International Champions Cup Singapore

Football: New Arsenal boss Unai Emery has what it takes to succeed, says former Gunner Ray Parlour

An Arsenal fan gets a photograph with Gunners manager Unai Emery after the team arrived in Singapore for the ICC yesterday.
An Arsenal fan gets a photograph with Gunners manager Unai Emery after the team arrived in Singapore for the ICC yesterday.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

Former Gunner Parlour backs new Arsenal boss to deliver; big season for Aubameyang

Managing a star-studded squad like Paris Saint-Germain's is no easy feat, so if Unai Emery can control the multi-million dollar egos of Neymar and Co, he should have no problems settling down in his new role as Arsenal manager.

Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour is confident that the 46-year-old Spaniard, who coached LaLiga side Sevilla from 2013-16 and PSG from 2016-18, has the pedigree to fill the hotseat vacated by Arsene Wenger, who left the club after almost 22 years.

"At Sevilla, Unai won the Europa League three times in a row and, at PSG, there are big characters so it shows that he can deal with the players," Parlour, 45, told a media session yesterday.

"It's going to be a tough start for him, with Arsenal facing Manchester City and Chelsea in their first two Premier League games of the new season, but I'm sure he is looking forward to it."

Emery and his squad of 25 arrived in Singapore yesterday morning and checked into the Shangri-La Hotel, where they will be based for the International Champions Cup (ICC) - a pre-season tourney featuring LaLiga giants Atletico Madrid and Emery's former side PSG.

Arsenal play Atletico on Thursday at the National Stadium - a repeat of last season's Europa League semi-final which Atletico won 2-1 over two legs before going on to lift the trophy - and take on PSG on Saturday.

HE'S GOT WHAT IT TAKES

At Sevilla, Unai won the Europa League three times in a row and, at PSG, there are big characters so it shows that he can deal with the players.

RAY PARLOUR, former Arsenal midfielder.

Arsenal have signed five players so far in the off season - goalkeeper Bernd Leno, defenders Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Stephan Lichtsteiner, and midfielders Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi.

Swiss Lichtsteiner and Uruguayan Torreira did not make the trip to Singapore due to their World Cup exertions.

Parlour, here in Singapore as an ambassador for Arsenal, thinks the north London club have done good business.

"Emery has gone for experience in this transfer window," said Parlour, who played 339 times for the Gunners from 1992-2004.

"Sokratis knows the former Dortmund players (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan) in the team well.

"Lichtsteiner can be the leader we have been lacking in the past few seasons. Torreira looks like a lively player, energetic and mobile - the sort of player you need in midfield."

Asked if the Gunners needed further reinforcements, Parlour added: "I don't know about any more signings but, I'm sure if players come available, we will be in the market for them."

The Singapore trip will also be a good chance for young players such as Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah to impress the new boss.

"We got good, technically gifted players in several positions. I'm interested to see which youngster will break into the squad," said Parlour.

Arsenal, who last won the English Premier League title in the 2003-04 season, missed out on Champions League qualification last term after finishing sixth.

Asked if Emery can lead the Gunners back to the glory days, Parlour said: "The target has got to be Champions League football, trophies are important as well.

"The ideal scenario would be to win the Europa League and get into the Champions League.

"It will be a tough start to the season against City, even though they have a lot more players missing due to the World Cup.

"But we will have a chance with a great atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium and, hopefully, the players will respond to that."

Parlour is expecting a big season from Gabon striker Aubameyang, who joined the Gunners from Dortmund in January and scored 10 goals in 13 EPL appearances.

"I'm feeling excited for Aubameyang, this is his first full season and he showed signs last year that he can be a deadly striker," said Parlour.

"He can contend with Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) and Harry Kane (Tottenham) for the Golden Boot."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2018, with the headline 'Emery has every chance of glory'. Print Edition | Subscribe