5 Reasons why Arsenal are having a mixed season under Unai Emery
When Unai Emery was named as the Arsenal manager as a replacement for the outgoing Arsene Wenger, the general vibe around the Emirates was one of cautious optimism. The majority of the Arsenal fans were aware of the mess their club had been in during the twilight years of Wenger's reign. Fringe players on high wages, contracts running out, and a lack of tactical discipline among the players were just some of the problems Emery had to deal with.
When the season began, his clear objective was to bring Champions League football back to the club, do well in cup competitions, and above all, enforce his methods and philosophy on his players, to give them a new ideology.
Although the first few months of his reign were very bright, with the Gunners going on a 22-match unbeaten streak in all competitions, the grueling heat of the relentless Premier League caught up with them. They are now 5th in the table, above Chelsea on goals scored, and a point behind Manchester United in the 4th spot.
As time has passed by, the Gunners have become more and more unpredictable or, as many would also believe, inconsistent. Without further ado, let's look at the reasons for Arsenal's mixed season:
Arsenal have been very unlucky when it comes to injuries, especially season-ending ones. Danny Welbeck, Rob Holding, and Hector Bellerin have all been sidelined for the rest of the season. They were the players who had improved a lot under Emery this season and had become central to his plans.
Welbeck had gathered 5 goals and 1 assist in 13 appearances this season, out of which 7 were starts, before being sidelined for the rest of the season by an ankle injury. He had improved so much under Emery, the fans called out for him to start EPL games. He was the ideal back-up to Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as a striker, and also someone who could play on the right wing. Emery has had trouble in rotating his squad ever since, with his low trust in the young Eddie Nketiah not helping his cause.
Similarly, Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin had become key cogs in Emery's plans. Holding was the only ball-playing center-back they had, and the 23-year-old had improved tremendously under Emery, so much so that he displaced Shkodran Mustafi from the starting lineup.
Bellerin had improved both offensively and defensively under Emery, and the fans were finally seeing glimpses of the player he was once touted to be. With Stephan Lichsteiner looking out-of-sorts since joining Arsenal in the summer, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles being deployed further up the pitch, Bellerin was the player who was trusted to play both as a right back and right wing-back. Due to his unfortunate Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear, the Gunners have looked very weak on the right side of the defense.
Other players such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Nach Monreal have also suffered injuries during the course of the season.