Arsenal, after months of under-performance on the pitch, and months of fan-fueled debate, discussion, and frustration off it, finally did what they should have done in October, relieving Unai Emery of his responsibilities today, following a showing against Eintracht Frankfurt that it would be charitable to call insipid.
Emery was brought in, ostensibly, to win the Europa League, a feat he’d accomplished three times in a row at
Valencia Sevilla. It wasn’t an unreasonable hire - the thought process was that Emery could get Arsenal back to the CL, and then maybe another coach could get them back to consistently being in the CL after that. Things started fairly brightly under Emery - Arsenal reeled off 14 games unbeaten, including seven straight wins, at the beginning of last season, after all.
But even those games were somewhat unconvincing - in many of them, Arsenal were losing at half time, only to mount a furious comeback in the second half to claim the point(s). We all know what Arsenal have been like since about April of the 2018/19 season, so there’s not a whole lot of point in rehashing that in detail here; suffice it to say this day was a long time coming, and as mentioned, some ways overdue.
Emery leaves the club having won 25 Premier League matches in two seasons, against 13 losses and 13 draws. Raw numbers don’t tell the whole story, though, because a lot of those draws this season, unlike last, came from winning positions, and the losses were to teams Arsenal should probably not be losing to. Which is, in large part, why we’re here right now.
He of course took Arsenal to the final of the Europa League last year, and it’s a real shame that that final didn’t actually take place, because I would love to have seen what Arsenal did with a trophy on the line. I guess we’ll never know.
Anyway, Emery is gone, replaced for now by Freddie Ljungberg on an interim basis while Arsenal search for a new head coach. There are a number of names floating around out there, including Nuno Espírito Santo, Max Allegri, and Mikel Arteta. Removing the interim tag from Ljungberg is likely also an option should the team do well with him at the helm.
So farewell Unai Emery. I don’t think you are a bad coach, but you were not the right coach for Arsenal. Replacing Arsene Wenger was always going to be a tough task, and you’re a brave man for taking a shot at it. Best of luck in the future.