Despite a ball not even being kicked yet, a quick look online or at social media will tell you that Arsenal fans around the world are excited for what the future might bring under new manager, Unai Emery. Can you really blame them?
Arsene Wenger’s Gunners had simply gone stale under the Frenchman’s guidance and a fresh approach, new ideas and a change of guard was needed. Had Wenger have stayed, Arsenal’s evident decline under him was at risk of continuing even further and the pressure he and his players were under to deliver could only be further damaging moving forward as it undoubtedly would have increased more and more.
Now, with a new man at the helm, things are looking up at the club. Hope has been restored and a new era is dawning. The pressure will surely be considerably less also as Unai Emery looks to build his Arsenal and make his mark in a new division, the Premier League.
Following successful spells at La Liga sides Valencia and Sevilla, Emery moves to the club after leaving French giants PSG. Any manager is essentially on a hiding to nothing at PSG, especially if you don’t win the Champions League. Demands are almost unrealistically high there so the fact he’s departed the club shouldn’t put Arsenal fans off.
During his time in Spain, Emery was known for playing a positive, attacking style of football but his sides were also sound at the back – a quality Wenger’s Arsenal have been seriously lacking in. All of this was done a fairly small budget also, which is apparently the case this summer as he looks to strengthen his Gunners team. A rumoured transfer kitty of £50million is what he has to work with, which means the Spaniard is going to need to find a few hidden gems and do exactly what he did at Valencia, and Sevilla, in particular.
Nice’s Jean Michael Seri, Stoke’s Jack Butland, Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Dortmund and Sampdoria’s Lucas Torreira have been linked with a move to Emery’s Gunners in recent weeks but nothing is signed and sealed yet, other than former Juventus right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner; an experienced head who should provide excellent cover for Hector Bellerin and also enable the young Spaniard to learn a thing or two off him, perhaps.
More quality is needed though. A goalkeeper, centre-back and a holding midfielder are the main areas of concern. Early transfer rumours suggest Emery agrees and he’s looking to add in those positions, which can only enhance Arsenal and supplement the quality they already possess from the likes of Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Lacazette and Aubameyang.
Of course Arsenal’s rivals around them will strengthen and the 37pts between the Gunners and title winners Manchester City suggests the gulf is humongous, but there’s no reason why a top four finish couldn’t be on the cards should Emery have a successful summer rebuild. A number of online bookies feel a title challenge is out of the question judging by an offering of 28/1 (Bet365) but a top four finish, priced at 2/1 (188Bet), is a scenario that could certainly materialise.
There’s absolutely no reason why an improved Arsenal can’t mount more of a challenge in the Europa League also, especially with the side craving silverware and the Champions League qualification for the winners it provides also. Odds of 10/1 (Betway) represent fantastic value in that respect.
Arsenal are changing and with an innovative, fresh mind leading the team, a progressive season could be on the horizon for a Gunners side desperate for success.