Premier League: Why Unai Emery and his Arsenal project needs more time
Arsenal had a rather strange summer. Rumours of a transfer budget of only £45 million put an early dampener on any expectations fans had ahead of the new season.
Fan frustration reached a boiling point when halfway through the summer no major signings had been made and none looked in the offing. The #WeCareDoYou campaign started with thousands of Arsenal fans signing a petition questioning the motives of the Arsenal owner less than 12 months after their complete takeover of the club.
Josh Kroenke's response did little to quell the concerns that had arisen among the Arsenal faithful. However, as the window progressed, signings were made with William Saliba, Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pepe all being roped in on varying deals.
By deadline day, Arsenal had added defensive reinforcements in David Luiz and Kieran Tierney as well. Arsenal fans began to dream and many started calling for a statue for Raul Sanllehi for such an astounding summer.
Wins at Newcastle and Burnley have been followed by a defeat to Liverpool and an intense derby draw against Tottenham. Some Arsenal fans have already started asking if this supposedly new Arsenal was worth the hype.
Some have even started calling for Unai Emery's axing after making vain comparisons with Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. Many others have been displeased by the early mistakes from David Luiz and the lack of clinical finishing from Nicolas Pepe.
Patience is key in any life venture that will stand the test of time and this Arsenal project requires patience. Unai Emery has had only two transfer windows really because of the inability to sign players permanently in the January transfer window of last season.
The club has only just started getting rid of deadwood and old players in the club with the departures of club captain Laurent Koscielny, Carl Jenkinson, Nacho Monreal, Stephan Lichtsteiner, David Ospina, Mohamed Elneny and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Elneny, Mkhitaryan and Mustafi will still need to leave permanently to continue this trend.
This new Arsenal has a younger and more vibrant feeling to it. With the loaning of Mkhitaryan and addition of Emile Smith-Rowe to Arsenal's Premier League squad, Arsenal now have the youngest squad available for selection in the PL. The starting eleven will get even younger with the integration of Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin when they return from injury.
Nicolas Pepe has had an encouraging start to life at the Emirates and will prove to be the x-factor the club have been missing in attack since Alexis Sanchez's departure in January 2018. Given a little more time and patience, the goals will also flow for the France-born Ivorian winger. Dani Ceballos has already shown himself to be and astute signing on loan for the season.
David Luiz and Sokratis' partnership may be a makeshift one at central defence but it has the potential to sustain a top-four bid this season. With Mesut Ozil now available for selection, it can only get better for this Arsenal side as Emery moulds it into a team that can hopefully compete for the Premier League title and the UEFA Champions League a few years from now.
Yes, not all results have been favourable so far this season. However, the team has shown potential in their fightback against Spurs and in the form of their new additions. With Manchester United and Chelsea also going through transitional seasons, Arsenal are better placed to finish in the top four than in any of the last three seasons.Published 09 Sep 2019, 18:57 IST