The former Gunners star believes the Spanish coach enjoyed a positive debut campaign in north London, but admits he has taken on a big challenge
Unai Emery has been “not in a good position”, says Andrey Arshavin, with it difficult for anybody to fill the shoes of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.
Back in the summer of 2018, the Gunners made a first managerial change in 22 years when the baton was passed from an iconic Frenchman to a highly-rated Spaniard, with there a feeling that change was required in north London after a period of regression.
Emery was unable to deliver a return to Champions League competition in his debut campaign, but has been considered to have offered cause for optimism and has since seen Arsenal take in a productive summer transfer window.
The 2019-20 campaign has been opened with back-to-back wins in the Premier League, but Arshavin concedes that the man in charge at Emirates Stadium faces a tough task following in Wenger’s footsteps.
The former Gunners star told Sky Sports: “It’s difficult to replace a guy who managed the team for more than 20 years.
“Unai Emery has been not in a good position I would say.
“But I would say the first year was not bad. He has been building the team and he needs time. I hope he does well.
“I think the realistic target has been to be in the top four because Manchester City and Liverpool are very strong. They are contenders for the title.”
Arsenal will see their top-four credentials given a stern test in their next outing, as they prepare to head to Liverpool on Saturday.
Any visit to Anfield conjures up memories of Arshavin’s most famous outing for the Gunners, with the Russian having netted four times in a thrilling 4-4 draw with the Reds back in April 2009.
He had only arrived from Zenit St Petersburg a few months prior to that outing and was considered to have offered an early indication that he was ready to make a stunning impact in England.
That was never really the case, and Arshavin claims he was not even that great in a memorable performance on Merseyside.
He said: “For me it was a regular game – nothing special. I did not feel anything special before the game.
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“When I came out onto the pitch and was warming up, I thought ‘we will not lose today’. That was the only thing I knew before the game.
“Of course I could not imagine before that game that I would score four goals.
“If you look at the stats, it was my best game. But in terms of playing style, I had some other games that were much better.”