Unai Emery's Arsenal to-do list includes fixing defence, solving Wilshere's future
Unai Emery won't have much time to familiarise himself with his new surroundings in North London after he takes up the job as Arsenal's new head coach.
There is plenty of work to be done as the club move into the post-Arsene Wenger era and try to turn a struggling team back into title contenders. Emery may have to wait a while before he takes up his first training session, but he'll have no shortage of items on his to-do list from Day 1.
Here's a look at the most pressing needs facing the new Arsenal boss:
Sort out the futures of Wilshere/Ramsey
Emery could be handed an instant boost if Jack Wilshere signs a new deal to remain at the club, as expected. It would make for nice PR to have the new manager's first real photo-op be alongside one of the club's most popular players as he penned his contract. Wilshere has said he would wait and see which manager comes in before making up his mind, though there's no reason to think the hiring of Emery would change his mind about staying.
A bigger challenge may be convincing Aaron Ramsey to extend his contract, which is set to expire next summer. Under Arsenal's new structure, that matter will mostly be handled by other people, but Emery will have to make the pitch to Ramsey as to how he'll fit into his side and why he should commit his future to the Emirates. If the Welshman is unwilling to commit, that needs to be made clear as well so the club can get maximum value out of him in the transfer market.
Revamp the squad
With no training sessions to take charge of until after the World Cup, Emery's first weeks at the club will no doubt be dominated by meetings with recruitment chief Sven Mislintat and his director of football relations Raul Sanllehi as they go about revamping Arsenal's squad.
Mislintat has reportedly already identified a few key transfer targets, including Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, but Emery may have his own wish list as well -- although those names have presumably already been discussed during the interview process.
Emery may have a bigger say when it comes to which players the club should get rid of. Ideally, he would be granted the chance to spend some time with the squad on the training ground before deciding which players fit into his system and which won't, but a World Cup summer makes that impossible. Arsenal can't wait until late July/early August to start selling players, especially since their transfer budget will depend largely on how much money they can bring in.
Solve Arsenal's defensive problems
Emery is known for spending countless hours on video analysis, though he won't have to spend too much time watching Arsenal games before figuring out that their defence needs a total makeover. If that makeover doesn't happen in the transfer market, it will be up to Emery to figure out how to improve things by changing the system or improving the players he inherits. One can imagine that every Arsenal defender will be greeted by a long list of video clips of their own mistakes to sit through when they report back for preseason training. That kind of extensive analysis seemed to be lacking under Wenger and perhaps it's exactly what's needed to finally sort out a chronically weak defence that has been holding the Gunners back for years.
Outline individual training plans
Another of Emery's big selling points is his ability to take individual players to the next level, having previously helped the likes of David Silva, Juan Mata and David Villa develop into top stars. At Arsenal there is no shortage of players whose development has stalled and the likes of Hector Bellerin, Alex Iwobi, Granit Xhaka, Rob Holding and Calum Chambers are all badly in need of some individual coaching. If he could get that quintet to fulfil their potential, that alone would justify his hiring. With only seven Arsenal players set to go to the World Cup in Russia, Emery will also have the luxury of starting early with many of those players.
Get familiar with the academy prospects
Arsenal's hierarchy are doubtlessly expecting Emery to continue Wenger's legacy of bringing academy youngsters into the first team and finding internal solutions rather than expensive transfers. There's no shortage of talent to choose from as the club's Under-23s won the Premier League 2 last season and the U18s reached the FA Youth Cup final. But unlike Wenger, Emery probably isn't too familiar with the likes of Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith-Rowe and Josh Dasilva, who would all have expected to feature in at least some cup games next season if the Frenchman had stayed in charge. So a meeting or two with Per Mertesacker, the new academy director, will also be on the agenda.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.