New faces, same old arsenal: Vardy highlights the job Arteta still...

New faces, same old arsenal: Vardy highlights the job Arteta still...
New faces, same old arsenal: Vardy highlights the job Arteta still...

The Foxes striker found the net again against the Gunners when the North London side had to pay for not taking their risk

One night, fans got a first glimpse of how Mikel Arteta sees his Arsenal squad in the future. The inevitability of their first home defeat this season shows how much work remains to be done.

Since the lockdown, it has been a must for the Gunners boss, with the requirement to tighten things up defensively as he switched to the back-three almost entirely after the return of football in June.

The system has served Arsenal well and the FA Cup has been set for a record for the 14th time. However, it always felt like it would soon be abandoned when Arteta believed he had the means to ride a back four.

The arrival of Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey on the day of the transfer deadline seems to have been the trigger for Arsenal’s manager to decide that it was finally time to change things.

The Ghanaian international, who was so impressive on his Europa League debut against Rapid Vienna on Thursday evening, got his first start in the Premier League against Leicester City when Arteta finished 4-3-3 at the Emirates Stadium.

It felt like a big moment in Arsenal’s season considering how long Arteta stayed behind with a three, despite all the calls from fans to change and choose a more expressive system.

And there were certainly positive results that Arteta will have drawn from the performance, especially in the first half when Arsenal dominated and should have scored at least once.

However, the disappointing second-half performance was a real concern for the former midfielder.

Struggling so hard before the break, Leicester prevailed in the game and scored a 1-0 win when substitute Jamie Vardy came off the bench to score his usual goal against Arsenal.

The Foxes striker, who refused to move to the Emirates in 2016, has now scored 11 Premier League goals against the Gunners. Only Wayne Rooney (12) achieved more.

With Arsenal failing to exploit their dominance in the first half – when they had eleven shots on goal – it wasn’t difficult to predict what would happen when Vardy replaced Dennis Praet by half an hour ahead.

Leicester had ridden the storm and then they pounced 10 minutes from the end. A long ball over the top was all it took. Cengiz Under raced clearly before selecting the unmarked Vardy, who was walking home up close.

For Brendan Rodgers, it was a moment that completed a perfect game plan. For Arteta, it was a reminder of the work that still needs to be done.

The first 45 minutes gave an interesting insight into the future. The new 4-3-3 formation allowed Arsenal to play with a freedom fans haven’t seen in a long time.

Partey was at the base of midfield with Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos on either side, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka threatened both sides of center-forward Alexandre Lacazette up front.

At first it was a system that worked well. The midfield trio dominated the game and David Luiz, sitting right behind them, picked Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin at will.

Arsenal had 11 tries in 45 minutes compared to the six they racked up in 90 minutes when they hosted Sheffield United before the international break. They moved the ball well and put Leicester back, but they couldn’t make their pressures count.

Lacazette somehow failed to hit the target from the six-yard box when he was picked by Tierney, while Aubameyang headed another good opportunity, again after a nice cross from Tierney.

Bellerin, meanwhile, was turned down by Jonny Evans’ excellent block and Saka saw an attempt to flash into the side net from a narrow angle.

It was all Arsenal, with Leicester making just one attempt, but the longer the game went on without the home team scoring, the more inevitable the final result became.

Arsenal lost Luiz to injury shortly after the break and there is no doubt that the Brazilian’s absence had a significant impact on the hugely disappointing second-half performance.

He had been the man who had dictated things from the depths, but as he left Arsenal seemed lost.

Bellerin had a good chance when he hit Schmeichel straight from Aubameyang’s cross, but that was Arsenal’s only shot on goal in the second 45 minutes.

Leicester began to grow in faith and Vardy’s goal with 10 minutes left gave them their first Arsenal win since 1973 and sentenced the Gunners to their first home defeat since they were beaten by Chelsea in December.

Gabriel and Partey’s summer additions have made Arsenal a far stronger unit and given Arteta options that they have never had before, but this is a roster that is far from complete.

A worrying lack of goals is a real problem that needs to be solved. Aubameyang has now played five league games without a goal for the first time since November 2014 when he played for Borussia Dortmund.

The Arsenal captain has fired just eight shots in six league games this season and his expected goals (xG) totaling 0.43 only rank 77th in the Premier League this season. It was perhaps no surprise to see him storm down the tunnel immediately after the final whistle.

Arteta has to find a way of the threat in the last third. The first half was positive in that regard, but the second 45 minutes showed that his team had a lot more work to do in the new look.

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