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5 things we learned from Unai Emery’s first game in charge of Arsenal

Ben Winfield
Top 5 / Top 10
7.11K   //    13 Aug 2018, 22:12 IST

Arsenal FC v Manchester City - Premier League
It was a tough opening fixture for Unai Emery

On Sunday, for the first time since September 1996, an Arsenal side took to the field in the Premier League under the management of someone other than Arsene Wenger. That man was Unai Emery, who made the move to the Emirates this summer to replace the Frenchman, after successful spells with PSG and Sevilla.

This is a massive change at Arsenal. For 22 years, it was a team built in Arsene Wenger’s image, with players who played the way he wanted them to play, and had got used to his management. 

There have been large changes to the coaching staff, as well as changes to the playing staff this summer. At least ten key men behind the scenes have left Arsenal, with Emery bringing in a number of coaches who he has worked with in the past, and know his footballing philosophy. 

On the field, there have been both incomings and outgoings. Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla both left the club, with Per Mertesacker retiring from football. Among the incomings have been the experienced pair Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Stephan Lichtsteiner, as well as the up and coming duo of Bernd Leno and Lucas Torreira. 

Despite the changes, Emery will not have been happy with what he saw from his side on Sunday against Manchester City. His side were totally outclassed, and here are five things Arsenal’s new manager may have learned from his first game in charge at the Emirates.

#1 Matteo Guendouzi needs time in midfield

Arsenal FC v Manchester City - Premier League
Guendouzi had a decent game on his Premier League debut

There weren’t many bright sparks for Emery in their opening day defeat to Manchester City, but one of them was certainly the performances of young Frenchman Matteo Guendouzi. The young midfielder looked to get off to a nervous start, but he grew into the game as it went on, and put in a promising display. He wasn’t afraid to get on the ball, and had 72 touches, the most by an Arsenal player.

Obviously, there is still a little bit to work on. He has very little experience, and the game with City was in fact only his ninth in top division football anywhere in Europe, with the last of those coming in 2017. He is still learning the position, and that was clear at times given his positioning. However, he certainly has the potential to be a top player. If Arsenal invest time and patience in him, he will be a crucial player for them.

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