Premier League 2019-20: Unai Emery is simply not good enough to be the Arsenal manager
After five games into the 2019-20 Premier League season, Arsenal seem to be in a decent position with eight points. They currently sit 7th in the table with five other teams on the same points total.
With a long way to go for the end of the season and considering the unpredictability of the Premier League, anything could happen. However, one thing that is clear already is that Arsenal are going to struggle once again, and more importantly they are going to struggle defensively.
Unai Emery was never going to be the solution to getting Arsenal back into the Champions League, and his first season at the club proved that. Even though Arsenal missed out on the top 4 by just one point, the fact that Emery was able to pick up just four points from the final five games of the season says a lot about him as a manager in terms of getting the team together and motivating the players when it's needed the most.
Arsenal offered Emery a two-year contract for a reason: no one knew what to expect from him. His first season went as expected with Arsenal just missing out on finishing fourth while also losing in the final of the Europa League.
This season, however, Emery has to take things up a notch and deliver a top-four finish, maybe a trophy as well. And with the way the season has unfolded so far, it doesn't look like either of those things will be happening.
In the first five games of the season, Arsenal's opponents have had more shots than them in four of the five matches - with the game against Tottenham Hotspur being the only exception.
Given the quality of players at Arsenal, teams like Newcastle, Burnley and Watford shouldn't be having more shots. And to make things worse, most of the goals Arsenal have conceded this season have been their own mistakes. Moreover, even the wins against Newcastle and Burnley were by no means convincing.
Since joining Arsenal, Emery has had very little positive impact on the team. It almost feels like Arsene Wenger never left.
Emery refuses to select the same starting XI for two continuous matches. While the fans might not think that is a big deal, it actually is. Constantly changing his starting XI creates a lot of imbalance in the team; that took its toll towards the end of last season, and is already showing ill effects this season.
Another mistake Emery has been making lately is not selecting the right players. He has been deploying his troops in the wrong positions, and not playing to their strengths.
In the game against Liverpool, Emery played four central midfielders which offered Arsenal no width at all and tasked Lucas Torreira to play as a box-to-box midfielder when he came on. Against Tottenham, he once again played Torreira as a box-to-box midfielder while fielding three holding midfielders. What was the point of going defensive in a home game against the team's biggest rivals?
Against Watford, Emery made the same mistake he made with Mesut Ozil throughout last season and played him on the left, thus not getting the best out of him once again.
Emery also needs to understand that Granit Xhaka does not fit in at Arsenal. The Swiss international becoming the Arsenal captain is probably the biggest mistake that Arsenal have made since they signed Kim Kallstrom.
I get that Xhaka has the experience, but he is by no means a leader. He needs to get his game together first; being the captain is just going to make his performances suffer more.
Arsenal need the likes of Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding to come back, but even getting them back is not going to solve their problems. There have been a lot of rumors that the Arsenal players are confused by what Emery wants from them in terms of his tactics. That, together with the number of defensive mistakes they have already made this season and the team selections going wrong, suggests something is seriously wrong at Arsenal.
Arsenal might go a long way in the Europa League this season, and could even win it considering how their last two seasons in the competition went. But with the way this Premier League season has started, I find it difficult to see Arsenal finishing in the top four.
Emery was never the solution to Arsenal's problems. He was maybe a short term answer who could get quick results, but he is way out of his depth to deal with life in the Premier League on a long-term basis.
Emery will struggle to get Arsenal in the top 4 this season. For all the reasons mentioned above, I feel he is simply not good enough to be the Arsenal manager.