Nwankwo Kanu has bucked the trend of Arsenal legends talking about Unai Emery, with a surprisingly fair assessment of the Spaniard’s start at the club.
Former Arsenal players didn’t wait long to start tearing into the new coach after the season began.
After defeat to Premier League champions Manchester City, Tony Adams asked what Emery had been doing for 8 weeks, Jens Lehmann said he expected more from the team, and Paul Merson questioned the players’ mentalities. They were hardly the only ex-players to make comments like those either.
Kanu has taken a more measured view on what’s happened so far though.
“So far, so good. We’ve played four games – won two, lost two,” he said. “When you look at the game against Chelsea, it was supposed to be a game that we’re not talking about negatively but it’s good that it happens early.
“It’s only four games but the team is gelling. And when you’ve got a new coach, the players are always like ‘I’ve have to do this, have to do that’. They want to satisfy the coach and make him see the truth.
“Sometimes it’s difficult – you have to just relax and enjoy your football. Whoever is good is good in the eyes of the coach.”
The opening two matches of the season were always games that Arsenal were liable to lose. Playing your first competitive games against the league champions and the FA Cup champions is never easy.
The important thing was that Unai Emery’s side then started to put some wins together afterwards. The West Ham win was crucial to get the ball rolling, and the Cardiff game was just as important to put Arsenal’s 2018 away record behind them.
Keep winning the ‘smaller’ games and you’ll have a chance at a top four finish. Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham have already dropped points to Brighton, Wolves and Watford respectively. If Arsenal can avoid the same mistakes, the bigger matches won’t be as season-defining.