Arsenal’s 20 game unbeaten run will have left many fans with the type optimism they’ve not felt in quite some time. They boast the Premier League’s top marksman in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. They’ve successfully qualified as group winners in the Europa League, and have put in impressive performances against Liverpool, and most emphatically against bitter North London rivals Tottenham.
Plenty is going well, but Emery is someone who consistently talks about the need for improvement in his post-match interviews. He’ll be keen to address a number of issues as Arsenal look to continue their ascent.
Two draws in the most recent run of fixtures have been most notable. Arsenal gifted Crystal Palace two penalties on their trip to Selhurst Park, while an 86th minute Mkhitaryan cross somehow found the back of the net to rescue a point against Wolves. In what looks to be the most competitive race for the top four ever, Arsenal will need to be picking up maximum points against the majority of the bottom half.
Another slight worry for Emery has to be that his team is regularly under-performing in the first 45 minutes. So far in the league this season Arsenal have failed to take a lead in to the half time break, and have looked off the pace on a number of occasions. Conversely, in the second half of games Arsenal have been rampant, with a goal difference only bettered by reigning champions Manchester City.
Then there is the curious case of Mesut Ozil. The play-makers ability is unquestionable, but other than a breathtaking cameo against Leicester his form this season has been underwhelming. There has also been talk of Ozil taking umbrage at not being included in the starting eleven, before conspicuously withdrawing from the squad due to another of his seemingly chronic back spasms. If Ozil isn’t a player that fits in to Emery’s system, then it leaves Arsenal with a bit of a conundrum. Due to his gargantuan weekly salary they will find it difficult to offload the German, and it’s a lot of money for super sub, if he’ll even sit on the bench.
With a few injuries starting to creep in, it will be interesting to see how Emery manages his squad throughout the congested Christmas period. Over the next month Arsenal play all four of the current bottom four, games they will be expected to dominate, but they also have a Carabao Cup quarter-final against Tottenham, and a difficult trip to Anfield.
If Arsenal can remain unbeaten during this period it will take Emery one step closer to something resembling a successful first season in the job. If not, then the Arsenal board have some big decisions to make heading into the January transfer window.