When Unai Emery took over the reins of Arsenal from legendary Arsene Wenger, it was seen as a new dawn for the red half of the North London. Half a dozen new players were signed, there was excitement among the staff and a new-found hope within the fans. The Gunners started their season by sustaining back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea but bounced back with a 22-game unbeaten streak. Although the undefeated streak was largely lacklustre in nature, it still signalled a warning to the Premier League rivals for the top honours. However, Southampton halted Arsenal’s run and buried them so deep into the ground that the Emirates outfit was effectively back to the ground zero.
Ever since that turbulent evening at St Mary’s Stadium, Arsenal has played 14 competitive matches and have secured just 6 wins out of them. They were knocked out of League Cup by Tottenham 2-0 and from FA Cup by Manchester United 3-1, and when the fans were already overcoming the heavy defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City, Arsenal lost the UEFA Europa League match to minnows BATE.
The Gunners might still be alive in Europe’s second-tier competition given they trail the first leg by a deficit of just one goal, they are effectively out of Carabao Cup and FA Cup cup already. With two-thirds of the season played, they trail Premier League table-toppers Liverpool by a hefty 15-point margin, which is virtually impossible to catch now.
In the ongoing season, Arsenal is only alive in UEFA Europa League, however, there are still contenders like Chelsea, Inter Milan and Emery’s former team Sevilla.
The point is it was false dawn that fans got to see in the first half of the season under the new manager. Arsenal still suffers from the same old problems of top players leaving, lack of funds, multiple injuries to players, horrendous away form and declining performances in the second half of a season.
Quite effectively, Unai Emery’s first season in charge at Arsenal has gone down the drain. Reinvigorating squad with young and energetic players, leaving out the less mobile players, especially Mesut Ozil, the Spaniard has tried everything, however, it has not yielded him results that he was hoping for.
If it’s the Arsenal board that is at fault or is it the club’s mentality that impedes it from thinking big, reasons for the club’s failure to secure top honours every year are anybody’s guess. And Unai Emery just has a couple of months left to salvage Arsenal in the ongoing season, or it won’t be long when there be banners and hashtags of ‘Emery Out’ running wild in stadiums and on social media.