Arsenal’s new boss Unai Emery’s task became even more daunting after his side lost 2-0 the to reigning champions Manchester City. This proved a rude awakening for the Spanish coach. Watching the match, my first thought was, “goodness me, he’s starting a newbie 19-year old in mid-field!” Was it a risk worth taking? And unsurprisingly, Guendozi, although he showed huge determination made multiple errors. I cannot say that the youngster does not have huge potential but you’d expect that a club like Arsenal would invest more on experienced players who can come in and get the job done right away.
Arsenal for the past 22 years has been synonymous with Arsene Wenger. And Emery or any manager for that matter will find it hard by any measure to fill Wenger’s shoes. Emery has his work cut out for him because of the sometimes unrealistic expectations of an audiece that craves immediate success. Not only does he have to live up to it but prove more efficient than his predecessor. This is reminiscent of the days of Alex Fergusson with Manchester United and how the period after him became extremely difficult. We got so used to United’s winning ways that we just assumed that that would be the case with the managers that followed.
David Moyes found the task too daunting and Louis Van Gaal seemed out of sorts for much of his stint.
United took time to transition, and since the arrival of Jose Mourinho have spent US $448 million on signing new players. Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, and Nemanja Matic were instrumental in propelling United to a Second-place finish in last year’s Premiere League.
Whether Emery will prove to be a Moyes or Mourinho, only time will tell.
Coming back to Arsenal, it is unrealistic to expect immediate results and it will take some time for the team to get used to a new style of play but what was disappointing with the team’s performance against City was the underwhelming performances of Mesut Ozil and Aubameyang.
Sam Allardyce not mincing his words, blatantly said that Unai Emery’s tactic of playing from the back was just stupid. I can definitely see where Allardyce is coming from. Petr Cech who is a world class keeper has never had so many passes in one Premier League match. 42 touches! He usually averages about 26 passes. I wondered why they kept playing the ball back to him. It just seemed like a poor decision on Emery’s part and if this is a sign of things to come, then the future looks bleak for the club.
Unai Emery obviously has some catching up to do and big decisions to make, and although this is an exciting time for Arsenal, Sunday’s loss does put a damper on things. Chelsea is up next and a loss to them would put a wrench in the works.
It will be interesting to see if he sticks to some of the decisions from last Sunday’s game or tries something completely different. The trial and error method however, is extremely risky and finding the right combination will take some time. It is doubtful that Emery will garner success in his first season with Arsenal still a work in progress.
One thing stood out however and there is reason to be optimistic. The character of the younger players who gave it a hundred per cent. It was a gamble having a line up of such young players play against a team like City, and if it had been Wenger who played a side as young and inexperienced as that, we would have had to endure another series of protests.
What is noteworthy are the stats showing that Arsenal outran City which could be a sign of how the players are trying to adapt to the new manager’s way of playing. Emery has a really tough task ahead of him and with having inherited most of Arsene Wengers’ players it will be fascinating to see how he makes decisions- whether there will be a few changes here and there or a complete overhaul.
Manchester City had a really good game where they showed both dominance and prowess, and City fans will be relishing after that performance, especially with key players like Kevin DeBruyne and Leroy Sane only making appearances towards the end of the match.
Pep Guardiola, who is in his third season at City, has turned City into the Premier League’s most dominant team. He, like Mourniho, has had the luxury of spendthrift owners. Man City, since his arrival has spent US $573 million. It would be a shame if Man City don’t become serious contenders for the Champions League.
Author: Jessica Passah
Jessica Passah is a Staff Writer. She has a B.A in English Literature from Hans Raj College, New Delhi, and an M.A in Public Administration from the Indira Gandhi National Open University.