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Gunners Will Shoot Again

Unai Emery

"How will Arsenal fare after the departure of Arsene Wenger?" This must be the question many Arsenal fans are asking themselves as the 2018-2019 season draws near.

I think Arsenal fans will have reason to be optimistic after their first managerial change in 22 years. 

Like his predecessor, Unai Emery brings an attacking brand of football. However, he will be an upgrade to the Frenchman if the way his teams defend is anything to go by. 

From Arsenal's pre-season matches, they seem to have already adopted a high press something that gunners fans have always cried for. Arsenal forwards seemed to the give opponent's defenders too much time to pick the final ball over the top. With their usual high offside line, they were often caught off guard especially against weaker opponents.

One main point of departure though could be their approach to training. Emery pays lots of attention to how his opponents play. This can be evidenced by his presence during the community shield match between  Man City and Chelsea. During the Wenger days, Arsenal looked predictable. They played the same way every week. They have already played different formations in pre-season from an attacking 4 4 2 With Aubameyang and Lacazette upfront to a more conservative 4 2 3 1. 

The Spaniard brought with him a number of backroom personnel most of whom he has previously worked with. Only first team assistant coach Steve Bould and goalkeeping coach Sall Bibo kept their places. The medical team which had never avoided blame during Wenger's reign was not spared either. Interestingly, Emery acquired the services of  video analyst Victor Manas to help in recording and analysing training footage.  The former Sevilla tactician is known to watch DVD recordings of how his opponents and his team play and later breaking down analysis from such clips and sharing with his players.

So intense are his training methods that it is rumoured Mesut Özil ended his holiday and reported to training earlier after being given an extended break following his involvement in the world cup, after a teammate told him about the intensity of the training.

With the appointment of Sporting director Raul Sanllehi and Sven Mislintat coming in as head of recruitment, Arsenal have had a fairly fruitful summer transfer window. 

Bernd Leno will provide stiff competition for Petr Cech and David Ospina in goal though the Colombian has been rumoured to be knocking on the exit door while Emiliano Martinez caught the eye with a few saves in pre season.

The acquisition of Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund provides cover for the ageing and injury prone Laurent Koscielny. Stephan Lichtsteiner will provide competition for Hector Bellerin at right back while Sead Kolasinac and utility man Ainsley Maitland-Niles will cover for Nacho Monreal on the left.

The signing of midfield dynamo Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria could prove to be the turning point after the likes of Granit Xhaka failed to give them the bite they have lacked for a while. Exciting academy prodigy Emiles Rowe Smith looks set to earn himself a run in the first team after his sterling performance in pre-season headlined by a well taken goal against Atletico. 

The Gunners embarrassment of riches in the attack will mean at least one of Aubameyang, Lacazette or Eddie Nketiah will be waiting for his time.

Emery will however need to sort out the the future of Aaron Ramsey who is stalling on a contract renewal though I don't think he would be missed with the presence of Henrik Mkhitaryan, Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and new boy Matteo  Guendouzi who has really impressed since his arrival from Lorient.

VERDICT: With four different winners in the last five editions,the premier league is one of the most competitive leagues in the world. A first title in 15 years would be too optimistic especially with the financial muscle of United, City, Chelsea and Liverpool. Teams that were considered weaker opposition no longer roll over the way they used to. I would fancy the Arsenal to come third. Only Man City  and Liverpool are way above the other top six side so it will be a fight among the other four of Spurs, United, Chelsea and Arsenal for the last two champions league places and Emery's genius will prove to be the  difference.