Unai Emery Is Doing Great Things At Arsenal

As we head into the final stretch of the season, it seems right to have a look at Arsenal and how they’ve done under new boss Unai Emery.

It couldn’t have been a tougher start for Emery as he started life with The Gunners.

The club had been managed under legendary manager Arsene Wenger for twenty-two years and they’d been in a bit of decline in the last few of those seasons.

The playing squad looked stale and were playing in a comfort zone that seemed to accept mediocrity.

Unai had to come in and bring back some discipline and bring in a new footballing philosophy.

The Spaniard brought in new players in the form of Bernd Leno, Matteo Guendouzi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Lucas Torreira. Midfielder Denis Suarez would arrive on loan from FC Barcelona in January.

Those new recruits were brought in to give The Gunners a new defensive spine.

Emery always wants to play from the back and have plenty of pace. He also likes to have more steel and discipline in central midfield. Plus all his players need to be pretty efficient when it comes to keeping the ball.

Now things didn’t start well this term as Emery’s new Arsenal side had to face current champions Manchester City and previous champs Chelsea in their opening two Premier League fixtures. Emery’s men would come up empty handed in both encounters but they played well in the second half against their London rivals and soon built on that display.

Arsenal would go unbeaten in their next fourteen league outings, winning ten of those games!

The side would press teams more, they started to understand the ways in which they could play from the back and flourished in the final third.

The team also looked much stronger in midfield.

A big part of that has been down to Granit Xhaka finally finding his form at The Emirates. The Swiss international looks to be comfortable if he has either Torriera or Matteo in beside him in the engine room.

All three central midfielders have an average passing success rate of 85% or better. They also make 1.6 tackles per game or more! (Stats From Whoscored)

The attack has also been great this term.

Unai Emery showed that he can adapt and do what’s best for the team. At the start of the season, Emery seemed determined to play just one of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Yet the team always seemed to work better when the two played together.

So the Gunners boss then played the forwards from the start more often, with Aubameyang playing on the left wing and Lacazette as the central striker or as a duo up-top.

They work brilliantly as partnership. Pierre-Emerick has scored seventeen Premier League goals this term, only Sergio Aguero has scored more. French star Lacazette has banged in a further twelve goals for his club. Between them they’ve got eleven league assists this season.

The coach has also shown faith in younger players with Alex Iwobi and Ainsely Maitland-Niles processing well during this campaign.

I think, Emery did the right thing in playing veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech at the start of the campaign.

It could have been easy to stick new boy Leno straight into the team but Cech’s experience meant he deserved the chance to keep the number one jersey. The Czech goalie did look nervy early on but Unai gave him time to try and prove himself. Then Petr suffered from an injury and Leno didn’t look back and became the club’s starting keeper.

Unai Emery handled that situation particularly well, as it showed he respected his veteran players and that he would give everyone a chance.

The Spanish coach has also had to deal with Mesut Ozil.

The German World Cup winner is the side’s highest earner and on his day he can be a maestro. But his attitude has been called into question quite a few times during his career and he doesn’t seem to play well in the bigger games.

Emery hasn’t backed away from the Ozil problem and he hasn’t bowed down to Mesut. Player power ruined much of Emery’s time at PSG and he clearly isn’t going to allow that to happen at Arsenal. He’s dropped the attacking midfielder at various points this year and especially for the big games.

The Spaniard has then questioned Mesut’s desire to get back into the team (Source – BBC Sport):

“He needs to be consistent in training and for matches, without injury or being sick,” 

“Like that, we can see the best Mesut with us.”

Ozil has seemed to understand that Unai is the boss and has picked up his workrate (slightly) and even started in the Gunners recent win over Manchester United.

That’s another big thing, Arsenal are now showing up in the bigger games! They are no longer a side that just roll over against the rest of the big six.

They’ve beaten Man United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea this season and they’ve also picked up a draw against Liverpool. That’s because they no longer fear their opponents and they stick to Emery’s game plan.

The Gunners have worked hard to become harder to beat and keep an attacking flourish. It’s seen them leapfrog United and Chelsea and get into the Premier League’s top four positions. They’re now just a point off Spurs in third place.

They’ve also managed to negotiate their way around the tricky fixtures that the Europa League throws up. Last night they secured a 3-0 home win over Ligue 1 side Rennes and that’s seen them reach the quarter-finals of a competition that their manager has managed to win on three occasions in the past.

There are still defensive issues to work out and the team could really do with an attacking threat on the right-wing but all in all it’s all looking rosy for Arsenal.

In Unai Emery, they’ve got a coach that’s brought a competitive streak back to the club and they need to back him because he’s done it on a budget compared to most of his competitors. The Spaniard has managed to consistently get the most out of his players and he could be just three or four players short in terms of getting The Gunners back challenging at the very top.

He has the ability to get things done at the Emirates, he’s already shown us that, but the board now need to give him the tools to complete the next part of the job!

One Response to “Unai Emery Is Doing Great Things At Arsenal”

  1. […] I recently waxed lyrical about Unai Emery’s impact at Arsenal during his first season in charge at The Emirates. […]

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