Premier League 2018-19: Arsenal's climb back to the top is getting increasingly delayed and uncertain
In recent years, Arsenal have fallen further and further down the pecking order with regards to the final Premier League standings. Meanwhile, the improvements made by Manchester City, Liverpool and even Tottenham Hotspur have become increasingly apparent as each season goes by.
After 22 years, Arséne Wenger finally threw in the towel against the so called 'Wenger Out Brigade' (W.O.B). This group had campaigned for several years for Wenger to be sacked, or for him to decide of his own accord to hand in his resignation after a string of poor results and performances began to bring the Arsenal fan base to its knees in pain.
The start of the 2018-19 season of the English Premier League began with Arsenal hosting the reigning champions Manchester City. Arsenal lost this game 2-0 despite it being at Arsenal's home ground, leading some fans to jump to conclusions regarding the new manager Unai Emery.
Emery, who had previously managed Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla, had been relatively successful at both of those clubs - registering several Ligue 1 titles with PSG, and three consecutive Europa League titles with Sevilla, the most notable of which culminated with Sevilla bettering Liverpool in the final by three goals to one.
After a somewhat shaky start to the season, Arsenal then began to gain some momentum winning 22 games in all competitions consecutively, which brought even the most pessimistic fans of Arsenal on to the side of Emery. Regardless of this excellent run though, fans and pundits of other teams continuously labelled Arsenal as weak and spineless.
Justifying those views, Arsenal struggled as soon as the festive period arrived, losing 5-1 to Liverpool at Anfield, as well as dropping points away to Manchester United and Brighton and Hove Albion.
The real question is, should Emery be given time to prove that he is not as much of a joke manager as some are suggesting? Of course, it cannot be underestimated how difficult it is for a non-English speaker to be thrown in at the deep end with a once great club that is struggling to even finish in the top four of the league. It should also be remembered that Emery represents the first managerial change at Arsenal in over 20 years.
There has been a string of bad results lately, including exits from both the Carabao and FA Cups and a loss in the first leg of their Round of 32 Europa League tie with BATE Borisov, despite the Belarussian side not having played a competitive game in over two months. Following that last game many Arsenal fans took to social media, demanding 'Emery Out'.
For Emery to receive the sack after less than a season in charge, as well as an evident lack of funding in his two transfer windows thus far, would be quite the knee-jerk reaction.
What is the right assessment of the situation though? Will Arsenal eventually find the correct recipe for success, or are we just seeing the prolonged and permanent demise of what was once a great club into a standard, average, mid-table side?
Time and Emery will tell.