Unai Emery has essentially the same squad as Arsene Wenger but they are performing much better if you exclude their away form, which has been a problem for a while.
You have to give credit where credit is due, with a change of manager, tactical tweaks and squad rotation, Emery has delivered far more at this stage than anyone could have imagined.
Though a first-place finish is an impossibility at this point, sites like SBD suggest that the Gunners are confidently on track for a Top 4 finish, and a return to the Champions League after a two-year absence. Emery, in his first season in the premier league, has worked wonders with a disjointed side.
At the beginning of the season many fans were convinced that a 5th or 6th place finish in the premier league would be a credible if not desirable outcome.
He has exceed those expectations by some distance, even with the various challenges he has faced including a host of injuries at crucial times in the campaign.
Arsenal are no longer following the established blueprint of a rigid 11 players and now set up for each game with the opposition in mind.
If players are not performing to the required level or are not best suited the opponents, then they are benched or excluded to get the required results.
It hasn’t always worked but more often than not it has. Emery has squeezed every ounce out of his side with ruthless efficiency, using substitutions to effect and changing his formations mid match to change a game.
No disrespect to Arsene Wenger but Emery has managed to make a silk purse from a sows ear and regularly pulls rabbits out of a bottomless hat.
He has increased the overall intensity and the collective desire and spirit of a side known for capitulating at the first signs of trouble.
There have been blips which have seen Arsenal slip back into bad habits but slowly, the Spaniard is moulding a team, that with a few key additions could fight for the title.
Perhaps not next season because it will only be phase two of the rebuilding programme and it will almost be like starting again.
It’s also remarkable how he has managed to inspire players to perform at a higher and more consistent level than before.
Lacazette is a far better player but that can also be said of Kolasinac, Ramsey, Maitland-Niles , Iwobi and Xhaka.
There are still issues, some due to injury and some because the individuals he has simply aren’t good enough or are incapable of change.
Ozil is the enigma he always was, Mustafi is consistently inconsistent and Monreal has lost his pace. Yet, fans should be optimistic about a future under Emery.
With a crop of talented players knocking on the door and a few new faces, Arsenal could actually become a force again.
It’s likely that next season will see a dramatic change in personnel as Emery finally moulds his own side to meet his demands.
It used to be fairly easy to predict the Arsenal side for any match but this season, it’s been almost impossible.
Emery varies his formation and as a result, shuffles his players accordingly.
I dare say it was a shock to personnel used to making the team sheet regularly regardless of their performances but it now seems expected and accepted.
He has even managed to do without Bellerin, Holding and Suarez who apparently has injured himself without playing much.
The summer will be interesting, not least to see if Kroenke backs his manager with cash and brings in his preferred targets.
Even if the season were to tail off now, Emery has proved his worth and fans know that their club is in capable hands.
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