IT WASN’T ALL DOOM AND GLOOM DURING UNAI EMERY’S SHORT SPELL
A LOOK AT SOME OF THE GREAT MEMORIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS UNDER UNAI EMERY
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.
EMERY THE GREAT GAME-READER AND TACTICIAN
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!