Two London clubs Arsenal and West Ham were in similarly disappointing situations after a torrid start to their manager’s second seasons. Hired in the summer of 2018, Arsenal’s Unai Emery and West Ham’s Manuel Pellegrini enjoyed decent initial seasons, but failed to duplicate the success to start the second. Emery’s time at Arsenal finished after 78 games in charge, with a point average of 1.85 on November 29 and West Ham’s Pellegrini followed suit about a month later on December 28th, after 64 games in charge with a point average of 1.30.
While of course Arsenal had higher hopes for the season, still being featured in the so called top six of the Premier League with Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester United. Emery failed to deliver and was stuck with unhappy players and tactics not sticking. At West Ham, the expectations were as high as ever after a positive previous season and acquisitions during the summer, but despite decent results to start with, Pellegrini suffered too many narrow losses in games Hammers should’ve won comfortably. Both teams were in dire need of change of pace and both ended up appointing a familiar face.
Arsenal had already showed interest in former player Mikel Arteta before ending up with Emery. Arteta had learnt his ropes as an assistant to Pep Guardiola and was now ready to return to Arsenal. His influence has shown instantly. While Arsenal were previously lackluster and even lazy on the pitch, Arteta’s first games in charge against Bournemouth and Chelsea showed the players put in an effort unlike any time this season. While the result was lacking, the jackpot came already in the third fixture, as Arsenal beat Manchester United 2-0 and restored at least a glimpse of hope of making it back into the chase for continental qualification. It was their second win in 13 EPL games.
At West Ham, the issues were never in effort as much as the structure of the squad on the pitch and – at least to some degree – the confidence of the players. While Pellegrini might’ve been tactically sound and fitting in theory, he couldn’t get the best out of his more or less limited roster. Which is, of course, exactly what David Moyes is best at. Moyes’ first game in reins, against Bournemouth at home, saw West Ham squad full of smiles, despite playing very basic football. They took only their 3rd win in 14 EPL games by a convincing 4-0 trashing of their current relegation rivals Bournemouth and pushed them down to the danger zone.
While it’s too early to judge the new manager’s performances compared to the previous ones, it’s easy to see what impact both, Arteta and Moyes have had in their teams. Will it be enough in the long run, remains to be seen.