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Worrying Arsenal dressing room claim made about Unai Emery

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Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith says he has heard some players at the club do not understand Unai Emery’s tactics.

Arsenal currently sit fifth in the Premier League, five points behind unbeaten leaders Liverpool.

But after major changes to the squad over the summer, the Gunners have lacked cohesion and balance in their opening four games.

Accommodating Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe in the attack while finding space for Mesut Ozil has proved difficult so far.

Meanwhile, the arrival of David Luiz has failed to add defensive security to the back four, which is still missing Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney through injury.

And in a worrying assessment of Arsenal’s season so far, Smith questioned whether Emery knows his best team and revealed he’s been told players are confused by the manager’s demands.

He told the Evening Standard: “What, for instance, constitutes Emery’s best midfield combination?

“Does he persist with a three or change formation slightly to incorporate a No10 in the shape of Dani Ceballos or Mesut Ozil?

“On the evidence so far, something needs to change. Because as well as Arsenal played going forward in the second half against Tottenham, that midfield offered scant protection to a back four in need of plenty.

“Every time the visitors sprang forward they looked really dangerous, encouraged by loads of space in the middle ground.

“Maybe it is down to a lack of understanding. I have heard whispers, after all, that some of the players find their manager’s instructions confusing, that they do not really know what he wants them to do.

“If so, that does not bode well. A clarity of purpose is essential.”

Arsenal face Watford on Sunday with the Hornets under the management of Quique Sanchez Flores, following the sacking of Javi Gracia.

And Emery says he is well aware of the threat Watford pose.

Emery said: “I really respect every coach. I think now with Quique Sanchez Flores, they are going to continue working well like they were doing with Javi Gracia.

“We are going to respect them and prepare for the match thinking of us in the beginning and after, respecting them with their characteristics.

“After, some things can change. Watford are going to be the same in their great spirit like a team and also they are going to push a lot in Watford with their supporters. They have very good players.”

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