Mikel Arteta and Mauricio Pochettino linked with Arsenal job
Pressure builds on Gunners boss Unai Emery as rivals Spurs make big changes
Arsenal academy manager Per Mertesacker has said he would jump at the chance to be reunited with former team-mate Mikel Arteta in remarks that are unlikely to please Unai Emery.
Reports suggest that beleaguered Arsenal manager Emery has until the end of the year to turn things around at the “Mayhemirates” otherwise he’ll be out on his ear, with Arteta the favourite to replace his compatriot in the Arsenal hot seat.
In an interview with FourFourTwo magazine Mertesacker, a team-mate of current Manchester City assistant coach Arteta between 2011 and 2016, made no secret of his admiration for the Spaniard.
“I was his vice-captain at Arsenal and he trusted me,” explained the German. “I was by his side during team meetings and we had a great bond. I’d love to work with him again, a top guy.”
Mertesacker’s words will carry weight because of the respect in which the World Cup winner is held. He played more than 200 times for the Gunners and was a member of three FA Cup-winning squads, and his endorsement of Arteta is sure to strengthen the case to replace Emery if Arsenal don’t start winning.
Currently sixth in the Premier League, eight points behind fourth-placed Man City, the Gunners host second from bottom Southampton on Saturday, a game that should they lose could hasten Emery’s departure.
Enrique returns to Spain
Earlier this month there were reports that former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique was being lined up to replace Emery, but he has been reappointed as head coach of Spain ahead of Euro 2020.
Enrique had relinquished the position in June to care for his terminally-ill daughter, but he has now agreed to return in place of caretaker boss Robert Moreno.
“The door was always open for him, I have always said that, and have always been honest, nobody can feel tricked,” said Spanish FA boss Luis Rubiales.
Pochettino a possibility?
The sacking on Tuesday evening of Mauricio Pochettino as Tottenham manager has led to immediate speculation that the Argentine could join the list of contenders to replace Emery.
Just hours after Pochettino’s departure Spurs then confirmed Jose Mourinho as their new head coach.
Arsenal fans went on Twitter to air their views that Pochettino would be welcome at the Emirates despite his five years in charge of their hated north London neighbours.
Certainly Pochettino’s firing will increase the pressure on the Arsenal board in the coming weeks with Gooners comparing their dithering over Emery’s position with the decisiveness of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.
If Poch gets the chop five months after leading Spurs to the Champions League final, why hasn’t Emery been shown the door five months after leading Arsenal to the Europa League final? Unless of course, as many Arsenal fans suspect, there is a lack of ambition within the club.
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For analysis of the biggest sport stories - and a concise, balanced take on the week’s news - try The Week magazine. Start your trial today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––