Emery transfer decision proved right as Arteta reaps rewards with Arsenal

There were few tears shed when Arsenal finally pulled the trigger and ended Unai Emery’s tenure at The Emirates.

In just his second season in the Gunners dugout, shocking results and even worse performances meant it was inevitable the Spaniard’s time in north London would go down as a failure.

Emery’s final game as Arsenal manager was an abject defeat at home to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.

It was the straw that broke the camel’s back behind the scenes, after a run of seven matches without a win.

Unai Emery’s final game in charge was a defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in November 2019

Mike Arteta was the man drafted in as the knight in shining armour, hoping to bring the good times back, with the club at it’s lowest ebb in a generation.

The FA Cup and Community Shield victories certainly brought the feel-good factor back, but as has been the case since the ‘Invincibles’ season in 2003/04, it looked to be another false dawn.

Going into the Boxing Day clash with Chelsea, Arteta had overseen the club’s worst start to a top-flight in 46 years, with speculation about his future intense.

But a week is a long time in football.

Arsenal’s youngsters provided the springboard for a hugely encouraging win at West Brom

A win over their London rivals, followed by victories against Brighton and West Brom, and the mood around Colney appears chalk and cheese to the one before Christmas.

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At the heart of their revival has been Arteta’s willingness to trust in youth. Watching the win at The Hawthorns, Arsenal finally looked to have their swagger back.

And the keys behind their performance. all had more than a couple of Emery’s fingerprints over them.

Bukayo Saka is the talisman of Arteta’s squad. From the off against the woeful Baggies, the England international took the game by the scruff of its neck and was relentless throughout.

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND – APRIL 23: Arsenal Head Coach Unai Emery shakes hands with Buyako Saka before a training session at London Colney on April 23, 2019 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

His rise under Arteta has been meteoric, but it was Emery that first turned to the winger, handing him his full debut, his first Premier League start and giving him a chance at Old Trafford when few outside of the club had heard of him.

Emile Smith Rowe, the man dubbed the ‘Croydon de Bruyne’, who in three matches has seemingly ended the Mesut Ozil saga, was at his delightful best against West Brom. Rarely misplacing a pass, while moving with the kind of fluidity that made Ozil what he is.

One of Emery’s first decisions as Arsenal boss was to tie the Hale End graduate to a new contract, before putting him into the XI and arranging a loan move to RB Leipzig in January 2019.

At the time, the ex-Gunners boss said: “This move will get him valuable competitive action which is important as he continues his development.”

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Where will Arsenal finish in the Premier League this season? Have your say here.

Unai Emery was a huge fan of Emile Smith Rowe, during his time at Arsenal

Two years later, that looks another masterstroke, with Smith Rowe looking every bit the kind of player that was worth investing so much time in.

Even away from youngsters, Emery sanctioned moves for Kieran Tierney and Gabriel Martinelli, two more players that now appear central to the Arteta revolution.

While Emery is now enjoying successes with Villarreal, Arteta is able to enjoy the fruits of his labour during his time in England.

His legacy at the Emirates could prove to go far beyond his win/loss record during his 18-months at the club.

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