How Unai Emery compares to the rest of the ‘Big 6’ managers

On the surface, not much has changed, Arsenal are still weak in defence and as always still have no trouble finding the back of the net. The new era at Arsenal began in the summer when Unai Emery had the near impossible job of resurrecting the Gunners back to their former glory after finishing an unprecedented 5th and 6th place which saw his predecessor Arsène Wenger step down as the manager after an incredible 22 year spell at the club.

Unai Emery – Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City 12/08/2018 – Photo by Connor Humm
It was a rough start for the Spaniard as his side lost to both Premier League champions of the past two seasons Manchester City and Chelsea but after securing his first win as Arsenal boss against West Ham it saw the North Londoners go on a 22 game unbeaten streak in all competitions. Despite the results there was rumblings around the fan base regarding the style of play being displayed, Arsenal are used to ‘Tiki-Taka’ or ‘Total Football’ and the reds were not getting that anymore, at least not consistently. Results began to slip but Emery has managed to keep his side hovering around Champions League qualification places.

Despite spending just £68m who only Mauricio Pochettino has spent less (£52m) out of the ‘top 6’ managers in their first season, Unai Emery has done relatively well compared to his close rivals in the Premier League.


TheAFCnewsroom spoke to SkySports news assistant news editor Husmukh Kerai about the new Arsenal.

What are your thoughts on the season and progress so far under Unai Emery?

Husmukh Kerai: “Up to and including the north London derby, you would have been hard pressed to criticise Unai Emery for any aspect of his management or the progress Arsenal were making under him.

Since then, however, a number have factors have taken the wind out of his sails. Injuries to key personnel, especially in defence, the Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey situations, and then the departure of Sven Mislintat have all contributed towards something of a downturn.”

What is the most noticeable difference between Emery and Wenger you can pick out, on or off the pitch?

“The single biggest noticeable difference from the Wenger era is the team’s tactical setup for matches against superior opposition. The three home games against Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea in the league are clear examples of this.

Wenger’s tactics in such games, more often than not, were idealistic – Arsenal would lay to their own strengths and seemingly pay little attention to the opposition’s threat.

Under Emery we’ve seen very particular game plans. Whether it is isolating a particular weak spot, attacking down a particular channel or game management in crucial transitions.

Emery’s job now is to effectively implement a game plan when Arsenal encounter ‘inferior’ opposition, especially away from home. Defeats such as those at Brighton and West Ham will continue to happen until he figures this out.”

TheAFCnewsroom then went onto discuss the beginning of Unai Emery’s Arsenal career with local journalist Yousif Layth of the Islington Gazette.

How do you think Emery has fared so far in the Premier League?

Yousif Layth said: “I think Emery needs time, Emery needs at least 2-3 transfer windows to shape the side. He hasn’t been helped in terms of not being given a transfer budget in January but I very much believe he will be given a substantial amount to spend when it comes to June and he will spend it wisely, in my view he is a very good manager. He has earned the right to have time, why force Wenger out the door if you are only going to give him a year. He needs two or three seasons or at the very least 3-4 transfer windows to impose his style.”

Unai Emery’s appointment still has respected journalists and fans confused of what they are expecting and whether they are content with him as manager. One thing is for sure is that he has absolutely held his own compared to his closest rivals in his first season in England. The table below shows the first 24 matches of each manager in the Premier League and their position in the table after each match day.

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