Emery gets vote of confidence
Arsenal have publicly supported their under-fire manager Unai Emery, but have also accepted that the Spanish head coach has to turn the team’s form around.
Emery’s performance is under scrutiny following a poor run of form that has seen the Gunners win just one of their last six matches in the Premier League, leaving them eight points back from fourth-placed Manchester City and nine points short of Leicester, after the Foxes beat them on Saturday.
According to reports in the media, the Arsenal board are not keen on the idea of replacing Emery, who took over from Arsène Wenger in May 2018, but they are becoming concerned that the team are some way off qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
On Monday, head of football Raul Sanllehi, together with managing director Vinai Venkatesham, spoke to club staff at a meeting at the Emirates Stadium, saying that they shared the frustration at the way that the season was going, and that they had to work together to improve so that they can meet the season’s objectives.
They added that they firmly believe that Emery is the right man for the position, and that they are all working hard behind the scenes in order to turn things around – and they are confident that they will.
Emery, who was at a UEFA coaches forum in Nyon at the time of the meeting, will be under pressure to start turning the season around, and consecutive games against the bottom two in the Premier League – Southampton and Norwich City – for which the Gunners will be strong favourites with sports betting companies, offer the ideal opportunity to get wins on the board. However, the club will also note that the mood of Arsenal fans is becoming increasingly hostile.
This was epitomised by the reaction to captain Granit Xhaka’s substitution in the game against Crystal Palace last month, which led to him becoming involved in altercations with Arsenal supporters.
Xhaka was stripped of the captaincy after the incident, and Emery had appeared to suggest that he may not play for Arsenal again, and the player, who will spend next week with the Switzerland international squad, may find it hard to earn his place in the starting line-up when he returns.
Words: Josh Dixon