Unai Emery insists that Arsenal were ‘in decline’ under Arsene Wenger towards the latter stages of the Frenchman’s 22-year tenure in the club’s technical area, and the innovative Spaniard has vowed to make the Gunners a more formidable force under his calculative supervision.
Having shepherded the north-Londoners to twenty consecutive top four finishes since taking the reins in 1996, Wenger failed to obtain Champions League football during his last two seasons of his illustrious career in the capital.
‘Le Prof’s’ Arsenal were revered for their incisive, captivating approach on the pitch, a philosophy that possessed a systematically potent offensive armoury.
Defensively, however, frailties emerged in Wenger’s rearguard and were often exploited by elite opposition, a collective fragility that subsequently diminished Arsenal’s fear factor in the 69-year-old’s closing years.
Speaking to Spanish outlet Marca, Emery revealed: “I met once with [Wenger], and little else. I respect him a lot, but no matter how much info he gave me, I had to change things,
“I told the players: ‘We started at kilometre zero’. Even now, four months later, I still say it: ‘We are in the beginning!’.
“Before Wenger arrived, Arsenal celebrated the 1-0 (win) and was based on defensive solidity. Then with Arsene, joy was turned into attack, with players of good standing, and the perfect combination was ‘The Invincibles’,
“But over time, only technical quality and offensive freedom were taken care of, and the team lost the defensive structure.
“What I want is to unite both essences and be more competitive. The Arsenal was in decline. We had to stop it and start climbing.”
Following the November international break, Arsenal return to domestic matters against Eddie Howe’s AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Arsenal have drawn their last three Premier League meetings, so Emery, alongside the club’s ardent supporters, will expect to return home from the south coast with three points in their clutches.