The Pressure Gauge: Can Arsenal avoid another false start?

Getty Images
Last weekend's curtain-raiser against Manchester City proved a baptism of fire for the Gunners manager and Chelsea will pose another major test

They needed a change like few others in the Premier League. After more than two decades under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal had been firing blanks for too long.

Unai Emery was handed the reigns this summer, tasked with initiating a complete overhaul on the field and optimism was high for the Premier League curtain-raiser last weekend.

But while the Gunners' opening day defeat to Manchester City suggested there is a new dawn breaking on the red side of north London, it also brought more of the same.

It was a baptism of fire for the new man as Arsenal went out with a whimper. So too did the fans who once again made early exits. Their pressing game was too often bypassed and their precarious attempts to pass out from the back too often fruitless.

This weekend they return to action against a side hoping to employ many of the same characteristics on display by Pep Guardiola's rampant reigning champions, as Emery leads his charges against a Chelsea side navigating the embryonic fellow newcomer in Maurizio Sarri.

The good news for Arsenal is that Chelsea, too, are a team in transition, a side attempting to navigate the embryonic stages of their ‘Sarri-fication’.

Sure Pressure 17082018

But Stamford Bridge has rarely proved a fertile hunting ground for the Gunners. Chelsea have won five of their last six home league games against Arsenal, who have failed to score in four of their last five Premier League visits to Stamford Bridge.

Maurizio Sarri lost just four of his 57 home league games (W43 D10 L4) as Napoli coach and is odds on to begin his Chelsea tenure in the same vein.

A 3-0 opening day victory over Huddersfield was the perfect start for the Italian and now the pressure is on Emery as he seeks to avoid becoming the first Arsenal manager to lose their first two matches in charge was Steve Burtenshaw, who lost his first three in charge as caretaker in March/April 1986.

Will Emery stick or twist? Arsenal, at times, pressed effectively against City, notably in forcing an error that should have punished by Mesut Ozil.

Chelsea, too, will look to pass out from the back and press high. Will Arsenal be proactive once again, or instead curb their enthusiasm and look to utilise Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the counter – the Gabon striker is now just one away from his 150th in the Big Five European leagues.

Emery couldn't have been handed a more difficult start, but kicking off the campaign with defeats in their first two games of the season for the first time since 1992-93 (vs Norwich and Blackburn) certainly isn’t the sort of change Arsenal were looking for.

The stakes are high. The pressure is on.

The Goal Pressure Index is presented by Sure, Official Partner of Chelsea FC, Everton FC and Manchester City FC. Join the conversation on Twitter @Sure.

Close