Unai Emery paid the price for Arsenal's stuttering form on Friday but his dismissal alone will not fix the club's problems.

The Gunners are in danger of finishing outside the top four for a fourth consecutive season, with the gap already eight points.

Emery himself had matters to address when he succeeded Arsene Wenger in May 2018, though it appears he made little headway on that front.

READ : Unai Emery sacked as Arsenal head coach

Whoever follows in the Spaniard's footsteps must act with more haste to deal with a growing list of concerns that are holding back a club once seen as perennial Premier League title challengers.

Here we take a look at the most pressing areas to focus on for whoever takes the helm at the Emirates Stadium.


The Gunners once boasted perhaps the most well-drilled back-line in English football, but the same cannot be said of the current crop.

What is clear, however, is that Arsenal's defensive issues – a phrase that somewhat undersells the extent of their troubles – extend beyond the defence itself.

Emery's Arsenal lacked shape, discipline, awareness and, it must be said, desire. Players often seemed lost, while opponents found and exploited space with ease.

And it was not just without the ball that Arsenal's defensive frailties were exposed, as on numerous occasions its attempts to play out from the back were thwarted by a loose touch or stray pass. 

With just 10 clean sheets in 51 top-flight matches under Emery, the next incumbent must devise a system to reverse that alarming trend.


Emery had nine different captains. Nine . By any reckoning that is too many and it speaks to the general lack of cohesion under his reign.

It developed into such a farce that in what proved to be Emery's final game in charge at home to Eintracht Frankfurt, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang appeared to forget he was captain and did not present himself for the pre-match coin toss until prompted by officials.

The new guy has to show his decisiveness by picking a captain and sticking with him.

It may be the perfect time to wipe the slate clean with Granit Xhaka and give him the armband, or maybe the apparently forgetful Aubameyang would prove a more popular choice.

Either way, make a choice.


Despite its struggles, Arsenal boast players who many of their Premier League rivals would dearly love to have on their books.

Chief among them is Aubameyang, who has proven a reliable source of goals since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in January last year.

Such exploits, allied with Arsenal's relative under-performance, have put him firmly on the radar of potential suitors.

With reports circulating that Aubameyang is stalling on contract talks in London, assuaging his concerns must sit high on the to-do list of Arsenal's next manager.

Keeping the Gabon international on board might also provide a boost for other flagging stars, like Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil.


Speaking of top talent, the case of Nicolas Pepe is a curious one that needs solving fast.

He surpassed Aubameyang as Arsenal's most expensive signing when he joined from Lille in August, but has failed to fire so far.

With one league goal to his name, the full value of what Pepe has to offer has not come close to being realised.

But if that potential can be unlocked, Arsenal will have another tremendous goalscoring threat at its disposal.

A Pepe pep talk should be among the first duties of the Gunners' incoming boss.


The frustration among Arsenal's fan base has long been felt, preceding even the arrival of Emery.

For a while under Wenger there was a widespread perception the club lacked ambition and direction, with few signs of positive change to cling to.

The incident with Xhaka – reacting with disgust to jeers from the stands and consequently being frozen out until Thursday's Europa League loss – marked a low point in the relationship between the fans and their team.

Ultimately, results will be speak loudest in making a connection with the faithful, but a manager who can take on the burden of their anger and work towards appeasing it will be well received in the north of the capital.

He must also be able to manage upwards, knowing much of the unrest among supporters relates to the way the club is run at boardroom level.