Can we take some positives from Emery’s Arsenal spell?



I feel the compulsion to be the voice of the minority in retrospect of the 18 months Unai Emery spent as Head Coach of Arsenal football Club, not because I would prefer he still remained Head-Coach. NO! FAR FROM IT EVEN.

This article was written based on the mere fact that he perhaps might have been judged too harshly, and the severe criticisms he got from the majority of Arsenal fans made things seem like he never accomplished anything as an Arsenal Coach, or that there weren’t times when the same Arsenal fans never felt he was the right manager to take us forward.

That being said, this is not an article to defend Unai Emery, as personally I feel he got it wrong a couple of times and he kind of hit a bump in the road. It all went downhill from there…

From tinkering too much with the team to the poorly-handled Ozil saga and several other debatable factors that led to his downfall and inevitable sack.

putting those negatives aside, there were some positives to take from his time as Arsenal’s Head Coach, that if we are being really honest, we’d know he wasn’t all bad. He had the potential to be great at Arsenal, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. In retrospect here are a couple of wonderful achievements and memories under Unai Emery in case some of us have forgotten because of his poor ending.

Although this started to seem like it was diminishing towards the end of his first season, and spiraled down into his second woeful campaign.

From the first competitive matches Emery started to manage as an Arsenal Coach, it was obvious that this man was a great tactician. Although he had to make do with the average quality of players he had, he was getting the job done. Many-a times, we would start games on the back-foot and after half-time, he would have fixed what wasn’t working with his tactics and formations. Though he lost to Man City(Previous champions) and Chelsea(champions before City), the fans could see the team was playing with more purpose and direction than under Arsene Wenger in his last couple of months.

A vivid example of his understanding and tactics was highlighted by his outsmarting of Pochettino in that fantastic game at the Emirates Stadium where Tottenham were leading 2-1 at half time.

Many fans, including myself, thought we were going to lose or at the very most get a draw. Only for the second half to kick off with the introduction of Ramsey and Lacazette, and the game changed, we won 4-2 with Torreira scoring his first goal in an Arsenal shirt(who can forget the Uruguayan’s celebration). The atmosphere at the Emirates that day was electrifying with loud chants of “WE’VE GOT OUR ARSENAL BACK”.

22 GAMES UNBEATEN: There were some really great results and memories from our 22 game unbeaten run in all competitions which saw us beat Everton 2-0 at the Emirates, beat Leicester 3-1 at home, beat Sporting 1-0 away in the Europa League group stage, and the tough 1-1 at the Emirates with an in-form Liverpool team. Who can forget that Lacazette’s curling equalizer to beat Alison (who had kept the most clean-sheets I might add).

Even the 4-2 thrashing of Tottenham happened during the unbeaten spell before our next game at Old-trafford where we played out a 2-2 draw, and the tool Rashford injured Rob Holding (who in my opinion was in his best spell of performances in an Arsenal shirt)

LEAGUE TABLE POSITION AND EUROPA LEAGUE FINAL: Towards the last run of games, we sort of went topsy-turvy as we went from third to fifth. We ended that season one point away from the top four (but still better than we did in Wenger’s last season), and then we continued downhill after we lost the Europa League final to Chelsea.

The cup was ours to lose, but we found a way to bottle it when it really mattered, having come out Victors against some of the competition’s toughest teams in Napoli and Valencia whom we beat both home and away. If Chelsea had met any of these teams, I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t have come out of those fixtures unscathed, at least not the way we did and that explains much more of the pain I felt after that final loss.

And who can forget the initial scare we got from Rennes when they beat us 3-1 away and we found a way to turn the tides in our favour at the Emirates by knocking them out with a 3-0 win, something I feel we should have done against Olympiacos this season.

In summary, although Emery turned out to be not-so-great, we must never take for granted some of the wonderful memories he gave us being the Head-Coach of Arsenal Football Club, and he initially gave us something to be hopeful about, but when he started to lose the dressing room it started to tell in his results.

That’s a closed chapter now, but the point of the article is to remind us that he’ll still be a part of our memories and in the history book of the club, however rocky his tenure turned out to be. Onwards and Upwards!



  1. KSTIX, A balanced and fair minded article. My personal take is that the language difficulties proved to be his insurmountable obstacle. He DID have a period of success in his first season but after eighteen months , sooner actually, it was fast falling apart and the club had no alternative than to sack him. They should have done it sooner.

    1. Thanks Jon and I agree he should have been relieved of his duties sooner but we can’t say he didn’t give us something to stir up our beliefs again right after the mess we were in during Arsene’s (who’s also a legend and arguably our greatest manager) twilight years as manager. Emery had his ups and downs, but unfortunately many fans seem to remember only the poor side of his tenure.

    1. Or you are. Just being contentious yourself. The facts are that Wenger presided over the most successful period in Atsenal’s history EVER.
      Or do you disagree with these FACTS?

      1. Took the words right out of my mouth Pat. Can’t argue with facts Jah Son, name any manager who’s had more success, I’ll wait. Even though his later years weren’t exactly remarkable, he still gave us some of the best years and memories as Arsenal fans.

    2. jah son, A strange and biased, plus uncalled for and unfair comment! Not about Wenger but about seeking attention. Care to explain exactly WHY you think-assuming you DO actually think – why he is seeking attention. You could as easily argue that every single post on all sorts of social media is seeking attention. Otherwise you would be, in effect, speaking to yourself, which most think extremely odd! Hope this is not too difficult for you to understand though!

  2. It is a fact Wenger remains our most successful manager yet,but that one can’t be blind to the fact he waited too long before he cashed in.
    One very big positive i take from emery’s short tenure is the emergence of our youth.i have never seen such numbers of talents coming through all at the same time.
    Nelson,Willock,Saka,Martinelli,Smith-rowe,Saliba,Eddie and just a tier below
    We have;Balogun,Azeez,Jules,

    1. I think that has more to do with freddie’s influence being the former coach of the youth team

  3. With both City and Chelsea being adjudged to have cheated FFP Arsenal really should have won the EL and got 4th in the league both gaining CL qualification. That’s how good Emery’s first season was.
    Emery was a victim of his great success however as the club then expected a title challenge despite a much tougher league and failure to strengthen in the right places.
    Yet the fact is that after 8 games this season Arsenal was in 3rd place just one point behind Man City.
    But Arsenal fans then demanded Emery play Ozil. Emery buckled under fan pressure and every thing turned to sh#t when Ozil was included full time. Folks are sugar coating Arteta’s time so far. The fact is there has been little or no improvement since his arrival and this despite a recent soft run of games and a much better squad. Now under rookie Arteta the Gunners languish 9th in the PL, embarrassingly dumped in the EL round of 32 and facing a daunting 1/4 final FA cup game in Sheffield. So in reality we are on the cusp of our worst season in 25 years under Arteta. This time last year Arsenal was in 4th and advancing to the EL quarters under Emery. Right now 99% of Arsenal fans are pleading for a null in void season like the condemned relegation teams which shows just how much faith they have in Arteta delivering success this season.

    1. I’m not a huge fan of Ozil but I’m not going to blame him for Emery’s failure. Watching Arsenal basically throw away a top 4 finish and to lose in a humiliating fashion to Chelsea in the final of the Europa league last season more than suggests to me that cracks were beginning to appear.

      It was a positive start to season 2 but again the results started to disappear and the team was spiralling into an abyss.

      Under Arteta we are in 9th but I dread to think where Arsenal would be now if Emery was still in charge.

      1. 3rd in the league after 8 games.
        Fans then force Emery to include Ozil which resulted in a complete change in the way the team played.
        In summery then.
        Because Chelsea cheated the right result should have been Emery gets 4th in the league and wins the Europa league.
        Under Arteta our worst European result in 25 years.
        Under Arteta our lowest League points tally in 25 years.
        None so blind as those who will not see.

        1. Stevo
          I accept that we are not going to agree
          I’ve noticed in the past that you liked Emery which is of course your choice
          I thought he started well but you can’t ignore how the team fell apart last Spring.
          You haven’t addressed my point that the team were plummeting down the league. You choose to blame his inclusion of Ozil for the decline. I think his inability to properly communicate let him down and it was pretty clear to me that the dressing room wasn’t impressed.
          I would have liked you to tell me where Arsenal would be in the league if Emery was still in charge. I think we would be in about 14th or 15th and close to relegation
          Arteta has a mountain to climb because he had to stop the rot first. I firmly get the impression that the players are behind him, as I am too

    2. stevo Far too simplistic a view based on nothing more than irrelevant stats. Any perceptive Gooner can easily see , without a shadow of doubt, the massive improvement in morale, team spirit, commitment and performance under MA. WHY CANT YOU, I WONDER!

  4. Nice read, Kstix. That win over the spuds was superb (it’s still on my Sky planner, never to be deleted!!), as was our 2-0 win over the Mancs (OGS’s first defeat).

    1. Thanks Sue, it was a glorious day wasn’t it. It almost felt like that team could take on the best teams in Europe from there on out. That game had everything, the pre-existing rivalry, the in-game tension between players and fans. Remember what that tool dier did and how Ramsey, sokratis, lacazette and a couple other bench players put him in his place. And that jubilation when torreira scored. The atmosphere at Emirates had not been that way in a long time. Felt like we were back at Highbury for a minute. Glad we are working towards more of the same under Arteta who seems to be leading us to where we ought to be. Best wishes sue and I hope you’re staying safe this period. I just really hope we see the light at the end of the tunnel soon. I for one miss football but nothing we can do about it for now than to hope for the best. Best wishes sue.

      1. Ramsey had the last word – fancy Dier telling him to sit back down!!
        And who’d have thought it – Mike Dean awarding us a penalty – it’s unheard of!! And giving Vertonghen his marching orders!!! Wow!!
        He won’t give us another penalty for the next 10 years at least haha!!
        You stay safe too, Kstix 👍

  5. OT.. So sad to hear Pep’s Mum has lost her life to covid-19… he’d just donated a chunk of money to help fight it….. 😢

    1. Really sad news sue. Can’t imagine how devastated Pep must be. God rest her gentle soul and those that have lost their lives to this pandemic.

  6. Emery signed good players. Martinelli, Ceballos, Gouendouzi, and Pepe. His biggest success was to freeze Ozil from the starting 11

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