Ongoing games & upcoming games:
Preview: Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Arsenal
Arsenal begin their 2019-20 Europa League campaign with a trip to Germany to face Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday evening.
The Gunners will be desperate for a return to winning ways after picking up widespread criticism for surrendering a 2-0 lead against Watford on Sunday.
The fallout from Arsenal’s second-half capitulation at Vicarage Road felt uncannily similar to so many other backlashes over the years, with Unai Emery’s side displaying the same psychological infirmity at the back that many spotted over a decade ago.
For a team blessed with such remarkable, free-flowing attacking talent, you can understand why Arsenal fans become exasperated at their team making the same needless defensive errors at critical junctures in games.
Indeed, even the players themselves seem aghast at the entropic nature of their mistakes, with Granit Xhaka hitting out at his teammates for being “scared” at Vicarage Road, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored twice, bluntly said after the game that Arsenal were “literally giving goals to the opposition”.
Arsenal’s last European outing served as another example of this agonising defensive doom loop – their 4-1 Europa League final defeat to Chelsea in Baku.
Despite dominating large swathes of the game, the Gunners found themselves 3-0 down out of nowhere against their London rivals, with Olivier Giroud’s 49th minute header setting in motion a catalogue of positional and psychological shortcomings which left Arsenal – not for the first time – falling into quicksand, seemingly susceptible to conceding whenever Chelsea came forward.
This tendency towards capitulation is something that Arsenal will have to rein in against an organised, aggressive Frankfurt side which has good experience in this competition.
Led by Adi Hutter in his first season at the club, Frankfurt recovered from a poor start to their 2018-19 campaign to embark on a sensational run of form which saw them recover from a first-leg 4-2 defeat in the quarter-final against Benfica to set up a semi-final against Chelsea.
Their performances over both legs against the Blues served as a lesson to Arsenal on how to navigate close cup competition encounters: a resolute, unified back four working in harmony with its midfielders to produce a powerful pressing game capable of serving as a springboard for attacks. In the end, Frankfurt drew both legs 1-1 against a side which, on paper at least, was far superior, with the Bundesliga side losing out on penalties in the end.
However, Frankfurt, currently languishing in ninth in the Bundesliga, has lost a couple of key players over the summer as a result of their impressive European campaign – Luka Jovic has joined Real Madrid and Sebastian Haller moved to West Ham, depriving the club of two players who combined to score 47 goals for the club in all competitions last term.
That said, the German side have not stood still, shelling out a total of £91m on 10 players over the summer, and will feel that they have rhythm in this competition having already played six Europa League qualifiers this season.
With their lively home support behind them, Frankfurt will certainly feel that they can tap into the same psychological frailties which saw Arsenal fall apart at Vicarage Road on Sunday and claim a memorable victory over the North London side.
Eintracht Frankfurt form: WLWWL
Arsenal form: WWLDD
|September 22, 2019|
|Arsenal||3:30 PM||Aston Villa|
|September 30, 2019|
|Manchester United||7:00 PM||Arsenal|
|September 15, 2019|
|Watford||2 - 2||Arsenal|
|September 1, 2019|
|Arsenal||2 - 2||Tottenham Hotspur|