Over the past couple of months, Arsenal and their performances have hit a nadir, meaning that Unai Emery, the Gunners’ manager, has taken an enormous amount of stick. And, those veils of discontent only grew louder after the North Londoners fell to another defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt, a result that also put their qualification to the Europa League knock-out stages in jeopardy.
A year and a half ago, the Spaniard arrived on North London shores as Arsenal searched for a successor for their long-term manager, Arsene Wenger. And, initially, the Emirates faithful bought into Emery’s ideals and promises of a new and perhaps better Arsenal.
Yet, those expectations have fallen flat rather spectacularly in the Spaniard’s second season in charge, with several clamouring for his head. Thus, the time seems ripe to delve into a deeper analysis of why the Gunners cut their losses and searched for inspiration elsewhere, especially with Emery flattering to deceive.
Here is a look at three reasons why he was given the boot on the 29th of November, 2019.
#3 Emery has failed to fix Arsenal’s defensive woes
Over the past decade and a half, Arsenal’s defensive deficiencies have been rather well-documented and have been laid bare for everyone to witness on numerous occasions. However, several opined that that particular problem would be eased a touch once the Gunners appointed Emery in May 2018.
Unfortunately, though, nothing of the sort has transpired and the Spaniard had perhaps, somehow contrived to make the North Londoners even more vulnerable defensively.
Arsenal have been giving up shots for fun and have had their rear-guard breached countless times through the course of the 2019-20 season. More worryingly though, their defence has been put to the sword by sides that have rarely been able to trouble any other outfit in the Premier League.
The marking seems all over the place whereas Emery’s insistence on playing out from the back has also caused positional issues, especially in situations of quick turnovers.
Additionally, their propensity to not press the ball frequently has enabled teams the requisite time and space to carve out openings, meaning that their defence has been exposed regularly.
For a major chunk of last season, a large part of the Gunners’ current defensive ailments had reared its ugly head. Yet, everyone was willing to look the other way, arguing that Emery was only making the most of the hand that he had been dealt.
However, after eighteen months, the issues still plague the side and while the players haven’t particularly covered themselves in glory, the Spanish manager certainly has to shoulder the brunt of the responsibility.
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#2 Arsenal’s lack of attacking intent
In the 2018-19 campaign, Arsenal stitched together an impressive start, although they unravelled towards the business end of the term. However, during that period, the Gunners’ attack fired on all cylinders, thereby leading some fans to even sing that they’d gotten their Arsenal back.
An effervescent 5-2 victory against Fulham at Craven Cottage was swiftly followed by another brilliant triumph against Tottenham Hotspur in the North London Derby, where Lucas Torreira epitomised the Gunners’ attacking intent.
Since then though, that particular trait has gone bizarrely amiss, meaning that they’ve failed to take the attack to the opposition and have in turn, invited them to target an already creaky defensive boat.
Unsurprisingly, Arsenal have suffered massively with them scoring only 18 goals in 13 EPL Fixtures this season, a flaw magnified with them boasting a goal difference of -1.
On quite a few occasions, the Gunners’ offensive play has been devoid of ideas and there has been a severe lack of movement, meaning that their approach play has seemed static and lackadaisical.
Moreover, they’ve not stumbled upon a formula that they can adhere to at all times. While they’ve tried being a counter attacking side at times, they’ve tried to dominate possession on other occasions. Consequently, that has left them pursuing too many things without actually excelling in any.
Ever since Arsene Wenger took over, Arsenal have been renowned for their attacking flair and attacking creativity. And, though Emery started on a similar war cry, his inability to deliver that brand of football probably ended up being his undoing in North London.
#1 Unai Emery and his futile attempt at providing a new rendition of an existing identity
When Emery was appointed at the helm, he was tasked with continuing Arsene Wenger’s ideals, mixing it with a bit of freshness and pragmatism and serving up a delectable delicacy to the rest of the Premier League. Yet, over the course of his tenure, he has only managed to muddle everything up and has rather created a side that is stinking of staleness.
Far too often, the Gunners have looked clueless as to what modus operandi to use, meaning that they’ve surrendered the initiative and have not been able to assert themselves on matches.
Additionally, there have also been a few murmurs indicating the players’ unhappiness at Emery’s constant chopping and chapping of tactics, a prospect that doesn’t entirely seem beyond the realms of possibility currently.
Most alarmingly though, the Spaniard has conspired to lead the club to a situation wherein it has abandoned the strong virtues it had been built on. Attack, which was often looked as the best form of defence, was taken on a peripheral role, whereas the Gunners have just looked afraid to play their style of football in adverse circumstances.
Moreover, Emery hasn’t been able to identify a suitable system, with him regularly shuffling between three and four at the back. And, a combination of all those factors has contributed to the players getting confused and not being able to deliver requisitely.
Over the past few seasons, Arsenal has been prided on its ability to stick to its guns. But, that hasn’t materialised under Emery, meaning that it acted as the final nail in his coffin.