A frustrating finish to a frustrating season.
Unai Emery’s first season has certainly been one of two halves. After 2 defeats in the opening two games, the side then went on an incredible unbeaten run where perhaps the positive results betrayed some average performances.
After a tough winter, the side got back on track with 5 Premier League wins in 6 games; closing a 10 point gap from Spurs to be ahead.
As fans began to do their calculations of what we would need to finish not only in 4th place, but above Spurs in 3rd, the side collapsed. 2 wins in the last 7 games saw the side eventually slip to 5th place, just 1 point behind Tottenham and Champions League football next season.
Finishing a point behind that lot up the road has left a strange feeling amongst Arsenal fans. A big load if “ifs” “buts” and “maybes”.
What if Aubameyang scored that 90th minute penalty?
What if we did not collapse against Crystal Palace?
What if we beat Brighton at home?
Aubameyang has taken a bit of stick overnight from Arsenal fans for that penalty loss. This just shows the reactionary idiots amongst our fan base. It was not his fault we finished behind Tottenham. It was the entire teams fault as we were not good enough over 38 league games.
1 point from Crystal Palace and Brighton at home in the run-in is the biggest reason why we finished in 5th. Had we won both, we would have been 3rd. Had we won one, we would have been 4th.
But there is no point dwelling too much on the past, we must look to the future; and that future looks very bright.
Whilst it has not been an exceptional first season for Emery following Arsene Wenger’s departure, he has steadied what was a sinking ship.
Finishing with 7 points more than last season, a place higher and in a European Final; there is plenty to be positive about.
Liverpool finished 8th with 60 points in Jurgen Klopp’s first season
Tottenham finished 5th with 64 points in Mauricio Pochettino’s first season
Arsenal finished 5th with 70 points in Unai Emery’s first season
We are moving in the right direction with the right man, it will just take a couple of seasons to return us to title contenders; just like it has taken Klopp until his 4th season at Liverpool.
Over the summer Emery will have an opportunity to buy the players he wants, the players that will fit his system and way of playing.
The criticism of the Spaniard is that he has not really enforced a style of football on the team. Tactics and formations have been muddled with changes every single week. I excuse this with the fact that he has first had to undo the mess that was left by Wenger, and next season he can build. This year he did not have enough players that he wanted, that he trusted.
Emery will have to establish what formation he wants to play. 4231 or 3412; and build the players around that.
Decisions on his formation could well see some surprising exits from the club. For example is Mesut Ozil suitable to play in a 1 behind the two – as that formation relies on an Aaron Ramsey like 10 who can run between the two strikers and get goals.
If we opt for 1 up top, can we accommodate Premier League top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette?
Sokratis Holding CB
Bellerin Xhaka Torreira Kolasinac
Bellerin Sokratis CB Kolasinac
Winger Ozil Winger
In a couple of weeks time we face Chelsea in Baku. Lifting the Europa League will make it a successful first season for Unai Emery.
Whilst the clubs have only received 6,000 tickets each, the feeling is due to transport issues anyone who wants a ticket will get one – so instead of moaning about how few tickets we get, investigate your transport options. That is clearly the bigger issue.
2018/19 has been a frustrating season.
Win our last game and the frustration will dissipate.