It may be a new era at the Emirates, but are Arsenal about to revert to type and see their season fall apart before the clocks change?
A chastening 3-1 defeat to Rennes in the Europa League leaves them with a mountain to climb next week if they are to progress to the quarter finals next week.
And on Sunday they host a resurgent Manchester United in the Premier League, knowing that a defeat could leave them sixth in the table, behind both United and Chelsea.
The loss to Rennes “not just a defeat for Arsenal, it was a disintegration”, says Paul Doyle in The Guardian.
But Rennes playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa, who feuded with Gunners boss Unai Emery at Paris Saint-Germain, enjoyed the game, “I did see the same Emery, as agitated as ever,” he said. “I looked over at him a few times and that made me laugh a little. He hasn’t changed.”
But Doyle says the manager had every reason to be fretful as the Gunners, reduced to ten men when Sokratis was sent off in the first half, were “timid and sloppy” in throwing away an early lead. And it does not bode well for the rest of the campaign.
Former player Martin Keown was unimpressed, reports MailOnline, and he told BT Sport: “It was a total disappointment. Arsenal were ill-disciplined and it’s cost them. There were several decisions for the manager to make and he got them all wrong really.
“The ill-discipline seems to be creeping into the team and it needs to be sorted. It’s costing them at the moment.”
Alan Smith was equally concerned ahead of the weekend clash with United. “It turned into a filthy night for Unai Emery’s side when it should have been about developing a structure and consistency to Arsenal’s play ahead of this match against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s heroes,” he writes in the Evening Standard.
“The confidence Henrikh Mkhitaryan built in recent games has been possibly damaged by a difficult night at right-back. In addition, an unhappy-looking Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ended up on the bench after a sub-standard display. When he looks glum, you know it hasn’t gone well.”
To make matters worse Arsenal will be without Lucas Torreira on Sunday after his red card against Spurs, while United welcome back Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba.
However, there is some good news for Gunners fans after it was confirmed that Monchi would be leaving Roma. The Daily Mirror says the Spaniard is now expected to team up with Emery at the Emirates and take over as director of football.
“The duo have a good relationship after a profitable spell working together at Sevilla, in which the Gunners boss led the Spanish side to three successive Europa League crowns,” says the paper.