Unai Emery reached the milestone of 50 Premier League matches in charge of Arsenal on Saturday in the 2-0 defeat at Leicester City, but an overriding sense of disappointment is all he has managed to establish at the club.
Emery arrived in 2018 as Arsene Wenger’s replacement, with the Frenchman ultimately paying the price for going 14 years without winning the title.
In fairness to Wenger, spending at the club was significantly reduced in the wake of their move to the Emirates Stadium, particularly when compared to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool over the same period.
It was hoped Emery’s introduction would bring a fresh approach and winning mentality after years of stagnation at Arsenal. However, despite his trophy successes in previous spells with Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain, some – justifiably – had doubts about the Spaniard’s style of play and training methods often criticised as boring.
After reaching 50 Premier League games, it is difficult at present to see him lasting much longer and his record compared to the division’s best highlights the gulf in class.
87 – Arsenal have won 87 points in their 50 Premier League games under Unai Emery (W25 D12 L13) – one fewer than they managed in their final 50 under Arsene Wenger (W27 D7 L16). Regression. pic.twitter.com/jAfA0dzuIj
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 9, 2019
Going backwards after Wenger
Emery’s Arsenal have averaged 1.74 points per game across his 50 matches in the top flight. Of those in charge of the traditional ‘big six’, that figure is only better than Mauricio Pochettino (1.7) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (1.30) over their 50 most recent Premier League games – though the latter’s figures are obviously skewed by his spell at Cardiff City.
That’s where the positives end in terms of points per game for Emery, however.
Jurgen Klopp (2.62) and Pep Guardiola (2.52) are way out in front over their past 50 matches, while Frank Lampard – who has only taken charge of 12 in the Premier League – has accumulated a respectable 2.17 points per outing.
Similarly, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has done significantly better, averaging 1.84 points per game across his last 50 matches in the Premier League with Liverpool and the Foxes.
But the real kicker is the comparison with the much-maligned Wenger, whose 1.76 average means he too collected more points over his final 50 games at Arsenal than Emery has in his first 50.
Way behind the most prolific scorers
Wenger’s Arsenal also scored more than Emery’s side. During the Frenchman’s final 50 games, they scored 96 times, seven more than they have with the Basque coach.
City have set the bar in terms of scoring over the period in question, netting 130 times, 12 more than Liverpool.
Defensively it is the other way round. While City’s record of 33 allowed is exceptional, Liverpool’s is even better at just 31.
Arsenal’s defensive woes have been well-documented under Emery, with Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Sokratis Papastathopoulos hardly convincing.
As such, they have conceded 68 times since the start of last season, more than double both City and Liverpool and four more than in Wenger’s final stretch.
All over at the King Power Stadium.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) November 9, 2019
Emery’s already had enough time to solve issues
Emery can at least point to the fact he has lost fewer matches (13) than Wenger (16) did over the periods highlighted, though it’s a pretty hollow victory.
Klopp and Liverpool again set the standard here, having lost just one of their past 50 Premier League matches, though even Rodgers has been beaten fewer times than Emery over his 50 most recent games, losing 12.
The overarching issue for Arsenal and Emery is a complete lack of identity, something one can certainly argue they still had even in Wenger’s latter days.
While these statistics highlight how far behind the Premier League’s leading pair Arsenal are, their lack of a discernible style and direction is arguably the main problem, one Emery probably will not get much more time to fix.
After all, there is little doubt they have regressed under his stewardship.
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