Unai Emery Gives Arsenal Fans Renewed Hope For Next Season
After an extremely lackluster Arsenal season, many fans have been down in the dumps. Arséne Wenger said his goodbyes to the club, they crashed out of the Europa League in the semi finals after a sub-par performance against Atletico Madrid and for the 2nd successive season, finished outside the top four of the premier league, missing out on Champions League football. It was nothing more than a painful 10 months of football for the Gunners.
However, now brings a fresh start to this Arsenal side and there’s many reasons to be excited. Firstly, after the appointment of Spaniard Unai Emery, for the first time in 20+ years, us Arsenal fans have no idea what to expect coming into this season. Unai, most well known for his roles at Sevilla and PSG played 2 completely different styles of football. His counter-attacking and high-pressing Sevilla saw him lift 3 consecutive Europa Leagues between 2014 and 2016. While his attack-minded and possession-based PSG saw Emery win 7 out of 8 domestic trophies during his 2-year spell.
This season for Arsenal, we don’t know what to expect from the 46 year old. In his first press conference he said “the two things are important for me to be protagonists: possession of the ball and pressing when you don’t have the ball”. This is the clearest idea of what Emery will bring to the Emirates, and it’s exciting. To know how highly he thinks of the club and to go into each game thinking we are the ‘protagonists’ is really good to hear from our new manager. This is just one of many reasons why I believe Arsenal fans should be excited for the forthcoming season.
Secondly, our squad seemed to stop playing for the manager during the second half of the season. Certain players seemed to drop their performance levels and a lot of this could have been due to the unrest between the club and the manager. There is clear talent in this Arsenal squad and a lot of players were unable to show this during the season. Iwobi, Bellerin and Mustafi were prime examples of players that have shown many times that they have clear talent but perhaps the methods of coaching could explain some below par performances.
Unai is known for his demanding personality and stated in his press conference that he expects both himself and his players to have the shared demanding ambition throughout his tenure. With high demands, Arsenal fans can hope to get the best out of the players that seemed to struggle with the unrest between the club, the fans and Arséne Wenger. This also means getting the best out of our most talented players such as Ozil, Ramsey, Aubameyang and Lacazette. Which brings me to my next reason to be excited.
We currently have two of the best strikers in the world. Aubameyang showed during his first four months how fantastic a striker he is. Similarly for Lacazette, despite his difficult start and injuries, he seemed to really enjoy his football towards the end of the season. In the 246 minutes they played together, they managed 8 goals and 4 assists, averaging a goal contribution every 20.5 minutes. Exciting, no? Aubameyang was scoring for fun at the end of the season and both his and Alexandre’s track records show how clinical both strikers are. With support from Mesut, Mkhitaryan and Ramsey, there’s no reason both strikers couldn’t hit 20+ goals each next season.
Lastly, Arsenal have lacked leaders over the last few years. The last three permanent Arsenal captains: Mertesacker, Arteta and Vermaelen, are any indication of the leadership qualities expected at Arsenal, it only demonstrates how low the standards have fallen. All 3 hardly played during their captaincy reigns and players such as Koscielny and Cazorla have taken the armband since and hardly shown any leadership qualities. Arsenal have traditionally been lead by powerful characters such as Vieira and Adams.
With Emery’s demanding personality, we are hoping this will transfer to whomever he chooses as captain. After Per’s retirement, we’re expecting a new captain to be named. It’s clear we lack leaders within the squad but with Emery’s guidance, he can make a great captain out of the right player. This is mostly proven by the last captain to work under Emery, Thiago Silva. A leader both on and off the pitch and exemplified exactly the sort of character Emery looks for and Arsenal so desperately need.
It’s exciting to think that Emery can really make leaders out of some of our players and improve the chemistry and morale around this Arsenal squad. Maybe this will be a new signing, a player oozing with charisma and leadership qualities such as Granit Xhaka or a longstanding Arsenal player such as Aaron Ramsey or Jack Wilshere.
There will be concerns this season. That doesn’t come as a surprise. However, not knowing what to expect, the real potential within this squad and a new manager brings real excitement for once rather than the repetitive seasons we’ve seen over the last 5/6 years. This season has all the ingredients to be successful and hopefully bring a new attitude to Arsenal. To sum up my thoughts for the new era at Arsenal, I’m excited, and every Arsenal fan should be too.