What Can Unai Emery Do to Save Arsenal Job?

By on November 18, 2019

Unai Emery has been given the dreaded vote of confidence from the Arsenal hierarchy following a series of poor results and the disastrous appointment of Granit Xhaka as Gunners captain.

An angry reaction from the Switzerland midfielder to being substituted forced Emery to take the armband off him almost immediately after naming Xhaka as Laurent Koscielny’s permanent successor.

With an official Arsenal statement giving their backing to Emery, what can he do in the short-term to keep his tenure in the Gunners hotseat going?

Get results from winnable Premier League games

As obvious as it sounds, the best way for the Spaniard to avoid the sack is to get results. Going into the last international break of 2019, Arsenal had just one win in their last seven across all competitions.

Granit Xhaka

While the Gunners remain in the driving seat to qualify from their Europa League group, they are falling behind domestically. Although online betting sites like 888 believe another top six Premier League finish as achievable at odds of 4/5, automatic qualification for the Champions League would be seen as progress.

Arsenal are 5/1 with that firm to break back into the top four but have an eight-point gap (effectively nine when taking goal difference into account) to bridge. Emery has won the Europa League three times in his coaching career and guided the Gunners to the final last term.

That competition offers a backdoor route into the Champions League if you win it. While Arsenal are prominent in the outright market at 6/1 to go one better in the Europa League this term, Emery won’t be at the helm for the knockout phase without a change in fortunes.

As three of the Gunners’ next four Premier League games are against teams in the current bottom five, they are all matches they should win comfortably. Victories over struggling Southampton at the Emirates and Norwich City away would relieve some of the immediate pressure on Emery.

Fixtures with Brighton and Hove Albion at home, then at West Ham United also look highly winnable. Maximum points from these encounters would quell voices calling for Emery’s head if nothing else.

Pick a system and stick with it

There has been a certain tactical pragmatism to the Arsenal XI of late. Depending on the opponent and competition, Emery has used different systems but that’s not working.

Some coaches swear by preparing for each opponent differently, but it’s usually a divisive approach for fans. If you focus too much on what you think the opposition may or may not do, then are you taking your eye off what your own players need to?

Emery continues to switch between a back three or five and four and playing one, two or even three up front. It is almost as though he is searching for a winning formula at a time when there isn’t much dressing room leadership at the Emirates.

In most Gunners victories this season, Emery has set them up in the 4-2-3-1 system. That does mean Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has to play wide to accommodate Alexandre Lacazette but if it gets results, then the ends justify the means.

There is a difference between being tactically rigid and having a settled system. It may involve Emery making some big calls but, with his job at stake, he has to be bold.