Are Arsenal Set for a Return to the Champions League?

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
Dec 7th, 2018

Since his arrival in the summer, Unai Emery has brought about changes in the Arsenal squad that have been desperately needed for years, allowing players who were signed by former manager Arsene Wenger to find new clubs, while also bringing in some refreshing new talent.

Despite the success Arsene Wenger brought to the club, which included three Premier League titles, he hadn’t won the title in over a decade and after Arsenal missed out on Champions League football for the second season in a row, the club decided to part ways with the Frenchman after 22 years at the helm.

History of Success

Unai Emery proved a success at Sevilla, guiding the club to three consecutive UEFA Europe League triumphs. His impressive tenure at Los Hispalenses earned him a move to French giants PSG, where he was able to manage world class players such as Edinson Cavani, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Despite winning the French treble in the 2017/18 season, he was replaced by Thomas Tuchel after the season finished, providing the perfect opportunity for Arsenal to pounce and bring the Spaniard to the Emirates Stadium.

The Arsenal squad was never quite the same following the ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003/04, in part due to the financial restrictions placed upon Wenger following the move to the Emirates Stadium in 2006. While Wenger was still able to discover good talents with less to spend, the squad as a whole struggled to compete for the title.

Emery’s Revolution

In a bid to improve the squad, Emery bought several signings, all for fairly modest prices. Stephan Lichtsteiner, Bernd Leno, Sokratis, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi were identified as players who could improve the overall quality of the squad, whilst also providing some much needed depth. So far they have all proven to be solid acquisitions for the Gunners.

Joining the Gunners as a free transfer from Juventus, Stephan Lichtsteiner brought with him plenty of experience and a winning mentality. Having played for Juventus for a total of seven years, he won the Serie A title with the Bianconeri in every single season. The Swiss right back is the perfect signing to help share right back duties with Hector Bellerin, particularly during the busy December period.

Greece centre back Sokratis Papastathopoulos arrived from Borussia Dortmund in a deal thought to be worth £17 million, providing competition for Laurent Koscielny and Stefan Mustafi.

Goalkeeper Bernd Leno was also signed from the Bundesliga, joining in a £19.5 million deal from Bayer Leverkusen. With Petr Cech looking out of sorts since arriving at Arsenal from Premier League rivals Chelsea, Leno is a welcome addition to the goalkeeping options.

Lucas Torreira shone at the World Cup with Uruguay before securing a £26.5 million move from Sampdoria to the Gunners. Despite initially struggling to get into Emery’s side, he has gone on to become a permanent fixture in the starting XI.

Derby Delight

After their thrilling 4-2 victory over their North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal have moved into fourth place, leapfrogging their arch rivals thanks to a superior goal difference. Despite this, their odds for finishing in the top four are 5/6, putting them behind Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham.

If Emery can maintain Arsenal’s good form, there is no doubt that they can make a return to the Champions League and once again take on the likes of Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich. The odds for this season’s competition can be found here –

Their victory against Tottenham and draw against United means they have remained unbeaten in 20 fixtures in all competitions, with their last defeat coming at the hands of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 18th August.

December will be a crucial month for determining where the club will finish and whether the squad has enough strength in depth. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang currently leading the scoring charts, they have a striker capable of firing on all cylinders in their arsenal.

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About "" - 509 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

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