Nuno Espirito Santo is tipped to replace Unai Emery at Arsenal.
Arsenal aren’t really a club blessed with total felicity. They are, in fact, completely paradoxical in that sense. At this time last year, the Gunners were cruising on to build momentum towards a 22-match unbeaten run, but fast forward to date, everything that Unai Emery fabricated seem nothing but a mere house of cards.
As far as their fanbase is concerned, they are twiddling their thumbs with a hope of having an efficacious materiality because let’s face it, there is nothing right going on at the club to dwell upon. The sour relationship between Emery and the fans and the players is digging a hole and if it no one rises to the situation; Arsenal will be left wandering in the barren desert yet again.
The board has indeed backed the Spaniard, but that only intensifies an already tremendous muddle the parties involved are in now.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. The rumour mill generating the news of late has somehow provided Arsenal fans a sense of fresh air given that they are in a situation where anyone apart from Emery seem like a pragmatic approach.
Wolverhampton manager, Nuno Espirito Santo has been tipped as a potential candidate for the Arsenal job and given that Arsenal’s director of football Raul Sanllehi enjoys a close relationship with Nuno's agent Jorge Mendes, there could well and truly be possible approach.
But is Nuno really a solution? Let’s dig wide into it.
Where it started
Contrary to where Arsenal were at this point last season, it is safe to say Emery has lost the plot entirely. The problem, however, started in April this year when Arsenal were sitting comfortably in the Champions League spot with just seven games to play. As it turned out though, they managed just two victories during the tenure, losing to Everton, Crystal Palace, Wolves and Leicester, meaning that they were pushed to fifth and now a Europa League campaign to look forward to.
The business done during the transfer window was shrewd, to say the least, but culmination of desired performances took a hit. Narrow wins over Newcastle United and Burnley in the first two games of the new Premier League season did give them a stronghold, but subsequent fixtures eventually yielded abysmal outcome.
As things stand, Arsenal are already nine points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and have failed to win any of their last six matches in all competitions - their worst run since all the way back in 1998.
Problems at Arsenal are deeper
It’s not just the results hurting the club. Emery’s man-management has been a point of criticism as well. He left Mesut Ozil out of the squad, as the German was allowed only two games in the opening 10 weeks of the season. And the selection of Granit Xhaka as the new club captain was a hammer as well.
The story that followed was atrocious. Xhaka was booed, his family was abused, and the midfielder was stripped off from his role. There’re high chances that he may never play for the club again. There are negatives everywhere you look around the club and Tottenham’s sacking of Mauricio Pochettino has only added fuel to the fire.
Emery has no control over his dressing room it seems, and the most viable solution to it remains an induction of someone who can assert an authority in no time. Someone who can convene the entire group of players and sort out the contractual bone of contention.
Does that mean a Europa League title remains Emery’s last resort?
He sure is a proven winner in the competition, having guided Sevilla to three consecutive titles in 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16. But a closer inspection tells a different story altogether. In all those four seasons with Sevilla, the club ended their La Liga season outside the Champions League quota.
Is Nuno the answer?
Emery and Nuno sit wide apart as far their respective approach is concerned. For Nuno, he likes working with a bunch of players who love bullying their opponent with their physical might; especially the defenders. The wing-backs in a 3-4-3/3-5-2 approach are simply the most important figures in his attacking setup.
He likes playing centrally, which allows wing-backs to stretch the game, thus creating muddle amongst his opposition. That coupled with a high-press approach means the players just cannot take even a single second for granted.
Given Arsenal’s current squad, the likes of Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette can indeed provide a much bigger threat, but a lack of strength in midfield and defence won’t really yield any better results, to say the least. That coupled with the ongoing hustle within the team is just another distraction to take care of.
Gamble? Indeed. A big one, to say the least.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Lindsey Parnaby