Saturday 21 September 2019

In Tray: Issues Unai Emery needs to address at Arsenal

The Spaniard has replaced Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium.

Unai Emery looks set for Arsenal
Unai Emery looks set for Arsenal

By Nick Purewal, Press Association Sport

Former Paris St Germain boss Unai Emery has been confirmed as Arsenal’s new head coach.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at four pressing issues on his Emirates Stadium arrival.

Learn from Manchester United’s troubles

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Not since Sir Alex Ferguson retired has the Premier League seen such an upheaval behind the scenes at one of its top clubs. David Moyes was unable to extend Ferguson’s era of unrivalled Manchester United success however, and failed to last a single season in the Old Trafford hot seat. So as Emery takes the Gunners’ helm, the Spaniard must heed Moyes’ cautionary tale on how not to receive the baton from a managerial titan. Rather than simply fit into an existing system, Emery must reorganise his Arsenal resources to fit his own mould – and usher in an entirely new era for the club. Anything less could see him forever caught in Wenger’s shadow, befalling the very same fate as Moyes.

Build a new spine for Arsenal’s starting XI

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Arsenal’s soft centre was continually exposed in the latter years of Wenger’s lengthy reign. For the Gunners to climb back to the top of the Premier League pile, Emery must imbue his starting line-up with long-absent steel. That means – at a minimum – finding natural leaders to feature in goal, central defence and defensive midfield. Not since Arsenal’s 2004 Invincibles had a Wenger side truly boasted such a robust core.

Assert authority at every level

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The capture of recruitment specialist Sven Mislintat from Borussia Dortmund back in November has been viewed as something of a coup for Arsenal’s future transfer plans. But Emery will have to work hard to ensure the club shares his vision for reshaping the Gunners’ frontline squad. Without harmony across the hierarchy, Arsenal will struggle to push themselves forward and improve upon this term’s sixth-place Premier League finish.

Get the best out of Mesut Ozil

Polarised opinion over Germany playmaker Ozil’s strengths and weaknesses served as a lightning rod for wider criticism of Wenger’s last days at Arsenal. So devastating in international football, yet so often viewed as an under-performing luxury at his club, so the frustration around Ozil mirrored Arsenal fans’ ire with Wenger. The 29-year-old signed a new three-year deal in January, retained at the club when fellow premium asset Alexis Sanchez departed for Manchester United. The Gunners have again put their trust in Ozil – and now Emery must ensure that faith winds up well placed.

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