As the final whistle blew at the Emirates last Saturday, a chorus of boos rang through the stadium. A game that Southampton had at their mercy but one which Arsenal managed to scrape a point from. Perhaps it was set in stone therein there itself.
Unai Emery was finally shown the door by the Arsenal hierarchy and you can’t help but see the relief in the fans’ eyes. It took a painful 18 months but seems like Frankfurt was the last straw. Recent images from the training ground which showed Emery, all by himself, at least a good 25-30 yards away from any player or personnel, was perhaps another indicator before the Frankfurt loss.
There’s a lot that went behind the scenes, one of which was the decision to sack Emery right after the draw against Southampton. Of course, he wasn’t informed about the same and was allowed to take charge on Thursday. It is said that Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham went ahead for a meeting with Stan Kroenke and son, Josh Kroenke to discuss the future of Emery and the former two were of the view that he should be sacked. Kroenke, who until now had been a supporter of Emery agreed to it and news, was finally delivered to Emery on Friday.
Now, the questions start. Was it the correct decision to get rid of the Spaniard? Was it really his fault that Arsenal were so far from inspiring to watch? Was he really out of his depth at the London club?
First things first, Unai Emery, by no means, is a bad coach. For a manager who has won 3 consecutive Europa League titles with a Sevilla side without spending a fortune, you can’t really say that he doesn’t know how to manage a club. He came close to winning it again with Arsenal this year only to lose in the final.
It doesn’t take a football genius to see what’s wrong with this club. Arsenal have only recently started spending in the transfer market but have failed to get things right more often than not. With the defence crying out for a leader since maybe half a decade, a washed up David Luiz is the one that lines up for the team, while managing to commit more errors leading up to goals, than he did in his entire Chelsea career. The midfield aches for a Patrick Vieira and all they get is a trouble making Xhaka. The situation is so bad that even the efforts of Lacazette and Aubameyang fall futile. These two are as good a strike pair in the league as it gets.
It’s not that Emery is without fault.
Under him, the club have regressed if not anything. Gone are the days when you could see Arsenal playing slick passes, dominating possession and winning games. They have allowed the opposition to dictate terms and have a go at them. In the last 2 seasons, the club have had a shot difference of -32 and -56. It’s not as if they are coping up with that barrage of shots well. They are the only team in the top 10 to have a negative goal difference. It’s not as if Emery wasn’t trying but nothing he did seemed to work. Change in formation, personnel, banishing Ozil and Xhaka, bringing them back and whatnot. It was almost as if he had so many ideas but none of which suited the club.
With 18 points from 13 games and just 4 wins to their name, Arsenal have had the worst start to a season after 13 games. While they are just 8 points away from top 4, it was clear that this combination was not working in any respect.
A lot of high profile names are being thrown around such as Allegri, Pochettino, Ancelotti, etc. For now, Freddie Ljungberg will carry on as caretaker manager on a temporary basis. It remains to be seen what happens in the coming weeks or months but whatever happens, needs to be pivotal.