So far, so good: Arsenal Making Steady Progress under New Boss Emery
In so many ways, this season is one of rebuilding and relaunching Arsenal Football Club.
Following what seemed like an interminable wait for SOMETHING to happen, Arsene Wenger headed for the Emirates exit door, leaving memories of his incredible unbeatable season, but the ultimate feeling that his tenure could, and perhaps should, have produced more silverware.
Now, under Unai Emery, the Gunners look to be reinventing themselves as a team. They’re pressing higher up the pitch, they’re more proactive rather than reactive during play, and most importantly, they are winning football matches.
After a disappointing campaign last season saw Arsenal miss out on UEFA Champions League football, Emery has so far led the Gunners to a flying start in the UEFA Europa League. Hopes are high that he can take the team all the way, with the Betfair Champions League odds favouring them as ones to watch.
The carrot of Champions League football is there for whoever can win the Europa League, and the pot has been sweetened further with the news that the Europa League winners won’t go into a play-off berth, as has been the case in previous seasons. Instead, the winners of UEFA’s second-tier European competition will get a guaranteed spot in the group stages for 2019/2020.
That’s huge news for any of the big sides with designs on winning this year’s competition. And given how Arsenal have performed in Europe so far, you’d have to count them among that number.
Four wins and a draw from their first five group games means the Gunners are certain of a spot in the knockout stages, where they stand a fighting chance of making it through to the final, and a shot at Champions League glory next season.
Of course, there’s the bread and butter of the Premier League to address, too, and things are looking up on that front as well.
The Gunners are keeping pace with the chasing pack at the sharp end of the Premier League, and while overhauling last season’s champions Manchester City looks like a bridge too far, Arsenal are looking as positive as they’ve been on the domestic front in a good few years.
The January transfer window will be a crucial marker for Emery in particular. Will he use the window to bolster his squad with more reinforcements, or will he simply go with what he has?
In seasons past, we’ve seen other sides strengthen while Arsenal sit back and stagnate, but with a new man at the helm, now is the time for the Gunners to take the plunge and improve their squad. With Arsenal looking more dynamic on the pitch than previous seasons, a shrewd addition or two would only serve to add more impetus to the London side as they look to battle on multiple fronts.
With a strong showing in Europe so far and an improving team in the Premier League, there are plenty of reasons for optimism.
And with Emery pushing through a new, vibrant style of play at the Emirates, it surely won’t be long before the Gunners move from also-rans into contenders once again, both on the domestic scene and in European competition.
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