It could be fair to say that Arsenal have not had the transfer window they had planned: just the one signing in so far, accrued very little by way of player sales – and their captain refusing to join the squad on their pre-season tour.
The measure of the fallout from Laurent Koscielny’s shock self-omission from the first-team squad on Thursday remains to be seen, though while that episode may fall outside of Unai Emery’s control, to be in this position so late in the transfer window suggests the manager trusts the process his Arsenal side are undergoing.
And with the team not looking too different from a personnel point of view, the signs of progress are likely to be found within the tactical elements of Arsenal’s play – which can be the only area in which to improve the Arsenal squad for Emery and the coaching staff, having only brought in Gabriel Martinelli from Brazil.
Luckily for Arsenal, they have a manager that has a fine history in his second seasons at clubs – pointing towards a big improvement next year at The Emirates regardless of who they manage to bring in.
At his previous spells with Valencia, Sevilla and PSG, Emery has demonstrated a drastic improvement after getting to grips within his first season at those clubs.
He guided Valencia to a third-place finish in his second Mestalla campaign after previously finishing sixth, a disappointing ninth-place finish in 2012/13 with Sevilla saw them rise to fifth a year later, while he delivered the title in his second term at PSG – even if he was surprisingly beaten to the Ligue 1 crown the previous year by Monaco in 2017.
Should the omen continue for The Gunners, Champions League football will be assured – though given Arsenal’s collapse at the end of the campaign last year, the notion that the team are getting better under Emery may need some more convincing in the opening weeks.
But there are similarities between the Premier League and La Liga which may give Emery a familiar environment in which to work his magic again – with Manchester City and Liverpool dominating the way Barcelona and Real Madrid have often done in Spain, competing with the rest of the league has seen Emery find a rhythm during his time in his home country, by ending his Valencia tenure with three consecutive third-place finishes, and leaving Sevilla with a hat-trick of Europa League crowns.
So if history is to repeat itself, this season could signify the start of Emery’s legacy finally forming at Arsenal.