Arsenal 2018/19 Season Preview: A new chapter under Unai Emery

Will Arsenal witness a change in fortunes this season?

Arsenal 2018/19 Season Preview: A new chapter under Unai Emery
Can Unai Emery get Arsenal back into the Champions League? | Photo: David Price/Getty Images.

This season is a chance for a new dawn at Arsenal. Arsene Wenger is now gone and for the first time in 22 years there is a new man in charge of the Gunners.

Unai Emery has an opportunity to bring the glory days back to Arsenal, but first it will be about rebuilding and that's what Arsenal fans will want to see this season.

Expectations are still not high and rightly so, but progression is needed and the North London club will have a chance at a fresh start in 2018/19. 

Last time out 

Last season was one to forget. Wenger's final weeks at the club were met with touching tributes but ultimately the club fell short in all departments, failing to get back into the Champions League having finished sixth in the Premier League and losing in the semi-finals of the Europa League.

The Gunners were shocking away from home, winning just once on the road in 2018 and that is something they'll be eager to improve going into the new campaign. At home, they were at their ever fluid best but it was the inconsistency that frustrated fans again.

Animosity has clouded the club over the past couple of years and has led to a toxic atmosphere around the club, but there is more positivity going into the new season.

Emery has changed attitudes and the club will be hoping he continues to do so. 

Emery's arrival

A new face is what Arsenal have needed for far too long and it's a reason for supporters to be excited about the upcoming season.

It should be seen as a fresh start for everyone at the club, and it'll be intriguing to see how Arsenal fare with new ideas.

Pre-season has been quietly good for the Gunners. They've put in an excellent display against PSG in Singapore and then against Chelsea showed a steal against a top side that has been lacking. It's not competitive football but we are beginning to see what Emery can bring to the Emirates.

The Spaniard developed Sevilla brilliantly and this is a similar challenge. Arsenal aren't a main contender anymore but they could be under Emery. He has a history in the Europa League, and once again that could be Arsenal's best opportunity of getting back among the big boys of European football.

Arsenal's new head coach has had a whole pre-season to work with his players which is a big positive. He's kept some of the old heads in the backroom staff and he's also brought in more new faces.

Images and video clips of training show this group of players more happy and positive than we've ever seen. Can they translate that into performances on the pitch? We'll have to wait and see.  

Still problems at board level

Despite a new head coach, there is still negativity surrounding the club's hierarchy. Will Ivan Gazidis leave for AC Milan or will he not? The club have said he is committed to his duties but there has been no official word of whether he'll actually be staying.

Yet again we're seeing uncertainty at Arsenal. It would be incredibly bizarre to see Gazidis leave. After all, Wenger has finally gone and he was incredibly keen to be involved in the unveiling of Emery.

He sat alongside him proud as punch but now he could be leaving. Arsenal's CEO had this idea of a 'catalyst for change'. The main catalyst in Wenger departing has happened, unless Gazidis was a part of that change too?

But the main issue surrounds majority shareholder and soon to be sole owner of the club, Stan Kroenke. Days before the season he made a £600m offer to buy out Alisher Usmanov to take complete control of the club.

It would see Arsenal become a private business. There would be no obligation to reveal finances anymore and for a man who barely involves himself in the day to day business of Arsenal anyway, it is a decision that is seeing negativity surround the club again.

It was hoped that with a new head coach the Gunners would be able to focus on matters on the pitch. But with the news of Kroenke coming out in the same week as the season getting underway it is poor timing and could overshadow this fresh start Arsenal have been looking for.  

Transfer business

Back to the positives, and Arsenal's business in the summer window has for the most part been good. They've got their deals done quickly and given the new players time to bed in.

The first deal completed was Stephan Lichtsteiner, an experienced Swiss defender who will finally give competition to Hector Bellerin. Another defender arrived in the form of Sokratis from Borussia Dortmund and he is set to start alongside Shkodran Mustafi in the back four.

He arrives off the back of a poor season with Dortmund, though, and Arsenal fans appear to be unsure over whether he is the type of quality defender the recruitment team should have been searching for.

In goal, Arsenal made a move for Bernd Leno who is set to become their first choice goalkeeper. He seems to be rather enigmatic with many unsure over his qualities but he has been touted for a while and could become a top 'keeper.

The most exciting signing of the window was Uruguayan Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria. He appears to be the type of midfielder Arsenal have been missing for a while. His performances at the World Cup were tenacious but he's not just strong in the tackle, he's very good on the ball too. Alongside Granit Xhaka, Arsenal's midfield could be tough to break down. 

The club's wildcard this season could be the signing of Matteo Guendouzi. The 19-year-old was unknown before signing from Lorient but has quickly become a fan favourite during pre-season with impressive displays in midfield. 

Key players

Arsenal will rely heavily on the goals that Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang can provide for them season.

The latter was exceptional after signing in January, whilst Lacazette still managed 17 strikes in an injury hit debut campaign in England. Both have the potential to get 25 goals plus and that should excite Arsenal fans hugely going into the new term.

Mesut Ozil, of course, will also be looking for a productive season. He is now fully focused on club football after quitting international football and he will be looking to prove doubters wrong. 

Arsenal have a wealth of options in midfield and providing they can keep hold of Aaron Ramsey he will be pivotal. He won the club's player of the season award last time out so that tells you all you need to know about how important he is. 

What should we expect?

It's tough to know what to expect from Emery's side this season. For the first time in a long while they are an unknown quantity and for that reason, they could surprise a few.

Their main target will be to get back into the Champions League. They will be expected to go a long way in the Europa League, but they'll be hoping they don't bump into one of Europe's top teams like they did last season.

The Premier League's top four race this season could be one of the most exciting in recent memory. There are a host of teams that will be looking to be up there and therefore finishing in the Champions League places would be an excellent effort this season.

They may ultimately fall short but it is important that the club and the fans are patient. It may take a while to get rid of the habits developed under Wenger and it could take some time before we see the best of Emery's Arsenal.

They start their season with games against Manchester City and Chelsea. That will give us an early indication of if they're up to the task this season and whether anything has changed with Emery's arrival.