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Arsenal season preview: Best bets as Unai Emery looks to guide Gunners into top four

Unai Emery has got a free hit at Arsenal in the first post-Wenger season
Unai Emery has got a free hit at Arsenal in the first post-Wenger season

Unai Emery has a free hit as he takes over from Arsene Wenger and there's enough to suggest the Gunners could sneak back into the top four.

The first season 'post-Wexit' was always going to be a strange old situation at the Emirates, but on the face of it they've employed the right man for the job, and he could just make an immediate impact.

Emery is an organiser and, with the attacking talent they have available at Arsenal, just a touch more stability and functionality about their defending can see them make up a lot of that lost ground on the top four.

There's no doubting Arsene Wenger's place in Arsenal history, but there's also little doubt that the team took a nosedive during his elongated farewell tour - now that question is out of the way the club, and their fans can focus on supporting the team on the pitch.

A generation of supporters have known nothing other than Arsene Wenger leading the Gunners, a figurehead who wanted - and for plenty of years held - near-autonomy over the north London club.

His 22-year tenure delivered three league titles and seven FA Cup wins but he became a hugely divisive figure in the stands and an added unity among fans and players can only help in the rebirth of Arsenal as serious challengers.

An ever-growing swell of vocal fans got what they wanted.

But he was not simply replaced at the helm. Unai Emery is the new man in charge, but will be working in a different role, having been appointed as head coach in May.

He has a support team around him - chief executive Ivan Gazidis, head of football relations Raul Sanllehi and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat - allowing him to focus on concocting a winning formula on the training ground.


Arsenal season specials (Sky Bet odds)

  • 18/1 - To win first three Premier League games
  • 9/2- Aubameyang & Lacazette both score 20+ Premier League goals
  • 12/1 - Aubameyang top scorer & Arsenal top four finish
  • 9/1 - Top four finish + Chelsea & Spurs finish outside top four

Click here to the full range of Arsenal RequestABets from Sky Bet


Emery will demand hard work ethic

Unai Emery is the new Arsenal boss
Unai Emery can get Arsenal back into shape as Premier League contenders

Emery, 46, has brought with him his team of trusted lieutenants and, while some faces from the previous regime - the likes of assistant Steve Bould and director of high performance Darren Burgess - remain in place, the Spaniard is moving things in his direction.

"They are working very hard," Emery, a man renowned for demanding plenty of energy from his players, said of his squad the first two weeks of pre-season.

"They are working with the ambition that I want. I think the quality is high here, and I think together we will work with this quality and the details in the tactics.

"They will go with my ideas and work with my ideas every day, and this will help them to do these things on the pitch."


Premier League season previews


Asked to discuss his tactical approach, Emery's opening gambit was simple: "I want to win."

He then offered up more details on what he will expect from his players: "The performances, every day, for work on attacking, defending, is to be competitive each match.

"For me, the most important thing is to create one competitive team. And then, we have the quality."

There has been a relative overhaul of the squad which will be asked to carry out such instruction, with transfers completed quickly and efficiently once targets had been identified.

It appears areas of weakness highlighted by many over the last two years have been addressed.

Emery strengthens Arsenal spine

Arsenal have signed goalkeeper Bernd Leno
Arsenal have signed goalkeeper Bernd Leno

Goalkeeper Bernd Leno will challenge Petr Cech for the gloves, experienced defenders Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sokratis Papastathopoulos have been added to a questionable back line, and the midfield guile of stand-out signing Lucas Torreira signals the intent of the club moving forward.

Unlike when David Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson after he ended his 26 years at Manchester United by winning the title in 2013, there is minimal pressure on Emery to follow suit.

A distant sixth place was Arsenal's final finishing position under Wenger and any improvement on that, given the quality of rival clubs fighting at the top end of the league, will be well received.


Premier League Golden Boot (Sky Bet odds)

  • 5/1 - Mohamed Salah
  • 6/1 - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
  • 20/1 - Alexandre Lacazette

There is no doubting that the fixture computer has found a way to give Emery a baptism of fire.

Runaway champions Manchester City visit the Emirates Stadium on the opening weekend of the season before a tough London derby across town at Chelsea.

It is feasible that Arsenal may be left with no points from their two first games under the former Paris St Germain coach but, if Emery's team can hit the ground running, a 22-year-old question may be asked once again: "Arsene, who?"

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Most Read Football

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package1

Premier League 3pm previews

Mark your card for Saturday's 3pm kick-offs in the Premier League with the best bets, Super 6 predictions and top stats for each game.

You can back the Sporting Life Accumulator at 75/1 on Saturday2

Sporting Life Accumulator

Following another win last weekend, we have a four-fold accumulator in the EFL enhanced to a huge 75/1 by title sponsors Sky Bet.

Check out today's Paper Talk3

Friday's Paper Talk

Speculation is rife that Bayern Munich could appoint Arsene Wenger as their new manager - get all the back-page gossip from today's newspapers.

Chelsea v Man United: Sporting Life's match preview4

Five losses in a row at the Bridge?

Jose Mourinho has lost four matches in a row at Stamford Bridge as Manchester United boss. Will the Blues pile on the misery for the Red Devils?

Saturday's best bets5

Saturday's Bets of the Day

Our experts provide their best bets for Saturday's top-class racing, domestic football and the United States Grand Prix.

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Chelsea v Man United: Sporting Life's match preview

Five losses in a row at the Bridge?

Jose Mourinho has lost four matches in a row at Stamford Bridge as Manchester United boss. Will the Blues pile on the misery for the Red Devils?

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Back corners at Hillsborough

The weekend's football kicks off at Hillsborough as Sheffield Wednesday take on Middlesbrough. We've found an 11/5 best bet.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package

Premier League 3pm previews

Mark your card for Saturday's 3pm kick-offs in the Premier League with the best bets, Super 6 predictions and top stats for each game.