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Wenger in disguise? Ruthless Emery the right man for Arsenal despite dire start

21:53 EAT 18/08/2018
Unai Emery Arsenal 2018-19
The Gunners need to cut out their naive defensive mistakes but they still look to be on the right path under their new Spanish manager

One substitution at half-time, another mid-way through the second half. They may seem like small margins but the early decisions being made by Unai Emery in his Arsenal career exemplify the reason why he was brought in by chief executive Ivan Gazidis this summer.

Despite a second consecutive Premier League defeat, this time at the hands of Chelsea, the Spaniard's side showed glimpses of the attacking quality and bravery which will almost certainly increase as the rest of the season goes on.

Arsenal scored more goals in the first half against Chelsea than in their last six league visits to Stamford Bridge, with Henrikh MKhitaryan and Alex Iwobi cancelling out the quickfire openers from Pedro and Alvaro Morata.

It could have been different for the Gunners if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Iwobi buried clear cut chances in the box, only to sky their efforts over the bar. The clinical nature of Arsenal’s game will be questioned after those haunting misses but so should the ease at which Chelsea penetrated the Arsenal backline.

Put quite simply: Arsenal proved their own worst enemy, as the game's winning goal underlined.

Substitute Alexandre Lacazette gave the ball away in his own half and was punished by Eden Hazard, who found Marcos Alonso – and the Spaniard made no mistake with his finish in between the legs of Petr Cech.

However, the game could have been out of sight for Arsenal if they had taken their aforementioned chances in the first half.

Emery’s decision to replace Granit Xhaka with summer signing Lucas Torreira showed the new manager is not afraid to make decisions which could easily cause players to react angrily, with Mesut Ozil also hauled off during the second half and replaced by Aaron Ramey.

The 19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi was once again given a start and once again impressed at the heart of Arsenal's midfield. The PSG product made a crucial second-half tackle on Hazard which will probably be a career highlight for a player who was starting in the French second division last season.

There are still negative traits in this Arsenal team which will take a while to worm out. Defensive naivety is certainly one of those but it is clear that the Gunners are a work in progress and continue to improve as each match goes on.

The Chelsea fans began chanting "Are you Wenger in disguise?" while their side were 2-0 up during the first half but "Unai Emery’s red and white army" was the response from the Arsenal end, which, happily, suggests that they are firmly behind their new boss.

And that is hardly surprising: Emery’s bold decision-making typifies Arsenal’s post-Arsene Wenger personality.

Behind the scenes, the players are happier and, on the pitch, progress is being made.

Back-to-back defeats represents Arsenal's worst league start since 1992 but it has to be put into context. The results have not been positive but the performances certainly have been.

It will take time but this Arsenal side can only get better – and the determined Emery won’t stop until that work is complete.