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Five areas Arsenal must improve against Fenerbahce

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Arsenal go into a difficult match against Fenerbahce looking to take an advantage back to the Emirates Stadium and make up for that defeat to Aston Villa.

It would be completely disastrous for Arsenal not to qualify for the Champions League this season but it’s impossible to predict which side is going to show up, as the opening day Premier League defeat to Aston Villa shows.

Arsenal are not a naïve football club and they would have been working very hard behind the scenes this week to give themselves a great chance of holding out in what will be a very hostile atmosphere.

Turkey is infamous for being one of the most difficult places for any European side to travel to and this match is no different, with the Gunners likely to be up against it from very early on in the match.

Here are five key areas they need to improve.

More Direct

Only 6% of the passes Arsenal made in that Premier League match against Aston Villa were long passes. The problem with a short passing game is that it can be easier for the opposition to contain if they get their tactics right. Arsenal completed just four of 25 crossing attempts, a rate they will need to improve to give Olivier Giroud better service.

If Fenerbahce are fired up for this match as they should be, they will press and harass Arsenal all over the pitch which will make it very difficult for the Gunners to produce their normally slick short passing tactics, creating a need to play longer balls and to occasionally be very direct.

Arsenal Crosses

Defensive Line

Arsenal cannot afford to let their defensive line push too high up the pitch. It’s only natural that this is normal for the Arsenal back four because they enjoy so much possession in the majority of games.

However, the back four lacks a bit of pace when it comes to recovery and dealing with balls which are threaded in behind to strikers playing on the very shoulder of the defence.

Midfield Shape

The midfield shape against Aston Villa was appalling, which is surprising considering just how much quality the Gunners have in that area of the squad.

The distance between the players was far too big. Arsenal need to centralise, get those midfield players closer together and form a barrier, which makes it difficult for Fenerbahce to go through the middle.

The effect that has is that it will force the ball out wide, which is where it’s easier to contain, pinning wingers into certain areas of the pitch.


Arsenal had 16 attempts on goal in that match against Villa but only four of them were on target.

It’s much easier for the opposition goalkeeper if he’s not being made to make saves on a regular basis and it’s an area Arsenal definitely have to be better and more productive over the course of the match.


Arsenal made just three fewer fouls than Aston Villa last weekend, gave away two penalties and had four players booked with Laurent Koscielny receiving a second yellow card and subsequently a red.

The atmosphere, combined with the pressure and the nature of the match will make it very tempting for certain players in certain positions to be aggressive.

Arsenal can’t afford to play much of this match at a numerical disadvantage because if they do, it will be very difficult for them to keep their heads above water by the close of the 90 minutes.

What do you think? What’s your prediction for the game?

image: © StatsZone; FourFourTwo

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