A new era is on the horizon for Arsenal. Unai Emery has been tasked with turning the stagnant Gunners into a high-octane team that will challenge once more for the Premier League.
You always got feeling that if Leicester hadn’t sunk Arsenal hearts by winning the title in 2015/2016, it would be a long time before they could do win it again. Fast-forward to now we as fans are witnessing a tremendous decline. One last witnessed before Wenger himself arrived.
As is the Arsenal way, change must come with a new philosophy. The 22 years of football is art have now been swapped for Emery’s quick, aggressive and high energy football. How Emery succeeds in getting his players to accustomed to his philosophy will define their season.
Having kept most of the squad the same, Emery is tasked with upping the intensity. We have seen this over the pre-season with the team training twice a day getting used to working tirelessly to win back possession. The dramatic changes in training are notable with several players commenting on how different things are. There is a buzz about this amongst fans. With many hoping that the high-intensity would bring more fight out of the players and remove the soft under-belly that Arsenal have had for more than a decade now.
Arsenal’s defence last season conceded a whopping 51 goals more than 10th placed Newcastle. Sorting out the defence has been Emery’s priority. A limited budget has meant he couldn’t purchase a World Class defender that would boost his backline significantly. His investment in Sokratis Papastathopoulos is sound since Laurent Koscielny is injured until the turn of the year. But he wasn’t a regular in the starting line-up at Dortmund which will be a cause of concern and against PSG, Tim Weah’s pace had Sokratis being found wanting. The league is brimming with attackers with blistering pace which is worrisome. Unai’s high-octane style is contingent on defensive discipline and aggression. Having watched his previous teams, once opposition play has been broken up, his team must attack instantly. Seeing how successful this will be at Arsenal will rest on how defensive midfielder Lucas Torreira settles in. Torriera provides extra protection for this leaky defence.
Maestro or MIA
The Ozil conundrum is often the subject of debate on how well Arsenal will do. Having created the most chances in the top five leagues since 2006: 1006 chances. The fastest player to reach 50 assists in Premier League history he is our maestro, but still tends to go missing in action when things aren’t going well. Having been named one of Emery’s captains, Ozil has the biggest season of his Arsenal career ahead of him. Emery has stated his intention is to play him “where he feels most comfortable.” His quality always shines through no matter the state of the team. But consistency remains his biggest weakness and whether he can achieve that will be key to where Arsenal land up on the table.
Unlike Wenger, Emery has a ruthless streak: if you don’t perform, you will not play, and you will be shipped off. A combination of Lacazette, Aubameyang and Ozil will get points for the team. There is still a lot of work to be done but if the players can fight for the club’s reputation and their manager then we will be the surprise package of the year. Ultimately, as fans we want them to compete, although it is obvious that the aim is top four. We want to see our team challenge and that they didn’t fall way halfway through the season as per usual.
Last Season: 6th
Prediction for this season: 3rd