The arrival of a new manager for any club can be a turbulent time for everyone involved, from the fans to the players to the men and women who have all the power. Arsenal was just one of many clubs over the summer adjusting to change with the arrival of new head coach Unai Emery. The Gunners’ situation, though, was completely unique to the club. For the first time in over two decades, a new man was coming into the hot seat.
A long-term manager leaving is bound to bring problems no matter who the club brings in. Manchester United know this experience more than anyone as the Red Devils are still trying to adjust to the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, who retired from the game five years ago.
For Arsenal, though, the change from the old guard to the new man has been nothing but positive for the club. Fans of the North London side are starting to believe that their Arsenal is back under Emery.
Changes on and off the pitch
Emery has brought a lot of changes to Arsenal since taking up the role as head coach. One of the key changes the Spaniard has brought to the club has been his commitment to improving current players in the squad.
Hector Bellerin, Granit Xhaka, and Rob Holding are three examples for this claim. The Arsenal trio have all seen massive improvements in their game under Emery, and in doing so have not only won the support of the fans but have put their promising careers back on track with some stellar performances in important games for the Gunners.
But it’s not just current players winning the attention of Arsenal fans. Summer signings Lucas Torreira, Bernd Leno and Matteo Guendouzi have all made their presence in the Gunners squad known in a very positive way. Each adding something new that Arsene Wenger sides had been missing for some time.
These changes in mentality, attitude and footballing philosophy on and off the pitch all came together during the North London derby against Tottenham Hotspurs last Sunday. The Gunners came back from 2-1 down to claim a famous 4-2 win against their classic rivals to overtake Mauricio Pochettino’s side in the table, temporarily.
A coach willing to adapt
There’s no doubt about it, if Wenger was the manager of Arsenal against Tottenham last weekend, Spurs would have gone on the put another two or three past the Gunners in what would have been a major win for the Lilywhites. But under Emery, if something isn’t going right, something always changes.
The Spaniard introduced Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette at the start of the second half, and both players played a huge part in Arsenal’s second-half resurgence.
The Welsh midfielder assisted the equalizing goal and the third goal, which was scored by the former Lyon striker that entered the pitch alongside the Gunners #8.
This was going to be the game plan for the following game away to Manchester United, but first-half injuries to Holding and Ramsey threw any sort of substitute action plan out the window in what ended up being a valiant and gritty 2-2 draw for the Gunners.
A team that can go all the way
The feeling around Arsenal and their supporters is something that hasn’t been felt in what seems like an eternity. “We’ve got our Arsenal back” is regularly sung at both home and away games. The atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium, a ground infamous for its lack of, well, atmosphere, is finally alive and bouncing.
Champions League qualification is the goal for the season, and with how things are going so far, it seems entirely possible that Emery can achieve this. Either by finishing in the top four or by winning the Europa League, a competition the former Sevilla coach won three times with at the Spanish club.
As for how far Emery can take Arsenal beyond next season remains to be debated and foreseen. Based on these early days, the heir to Wenger at Arsenal could lead this historic club to the Premier League title for the first time since 2004.