Unai Emery laid down a statement of intent in his first ever North London Derby by springing a surprise and bringing out the Arsenal of old, defeating their bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 at the Emirates this past Sunday.
It was a comprehensive victory for the gunners with the likes of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang at his scintillating best that led them to their finest ever victory under Emery era that stretched their unbeaten run to 19 matches.
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After the departure of legendary Arsene Wenger, many thought Arsenal would suffer the same fate as of Manchester United when Sir Alex Ferguson retired. It included managers of high repute come and go and lack any stability that the Ferguson era is known for. However, the Spaniard, after a relatively shaky start with defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea, is starting to steady the ship at the Emirates and plant a new sense of optimism in the minds of the gunner faithfuls that indeed a new chapter is about to be written in the already glorious history of Arsenal.
This raises three questions in the minds of the football fans, especially the Gunners. What led to this sudden turn of events after stuttering in the first five matches of the season to going 19 matches unbeaten streak? What led to this transformation and how far they can go? Emery is known for his bold attacking style and fearless tactical approach but will it work at Arsenal against bigger rivals?
We saw glimpses of what we can expect under new emery regime when they drew against Liverpool in an entertaining match earlier this season as they refused to take a backward step. It is more than enough evidence that Arsenal indeed can answer this question to the positive. One could feel the renewed optimism and energy on and off the pitch.
Against Tottenham, in a very rare case of Pochettino’s men being overpowered, Arsenal showed the entire footballing world that their potency urgency dynamism is just too much for their north London rivals. The chants of “We got our Arsenal back” from the gunners faithful may seem to be too harsh for their former manager but it shows that the final toxic months of Arsene Wenger era was too much for the supporters and they needed a fresh breath of air, which to some extent Emery is successful bringing in. He has brought a wind of change in Arsenal, it is like watching a new team in a new stadium.
Emery is known as a front-foot manager believing in front-foot football which showed from his courageous introduction of Ramsey and Lacazette after halftime. It led to the final result against a top 6 side as they needed this victory to back up their performance. Arsenal now for years have been accused as an old age library but Unai have other ideas.
The side were accused previously for their soft centered attitude but the injection of steel by Emery is greeted by the gunners fan-base to a huge reception. At some point in the second half Spurs were limited to their own half and were met with some thunderous challenges. Arsenal after 11 years won against Spurs while trailing at halftime and it is a tribute to their staying power to their grit and determination that once lacked in the Wenger era. They showed great desire than Spurs and it is this result that gave the Emirates stadium a great sense of satisfaction and swept the entire stadium with a new found belief and confidence.
Can Arsenal stay at the top four?
With the addition of Lucas Torreira , the gunners have made a shrewd buy and this signing have further rejuvenated Granit Xhaka and their formidable partnership in the middle is proving to be the catalyst to their recent string of successful results.
Leno looked vulnerable at times and with Rob Holding maturing into a good defender Arsenal overall looked a potent top four side who can even compete with the likes of anyone. With Ozil injured through a back spasm, their two strikers Aubameyang and Lacazette are their X factor that can prop up their title challenge.
There will be sterner tests for Arsenal in the near future but the already in transition Arsenal under Emery must consider themselves as genuine top 4 contenders.