In Depth

Unai Emery set for the sack as awful Arsenal lose again

Gunners defeated as thousands of fans stay away from the Emirates

Unai Emery could be gone by the weekend after another shocking performance from Arsenal on Thursday night. 

The Gunners squandered a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 at home to Eintracht Frankfurt in their penultimate Europa League clash. 

Emery’s side are now seven games without a win, Arsenal’s worst run since 1992, and according to The Times Freddie Ljungberg is being lined up to replace the Spaniard as temporary manager.

It’s also reported that the Arsenal board will meet on Friday morning and it would be a surprise if Emery is still in a job by the evening. 

The team stopped playing for their manager several weeks ago, and the body language of the players and the coaching staff suggest a club whose morale is at rock bottom.

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Empty seats 

The disenchantment is certainly rife among the supporters, with tens of thousands of empty seats at the Emirates sending an unmistakable signal to the boardroom. 

Owner Stan Kroenke has always given the impression of being more interested in profit than performance, and the sight of row upon row of empty seats is likely to force him to finally take action. 

According to the London Evening Standard there were probably fewer than 30,000 fans present, the lowest attendance in the Emirates’ history.

There were thousands of empty seats as Arsenal lost 2-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Emery out

Those supporters that turned up sat in silence for most of the match, although a few brandished “Emery out” placards and some booed the players off at the final whistle. 

The jeers were even half-hearted, however, the disgust of previous weeks replaced by mute despair at the decline of their club.

Even when Arsenal took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang there was a restrained response from the fans. 

Emery’s Arsenal have made it a habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and so it proved again as Frankfurt scored twice in the second period, both goals coming from Daichi Kamada.

Crisis of confidence 

Despite the defeat Arsenal are still on course to qualify for the last 32 of the Europa League but for Emery the Frankfurt clash was almost certainly his final involvement in the competition for this season. 

The Spaniard cut a forlorn figure on the touchline, and although he talked bullishly of the future in his post-match interview, they were the words of a condemned man. 

“We improved things, but it was not enough,” he said. “We need to win and to gain confidence. I think we are better than we are showing - the players, the coaches and me.”

Pundit reactions 

Sam Dean, The Daily Telegraph

“Make no mistake, the end is coming for Emery… the Spaniard is a dignified manager who has always carried himself well, even when the mood has shifted, but this was not a dignified night and at this rate it will not be a dignified exit.” 

Martin Keown, BT Sport

“We just witnessed an absolute shambles of a performance in that second half. The decisions, the team selection, the team motivation, the substitutions, the performance… everything was missing here, that was a dreadful performance.” 

Nick Ames, The Guardian

“As the fight drained from Arsenal’s players, whatever grip Unai Emery still holds on the manager’s position loosened to the point of being imperceptible.” 

Mark Irwin, The Sun

“It has reached the stage where it almost seems cruel to allow him to continue in the job which has exposed his managerial limitations.”

Today’s back pages

Unai Emery’s empty feeling at the Emirates Stadium

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