Unai Emery has to “fess” up and take it on the chin. He took credit for Arsenal making it to the Europa League finals. In equal measure he must take responsibility for the loss in the finals. He cannot hide from being accountable especially after patting himself on the back in a pre-game interview.
“At Arsenal, and for the first time, I feel I am winning to build not to survive. What Arsene Wenger achieved with this club is huge. He added a touch of quality to the style of play. It became more fluid and colorful. However he lost the competitive edge little by little”
Losing is not a shame, especially losing to Chelsea who, despite their ups and downs in the Premier League, has one of the most expensive squads in club football not merely in England but throughout Europe. In comparison in 2011 when Arsenal lost to mid-table Birmingham in the League Cup finals, after seven years without a trophy, it left a pall over club supporters, most of whom had taken beating the “Brummies” for granted. Losing was not a shame then and it is not a shame now.
But part of the reason Unai Emery was brought to Arsenal is because he has a history of winning trophies, Europa League in particular, having bagged three at Valencia. It is well known his remit upon being appointed was to take Arsenal back to the champions league, apparently through the Europa League back doors if necessary. Unai must admit he messed up on the first time of asking.
Fair play to Chelsea for spanking Arsenal 4-1 but one wonders if the gap between both teams was as large as the scoreline suggested.
|Shots on target||8||2|
According to UEFA’s game statistics while Arsenal was marginally superior in possession, the primary difference between both teams was Chelsea being clinical and getting more shots on target especially during that crucial second half when all the goals were scored.
While I am no tactical expert, it is quite obvious that during this game and, for that matter, over this his first season, Unai has not implemented a superior system to his predecessor. In fact his backers boast about his chopping and changing in systems from game –to –game. The reality is possession is down and there is a reluctance to go down the middle with a focus of attacking down the flanks, particularly from the left. Thus for example, once Chelsea figured a way to shut down Kolasinac, Arsenal was less dangerous with balls down the left side in the second half compared to the first.
It bears reminding football fans the predictions from mainstream media when Emery was appointed last summer:
“Emery will get Arsenal more organised than they have been”. (BBC)
“What they will be getting is a coach who is fully committed and, in his approach to preparation, a startling break from what they have been used to. If Wenger’s twilight years at the club produced a team that often appeared under-coached, then the reign of Emery will be the exact opposite.” (Independent)
“Where Arsène Wenger’s teams may have descended into the painfully one-dimensional, Emery’s outlook is one of nuance and precision, which may well suit Arsenal’s developing team rather more than the entrenched, haughty collection of Parisian stars.” (Guardian)
After this trashing by Chelsea, the findings and predictions of mainstream media have proven once again to be misleading and false. Arsenal is far from:
- More organised.
- Better coached.
- More nuanced and precise.
As an Arsenal fan I hope this is the first year of a learning process by Emery. He has been set up by the media to be Arsenal’s great savior. But after such a humiliation by Chelsea, his honeymoon is well and truly over. Time is not on his side being on a 2 year plus one contract.
On his appointment, I suggested that under new management it could get worse before getting better for Arsenal. Emery and Arsenal fans must be hoping his worse year is behind him.