So many comparisons were made between the situation Manchester United found themselves in following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and the one Arsenal were about to enter in the post-Arsene Wenger age that such parallels were drawn in cliché.
David Moyes’ name was uttered more than a few times.
Both clubs faced the challenge of moving on from a figure who had shaped everything around them and both clubs experienced the difficulties that come with such a task.
The comparisons between Arsenal and Man Utd have grown even stronger in recent times, with the Gunners winning just one of their last eight Premier League fixtures.
Arsenal’s drop off hasn’t been as drastic as United’s was under Moyes, but then they didn’t have as far to fall. Unai Emery, however, is increasingly starting to look and sound like Moyes did in his final days at Old Trafford.
The clearest mark of this came after Arsenal’s disappointing home draw with Wolves on Saturday.
“It’s a bad result, but tactically it worked how we wanted,” the Spaniard insisted having just watched his team struggle against an opponent they should have swept aside comfortably.
“It was an equal match and maybe we deserved more. It’s disappointing. I think the players tried and we scored the first goal, but we needed a second for more confidence. I am frustrated because we are dropping points at home like we did last year.”
That Emery was able to see any positives in such a dreadful performance was baffling.
At first, his unrelenting positivity was refreshing. It gave the impression of a man with steadfast faith in his vision. Now, however, it hints at someone who never had a vision and is applying his own PR spin to mask this.
Moyes did something similar as Man Utd manager.
The Scot very rarely took responsibility for the turgid and uninspired performances served up by his team on a near-weekly basis. Instead, he chose to use rivals like Manchester City, and even Newcastle United, as examples to follow, a level to aspire to.
Ultimately, Moyes’ words became as big a reason for his sacking as the poor results he achieved.
He was quite clearly ill-equipped as a coach and a character to succeed at Old Trafford and Emery is now in a similar realm. Minds have already been made up about the Arsenal manager and he cannot talk himself out of trouble, only into more.
Emery has now entered the sort of spiral few coaches manage to escape from, although recent reports claim Arsenal are reluctant to go through a series of managers like Man Utd have in recent years, once again reinforcing the line of correlation that links the Gunners with the Old Trafford club.
While United’s appointment of Moyes was undoubtedly a mistake, they would have accentuated that further by sticking him for any longer than they did.
It’s understandable, and probably wise, that Arsenal remain determined to avoid following the same path as Man Utd, but in Emery, they have their very own Moyes and they might have no choice but to underline that likeness by sacking him.
Almost everything Emery says and does perplexes.
Strange tactics, unfamiliar formations, baffling substitutions… the Spaniard frequently owes a post-match explanation for his decisions, not that any sort of satisfactory reasoning is forthcoming.
In fact, Emery often confuses further through his post-match comments.
One can only wonder if Arsenal’s players are any clearer on Emery’s ideas and intentions in the dressing room. Initially, the Spaniard’s loose grasp of English appeared to be a factor, but there’s more to his struggles as a communicator than a language barrier.
Emery may claim his team are enacting his tactics well, but the failure to show his working tell a different story.