The grey clouds looming over north London rather reflect the overriding mood at the Emirates right now as Arsenal battle to become one of the nation’s top footballing forces once again.
The tenure of Unai Emery certainly marked a changing point for the Gunners as the historic era of Arsene Wenger came to an end, yet it has not been the rainbows and sunshine that many Arsenal fans believed would follow the reign of their legendary former boss.
Emery came in with a reputation for collecting trophies having won three consecutive Europa Leagues and one Ligue 1 title, yet at Arsenal a trophy seems like a distant dream for many spectators watching on.
However, the faux misery currently surrounding the club seems widely misplaced. The club failed to make it into the top four last season but that may have been a blessing in disguise for Emery and the club, who are now seeing their young players thrive in the Europa League. With a large squad and talented youngsters desperate for game time, Europe’s second-tier competition provides the perfect opportunity for those players to cut their teeth.
Take Thursday’s 4-0 win over Standard Liege. Talented teenage striker Gabriel Martinelli was given the chance to play and took it with both hands by scoring twice, while fellow young guns Joe Willock and Dani Ceballos also got on the score sheet.
Speaking to BT Sport after the win, Willock said: “The manager told us to keep going even if it’s 3-0 or 4-0. We want to get the ball back and get more goals. He drills that into is.
"We have a manager here who wants to play youngsters and I have to make sure I take my chances and prove why that is the way forward."
Two exquisite finishes set Arsenal on their way to victory against Standard Liège...
Watch out for the Kieran Tierney assist 🎯
For some teams with small squads, such as Wolves this term, the Europa League is a hindrance to league form whereas for Arsenal, especially in the early stages, it is a brilliant chance to blood young players. With these youngsters excelling and knocking on the door of the first team, it strengthens Emery’s squad on a matchday and gives the fans a chance to follow the progress of the next crop of players who could be regulars in years to come.
It cannot be underestimated how much positivity academy players can generate around a stadium. They have the supporters behind them, willing them to succeed, and most of them are incredibly relatable if they have come from the local area, such as Joe Willock. They understand the history of the club, the get the passion and they know how much a derby means to the supporters - they perfectly represent the people in the stands.
However, it is not all about planning for the future for Emery. His side are currently fourth in the Premier League table and top of their Europa League group. Results on the pitch are respectable. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in the form of his life and, even with Alexandre Lacazette out injured, the Gunners are looking dangerous going forward. No side in any competition has stopped them scoring this season, even if they are a little leaky at the back.
Arsenal will not win the Premier League title this year, but there are shoots of promise to suggest that things are moving in a positive direction for Unai Emery and his young side.