Opinion: Each Arsenal player deserves a clean slate under Unai Emery

Opinion: Each Arsenal player deserves a clean slate under Unai Emery

It's the start of a new era for Arsenal.

Matt Dawson

No more scapegoats. No more in patience. No more belittling of the club and its players.

Under Unai Emery, Arsenal have an opportunity to create something new for the first time in 22 years.

With that, every player deserves a clean slate. This is an exciting yet scary time to be an Arsenal fan. There hasn't been a new face at the helm for over two decades and for that reason supporters need to give Emery a chance and arguably more importantly - they need to give the players a chance too. 

The club have finally moved on from Arsene Wenger, and although things may not come together quickly, especially with games against Manchester City and Chelsea in the opening weeks of the Premier League season, it is important to give things time as the team moves forward with a new approach.

This is an opportunity for a fresh start for a host of players at the club - and that continues as the club ramps up its pre-season preparations with fixtures against Atletico Madrid and PSG in the coming days. 

New ideas

It's time to forget about Wenger. Arsenal have thanked him for everything he's done; the nutritional aspects he brought to the game and the possession-based style of football he embedded within in Arsenal.

But it is no secret that the club lacked direction and a clear system in his later years in charge. It's therefore hard to tell what a host of players are truly capable of and as a result, they should be given time under a new coach to succeed. 

It's not yet clear what system or formation Emery will opt for, especially considering options in midfield and attack but that will be revealed as the club goes deeper into pre-season. 

Players will be given ample opportunity to prove how they fit into the new boss' plans for the upcoming season and it is exciting to see how he crafts together this squad of players. 

Not having a clear system beforehand was detrimental to a lot of players. There was a sense, especially in the big games, that individuals weren't 100 percent sure on their roles in the team. 

Hopefully, this will be something that starts to change this season. When Emery was unveiled, Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis revealed that he came to the board with a list of how he could develop the players. That even included notes on those in the youth team.

If you needed any indication of the Spaniard's meticulous detail then there you have it. It shows that there are plans in place, an understanding of what needs to happen to get players to their maximum potential and explains why fans need to give players fresh starts.

Faith needs to be shown

It's been all change in North London this summer and despite the playing staff largely remaining the same, there should be a new mentality rising within the club.

Players will be working harder and those who perhaps were on the fringes during Wenger's reign may well start to feature more often. Previous mistrust and lack of faith shown by him towards certain players should now also be but a distant memory. 

But as well as showing a lack of faith towards players, at the opposite end sometimes too much faith was shown at times too. 

Prime examples are more recent signings, Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka who haven't entirely been worth it yet. However, with a new manager that could change. Mustafi didn't have the trust of Wenger, so much so he was linked with a move away in January, whilst Xhaka was probably given too many chances.

Both of those players came under fire from various fans and parts of the media for their performances in Arsenal shirts last season - but they deserve clean slates, perhaps more than anyone. They have great potential and it's now time to see whether a new head coach can help them realise that.

Perhaps the most intriguing player in question is Lucas Perez. He is a player who did little wrong in his first season at Arsenal and simply wasn't given enough game time. His spell at the club can be compared to the likes of Joel Campbell and Carlos Vela, who had the quality needed to succeed at the club but were never really given fair opportunities.

Perez's hat-trick against Basel in the Champions League in 2016/17 outlined his quality though, and he played a part in goals on a regular basis when he did feature.

However, banished to Deportivo last season, he is now back and it appears as though Emery has plans for him as he's traveled with the squad on their tour of Singapore. 

Another player who can afford more game time is Rob Holding. He slipped into the shadows last season, but under the new head coach will see it as a fresh opportunity to continue developing. 

Fresh start for everyone

It's been talked about a lot since Wenger left, but a new beginning is what it feels like at the moment. 

The atmosphere around the Emirates and on the road became toxic over the last 18 months but by the time Arsenal's first league game comes around this season all of that animosity should be gone. 

Fans need to forget about what happened before and focus on what can be achieved over the forthcoming campaign's.

Players such as Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi who at times have been deserving of criticism need to be given more time by the fans this season. 

They've been barraged in the past, and so have players with more quality such as Mesut Ozil, but with a new head coach, the scapegoating has to stop. Although criticism is sometimes needed, positivity and optimism need to be at the forefront this season.

Images and video clips of training show an excellent vibe. But of course it would, the club wants good PR. However, there does seem to be a new found positivity about Arsenal. 

The challenge now is to keep that going. It's imperative Arsenal fans don't jump on the bandwagon of unnecessary hate as soon as things start to go wrong.

This upcoming season is an intriguing one on the basis that no one is quite sure how good Arsenal will be. A rebuilding project is in motion and it's likely that things may not fall into place straight away. 

The Gunners will go into the 2018/19 season as an unknown proposition. They won't be shadowed by past failings but instead will be buoyed by a clean slate and the potential of future success.


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