Arsenal and Unai Emery – The Story so far…..


At the end of the 2017/18 season, Arsene Wenger’s reign as Arsenal coach came to an end. The Frenchman was appointed in October 1996 and won 17 titles with the Gunners -7 FA cups, 3 Premier League titles (an unforgettable unbeaten season in 2003/04), 7 community shields, in his 22-year spell. Arsenal was going to go through a transition. A transition phase for any group -even outside sports- is never easy, in most cases.

Many did not know what the future held for the club. A new coach was needed to steer Arsenal’s ship. The appointment of a new head coach was inevitable and the next agenda ahead of the 2018/19 season. Many names were linked to the club, most notably former captain Mikel Arteta -the bookmakers’ favourite. Arsenal moved to the next chapter by appointing Unai Emery, a vastly experienced manager. The Spaniard was available and his impressive CV was too hard to ignore. He had coached Valencia, Spartak Moscow, led Sevilla to three consecutive Europa League titles and also won titles with PSG. The ‘Wenger Out’ supporters had been crying for change and change they finally got.

Emery’s start to life in England wasn’t a rosy one. Replacing ‘Le Professeur’ after 22yrs in charge was always going to be a herculean task. Arsenal suffered back to back defeats against Man City and Chelsea, which was widely expected. He then led Arsenal to 11-straight wins in all competitions (7 straight wins in the premier league). That winning run came to an end at Selhurst Park, as Arsenal drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace, conceding a penalty in the first half and another late in the game.

In the games against West Ham, Everton, Watford, Leicester and Crystal Palace, Arsenal were guilty of conceding clear-cut goal-scoring chances to their opponents and could have been 2 or 3 goals down in the first half. According to some, Arsenal have been ‘riding their luck’ and have not been absolutely convincing. The Gunners do not start games strongly, as they have never been ahead in any Premier League game in the first-half this season. Their display against Crystal Palace left a lot to be desired.

The highlight of the Gunners campaign this season was the thrilling 1-1 draw with Liverpool -considered by many as very strong title contenders- at the Emirates. Many didn’t give Arsenal any chance against the Reds, most notably former Arsenal player, Paul Merson, who predicted a 3-1 score against Arsenal. They were all so wrong. Arsenal produced an unbelievable performance against Liverpool, dominated from start to finish, and could have won. Arsenal’s defence came against Liverpool’s deadly front three in Mane, Firmino and Salah -the league’s highest goalscorer last season, who scored a record-breaking 32 goals in a 38 game premier league season, and still impressed.

The Gunners played out a disappointing 1-1 draw with Wolves at the Emirates, a game many expected the Gunners to win after a great performance against Liverpool. Arsenal lacked creativity and the needed attacking spark, as they managed to snatch a point late in the game against a newly-promoted Wolves team. The Gunners could even have lost late in the game. Danny Welbeck’s terrible ankle injury is also one of the lows of this new era and I wish him a speedy recovery.

There are positives for Arsenal under the new Emery era. Summer signings Bernd Leno, Lucas Torreira, Sokratis, Lichsteiner, and the precocious Matteo Guendouzi have proved to be good acquisitions for the club. The coach is very good at making substitutions and the team produces better second-half performances. Emery has brought a pressing style of football and instilled a winning mentality -a 16-game unbeaten run is no fluke- into the squad. His training methods are more intense. The players look fitter, sharper and they cover more distance on the pitch than before. Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi have shown improvements in their game this season.

The 5-1 and 3-1 victory over Fulham and Leicester respectively, got the fans chanting “we’ve got our Arsenal back”, which was a delight to watch. As delightful as it was, we’ve not got our Arsenal back. Some Arsenal fans were even talking of winning the PL title few weeks ago. The Gunners’ unimpressive first-half display against Wolves should serve as a reality check to such fans. We certainly won’t win the title this season. Manchester City are head and shoulders above other PL clubs. Arsenal still needs a minor -not a major- surgical operation to be able to win the title or mount a sustained title challenge. Finishing in the top four should be our priority, and I think it’s achievable. Arsenal will visit the Vitality Stadium to play against a very good Bournemouth team after the international break.

Arsenal’s story thus far under the Spanish tactician has been good but, nowhere near perfect. Will Emery bring back the glory days to Arsenal? It remains to be seen. Will Arsenal make it into the top four this season? Will Arsenal’s story under Unai Emery be better than Arsene Wenger’s? These are questions begging for answers. Like the saying goes: time will tell. And rightly so, only time will provide the answers to these questions.

Deinma James


  1. With the players we have, Emery made miracles until now.Let s give him more seasons and we will have a top team.

  2. jon fox says:

    Great summing up of season so far. I reckon most of us have a certain reservation on our short term future too and that is natural. But equally I think most of us are sure we have the right man in charge with the right backroom support team too, EXCEPT the one who most matters, the owner. Personally I feel a huge long lasting cloud has been lifted from our club and though I am not necessarily forecasting glory this season , I am hugely proud of our club again and it is quite some time since i felt that, prior to Emery. Winning is always vital but SO is pride. And we have that back now.

  3. LENOhappy says:

    This is a very good article but I think you should have add some of the old players who have also improved with the emery coaching,I don’t think we should be bothered about what the pundits says about us and that old bitter Paul Merson is a joke,he will die a bitter man,all in all,I think this is a very good article

  4. gotanidea says:

    As long as Emery has not changed the team drastically, I don’t think Emery would be able to bring a Premier League or Champions League title into Arsenal. Even Klopp has replaced most of Rodgers’ players with his selections, but he still has not brought any major trophy into Liverpool yet

    Suppose Emery stays for three seasons without any trophy, I wonder how the fans and the club will react. I personally would like him to stay as long as he can make Arsenal show high scoring matches consistently

  5. dotash says:

    Good write up,let us wait till the end of the season,

  6. LENOhappy says:

    I think emery is a better coach and better tactician compare to kloop,I believe if kroenke can support emery the same way the Liverpool board and the Manchester clubs support their manager with good transfer money then the man is going to be a huge success at arsenal,but like arsenal fc the best said,emery has really performed a miracle with the players we have.

  7. Innit says:

    He has been successful so far as he has improved the team by getting defensive midfielders and improved the performances of current players ie Iwobi, Xhaka, Bellerin

    But he will need to upgrade our average players if we want to go into the Top 4

    We need to strengthen defensive line, central midfielders and get 1 or 2 wingers

    I would suggest that he start with getting a solid Centre Back in January at least

  8. Break-on-through says:

    The question about being better than Arsene, he has too much competition to beat Arsene’s achievements in my opinion. Even Wenger’s record with reaching the top four was impeccable until we tired of it because we wanted more, rightfully so. Will he bring back glory days, with a bit of luck, and if we get our first choice targets, I believe Emery can be a winner of some sorts. Obviously allot of us probably feel that winning the CL will be a step too far, the competition is even tougher and you’d need a monumental amount of luck. But he has shown himself to be a decent cup manager in his past. At PSG there was mega expectations and not every player who is great with a football, would be also great with expectations. That’s the mistake he made at PSG, he wasn’t looking past their footballing abilities. Fergie knew where to look, better than any other manager bar the Italians. With Pep it is hard to say if he looks much into a players psyche, he knows football so well that he’s a master of it.

  9. Phil says:

    With the squad he was left with (no defence of note,GK aging,No CDM,No natural wide players) and a very mediocre transfer kitty to work with,who can honestly say he has not done as well as could be expected of him.Ok so performances have not been as good as we would have expected but he does get results which is at least encouraging.His buys,with the exception of Lichsteiner,have all proved solid.Other than Sokritis and Lich they were bought for the future and will be here for years to come.
    What is there not to admire about Emery?A very good solid and encouraging start and with the right financial support in the transfer market we might just start surprising some Clubs next season.Over to you Kronke.Support this Manager and you might just start getting a bit of respect from the fanbase.But we will not hold our breath waiting for you to suddenly open the coffers up.Kronke has the next TWO transfer windows to get the investment into the team or I predict demonstrations against the OWNER and his BOARD which will make the protests against Wenger seem like a March pass by the Salvation Army.Kronke now owns 100% of the Club.Start investing orcyou WILL BE BROUGHT DOWN

    1. jon fox says:

      A long overdue declaration of War against Kroenke. We should have done it years ago not in two years time. But better even then than never, cos until he either goes or changes his investent strategy completely we are never going to win the title again

      1. Phil says:

        JF-As long as the fanbase are united with Emery and the anger and abuse is directed solely against Kronke then he will have nowhere to hide.IF,and that is a BIG IF,Emery is somehow able to get us Champions League Football next season( a big ask,but not impossible,just realistically unlikely) Kronke must NOT be allowed to sit back and believe this is enough.Investment in TOP QUALITY always pays dividends.This is proven and indisputable.He only needs to look at his own NFL Francise the LA Rams-9-1 for the season after REAL INVESTMENT in the playing squad.
        Kronke needs to know-The fanbase will NEVER let him hide behind mediocrity again

        1. Agreed. Kroenke MUST invest! It’s a shame we were whispering about the title a few weeks ago but now even making it into the top 4 is increasingly looking like a pipe dream.

          1. ozziegunner says:

            Phil, I think your assessment of Lichtsteiner is harsh.
            Progress under Unai Emery so far has been encouraging and I am certainly not “sorry for what I wished for”. Time will tell whether Kroenke will back Emery, Mislattat and Sanllehi with the funds required.
            It is important to note that Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery have expressed mutual respect for one another.

          2. Phil says:

            OG-Lichsteiner was only given a one season contract so was always only ever going to be a back-up to Bellerín.He has rarely played so has had little time to impress.A good squad addition but I can’t see much of a future beyond this season if I’m honest.Lovechis attitude though.Dosent mind letting an opponent know he’s there

  10. Andrew E says:

    Too early for a meaningful analysis of Unai Emery. I still maintain that any judgement on him should be made at the end of this season. I accept that there is a change of attitude within the team but there is still a lot to do before we can be considered as top four contenders. Injuries and lack of funds haven’t helped the cause but what’s new!!

  11. Th14 says:

    Emery has been brilliant so far. I believe with time and more mo eyes he’ll improve the team massively. Good times ahead gooners.

  12. jim wall says:

    Success would be top 4 this season.
    Winning one of the domestic cups,
    Going to the latter stages of eurpo league.
    If we do all above ill be happy with emery first season, if we keep improving every season that would keep everyone happy…

  13. ken1945 says:

    A great article in my opinion.
    No negatives, no unrealistic comparisions, looking forward not backwards.
    I can only give my opinion of Unai Emery like this.
    I feel comfortable with his attitude, leadership, mentality, sense of direction and a realism that makes me feel great things are round the corner… if Kronkie backs him up.
    There will be setbacks as well as marvellous successes, let’s hope the fanbase also backs him up through thick and thin.

  14. kristoman says:

    when has a glorified friendly become a title?. a one off match being counted as a title. it makes me feel ashamed that a club of our status regards community shield as trophy. shmm.

    1. Phil says:

      No argument with this comment at all.If it was considered to be a REAL trophy it would be displayed as such with all the others around the Stadium.Good day out at Wembley (and Cardiff) over the years but a FRIENDLY all the same

    2. @Kristoman
      I don’t think there is any shame in counting it. Man utd also counted it as a trophy when they declared they had won a league cup, Europa League and Community shield treble with Mourinho. Besides, isn’t the UEFA Super Cup also a glorified one-off friendly match? It’s still counted. I think a trophy is a trophy as long as it’s not that imaginary “top 4 finish as good as trophy” nonsense.

      1. jon fox says:

        This has always been my argument too. It is dishonest of any fan to try, falsely, claiming a trophy from a pre-season Charity/ Community one off game. Obviously! That some, mostly immature, fans still do try to claim this fraud is to their own discredit.

      2. jon fox says:

        I believe that you, in your heart, well know that what you claim as a trophy is dishonest of you. That some other dishonest clubs may also claim as you do, is NOT an honest reason to do so yourself. Why behave like a sheep following the other sheep? Have the guts to be honest with yourself. Endorsing what amounts to fraud is a deeply weak character trait!

  15. Durand says:

    Let’s see if Emery is given funds to compete for titles or does Kronke expect Emery to maximize minimal investment?

    Emery has taken the club forward in a positive direction to this point. Time will tell, and especially if Kronke opens the wallet or we shop at the bargin bin, will be the real answer.

    Emery can coach, and is worthy of top investment from Kronke in my opinion. I’d love to see Kronke back up his talk with money and player investments to see how far Emery can take all of us.

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