2018 Arsenal Betting Preview
It must be a strange feeling out there at the Emirates Stadium where Arsene Wenger is no longer near the touchline and it is time for a new dawn to begin.
After more than two decades in charge of the North London club, the Frenchman decided to step down as Arsenal manager at the end of the 2017-18 season.
He left the Gunners as the longest-serving and most successful manager in club history.
Preseason Changes, Squad Depth, and Summer Transfers
On 23 May 2018, Unai Emery was appointed as the new manager of Arsenal. He is only the second non-British manager to manage Arsenal and his predecessor Arsene Wenger was the first one. The 46-year-old Spaniard previously led several domestic clubs like Almeria, Valencia, and Sevilla, as well as two teams abroad – Spartak Moscow and PSG.
Emery's most remarkable accomplishment came in Sevilla, where he achieved an unprecedented three successive UEFA Europa League triumphs in period 2013-2016. It has been followed by a move to the French Paris Saint-Germain where he spent two years and despite winning the league in his second attempt, Unai Emery has failed to carry over his continental success in the French club.
Now, it could be a bumpy road for Unai Emery at the beginning and Arsenal supporters have no option but to trust in the new boss. The first thing to make clear is that for any comparison with Manchester United’s struggle to adapt to life after Sir Alex Ferguson long and fruitful reign, Wenger would have had to leave his successor a title-winning team, rather than a side that failed to win an away league game in 2018 until the final day of the past season. The second is that the man who must revive Arsenal is definitely not the Spanish equivalent of David Moyes.
If the task of Unai Emery looks somehow daunting, it is only because the former boss was well past his glorious peak at Arsenal. And if United’s travails following Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 have exposed a structural weakness, the unfortunate truth is that decay had taken hold at the North London club long before the announcement of Wenger’s departure in April.
How, after all, did it make sense for Arsenal's board to turn a blind eye to Wenger’s twilight years just because United hired Moyes? It was an unthinkable argument, a counterproductive way of thinking and a pure waste of time. As long as the status quo remained in place, there was no way for Arsenal to make real progress in the past few seasons.
Since Wenger’s arrival at North London in October 1996, The Gunners were always among the top four (winning the Premier League three times), except in the last two seasons. First, Arsenal finished fifth and now (last season) sixth, conceding 51 goals, which is their worst defensive record since the 1983-84 season. They have also lost 13 games out of 38 rounds and this was their worst performance under Wenger, which virtually highlighted the decline of his leadership.
All this means that Emery can start with realistic expectations. By finishing sixth, Arsenal missed out on Champions League qualification for the second year in a row and The Gunners will first have to re-establish themselves in the top four before thinking about winning their first league trophy since “The Invincibles” did it in 2004.
The current project at the “Emirates” is of club’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis, with the German Sven Mislintat and the Spaniard Raul Sanllehi placed in charge of recruitment and relations. Gazidis finds himself in a strong position and has found a manager willing to work under his structure.
Arsenal players have had a while to adjust to their new manager and his philosophy so this can be crucial despite the difficult schedule they have at the beginning. Emery arrived in the English capital less than a fortnight after Wenger’s final game, allowing him a whole summer to work with his new team, and it will be interesting to see if the Spaniard is capable of invigorating a squad who have been crying out for more direction.
Unai Emery maybe is not a tactical genius like Pep Guardiola, an inspired personality like Jurgen Klopp or a ruthless winner like Jose Mourinho. Yet, he has won more than Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri and his North London rival Mauricio Pochettino, but even his accomplishment of leading PSG to a domestic treble last season comes with an objection that he lost the title to AS Monaco during his first year in France and failed to leave a mark in the Champions League.
However, the financial advantage of PSG, in this case, has the ability to magnify their setbacks. Perhaps it was the wrong fit for Emery. His reputation as a demanding soccer obsessive might have stopped him from connecting with PSG’s superstars but it has helped him flourish in less stifling environments. The winning experience of achieving three consecutive Europa League titles with Sevilla should prove helpful as Arsenal prepare for another Thursday-Sunday schedule.
Moreover, Arsenal has turned to a manager who will work relentlessly on his players’ weaknesses, which should mostly benefit stagnating youngsters such as Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi, as well as the new ones such as Konstantinos Mavropanos, Matteo Guendouzi, and Lucas Torreira. There will be more intensity and Emery, who seems likely to favor a 4-2-3-1 formation, has spoken about shifting the emphasis from dominating possession to showing remorseless hunger off the ball.
A new Arsenal is gradually starting to take form. There has been no major clear out yet – David Ospina and Calum Chambers have joined Napoli and Fulham, respectively, on season-long loans, Santi Cazorla has returned to his first senior club Villarreal in search of a fresh start and homegrown Jack Wilshere has moved to West Ham after being told his opportunities would be limited at the Emirates – but the tweaks Emery has made so far show where he wants to build on.
The arrival of the experienced Swiss right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free transfer from Italian Juventus should harden a naive side. Arsenal has looked to toughen their soft center with the £17.7 million signing of the Greece defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund and the £26.5m signing of the talented Uruguayan midfielder Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria. Bernd Leno will challenge veteran Petr Cech for the No1 after joining from Bayer Leverkusen for £19.2m, while Matteo Guendouzi, a 19-year-old French midfielder, is one for the future after signing for £7m from Lorient.
Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could possibly form a lethal partnership up front, while Aaron Ramsey offers energy and goals from midfield.
On the other hand, Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are not as consistent as their equivalents elsewhere, Granit Xhaka can be reckless in central midfield, Danny Welbeck often struggles to stay fit, Shkodran Mustafi has toiled at centre-back, Laurent Koscielny is a long-term absentee, and Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal are not so convincing at left-back. There are holes to fill, no doubts, but Unai Emery knows this will take him some time and certain investments by the club.
Betting on Arsenal
We can feel Emery's enthusiasm and how dedicated he is, but we don't believe that Arsenal is ready enough to challenge the other Premier League favorites. The Gunners may experience a transition year and this can cost them another finish out of top four at the end.
Those of you who believe The Gunners have a chance to win the league can take advantage of some massive odds offered by our friends from Bookmaker: +3000. Furthermore, you can also bet on Arsenal to finish in top four, which looks more realistic under these circumstances, as Bookmaker once again offers the best odds on that: +180.
Potential Starting Lineup of Arsenal for the 2018-19 Premier League Season
Petr Cech – Nacho Monreal, Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis, Hector Bellerin – Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey – Alex Iwobi, Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. (4-2-3-1)