If there was one thing Arsene Wenger seemed able to do with ease for most of his tenure at Arsenal, it was beat newly-promoted sides with a team that were rightly, at times, called, flat-track bullies, so why is Unai Emery having so much trouble?

Unai Emery
Unai Emery

Arsenal have kept only one cleansheet against newly promoted sides in their last 10 games. Seven of those have been under Unai Emery who has yet to see his side keep a cleansheet against teams who should be the easiest pickings in the league.

On Sunday, Aston Villa arrived having conceded six goals in five games before rocking up at Ashburton Grove.

They have been nothing special this season, as reflected in their four points from six games, but Arsenal made them look like peak-Barcelona as they cut through the Gunners’ defence like a knife through three-day-old ice-cream.

That aforementioned one cleansheet came in Arsene Wenger’s last game in charge of Arsenal – the 1-0 win at Huddersfield.

Since then, they’ve not been able to repeat that feat.

Unai Emery’s not-so-magnificent seven:

  • Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 2
  • Wolves 3 Arsenal 1
  • Arsenal 2 Cardiff 1
  • Arsenal 4 Fulham 1
  • Arsenal 1 Wolves 1
  • Fulham 1 Arsenal 5
  • Cardiff 2 Arsenal 3

As you can see from that list, it isn’t costing Arsenal too many points – only Wolves left with something (four out of a possible six points is quite the ‘something’) – but that is most likely down to the fact these are newly promoted teams. Arsenal should be winning comfortably, whether home or away, more often than not.

But only two of these seven games could be described as ‘comfortable’ – both against Fulham.

Cardiff pushed Arsenal close.

Wolves pushed Arsenal off a cliff.

Aston Villa pushed Arsenal all the way on Sunday. At the Emirates.

Emery can hail the spirit of his team to come back from 2-1 down with only 10 men, but, as with under Wenger when he hailed comebacks that happened with alarming regularity, would it not be a better sign of spirit to avoid getting into that state in the first place?