Gary Neville has labeled Arsenal’s recruitment strategy as “truly pathetic” after Unai Emery was sacked.

The Spaniard was fired on Friday morning after the loss to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night took Arsenal‘s winless run to seven matches.

And Neville thinks the players have “let him down” while the club’s “recruitment policy” has not been good enough.

“I don’t know who’s been responsible for recruitment over the last two or three years, they’ve chopped and changed, there have been new people brought in,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“But if I was in the boardroom at Arsenal I’d be giving them a right rocket. There’s no way Emery is telling David Luiz to step up two or three times, there’s hideous things you see from the other defenders and midfielders.

“You think of [Granit] Xhaka the other week, Emery is a man of honour and you see that behaviour, this is much deeper than the coach. Emery might be sailing his way back over the Channel this afternoon and be very happy to leave behind what is, quite simply a very average bunch of players.

“There’s no way Unai Emery was telling the players to do those things. Some of the things we were seeing on the pitch were fantasy football really.

“Without a shadow of a doubt the players have let him down. The manager will take the hit, it’s his responsibility to place them into an organised shape, but some of those players – I’ve been critical of my own club over the last few years for their recruitment policy and their strategy, but Arsenal’s is truly pathetic.

“You couldn’t find a more erratic bunch of players in terms of defending to watch. If you said to find three or four most erratic defenders in Europe, it’s almost like that’s the brief for recruitment. The players have let him down but some of them aren’t up to it.”

 

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Unai Emery has hits back at rumours that he has lost the backing of the Arsenal dressing room by insisting they still believe in him.

The pressure on the Spaniard ramped up over the weekend as the Gunners were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Southampton, with Alexandre Lacazette rescuing a point for Arsenal late on.

The Gunners are now six matches without a win in all competitions and sit eighth in the Premier League standings.

Asked in his pre-match press conference whether the Arsenal players still believed in him, Emery responded: “Yes of course. They show that.

“As a coach each moment in my career is difficult. This is a very good but very hard job. When you are winning you feel the support for everybody. I believe in us, I believe in the players. I know I am going to work very hard to come back to the performance.

“I am looking forward to playing tomorrow. The good moment, the bad moment the most important for me is to show my work. Our confidence depends a lot on how we can feel in our stadium with our supporters.

“Teams are coming here playing fearless. We need to be strong and together. We need to show our supporters our capacity and skills.”

 

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Arsenal legend Paul Merson explans why his former club should approach Mauricio Pochettino to replace under-fire manager Unai Emery.

Arsenal have won just four of their 13 Premier League games this season, leading many to question Emery’s position at the Emirates.

Arsenal were held to a 2-2 draw by 19th-place Southampton at home on Saturday afternoon, with the Gunners fans booing at the final whistle.

A host of some of Europe’s top bosses – including Max Allegri and former Gunner Mikel Arteta – have been linked with a move to north London, and Pochettino is the latest man to be tipped to succeed Emery, having been sacked by rivals Tottenham last week.

The Argentine took Spurs to the 2019 Champions League final and oversaw four successive top-four finishes in the Premier League, establishing himself as one of the best young coaches in England.

And despite his past ties with Arsenal’s fiercest rivals, Merson believes ‘top manager’ Pochettino is the ideal man to take over, partly because Arsenal would not need to fork out any money for compensation.

“Arsenal should go for Mauricio Pochettino,” the former Arsenal midfielder told Sky Sports. “He’s not won anything, but he improved Tottenham over five years, tenfold. He’s a top manager and he is about at the moment.

“I know he managed at Tottenham, but George Graham had been at Arsenal when he went the other way. You’ve got to get past that sort of stuff. These top managers don’t come along too often, where you don’t even have to pay anything for them.

“Can I see it happening? No. Should it happen? Yes. But it won’t happen. The days of the rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham are not what they were. When I was growing up, it was the big football match.

“For some of these players, that’s no longer the case. It’s probably Chelsea or Manchester City or Liverpool. It’s not the highlighted fixture anymore as there’s not a lot of home-grown players in the teams.

“You don’t have to pay compensation for him, and if you are going to bring someone in, he’s got to be better than the manager you’ve got.”

 

 

Merson is desperate to see a significant change made in the Arsenal dugout but thinks Emery will ultimately be granted an extended stay of execution, even if another loss is posted at Norwich on Sunday.

“I still see Emery being there for a while. They had a chance to get rid of him before the international break,” he added.

“They looked at the fixtures and saw Southampton at home, Norwich away. They thought they would win both and everything would be rosy in the garden again. But they were fortunate to draw with Southampton with some of the chances they had, and they’d recently lost 9-0.

“Their confidence was low, but they never looked like they would be on to a hiding. There wasn’t too much respect and they came and thought they had a chance.

“I’m a great believer in if you keep doing the same things, you get the same results. Something needs to change. The players are not that good, but at the same time, results have to be better than what they are.

“If you’re a football manager and you arrive at a club, the team must improve, and the results have to improve. If they don’t then you won’t be in the job for long. That was a fact when I was playing, and it will be a fact in 30 years’ time.

“It’s worrying times, and with Norwich away this weekend, I think Emery will do well to get on the coach if they don’t win that game.”

Before their trip to Carrow Road this weekend, Arsenal host Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday, where a win will be enough to book their spot in the last 32.

 

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Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has said that his teammates have to ask serious questions about their own commitment to the cause following Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Southampton.

The Gunners needed a stoppage-time Alexandre Lacazette equaliser to earn a 2-2 draw at home to the Saintsin the Premier League following another poor performance which could have ended in defeat.

The pressure continues to mount on head coach Unai Emery, who has now overseen just two league wins from the last 11 games.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men were unfortunate not to leave the Emirates Stadium with their first away win at Arsenal since 1987 as Danny Ings and James Ward-Prowse – who tapped home after having his penalty saved – had twice given them the lead.

 

 

But Lacazette’s brace, including a last-gasp leveller, ensured the hosts at least ended the afternoon with a share of the spoils – with Aubameyang conceding things need to improve in the coming weeks.

“Everybody is disappointed today, the fans and the players,” he said. “It didn’t work today. It’s not a good result for us. Obviously we’re playing at home and we have to win games at home.

“We have to keep fighting and keep trying to sort it out. I think everybody has to try to ask themselves what they can change, what they can give more of.

“Everybody has to do this, me first. I will try to work hard and to get back to winning ways.”

Rarely is a stoppage-time goal to rescue a result met with such indifference by players and supporters, but Emery admitted afterwards a draw was not good enough.

The fans clearly agreed as they jeered en masse at the final whistle, as Aubameyang revealed the players were equally as frustrated.

“I don’t know but obviously everyone is disappointed, the fans and us as well,” he replied when asked about how the players respond to being booed off.

“When we are playing, we are the first to be disappointed when it doesn’t work. We will try to keep fighting. I think we have the quality to come back and we have to fight.”

Arsenal return to action on Thursday when they face Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.

 

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Arsenal manager Unai Emery has revealed that Granit Xhaka’s “mindset is better” and will “decide tomorrow” if he will play against Southampton on Saturday.

Emery has consistently backed the Arsenal midfielder after he was stripped of the captaincy after his reaction to his own fans boos.

And the Gunners boss has revealed that Xhaka needs “confidence and comfort” after holding clear the air talks with the Swiss international.

 

 

“He’s coming back better. His mindset is better and this morning I have a very good conversation with him,” Emery said.

“My objective is for him to come back helping us and convincing everyone that he is going to be better in the short or long future with us.

“He’s feeling better and his team is Arsenal now. He wants to come back with the confidence of the supporters.

“We are going to decide tomorrow (if he plays) but I want to give him confidence and comfort.”

 

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Spanish manager Unai Emery has been given a month to save his job at Arsenal, according to a report.

Officially, Emery retains the full support of his board for now, but that stance could change if no improvement is made on the field over the coming weeks.

In an unusual start to the Premier League season, Arsenal find themselves in only sixth place despite being above fellow giants Manchester United and Tottenham.

Arsenal have only won four of their first 12 matches this season and there has been an over reliance on new captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s goals to get points on the board.

And the Daily Mirror claims that Emery now has seven matches to save his job, five in the Premier League against Southampton , Norwich, Brighton, West Ham and Manchester City and two in the Europa League versus Eintracht Frankfurt and Standard Liege.

There is a ‘belief inside the club that sacking the Spaniard will still not solve the crisis’ at Arsenal.

Some at the club think Emery ‘faces an impossible task to ­revive’ Arsenal with Arsene Wenger’s legacy ‘destroyed by a string of disastrous high-level ­appointments.’

A source told the Daily Mirror: “The DNA that made ­Arsenal the club it was has slowly but surely drained away.

“Appointments have been made – both before and after Wenger’s departure – that either didn’t work out or aren’t working out.

“Long-serving members of staff have been shocked by what’s ­happening to the club.”

There has been a lot of upheaval at the Emirates Stadium since Wenger left with Edu appointed as the club’s new technical director, while Steve Morrow left his position as head of youth ­recruitment.

The source added: “To say it was a shock to see so many good people leave so suddenly is an ­understatement.

“Steve Morrow, in particular, is a huge loss. He is someone who is ­respected throughout football and is seen as having the potential to be a director of football.”

 

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Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka is not in Unai Emery’s plans to play Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday.

The Switzerland midfielder appeared to tell supporters to “f**k off” as he was jeered while being substituted during Sunday’s 2-2 Premier League draw with Crystal Palace.

Xhaka said in a statement that death threats against his wife and messages wishing his daughter got cancer pushed him to “boiling point” and that is why he lashed out at fans.

He didn’t play in Arsenal’s Carabao Cup defeat to Liverpool on penalties in midweek and Emery has confirmed that he will be left out against Wolves.

Emery told a press conference on Friday: “He is training. He didn’t play in Liverpool for me he is continuing, above all [we are] focusing on tomorrow.

“The human, like everyone, feels. Xhaka’s issues last week is one issue that needs time. He needs time to recover the normality in him.

“He said sorry, he gave the apology to the supporters and to everybody. Now is the focus on the match.”

Asked whether he is surprised by how explosive the abuse has been, Emery added: “Everybody maybe we have some social media on our phone, on our internet, on our web. Really to use it is only being intelligent. We can respect the people on social media but we have to separate how much is real. Every supporter is not following that.

“For me the best supporters or the good response is how the supporters respond in our stadium. We have a lot of supporters around the world and we respect them but the real response is in the stadium. In the stadium sometimes it’s normal when we aren’t winning that they respond with some criticism. It’s normal to coach and players.

“Also a lot of players sometimes receive that criticism in the stadium and when you recover with a good performance they forget that and applaud the players and team.

“That’s our objective. To connect with the people, to win and respond the supporters to us, helping us in 90 minutes. This is our target tomorrow.”

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Calum Chambers
“I’m delighted Calum has extended his stay with us,” said Unai Emery in July 2018. “He played an important role last season and will be part of my plans this season.”

What the Arsenal manager failed to disclose is that his “plans” involved Calum Chambers taking his new Arsenal contract with him across the city to Fulham. But as strange as the apparent U-turn was, Emery’s justification that a second loan spell “will be an important part of his development” seems particularly pertinent.

While the 24-year-old added a second Premier League relegation to his CV at Craven Cottage, the boy returned as a man. A campaign that started with him featuring at centre-half included some brief sojourns at right-back before carving out a role in defensive midfield. Upon his being named Fulham’s Player of the Season, the club’s official website described him as ‘one of our most popular ever loanees’.

And so to Tuesday, where Chambers was in sensational form against Nottingham Forest, assisting a goal apiece from either flank and balancing his new-found attacking instincts with a defensive resolve not often seen in these parts. His physical improvement in particular was eye-opening.

Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Martinelli all impressed at the Emirates, but only one player was “amazing” enough to be singled out by the manager. He might well have earned a start against Manchester United in their 12-12 draw on Monday.

 

Taylor Harwood-Bellis
‘Man City already have a Harry Maguire-style centre back in Taylor Harwood-Bellis’ read the Manchester Evening News summer headline. But if one performance in a League Cup third-round game against lower-league opposition is anything to go by, the 17-year-old will surpass his new city brethren within a month.

The comparison carries little weight beyond height, of course, with Harwood-Bellis marrying obvious aerial prowess with calm and comfort on the ball against Preston. Only fellow central defender Eric Garcia completed more passes (90) than his 84, and his partner on Tuesday was making a fourth League Cup start of his career, having appeared in last season’s quarter-final and semi-final.

Pep Guardiola saw fit to praise both of his “exceptional human beings” after the 3-0 win, but for a player who only turned 17 this year, a professional first-team debut was a monumental step forward.

Regular Premier League football remains a distant objective, and Fernandinho will likely return by the weekend. But Harwood-Bellis at least justified his place in the central defensive queue, even if it is towards the back after pushing in front of Guardiola himself.

 

Danny Ings
It’s safe to say that Danny Ings expected his Southampton career to go a little differently. His gentleman’s bet that he would outscore Mo Salah was “just a bit of banter” with no money involved, but a final result of 7-22 won’t have been great for his confidence.

There was a silver lining of 23 Premier League starts, a tally beaten only by his first campaign in the competition with Burnley in 2014/15 (35), and almost four times as many as he made throughout his entire Liverpool career (6). With those injury issues thankfully and hopefully behind him, the 27-year-old is looking to push on.

Ralph Hasenhuttl ensured to freshen his competition this season with the signings of Che Adams and Moussa Djenepo, but Ings has risen to the challenge. Two goals in the derby win over Portsmouth takes his seasonal tally to three with one assist and a respectable return.

Perseverance – and a quite wonderful first touch – laid on his first strike against Pompey, while the deft finish applied to Michael Obafemi’s excellent through ball made for a rather pleasing second, and a boyhood dream realised.

Hasenhuttl has started Adams as a lone striker and alongside Nathan Redmond in Saints’ last two Premier League games, with Ings afforded 16 and 13 minutes as a substitute. He will fancy his chances from the start against a panicky Tottenham on Saturday.

 

James Justin
Somewhat lost amid Leicester’s excellent start to the season is that continuity, not revolution, has been the key. The eight Foxes with the most minutes played were all at the club in 2018/19, with Ayoze Perez the only player in the top 13 not to have been signed this summer – January arrival Youri Tielemans notwithstanding.

While Dennis Praet will need more than one Premier League start and one and a half League Cup games to prove that his purchase was not at least a little pointless, James Justin will be afforded a considerable amount of time. The 21-year-old joined under no pretences: two of the Premier League’s best full-backs are well ahead of him and Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell would both take some shifting. The versatility of being able to play on either flank mattered not.

So it proved. Six Premier League games have passed with Justin acclimatising to the bench as an unused substitute in each. Even against Newcastle in the League Cup second round he watched on from the sidelines. But when former club Luton played host to Leicester on Tuesday, Brendan Rodgers gave him the nod.

A goal, four chances created, two tackles, two clearances and what the Leicester Mercury described as ‘a dream debut’ justified the call. The opportunities for such a naturally gifted and supremely talented player will come, particularly if he makes a habit of taking them in such an impressive manner.

 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin
The standard of the opposition will likely be used as a stick to beat him rather than praise him with. There always tends to be an asterisk next to the name of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who is constantly willing but not always able.

Perhaps a Premier League defence would not have afforded him the freedom of Hillsborough to score his first goal, nor would they have suffered the lapse in concentration that preceded his second. But Calvert-Lewin showcased both a fine touch and unstoppable finishing technique, as well as an awareness and instinct to put Everton through to the next round.

It will take more than that to convince many of the sceptics, but only a fool would suggest the 22-year-old is responsible for a shoddy record at set-pieces and an inability to win away. Richarlison (17) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (15) are the only other Toffees to register double figures for goals in all competitions since the start of last season, with Calvert-Lewin – who neither cost upwards of £35m nor has been allowed to settle into one position – on 11.

Whether he is part of the solution remains to be seen – although every club tends to have a similar style of player in their ranks somewhere. But Calvert-Lewin is most certainly not the problem.

Matt Stead

 

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