It may still be too early to judge Unai Emery’s reign at the Emirates but after 21 games in charge, we’re definitely now more informed of the Spaniard’s management style.
We now understand that the 47-year-old expects high intensity from his players, he wants width and demands pressing from the front. Basically, all the ‘cautious’ talk we heard about him before was a bit off the mark and the Spaniard has instead decided to attack the Premier League.
However, as with all managers who come to England, there’s always an adjustment period and now that Emery knows what the league demands, he can tweak his squad accordingly. Come the end of December, we’ll see what Emery’s Arsenal are truly made of as he encounters his first PL Christmas schedule.
Here’s what Unai Emery needs to do in January to secure top 4.
#3 Sell Aaron Ramsey
It’s now official, Arsenal will not be offering Aaron Ramsey a new contract beyond next summer. The Welshman’s 10-year stint at the club has come to an end with the club pulling out of contractual negotiations. It’s reported that the midfielder’s team were demanding in excess of £200,000/week as they felt Mesut Özil’s bumper deal was the benchmark for ‘key’ players. They were wrong.
Fortunately, there are several clubs monitoring the 27-year-old’s situation. At this moment in time, Ramsey is taking away more from the club than he is providing. The speculation around his future is causing disharmony in the dressing room and unrest amongst the fans. It’d be better for the Gunners to receive at least some income for the Welshman rather than let him embarrassingly go for a free in the summer. At least Emery could re-invest those minuscule funds in the squad.
#2 New Left-Back
Nacho Monreal is currently 31 years old and nearing the end of his playing career, while Sead Kolašinac is most definitely not up to the desired standard. Kolašinac may be strong in the tackle and aggressive in interceptions but his positional awareness is terrible, regularly leaving acres of space behind him for opposing wingers to exploit.
This weakness has already been highlighted by most teams in the league and it is starting to negate all the hard work the Gunners are pulling off in the attacking third. A left-back that can balance his attacking and defensive work rate in a disciplined fashion would do wonders for Arsenal’s defensive solidity.
#1 Buy a Winger
Currently, Arsenal does not have one out and out winger at the club. Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang has been shafted out onto the left flank against his will while Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a player more suited to CAM, is struggling to adhere to life on the right flank. Then you’ve got Alex Iwobi, a player who clearly prefers playing centrally and running at centre-backs, not full-backs.
Apart from that, the Gunners have no other wide options and even the ones present clearly aren’t effective enough. Unai Emery cannot see out the rest of the season without a natural winger in his squad, as the Gunners are suffering terribly without that width. Instead, the Spaniard has placed responsibility on his full-backs to provide width, which has ultimately left Arsenal vulnerable at the back.
If Emery doesn’t want to dip into his pockets in January, the Gunners have a natural born winger out on loan at Hoffenheim. The 19-year old has scored 6 goals in 7 appearances for the German side, boasting one of the best goals to minutes ratios in Europe. His close control, wizardry dribbling and lightning pace would do wonders for the Gunners in the final third and add another dimension to their attacking play.