Nwankwo Kanu believes it will take “a miracle” for Arsenal to win this season’s Premier League – but that in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang they have a striker capable of delivering that miracle.
Unai Emery’s first competitive match as manager comes against reigning champions Manchester City on August 12, and in his first season in England he will be expected to lead his new team back into the Champions League.
Arsenal last won the title shortly before Kanu left the club in 2004, since when they have struggled to consistently challenge.
Where there was once an expectation they would compete for major honours the retired striker would consider a top-three finish and a trophy a successful first season for Emery.
He is also already encouraged by the way the Spaniard has begun to organise what had been such an inconsistent defence.
“We have to give him time for him to bring his own style and the way he wants to play,” the 42-year-old said.
“It takes time for the newcomers, the new signings, to adapt, but if it happens and they win the league it’s a miracle – I wish that would happen.
“The only thing the fans want is for them to win the league.
“For the new manager it’s going to be a very big challenge; the fans want them to perform in the league in his first year, which is always difficult for a new coach.
“First, second or third is successful. It’s a very big club – coming into a big club you need a trophy, so if you don’t win the league, you need to win the others. It’s hard, but that’s what you expect of a coach of that stature and a big club.
“Aubameyang’s very, very good. Last season was his first season; now he has adjusted to the Premier League. He’s been playing very well with the new coach and his team-mates; this season is going to be his season, if he works for it.
“They have other players who can also do that, but if he can perform, if it’s a good season for him, they have a chance to win the league.”
Kanu was one of several symbols of the attractive brand of football Emery’s predecessor Arsene Wenger encouraged during his near-22-year reign as manager, but the Nigerian believes a return to their previous, more pragmatic approach would also help.
He is in London to promote the Petrolex Kanu Cup, a fundraising fixture for the Kanu Heart foundation, and he said: “For Emery it’s very important he knows the club in and out, what the club wants.
“He’s been signing new, good players. They’re more defensive, and not allowing goals, which is good. They have to know how to win games; even if it’s 1-0, all they need is the three points.”
Kanu was speaking at the launch of Petrolex Kanu Cup 2018, the legends match raising funds for the Kanu Heart foundation. Taking place at The Hive Stadium on September 30, it will feature stars like Sol Campbell, Robert Pires and Kanu himself. Visit bfc.venuetoolbox.com