Unai Emery’s Arsenal sacking seems imminent
Is Unai Emery a dead man walking at Arsenal following Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Southampton?
Emery’s assumed imminent sacking is headline news in the papers on Monday.
Indeed, the bigger question this Monday is not if Emery will be fired, but rather who will Arsenal appoint after they pull the trigger?
Emery’s Arsenal contract
If Arsenal do sack Emery, how much will it cost?
Previously, the Athletic’s David Ornstein has claimed that Emery signed a three-year contract with Arsenal without a break clause.
If true, the assumption is that Arsenal will have to pay Emery a significant amount of compensation.
Arsenal squad vs Emery
According to the Telegraph’s Matt Law, Emery has lost the backing of the players at Arsenal:
Arsenal players are confused by Emery’s selections, tactics and instructions, and believe the team has no identity under the Spaniard.
Emery still has his supporters and sympathisers in the dressing room, but they are becoming few and far between, as players fear that he will not be able to find the right formula.
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) November 24, 2019
What do Arsenal risk if they don’t sack Emery?
First off, there’s qualification to the Champions League.
Arsenal are currently 8th in the Premier League with 18 points.
The Gunners are below Sheffield United and Burnley on goal difference, while they are 8 points behind 4th placed Chelsea.
Secondly, the fear is that some of Arsenal’s best players could leave the club if Emery doesn’t. The Telegraph report:
Failure to qualify for the Champions League would leave Arsenal with a fight to keep hold of their best players such as Alexandre Lacazette and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Arsenal had hoped to negotiate new contracts with both strikers, but there is unlikely to be any progress while the club are in serious danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League for another season.
Arsenal’s problems & impact of Tottenham’s change
Another factor ramping up pressure on Arsenal is the recent managerial change at Tottenham.
Matt Law compares Tottenham’s Jose Mourinho appointment to what’s happening at the Emirates Stadium:
Players last week saw rivals Tottenham act to try to save their season by replacing Mauricio Pochettino with Jose Mourinho.
The move shocked many, but it is that kind of decisive action that Arsenal players and fans believe may now be necessary at their club.
Could Mauricio Pochettino replace Emery at Arsenal?
That’s what the Sun want their readers to believe on Monday. The red-top claim:
Arsenal’s directors would have no problems appointing Pochettino in spite of his strong Tottenham connections.
— Sun Sport (@SunSport) November 24, 2019
Yet, if Pochettino’s previous statements on the matter are anything to go by, hell would need to freeze over before the Argentine joined the Gunners.
Back in 2018, Pochettino said the following when drawn on the possibility of whether he’d ever manage Arsenal:
I am never going to be manager of Barcelona or Arsenal because I am so identified with Tottenham and Espanyol.
I grew up in Newell’s Old Boys and will never manage Rosario Central.
That is my decision because I prefer to work on my farm in Argentina than in some places.
Possible successors to Arsenal’s Emery, including Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers
Could Brendan Rodgers leave Leicester to join Arsenal?
The Telegraph list Rodgers as a possible candidate to replace Emery at Arsenal.
However, along with RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann, it’s claimed that those managers “may need a lot of persuading if Arsenal have not qualified for Europe and face the threat of losing both Lacazette and Aubameyang.”
Another name linked to Arsenal is Man City coach Mikel Arteta.
Arteta, of course, played for the Gunners during his career. The Times report:
Arteta, 37, the former Arsenal midfielder, is assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and is understood to be keen to talk to Arsenal.
— Allie Hodgkins-Brown (@AllieHBNews) November 24, 2019
Alternatively, Arsenal are also considering approaching Max Allegri. The Times report:
Arsenal interviewed Allegri, who was in charge of Juventus, last year but he has since stepped down to have a year out of the game. The Italian has been working on improving his English in recent months.
Arsenal’s other candidates to succeed Emery
Two other names are in the running to replace Emery, should Arsenal fire the Spaniard.
The first is Patrick Vieira, who is the current manager at Ligue 1 side Nice. The Telegraph note, however:
Former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira, who is close with the club’s technical director Edu, has only won one of his last nine games as Nice manager and watched his side lose at Lyon on Saturday.
Lastly, could Freddie Ljungberg become Arsenal’s next manager?
Matt Law suggests that the Swede is the go-to guy if Emery gets the chop:
If Arsenal sacked Emery, the most likely scenario is thought to be that assistant first-team coach Freddie Ljungberg would be asked to replace him on an interim basis, with Steve Bould potentially helping out.