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The Gunners edged closer to qualifying for the knockout stage of the Europa League with a 1-1 draw at Vitoria but the performance was again dire
Another game, another new formation, another abysmal Arsenal performance.
Unai Emery’s side may have taken another step towards qualification to the Europa League group stages with a 1-1 draw against Vitoria in Guimaraes on Wednesday, but this dismal display will only add to the growing calls from supporters for the club to change manager.
Arsenal have now won just one of their last six games in all competitions and they look like a team that has run out of ideas.
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Emery changed the system against Vitoria, employing a back three for the first time this season, but the switch did little to alter the pattern of performances we’ve seen from Arsenal in recent weeks.
Again, they were heavily outgunned. The Portuguese side, who currently sit fifth in the Primeira Liga, had 15 efforts on goal during a drab 90 minutes, while the visitors could muster just seven.
In fact, the best chances Arsenal created all afternoon fell to centre-backs, with both Rob Holding and Shkodran Mustafi both heading over the top in the first half when they should have at least hit the target in the first half, before the latter eventually broke the deadlock with 10 minutes remaining.
At the other end, Emiliano Martinez had to be at his best to make two fine saves early on, while the hosts rattled the woodwork through a long-distance strike from Pedro Rodrigues before finally levelling in injury time through Bruno Duarte, whose acrobatic volley earned Vitoria their first point in the group stage.
The draw may leave Arsenal on the verge of the knock-out stages with two games still remaining, but during such a laboured outing, it was impossible to escape the feeling that Emery is on borrowed time.
Should the Gunners lose at Premier League top-four rivals Leicester on Saturday, they could be nine points adrift of the Champions League places and it will leave head of football Raul Sanllehi with a big decision to make during the international break.
Sanllehi was in Portugal to watch the Vitoria game and the Spaniard – who spent a decade at Barcelona during what was arguably the Catalans’ greatest ever period – can’t have been impressed by what he saw.
As they have been for most of the season, Arsenal were a mess, particularly in the first half when they were outshot 10-1.
The players look confused and totally shorn of any confidence. Nicolas Pepe, so exciting during his first few appearances following his summer move from Lille, looks a shadow of the player that starred in Ligue 1 last season.
Pepe did at least set up Mustafi’s goal, delivering an excellent free-kick for the defender to nod home, but other than that it was another really poor display from the £72 million ($92.5m) man.
But that is no real surprise considering the way he and his team-mates are being managed by a coach who is clearly totally out of his depth.
Going forward, Arsenal are toothless. Take the incredible 5-5 draw against a second-string Liverpool in the League Cup out of the equation and they have scored just eight goals in their last seven games, with only two of those coming from open play.
And things are no better at the back. For the fourth successive game they failed to hang on to lead and, in truth, were fortunate not to lose the game, with Mustafi close to diverting a cross into his own net with just seconds remaining.
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Had that gone in, Emery could have had few complaints. Some of his player may be under-performing, but the buck stops with him and right now he looks as lost as his players.
He will no doubt change formation again this weekend at Leicester, confusing things even more.
And if he fails to get a result at the King Power Stadium, then his time may well be up.