading owner Stan Kroenke to finance such a move will be the ultimate test of Emery’s powers.

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