Arsenal chief Raul Sanllehi last night provided an insight into what the club expect Unai Emery to achieve this season.
After a largely-successful debut campaign in north London, during which he guided the Gunners to the Europa League final, and only missed out on a top-4 berth on the final day of the Premier League season, Unai Emery was afforded the chance to further shape his squad this summer.
After securing the signatures of the likes of Lucas Torreira, Bernd Leno and Sokratis Papastathopoulos in the summer of 2018, Arsenal’s board provided their full backing to their Spanish tactician this time around, with a number of high-profile additions.
Long-time target Kieran Tierney arrived from Celtic, Dani Ceballos made the move to the Emirates on loan from Real Madrid, and David Luiz made the surprise switch across London from Chelsea.
The capital outfit’s most impressive signing, though, was that of Nicolas Pepe.
Ivorian attacker Pepe had been linked to a whole host of European heavyweights over the course of the summer, but, when all was said and done, it was Arsenal who agreed to splash out a club-record fee to coax the now-former Lille man to the Emirates.
This, meanwhile, proved the most telling signal yet that the Gunners were ready to fully back the Unai Emery era, by providing Arsene Wenger’s successor with the kind of player whom he evidently deemed necessary to take the club back to the top of the English game.
Expectations of Emery
The early months of the new season, though, have since proven somewhat-perplexing from an Arsenal perspective.
The Londoners currently sit 3rd in the Premier League table, a point behind champions Manchester City.
They have also fared superbly in both the League Cup and Europa League to this point.
While results have proven, for the most-part, satisfactory, though, Arsenal’s performances have often left a lot to be desired.
Large sections of the club’s fanbase have become increasingly-frustrated with Unai Emery’s negative tactics, with many of the opinion that results could soon fall off a cliff as a result.
As such, speaking during a Fans Forum meeting last night, Arsenal Head of Football Raul Sanllehi was questioned on Emery, with a particular emphasis on what is expected of the former Sevilla boss this season.
And Sanllehi went on to confirm that securing a top-4 berth has been outlined as Emery’s main objective this time around:
Raul : ‘We said to Unai that we just missed out on qualifying for the CL last year, but this year with a stronger squad, we expect you to do that’
— REDaction Gooners (@REDactionAFC) October 10, 2019
‘Can’t treat him differently’
Sanllehi was then drawn on Mesut Ozil’s situation at the Emirates, with the German midfielder having been largely-frozen out to this point in the campaign, leading to mounting rumours that he could be set for a January departure.
The Arsenal chief, though, assured that there is no ‘barrier’ between Ozil and Unai Emery, before encouraging the former to up his work-rate in training in a bid to force himself back into the plans of the Gunners boss:
‘Unai has had many good players in other teams also, and he has always followed the same policy which is try not to make any distinctions, play the ones who work hard in training and reward the effort with playing time.’
‘There is nothing against Mesut on the contrary and I hope we get to see him much more in the next games because his qualities are without question, but he needs to contribute 24/7 and that’s what Unai expects from him.‘
‘It’s not that he’s not working so well, but there are others who are deserving more playing time, but Unai can’t treat him differently than any other player.’
‘You may have read that Unai has put a barrier up, but nothing at all like this has happened.’
Quotes via Goal