When the season began, Arsenal was in turmoil. Arsene Wenger had essentially been forced out after guiding the club for over 20 years, then replaced by the controversial (and some considered lackluster) hiring of Unai Emery as his replacement.
To make matters worse, Emery’s term as manager began with two embarrassing defeats to bitter rivals Manchester City and Chelsea. The team looked discombobulated, its famous free-flowing attack bumbling along, the defenders unable to play even the most basic fundamentals, and Petr Cech suddenly looking very old between the pipes. It looked like a long road back for a once-proud franchise.
Then, everything suddenly coalesced for the beleaguered Gunners. A 3-1 win over West Ham on August 25 put Arsenal in the win column, though they still looked sloppy against a visibly weaker opponent. Arsenal then ground out three more unconvincing victories; a 3-2 win over Cardiff, a 2-1 win over Newcastle, and a 4-2 win over Vorskla in the Europa League group stage.
It was in an assertive 2-0 win over Everton on September 23 that everything truly began to click for the Gunners, and they began to reel off a series of impressive victories in which they demonstrated a free-flowing attack, an impenetrable defense, and a revitalized Petr Cech denying almost every chance the opponent could muster. Arsenal went on to defeat Brentford 3-1 in the League Cup, Watford 2-0, Qarabag FK 3-0 in the Europa League, and finally a 5-1 undressing of Fulham today.
According to ESPN, young midfielder Alex Iwobi credits a greater team spirit and confidence for Arsenal’s success, and doesn’t believe that a title run is out of the question. Emery tried to downplay Iwobi’s enthusiasm, noting that “When we lost the first two matches against Manchester City and Chelsea, we were calm, and when we are winning now, I think we need to be in the same mentality.”
Midfielder Lucas Torreira credits Emery for the team’s resurgence through his insistence on placing team success over individual glory.
“The most important thing here is not that Torreira is the best player on the pitch, or any other is the best, but what matters is that we win and keep growing as a team. The key now is to continue working and keep growing as a team.”
The Roar also hails Emery as the ideal replacement for Wenger, suggesting that Arsenal’s current run of form validates the necessity of the team moving on from their beloved former manager.
Arsenal will look to continue their run against Leicester City on October 22 after the international break.