Unai Emery has already made strides in rebuilding Arsenal as his team after replacing Arsene Wenger in the dugout. The Gunners stagnated during the closing years of Wenger’s reign, with the Spaniard charged with guiding them back towards contention for the Premier League and Champions League crowns.
Arsenal have already agreed a move for Stephan Lichtsteiner to offer competition to Hector Bellerin on the right side of the defence. Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Bernd Leno are also close to moves to the Emirates Stadium from the Bundesliga, while there are reports linking the club with Lucas Torreira and Aleksandr Golovin. The Gunners are desperate for an influx of talent, especially through the spine of the team. The reported transfers, along with the signings of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, have made strides to improve the team, although it still looks far off of the quality in depth boasted by Manchester City.
Emery’s men are not considered one of the leading contenders for the Premier League crown as William Hill have Arsenal at 20/1 to win the title in the 2018/19 season. Not even the most passionate of Gunners’ fans will believe that their side can immediately flick a switch and challenge Pep Guardiola’s team at the top of the table. The club are in the process of a rebuilding job that could take up to three years to bear fruit. The important aspect of the first term under Emery will be to re-establish a competitive culture that has been missing from Arsenal against the elite teams in the league, especially on the road.
The Spaniard has attempted to address the issue with his new signings, handing him a solid core entering the new term that should at least prevent the Gunners from falling further off the pace of the top four. Jack Wilshere’s career has epitomised Arsenal over the past decade as he has failed to develop into the player that his potential should have allowed. Injuries have been the decisive problem, although there are other factors to blame. Emery has opted to move on from Wilshere, which signals the new era that the north London outfit are venturing into under his tenure.
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It’s a promising sign that Emery has been willing to part company with an established player so early into his reign. He may not be the last to depart as it remains to be seen what happens regarding the rest of Arsenal’s underwhelming talent. Mesut Ozil has been another high-profile player that has not played to his level of talent during his time at the Emirates.
At the peak of his powers, there are few players that can match his production on the field in the Premier League. However, those days have been few and far between, none more so against the elite sides in the division. Emery may not have the same patience with the German than his predecessor, which is important for Arsenal as underwhelming performances have been too easily accepted since their last Premier League triumph in 2004. Emery may not have immediate success, but the signs are positive in the early days of his time in the dugout.