But the Gunners hierarchy appear to have ripped up their existing plans at the 11th hour, with Emery emerging as the unanimous choice following a thorough recruitment and interview process, led by chief executive Ivan Gazidis.
Former Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta, now part of Pep Guardiola's backroom team at Manchester City, had been heavily rumoured to be the leading candidate and Wenger said last week the Spaniard "has all the qualities to do the job".
Reports in the British media on Monday claimed the Spanish coach, who recently left Paris Saint-Germain after two seasons in charge, had agreed to take over at the Gunners.
The paper also says that Emery's time in his native Spain (where he won three Europa Leagues with Sevilla) had been noted by Arsenal's new head of football relations Raul Sanllehi, previously Barcelona's director of football.
Emery's English is not completely fluent but the language barrier is not expected to be a problem.
Not only does Emery not speak fluent English, as Ornstein points out, but he's always been looked at as a manager who can't win the biggest of games - which has been a knock for Arsenal in recent years.More news: Texas leaders want more screening and more guns to prevent more shootings
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Other candidates included Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri and former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, as well as former Arsenal players Arteta, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira.
"What's going on at Arsenal, where's Unai Emery come from?"
News of Emery's possible appointment came on the same day Wenger was pictured waving goodbye as he left the club's Hertfordshire training complex. I can't get it out of my head.
The next Arsenal manager will be charged with trying to restore the team to regular Champions League qualification and Premier League title contention, the Gunners having now missed out on elite continental competition in back-to-back campaigns.
You'd have thought that by now they would have known exactly what's going on. There was a gathering of the influential Arsenal Supporters Trust at a smart lawyers' office on Cannon Street in London yesterday, with fans loving listening to Ray Parlour reminisce about great days and nights out, when news filtered through about Unai Emery.