Unai Emery, new head coach for Arsenal, will get his first taste of competition with his players as they travel a very short distance from London Colney to face off versus their neighbors, National League club Boreham Wood, continuing a tradition that doesn’t appear to be ending any time soon. As the players line up, take their spots, and start playing, all eyes will be focused on the changes between the Arsenal era under legendary manager Arsene Wenger and the Spaniard assigned to elevate the club back to their rightful, top four place in the league.
A lot will be happening in the span between tomorrow’s match and the league kickoff on August 12th, so the focus will have to be precise and no more than what’s directly in front of the players and coaching staff. With that, here are a few things to be on the lookout for while watching the match tomorrow:
Will Unai Emery be up for it?
It’s easy to sit in front of a microphone and blurt out banal, wispy phrases like “We want to work to improve individually and collectively all we can. All the titles are important for us. I think we can, and we want to be candidates for them,” but will Emery be up for the task of translating that talk into action? For all we know, he loaded a bunch of video clips of Tony Adams leading a training session onto a mess of USB drives and gave them to the players with no real plan or strategy after that. Boreham Wood will no doubt be ready for Arsenal tomorrow, seeing as though they won’t play any other club this season as large and significant, so anything less than a convincing shutout by Emery’s charges will quickly seep in doubt among most of, if not all, the fans of this proud club.
How much will Emery’s lack of English harm him?
One of Ivan Gazidis’s initial requirements for a new manager to replace the English-speaking Arsene Wenger was that the new boss needed to speak, well, English. But Unai Emery’s grasp of English is quite substandard and concerns are already starting to percolate that he’s resorted to making vague noises that somewhat-resemble English words on the training pitch as a way to cover the fact that he’s well-behind Wenger and many other foreign coaches in the league with his English. At one point, he was caught adding whistles in the middle of attempting to say words like “ball”, “cone”, “water”, and “food,” while throwing his hands up as play moved about him on the pitch in a way that was not to his liking. During tomorrow’s match versus a very-up-for-it Boreham Wood, listen closely as the microphones will be trained directly at the new guy. If he continues to struggle with basic communication with his players, then it’s only going to exponentially worse before Manchester City home next month.
Hector Bellerin’s attitude
His fashion sense and long hair continue to not help the Spanish right back, and it’s because of this that many feel he doesn’t give it his all. If only he was more like a true right back, like Lee Dixon, and knocked back a dozen pints with the boys as a way to bond, perhaps then people would see that he’s truly a team player, a presence in the locker room. But given that he’s far too concerned with his image and activities off the pitch, it will be interesting to see how stuck in he gets tomorrow versus some brave, lion-hearted British boys. It’s fair to assume that he has a photo shoot scheduled for later in the night if he doesn’t get into challenges tomorrow.