Despite the manner in which Arsenal completely capitulated at the end of last season, Unai Emery appeared to have had the backing of many supporters at the start of this season. Notably from those who have been most vocal against Arsène Wenger at the back end of his tenure.
However, now it seems as if most have lost their patience.
The club has made a considerable investment in the squad over the summer and for a while there was genuine excitement going into season, putting on hold any threat of schism. On social-media the general mood was that in Raul Sanllehi Arsenal finally got their man, their Don, that will drag us into the 21st century after years of being “too stuck in our ways under the dinosaur”. Some fans even volunteered to go fetch the rock themselves of which to carve out a statue for the man.
The 2019/20 campaign started off well enough with back-to-back wins in our opening two league fixtures. Despite some fickle and largely uninspiring performances that ensued we were 3rd on the log after eight games, behind Liverpool and Manchester City, the Champions League and Premier League champions respectively, who are light-years ahead of other teams in the league.
We were ‘the best of the rest’ and to say “Arsenal is just one point off Man City”, one of the most talented teams in Europe, kept Emery in the good graces of those who chose to look beyond the obvious flaws in our play.
This past week though; the defeat at newly-promoted side Sheffield United, the narrow win over a far inferior Vitória Guimarães and the failure to see out a win against Crystal Palace after going two goals up appears to be the most damaging in Emery’s tenure. The proverbial straw that wrecked the camel’s back. It hypothesizes all the concerns there were about his management style;
• the lack of playing identity,
• the continued absence of Mesut Özil, despite the lack of creativity in our attack,
• lack of improvement in defense despite the summer signings, and
* the questionable starting line-ups, particularly in the midfield.
If you listen to any of Emery’s pressers, he always talk about the strength of the opposition and the importance to stop “their press”, it doesn’t matter whether they are top or at the bottom of the league standings, to him we are the underdogs. Which, of course, is a total contradiction of him supposedly being the “protagonist” he claimed to be.
If Arsenal have any hopes of a top-four finish, if Emery himself has any hopes of fulfilling Raul’s clear expectation, then we simply cannot plod along as we currently are. Not with Manchester United starting to show signs of life and neither Leicester nor Chelsea appearing to wane any time soon.
Nothing about him, even with only two wins in our last eight league games, gives me confidence that he has it in him to make the necessary adjustments.
Our next two league games are against Wolves and Leicester, unless our fortunes overturn and there’s drastic improvements in our performances, this next international break could be squeaky bum for the native from Hondarribia, España.