15 years ago things were different in North London. Arsenal not only ruled the roost but also boasted perhaps the most distinctive playing style in all of Europe.
Across Arsene Wenger’s first decade in charge of the club, you knew exactly what you were going to get from The Gunners. A robust spine of the team complimented by footballers who were comfortable on the ball and could keep possession, in any circumstance.
This playing style was synonymous with the club, but over the past decade, they seem to have completely lost their way.
Unai Emery’s tenure as Arsenal manager was cut short yesterday due to this complete lack of style, system or plan.
Put simply, he had lost touch with the players, lost control of the dressing room and couldn’t implement his style that had been so successful at both Sevilla and PSG.
Their opponents this weekend also know what that feels like. When Norwich were relegated in 2016 they were in a bit of a mess. They’d splashed out £10m in January of that year by signing Steven Naismith in a desperate attempt to retain their Premier League status yet Alex Neil, despite being a fantastic manager, could not save them.
Every game there was a different plan or system which eventually lead to Norwich’s fourth relegation from the top-flight. Down in the Championship after a poor season, Neil was dismissed and Delia Smith and the board began revamping the club.
The appointment of Stuart Webber is the most important decision the board have made over the past decade. It is an understatement to say that he has completely revolutionised the club since joining from Huddersfield and the blueprint has been laid for future success.
The appointment of Daniel Farke from Borussia Dortmund II was made following the success of David Wagner in the Championship and patience was shown after he finished 14th in his first season. The sales of James Maddison and Josh Murphy were thought to hurt the club, but the following season they won the Championship title.
With a whole host of young talent, combined with some bargain signings such as Teemu Pukki and Emi Buendia, Norwich were on fire. Yet it was perhaps the playing style Farke had implemented, and the one he has fiercely stuck to in the Premier League.
Norwich’s possession-based style of play and dedication to passing the ball out from the back is what helped them get promoted last season and one that saw them beat Man City at Carrow Road this term.
Norwich’s style is now synonymous not just in East Anglia but across the entire Premier League and this is something that has been lost at the Emirates.
With Invincible member Freddie Ljungberg now at the helm, his first port of call may be to improve results on the pitch, but the next full-time manager must help Arsenal get their style back.