It now seems a lifetime ago since Arsene Wenger announced his intention to leave the Gunners at the end of the season but, when all the dust has cleared from World Cup 2018, much of the Premier League focus and attention will turn to Unai Emery and his new look Arsenal squad. Wenger took charge of his first game for Arsenal against Blackburn in October 1996 and went on to become the longest serving manager in Premier League history before deciding to leave for pastures new at the end of last season. Few will argue that Emery has been tasked with an almost impossible job in replicating both the success and longevity of Wenger but just what would constitute a good first season for the Spaniard?
Unai Emery has been in charge of Arsenal for just 49 days and already he has brought in:
– A goalkeeper
– A right-back
– A centre-back
– A defensive midfielder
Problems solved in record time.
— Simon Collings (@sr_collings) July 10, 2018
It”s common knowledge that Arsenal were known as perennial 4th place finishers under Arsene Wenger and you’d think that the expectation of both the fans and the board will be to sneak back into the Champions League next season, whether that’s achieved by finishing in the top four of the Premier League or by winning the Europa League. Arsenal are 2/1 to in the Premier League betting to finish in the Champions League places at the end of the upcoming season, which is probably about the bare minimum that Emery will have to do in order to keep fans onside. However, when you consider that Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham are all likely to be competing at the right end of the table come May, the sheer size of the task quickly becomes apparent.
Part of Unai Emery’s remit will also include ensuring the continuation of the footballing philosophies and foundations laid down by Wenger. As many footballing fans will be aware, Arsene Wenger’s teams were well known for their fluid, attractive, attacking football and despite the fact that watching the team try to “walk” the ball into the net could be frustrating at times, fans will be keen to see the Gunners knock the ball around with the same flair whilst hopefully seeing a bit more of an end product. Emery has already promised the Arsenal faithful attacking football and is well known for putting together exciting squads, which is presumably why the club saw him as the outstanding candidate to replace Wenger in the first place.
In terms of players, Emery should be wary about changing too much too soon. Arsenal already arguably have one of their most talented squads in years on paper and should have enough to mount a pretty convincing assault on the Champions League qualification places. Emery has already brought in Bernd Leno, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sokratis Papastathopoulos (good luck shirt to the shirt printers on that one) in order to shore up the defensive side of things and with the disappointing departure of Jack Wilshere already confirmed, an all-action midfielder could well be on Emery’s wishlist. Most importantly, however, Emery needs to simply steady the ship and try to avoid the limbo-type situation Manchester United endured after the departure of Alex Ferguson because, at this moment in time, that’s the last thing Arsenal need.