Unai Emery has brought with him many changes since he was drafted in to herald in the post- Wenger era.
Many of them were not his choice. Backroom staff such as Raul Sanllehi were brought in slightly beforehand but are very much part of the new dynasty that Emery is meant to hone into success.
Others are very much stamped with the Spaniard’s touch. Matteo Guendouzi is part of the new breed for Arsenal, but some of the existing players have transitioned to the new methods far better than others too.
One of those is Sead Kolasinac.
The burly Bosnian has been the stampeding horse on our left hand side, so often providing the outlet our play needs when we are stemmed in the final third. Kolasinac has also been perfectly placed for Emery’s experiments with the wing-back system – five technically at the back, with the left and right backs flying forward to also provide the width sorely needed by our team.
It requires excellent stamina and the decision making that allows the player to gauge when to fly forward and when to sit back.
The stamina has never been in question, but the ability to judge when to assist his attacking brethren is sometimes lacking.
On more than one occasion we have seen a gaping maw on our left hand side that has been vacated by yet another Kolasinac rampage. The truth is though, that unless we have a full-back that is of the ilk of Bixente Lizarazu, Maldini and our legends of Dixon and Winterburn, we will never truly eradicate ourselves of that occasional weakness on the flank.
Mistakes will be made, no player is infallible. Kolasinac though, has at the very least, truly optimised his exertions in the final third.
His unstoppable runs to the byline have seen him create more chances this season than any other Arsenal player. That is quite some feat with the creative talents on show at the club. The next best player in terms of opportunities made?
Another vilified player in Alex Iwobi.
Both have combined well and offered something different. True, both have their failings, but they are at least justifying their spots in the side.Iwobi is enjoying his best ever season in terms of return – at the time of writing he has four goals and six assists – yet both do not enjoy the favouritism that some players enjoy. The adulation never quite reaches them, but take them away and what do we have?
A team completely devoid of thrust, instead choosing to pass sideways. Like it or not, our left side has been predominant in terms of where our goals come from.
Kolasinac especially, has done himself proud whenever he has donned the shirt this season. Compare this to last season when he was very much a fringe player, lurking in the shadows created by the reliable Nacho Monreal.
This campaign has seen the player that terrorised the Bundesliga come to roost at the Premiership, and we are benefitting from it. The Bosnian is one of our dangermen – and we should recognise how good he has been, rather than choose to focus on the one mistake he makes every two or three games – which is far fewer than most.
Kolasinac has been fantastic, and long may it continue.