Arsenal’s progression under Unai Emery, a topic debated heavily, with opinions divided amongst fans. Personally I didn’t know much about him prior to his arrival; apart from his PSG debacle against Barcelona. That aside, whether he was the right man at the helm to improve arsenal was a mystery to me. It’s fair to say, he’s made a change to the club, Unai Emery has attempted to stamp his style and brand of football on the club, it’s pretty clear that this is something that will need further work. But regardless there have been encouraging signs of change and attempts to remodel the side from Wenger times,with his emphasis on playing out from the back (over emphasis at times), and also more obvious tactical flexibility between games, this has been successful in some games paid off, others not as much. A clear distinction in his exact style of play has yet to be established, with statistics showing similar but slightly lower stats for possession, passes completed, shots, crosses and goals from inside and outside the box being similar to those from last season (bearing in mind there are still 8 games remaining). According to the stats, the most notable difference this year stems from a large percentage of the attack going through the left hand side . As opposed to last year where the play was more balanced and evenly spread.
Premier league positional statistics, Attack sides – 2018/2019, (League rankings)
(4th)Left side – 41%, (12th)Middle of the pitch – 24%, (35th) Right side – 35%
Premier league positional statistics, Attack sides 2017/2018
(14th)Left side – 36%, (1st)Middle of the pitch – 32%, (20th)Right side – 32%
His work in the transfer market gives signs of optimism for future with all the signings having arguably good first seasons. Lucas Torreira started off brightly, in recent weeks he has not quite performed as well as he did at the beginning of the season but for now I think this can be put down to his first full season in the premier league. Bernd Leno & Sokratis both seemed to start off wobbly, but in recent weeks have performing very well, outperforming themselves and past performances in each of the coming games. Lastly, there’s Guendozi who has undoubtedly showed some promise and looks like a player to watch out for in the future.
Arsenal currently sit 4th with 60 points, at this stage last season they were 6th with 48 points, so questions of improvements are answered with the table position. Opinions on the strength of the squad and the required personnel needed to enable Arsenal to launch a title challenge will vary, but in such a highly pressured role it’s fair to say Emery (baring a major decline in form) has delivered and done a decent job in his first season.
That brings me onto my next point, being it is his first season, if Arsenal go onto finish in the top 4 and win the Europa league (both of which are still very much possible 😅🤞) it makes you wonder, if given time and patience like Klopp & Pochettino, both who have yet to win anything , but undoubtedly created great sides; there’s no telling just how successful a transformation he could make of Arsenal.
It’s not been all rosey this season and there are still some traits fondly associated with Arsenal of previous seasons. There have been many questionable lineups that have me shouting at my tv, there’s still an inability to know how to ‘shut up shop’ and control a game, at times you watch Arsenal worried about just how many goals they will concede, and then have to score to win a game, and of course, there’s also the embarrassing, heavy big game defeats, the less written about these the better. But of course, as the old saying goes ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. Unai Emery doesn’t ooze the swagger and captivity that Mr Wenger did at times, but regardless I think a lot of Arsenal fans will agree that we needed a new script to a familiar season ending. Emery has provided the club with a breath of fresh air, how successfully he can be is still up for debate (but we can’t be changing managers anyhow like Chelsea and United 😉), but if given time,then true judgement of him and Arsenal may not properly be seen for another 2/3 seasons. By then he should have established a team he’s happy with and capable of competing for the title, as well a clear style of play. Before reaching that point, what he has to provide and aim for is constant improvement and development of the squad from the previous year. Whether he’s given that time or whether in this day and age Arsenal can afford to wait a period of time before major results and accolades is another question ? 🧐
Figures taken from – http://www.Whoscored?.com