5 Things Unai Emery needs to do to succeed at Arsenal
Written by: Rohan Philip
The former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss takes over from Arsene Wenger at the London-based club.
“Arsene Who?” was the line the Evening Standard billboard sported in the summer of 1996 when a largely unheralded Frenchman named Arsene Wenger took the reigns at one of English football’s most prestigious clubs. 22 years down the line, Wenger has seen it all from an unbeaten season to his own fans jeering him off the pitch. Arsenal have wasted little time in announcing his successor, the former Sevilla and Paris Saint Germain boss, Unai Emery. There is no doubt that the Spaniard has a monumental task ahead of him if he is to bring the Gunners back to their former glory.
Here are a few of the areas that we think on which work is crucial if Emery is to be a success at the Emirates.
5. Improvement of existing players
Despite the dire results of Wenger’s final few years at the club, Arsenal have managed to build a team with a considerable amount of creative talent. These talents somehow seem to fade away over the course of a season as Arsenal find themselves in a position of limbo every year. This is something that the incoming Emery will look to address, with the likes of Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Ozil and Ramsey having the potential to combine to devastating effect.
They just haven’t done so on a regular basis for the club. If the new manager is able to get the best out of these players and make the glimpses of magic we have seen more consistent, Arsenal are going to look far more dangerous than they currently do.
4. New training regime
Many of Arsenal's current squad will not be here at the start of next season
Wenger’s form of training was ahead of its time back in 1996, but the Frenchman failed to do what Sir Alex Ferguson did at Manchester United, in evolving with the league. The same training that he used to get the likes of Tony Adams and Thierry Henry match ready, was never going to work on Granit Xhaka or Alexandre Lacazette.
Ferguson could somehow always manage a way to get the best out of each individual, while still making sure they worked as a unit. The incoming Unai Emery will bring with him a fresh training regime that is going to pull the Arsenal players right out of their comfort zones.
Emery’s former players have opened up about the intensity and passion of the 46-year-old on the training ground. He also spends a lot of his time watching videos and analysing both his team and the opposition, a habit that he expects his team to follow. We can be sure that the Spaniard is not going to stand for anything less than maximum effort on the training ground all season long from his players.
3. Minimize the crippling injuries
Injuries are something which Arsenal fans have grown accustomed to over the years, with Wenger inexplicably buying and keeping players with notorious injury records. The best example for this would have to be the purchase of Kim Kallstrom as a backup for Jack Wilshire, who had his own injury problems.
The Swedish international was found to have three damaged vertebrae during his medical, a fact that Wenger overlooked and went through with the deal. The infamous injury woes of Abou Diaby, Danny Welbeck and the current Everton man Theo Walcott, just add to the never-ending injury list that always seemed to plague the Gunners. Emery would do well to manage his players in just the right way to facilitate their recovery and still ensure that they play their roles at the club.
2. Bolstering Midfield
Emery is a manager that is famous for his love of a midfield destroyer, which will be welcomed with open arms by the Arsenal faithful. Gone are the days when Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit and Gilberto Silva bossed the London club’s midfield week-in-week-out.
Arsenal have been crying out for a player to break up opposition attacks and set the team on the front foot for years. This cry may well be answered by the incoming Spaniard. His Almeria and Sevilla teams looked to the likes of Geoffrey Kondogbia, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Steven Nzonzi and Filipe Melo to provide grit and fight in midfield.
A presence like the above mentioned at Arsenal would give the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil and Ramsey licence to create further up the pitch.
1. Sorting out the defence
Arsenal's defence have let them down many times last season
Any manager taking over from the Frenchman would have to look to sorting out an extremely leaky defence as a top priority. The backline that has leaked 54 goals in a single league season, is in urgent need of repair. Compare these numbers to Manchester City’s 27 goals conceded and you have a fair understanding of why Arsenal finished sixth in the league this season.
The task ahead of Emery is a daunting one, with the Arsenal backline lacking experience and form at the same time. Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Konstantinos Mavropanos have shown glimpses of promise but have to perform at the highest level on a continuous basis to ensure that they can become regulars in the Arsenal side. The likes of Shkodran Mustafi will face an uphill battle to convince the Spaniard of their value to the club. If Emery can bring in a replacement for Per Mertesacker and deputies for other ageing members of his backline, Arsenal could look far more solid under him.
It was a bittersweet moment for most Arsenal fans when Wenger finally announced his departure from the Gunners’ hot-seat after a 22-year-long reign. But, the sad reality is that he leaves behind a club that is a shadow of what it was at the peak of his tenure. Emery has a monumental task ahead of him, perhaps one of the hardest in football. It remains to be seen if the 46-year old is up to the task of bringing this fallen giant back to its beautiful best.
Published: Fri Jun 01, 2018 04:36 PM IST