In Depth

‘Mayhemirates’ meltdown: Arsenal boss Unai Emery faces the sack as pressure mounts

Toxic atmosphere is brewing after poor results and Granit Xhaka’s strop

It’s a case of “when” and not “if” Unai Emery gets the sack, according to the British media.

The general consensus is that the Arsenal manager is living on borrowed time after his failure to leave his mark on the Emirates Stadium 15 months after his appointment.

The Spaniard arrived in the summer of 2018 from Paris Saint-Germain, hailed as the man who could bring back the good times to the Gunners after a decade of decline under Arsene Wenger.

However, it hasn’t worked out that way as last season Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League after being thrashed 4-1 by Chelsea in the final of the Europa League.

Discontent among the fans was offset somewhat in the summer by a spending spree that brought, among others, Kieran Tierney and Nicolas Pepe to the club. 

But three months into the new season disillusionment is spreading among fans, and tomorrow night’s trip to play Liverpool in the Carabao Cup could be a decisive moment for Emery’s Emirates future, or as the stadium has been renamed by some fans, “Mayhemirates”.

Toxic atmosphere

It was reported that club director Josh Kroenke visited Emery’s office after the Crystal Palace debacle on Sunday to discuss what The Sun calls the “toxic atmosphere brewing at the Emirates”. 

Kroenke, senior, aka Stan, will receive a report from his son and the Arsenal owner needs to issue a strong statement if he wants to assuage the growing anger of the fans.

Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka removes his shirt after being substituted in the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace

Alex Morton/Getty Images

X-rated Xhaka

“Toxic” isn’t an exaggeration. The anger on Sunday as Arsenal squandered a two-goal lead against Palace was palpable, as Granit Xhaka can testify

The club captain allegedly mouthed obscenities at fans as he was substituted to a chorus of jeers, and for many that scene encapsulated the chaos at a club that has always prided itself on dignified savoir-faire. 

“Xhaka is simply a symptom of the malaise of meek governance at the Emirates,” Henry Winter writes in The Times. “For all the focus on one player’s intemperate outburst, it should be remembered that Kroenke and Emery are far more culpable for Arsenal’s lack of direction.”

Arteta eyed up?

According to the Sun, Emery will be lucky to last until the end of the year, and the paper names former Gunner Mikel Arteta - currently assistant coach at Manchester City - as the joint favourite to replace his compatriot, along with Wolves boss Nuno Espírito Santo.

What they’re saying about Emery’s Mayhemirates

Nick Wright, Sky Sports

“It is rarely easy to predict his next move. The only certainty is that he needs to find solutions to Arsenal’s mounting problems sooner rather than later.” 

Will Magee, The Daily Telegraph

“With bad results and even worse performances in recent months, Emery can hardly claim that the mounting criticism is without justification.” 

Mark Irwin, The Sun

“Emery knows that if he does not get a grip on the growing dissent then he will be lucky to make it to the end of the season.”

Phil McNulty, BBC Sport

“Emery is an increasingly divisive figure as Arsenal fans grow frustrated by the Spaniard’s failure to stamp any obvious identity on his side and old failings from the Arsene Wenger era remain unaddressed.” 

Henry Winter, The Times

“Granit Xhaka’s contempt for fans is unforgivable - he is a sad symbol of Arsenal’s weak leadership.”

Today’s newspaper back pages

Hector Bellerin urges Arsenal fans to forgive Granit Xhaka

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