Although it’s too early to judge how successful new Arsenal boss Unai Emery will be in the post, there are, nevertheless, some positive and negative indicators regarding how well he’ll do in the Premier League.
Touchline presence: verdict: negative. I’ll start here, as I think I’m in a minority on this. Although I have never been a fan of Wenger’s overall style of management, I have to say I’d prefer a coach who doesn’t jump up and down in frustration when what went well in training goes pear-shaped on the pitch. Wenger had more of a poker face than Emery has and was not seen screaming at players. Shouting and bawling rarely brings out the best in people, in my opinion, so I’d put this down as a negative.
Substitutions: verdict: positive. Every man and his dog knew exactly when Wenger would make his substitutions: the 70th minute or as near to it as possible. Emery is far more unpredictable and that can only be a good thing, as opponents are forever second-guessing.
Team selection: verdict: positive. Emery clearly has guts or how else would he be able to drop Mesut Ozil and then bring him back as a virtual right winger? I have to say Ozil may have turned the corner and gone from passenger to a sometime contributor: not bad for £350k per week.
Tactics: verdict: positive. Emery may not have yet adapted to the Premier League, but he has shown more inclination to get Arsenal into some sort of shape than Wenger did. If you look closely, you can occasionally see two banks of four funneling back. However, it hasn’t worked on a regular basis yet.
Defence: verdict: negative. In this respect, I think Wenger’s team would edge Emery’s. For all of Wenger’s defensive foolishness, I really can’t imagine him trying to get Petr Cech to play the ball out with his feet. It’s tantamount to trying to get a bricklayer to tap dance. It’s not going to happen!
Attack: verdict: positive. Actually, Arsenal look more threatening going forward under Emery than they did under Wenger. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seems to have sacrificed himself for the team and now Arsenal have a goal-getting winger instead of an out-and-out striker. However, Alexandre Lacazette looks in razor-sharp form, so will benefit from Aubameyang’s generosity.
Man-management: verdict: positive.
Aside from the shouting from the touchline, I think Emery has said the right things in public about his players. Obviously, until Ramsey signs a new deal or is sold, there will be question marks, but the handling of Ozil has been first-class so far.
Training: verdict: positive. So far, the players are playing with more intensity under the new boss. Maybe removing sweetened orange juice from the club canteen is paying dividends. The players seem more motivated, organised and fitter than before.
Overall: verdict: positive. Any change could be heralded as one for the better after the rot set in during Wenger’s reign. The tail at Arsenal was wagging the dog and now the Gunners could be about to reverse that situation. Although silverware is not likely to be on the horizon, improvement seems likely under the new boss. The new team appears to be more than Emery’s new suit of cloths (sic).