I think it’s a very good hire. I loved Arteta as a player, but his experience at Arsenal coincided with the club’s decline, and I was concerned that that might shape, in unfortunate ways, his sense of what is normal at the Emirates. Arteta also strikes me as a calm, even-keeled guy — more like Wenger in that respect than Pep — and I don’t think that’s what this group of players needs. Wenger’s instinct was always to protect his players, to insulate them from the consequences of their poor performances, to soothe and encourage, and in the past few years that was very much the wrong instinct.
A more intense, more disciplined, more tactically rigorous approach is what the Gunners need, and I think Emery will provide that. I had long treasured the hope that Arsenal would be able to prise Diego Simeone away from Atleti, but perhaps that would have been too extreme a contrast. Emery will have the players’ respect, even their fear, but probably won’t have them cowering and quivering in the fetal position under their nicely padded pitchside seats.
Perhaps the safer pair of hands would have been Carlo Ancelotti, and since his signing by Napoli immediately followed news of Emery’s hire, I wonder if Carlo had been holding out in hopes of the Arsenal job. He would definitely have brought order and structure to the side, and improved them immediately, but I suspect that Emery is tactically more ambitious and imaginative, and that the ceiling is higher under him (even if the floor may also be lower).
I’ll wait to make any bold predictions until the transfer window closes, but if every Premier League side brought out the same players for next year, I’d predict a fourth-place finish for Emery’s Gunners.