The end of Arsene Wenger’s reign has ignited a feeling of optimism within the hearts of countless Arsenal fans who had found only contempt with their managerial complacency. Following in some pretty enormous footsteps is Unai Emery, the former Valencia, Sevilla and Paris Saint Germain boss.
Emery is not alone in riding this tidal wave of optimism, joining the Spanish gaffer is a raft of intriguing signings. Stepping into the unknown often is the harbinger of emotions like fear and trepidation, but after more than two decades under the Wenger’s yoke many fans feel naught but excitement.
If you find yourself becoming enraptured by this new dawn and succumb to the punters fancy, odds of 25/1 can be found for the Gunners to end a fourteen year wait for the domestic title.
The January arrivals of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Henrik Mkhitaryan, allied to the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Aaron Ramsay and Mesut Ozil, guarantee that Arsenal remain razor sharp in the attacking third. What is needed, and has been needed for some time, is solidity. A steel to calcify the erratic, flaky, silky play.
A move to a more robust style has been signalled with this Summer’s signings. The central defence, an area of weakness for years now, has been addressed with the acquisition of Borussia Dortmund’s towering colossus Sokratis, for in a deal worth a shade over £14million. At thirty years old, the Greek is very much a signing for the here and now, a welcome change from the slew of speculative gambles. Tall, strong and adept on the ball Sokratis is a fine replacement for the perennially injured Laurent Koscielny.
Another veteran drafted in is Stephan Lichtsteiner the right back who has dominated Juventus’ flank throughout their recent reign of domestic dominance. At thirty-four he has lost some of his mobility, but as he recently shown in the World Cup against Brazil, shackling the wonderfully gifted Neymar, what he lacks in pace he more than compensates with aggression and intelligence. More key than his on-field abilities will be his dressing room influence. Known widely within the game as an unflinching, uncompromising winner, his mindset should morph Arsenal’s band of enigmatic hipsters into a hardened bunch.
Marshalling the defence from his goal line will be Bern Leno, fresh from another assured Bundesliga season with Bayer Leverkusen. After the rapid decent of Petr Cech and the continued turmoil of David Ospina, a composed presence in goal, one that doesn’t infect the defence with terror, will be a welcome addition.
Finally, Arsenal are looking for someone to balance out their offensive midfield. A number of viable candidates are available yet it seems the Arsenal hierarchy have identified the Uruguay and Sampdoria’s bundle of energy Lucas Torreira. Much to the chagrin of many an Arsenal supporter, Torreira has decided to postpone a decision on his domestic career to focus on his national side.
Still, the deal should progress whenever Uruguay find themselves eliminated. Torreira has been one of the most unheralded players of the World Cup so far, zooming around the park, looking as though fatigue is a concept completely alien to him. His role in linking a world-class defence in Godin and Gimenez with a spell-binding attack of Cavani and Suarez is pivotal.
Change can be a daunting prospect for fans, but with a manager with fresh ideas and summer signings that have been acquired with a specific role in mind, a return to contender status is a realistic ambition.