Football News

Unai Emery criticised for ‘getting nowhere near’ solution to Arsenal’s problem area

By Harry Edwards

Published: 18:18, 1 June 2019

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has been criticised for not dealing with the club’s problems by former striker Alan Smith.

The Spaniard has just finished his first season in charge of the Gunners, ending with a Europa League final defeat to Chelsea which sees Arsenal miss out on Champions League football for a third consecutive season.

What has Emery failed to do in his first season? Five key things to know…

  1. Unai Emery replaced Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager in 2018.
  2. The Spaniard led Arsenal to fifth in the Premier League and runners-up for the Europa League.
  3. As a result, Arsenal will be out of the Champions League for a third consecutive season in a row.
  4. And former striker Alan Smith believes Emery has failed to improve on Wenger’s failures.
  5. Smith pointed to Arsenal’s organisational problems and defensive personnel.

Though Emery had a big task in following on from Arsene Wenger, the former Paris Saint-Germain manager was expected to have made some headway in fixing the problems at the Emirates – including the defence and their reaction to conceding goals.

But Smith, who spent eight seasons with the Gunners, believes Emery has yet to have a real impact.

“For the last few years you always felt, when Arsenal conceded a goal, for the following 10 minutes or so, they lost their shape and composure,” he told the Evening Standard.

“Even though you have got very experienced players in there, there is something with that dressing room.

“It all goes haywire and, unfortunately, Emery hasn’t been able to change that. That is a huge challenge for the manager: introducing that tough, winning mentality into that dressing room.

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“I was hoping he would be able to bring in a bit more organisation when Arsenal haven’t got the ball, to sit in there for 10 or 15 minutes, soak up a bit of pressure.

“He has got nowhere near to achieving that, which is a big disappointment.”

In Arsenal’s 4-1 defeat to Chelsea in Baku, the Gunners conceded four goals in 23 second-half minutes with Olivier Giroud, Pedro and Eden Hazard all scoring to win the Europa League for Maurizio Sarri’s men.

“Uncertain” transfer window ahead for Arsenal

Arsenal’s failure to qualify for the Champions League means they could face some difficulties in bringing in new players to supplement their squad ahead of next season.

The Gunners have already had to deal with working on a smaller budget, with Emery only being allowed to bring Denis Suarez on loan in the January transfer window.

And Smith doesn’t believe Emery will get the same financial backing as his Premier League rivals.

He added: “Emery obviously needs better defenders. He needs strong characters, he needs leaders.

“How long have we been saying this? Of course, those types of players are not easy to get when everybody else is after good defenders and characters in the dressing room.

“That is the problem facing Emery, especially so as it doesn’t seem as though his budget will be as big as some of his competitors. If he is working on a budget, he has to be very clever in the recruitment.

“I am not sure Arsenal are in a position to be very clever, given what has happened behind the scenes in terms of Sven Mislintat (the club’s former head of recruitment) going and they’ve not got a director of football in yet.

“It looks a little uncertain going into a crucial few months when Arsenal need to make some key signings.”