In an interview with Spanish journalist Guillem Balague, Unai Emery spoke about the things that went wrong in the final months of his reign as the Arsenal head coach.
Emery was sacked at the end of November, following a string of poor results which culminated with the 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League. Former Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg took over on a temporary basis, before the club eventually appointed Mikel Arteta.
Emery believes that expected progress had actually been made last season. He pointed out that the team reached the Europa League final and came very close to qualifying for the Champions League even through the Premier League, where he says they were in the running for a top-four spot until a few games before the end of the campaign. In the summer, there was need to consolidate, and a few new players were brought in with that intention.
The former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss revealed that he enjoyed the game which the Gunners drew 5-5 against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup. It was, in his opinion, a game that perfectly exhibited things that were going great – a constant presence of attacking threat, as well as things that still needed a lot of work – a feeble defence.
And then, a few things that were believed to be firmly in place as a foundation of further work, most notably emotional stability – unexpectedly shattered. There arose division inside the team as the front line believed those at the back weren’t doing their job properly (it’s very hard to argue with that, in all honesty), and those at the back didn’t think the attacking players were contributing to the defence on a sufficient level. That led to more defensive woes, and that, Emery admits, was a challenge he hadn’t been able to conquer before his time ran out.