Following Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool, a game in which they showed marked improvements, new boss Unai Emery has drawn praise for the work he has done since arriving last summer.
The Gunners are currently on 15 match unbeaten run, after losing their first two games of the season against Manchester City and Chelsea. Having finished outside of the top four in the last two seasons, early signs suggests Arsenal may have closed the gap on the top sides.
Movements off the field
Off the field, Arsenal have taken considerable strides to once again become title challengers, notably with their recruitment policy.
In November of last year, Arsenal appointed Sven Mislintat as head of recruitment. Mislintat, formerly of Borussia Dortmund, is a well respected recruitment expert who is credited with the discovery of several Bundesliga talents. During Arsene Wenger’s reign at Arsenal, the Frenchman had control over several aspects of the club- including contract negotiations.
These negotiations will now be handled by Arsenal’s new Head of Football Relations, Raul Sanllehi, who joined from La Liga giants Barcelona. This represents significant change for Arsenal at board level, who for so long were resigned to the system they had in place during Wenger’s tenure.
Former Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis recently left to join Serie A side AC Milan. The South African was a man who often divided opinion amongst Arsenal fans, and his departure came as a welcomed surprise.
In order to close the gap on the teams above them, it is imperative for Arsenal to operate in an ambitious manner off the field. Having run the changes at the top of the club, it seems The Gunners are now better equipped to progress.
Summer additions prove key
The acquisitions of Bernd Leno, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira represented a significant outlay on signings, and Arsenal are seemingly reaping the benefits of their proactivity.
Sokratis has been a sturdy presence in a much maligned Arsenal defence, despite only aiding his side’s cause with two clean sheets in the league, his leadership and experience has been quite apparent. Leno, who joined from Bundesliga slide Bayer Leverkusen, has been key in Emery’s philosophy of playing out from the back.
In midfield, the capture of Torreira has proved a big hit with the Gunners faithful. The Uruguayan international has won fans over with his all action style. Making tackles and interceptions in the middle of the park, whilst also keeping possession ticking over with clever passing between the lines. His form has seen him earmarked as the long awaited answer to Arsenal’s defensive midfield conundrum.
Going forward, Arsenal have the privilege of calling upon two top class strikers in the shape of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Between them they have combined 15 goals and four assists, a healthy return which has seen the Gunners emerge as genuine top four contenders.
Only Manchester City and Chelsea have scored more goals in the league than Arsenal, an indication that the north Londoners are indeed moving in the right direction.