In his first season in charge, Unai Emery has led Arsenal to a fifth-place league finish and a Europa League final.
Despite missing out on Champions League football via a top-four place, Arsenal still have the chance to be back amongst Europe’s elite by virtue of winning the Europa League title.
The Gunners will travel to Baku to take on London rivals Chelsea in the final, it will be Emery’s fourth appearance in the final of the competition, having won it previously three times with La Liga club Sevilla.
Replacing Arsene Wenger was always going to be a tall order, but the Spaniard has acquitted himself well and has successfully implemented some of his ideas at the club.
Improvement against the top sides
One of the main criticisms levelled at Arsenal was their inability to overcome the ‘bigger’ sides in the Premier League. However, in Emery’s first season in charge he was able to mastermind victories over the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, whilst earning a credible draw at home against title challengers Liverpool.
What stood out to Arsenal fans in the big games last season was the tactical approach- case and point the game against Chelsea at home. Aaron Ramsey was deployed in a number ten role, but instead of being in the side for his marauding runs into the box and eye for goal, he was instructed to press Chelsea’s deep-lying midfielder Jorginho.
This approach proved fruitful for the north Londoners, as they achieved a 2-0 triumph with Chelsea’s midfield conductor having very little influence on the game.
During Wenger’s later years at Arsenal, it became apparent that his tactical stubbornness was proving costly against more tactically astute sides. Emery is very much a more meticulous planner and sets his team up in an effort to nullify the opposition’s strengths.
Stellar European record
Despite it being Europe’s second biggest cup competition, winning the Europa League three times is no mean feat. Arsenal are without a doubt a huge European club with considerable pulling power, but the lack of European trophies in their history has often been a cause for concern for supporters.
With Emery at the helm, the Gunners faithful have a head coach with a proven European track record.
He has once again shown his prowess in the Europa League with another final appearance, defeating the likes of Napoli and Valencia along the way.
The final in Baku represents a huge game for Arsenal, a victory could be the difference between a successful season and another mediocre campaign.