How Does Unai Emery’s First Season At Arsenal (So Far) Compare To Arsene Wenger’s Final Campaign?
Unai Emery is feeling the heat after a temperamental Arsenal surprisingly succumbed to BATE in the first-leg of their last-32 Europa League clash.
The Gunners have struggled for consistency in 2019. In their last eight matches, every win has been instantly followed by a defeat, much to the frustration of the increasingly disgruntled fanbase; #EmeryOut was even trending on Twitter in the aftermath of Thursday’s shock defeat.
After an initial bright start to his tenure, is Emery - similarly to Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri - now starting to struggle in the Arsenal hot seat?
Here at The Sportsman we thought we’d compare the Spaniard’s start - so far - to the same stage last year in what was Arsene Wenger’s 22nd and final campaign at the helm of the capital club.
In doing so we break the categories into; Premier League performance, duels against top-six clubs, showings in the domestic cups, and how they've fared in Europe.
The Premier League has paused for a breather with a dozen games left on the schedule. Emery’s Arsenal find themselves 5th in the table with 50 points from 26 matches: split up into 15 wins, five draws, and six defeats. His troops are currently one point adrift of the top-4, but 15 points behind leaders Man City.
Arsenal’s home record has been very decent, accumulating 32 points from a possible 39, producing 10 wins and just the one defeat - Emery’s first game at the Emirates against defending champions City. However, his side have stuttered on the road, picking up just 18 points from 13 games, conceding more goals (26) than they’ve scored (25).
Arsenal were five points and a place worse off at this stage last season: 45 points from 26 matches, down in 6th. Wenger’s men were also five points adrift of the top-four, and a whopping 24 points off table-topping City.
Like this season, Arsenal had won 10, drawn two and lost one of their 13 home games. They’d also flopped away, losing seven and winning just three of their 13 matches on the road.
So far Arsenal’s record against the ‘traditional’ top-6 sides stands at two wins, two draws and four defeats from eight encounters. The two victories have come on home soil meaning Emery is yet to carve out a win at a top-6 ground, with only Wembley - or Spurs’ new stadium - left to visit.
In seven fixtures against top-6 sides Wenger had registered just the single triumph, while he’d sunk to three defeats and drawn three too. On the plus side the one win was against rivals Spurs.
Arsenal were swatted aside by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s rejuvenated Man Utd in the fourth round of the FA Cup. They fared better in the League Cup, although a 2-0 defeat at home to rivals Spurs (at home) didn’t sit well with many fans as they were eliminated in the quarter-finals. For a manager that enjoyed immense domestic success in France, Emery has so far failed to wave his magic cup wand on these shores.
Wenger may have lifted a record seven FA Cups during his time at Arsenal, but he bowed out of the competition in disappointing fashion, as the Gunners surprisingly lost in the third round to Championship side Nottingham Forest. Arsenal were far more impressive in the League Cup, reaching the 2017/18 final, where they lost comprehensively to Man City.
Emery has quite the Europa League pedigree, incredibly winning the competition three times in a row at Sevilla. He’d enjoyed a decent start with Arsenal too, cruising through the group stages with five wins and a draw, before slumping to a 1-0 defeat to BATE last night.
Despite his best efforts Wenger never triumphed in Europe, and he’ll no doubt still be kicking himself at the final defeat to Barcelona many moons ago. In his final campaign he also played BATE, in the group stages; thrashing the Belarus outfit 6-0 at home, and 4-2 away. At this stage last season Arsenal had just beaten Graham Potter’s Ostersunds 3-0, while they would eventually suffer a semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid.
The Europa League remains Emery’s only chance of silverware in his debut season at Arsenal. No manager has lifted more trophies in the last five years than the Spaniard, but he has his work cut out to progress through to the last-16, although his troops will be expected to bounce back on home soil. Domestically the Gunners haven’t been inconsistent, but if he can lead Arsenal to a top-four finish it will be a satisfying achievement.
Wenger was five points worse off in the league at this stage last season, while he’d also suffered an early FA Cup exit. However, he did have a League Cup to look forward to, and Arsenal had one foot into the next round of the Europa League. The Gunners would, of course, be swatted aside in the League Cup final, while they reached the semi-finals in Europe, and finished 6th in the league with 63 points - a tally and position Emery’s side will be tasked with toppling this time around.