Unai Emery backed by Arsenal hierarchy despite poor form

Unai Emery has been offered the public backing of the Arsenal hierarchy – but he has been warned that results must improve.

The Gunners head coach has come under mounting pressure following a string of poor performances and a record of just two wins from their last 10 Premier League games.

A 2-0 loss at Leicester on Saturday evening saw Arsenal fall eight points behind the current top four, with Emery’s target of a return to the Champions League looking as far away as ever.

But head of football Raul Sanllehi and managing director Vinai Venkatesham insist the club still have the right man in charge.

Signs of discontent from the Arsenal supporters have started to appear in recent times.
Signs of discontent from the Arsenal supporters have started to appear in recent times. (Nigel French/PA)

“We are as disappointed as everyone else with both our results and performances at this stage of the season,” they told Arsenal staff at a pre-planned meeting.

“We share the frustration with our fans, Unai, players and all our staff as they are not at the level we want or expect. Things need to improve to meet our objectives for the season, and we firmly believe Unai is the right man for the job, together with the backroom team we have in place.”

Sanllehi and Venkatesham added: “We are all working intensively behind the scenes to turn things around and are confident we will.

“We never take our fantastic support for granted. We hope we can all stick together and get behind the team in this challenging period, as together we are stronger.”

The backing comes on the back of a disappointing run of form, with Emery facing questions over his future on a regular basis.

After the defeat at Leicester he called for calm as Arsenal headed into the international break on the back of one win from seven in all competitions.

He was also defiant following a 1-1 Europa League draw at Vitoria last week when he was asked about former Chelsea and Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho being linked to the post, simply replying: “I am the coach.”

Emery, 48, was appointed as Arsene Wenger’s successor in May 2018 and his first season ended with a 4-1 Europa League final defeat to Chelsea having missed out on a top-four finish by a single point.

Arsenal lost the Europa League final to London rivals Chelsea last season.
Arsenal lost the Europa League final to London rivals Chelsea last season. (Adam Davy/PA)

This season he has had to contend with former captain Laurent Koscielny refusing to go on the club’s pre-season tour and eventually pushing through a move to Bordeaux.

Emery has since made the controversial call to ostracise Mesut Ozil for a length of time and strip Granit Xhaka of the captaincy after he told supporters to “f**k off” last month.

Xhaka has warned Arsenal supporters that the “extreme hostility” that was directed at him damages team spirit.

The 27-year-old lost the armband last week after swearing at fans as he was jeered following his substitution in a 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace – also removing his shirt and cupping his ears.

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Message to the fans;

A post shared by Granit Xhaka (@granitxhaka) on

Xhaka went on to issue an apology of sorts, explaining that ongoing social media abuse aimed at his family also led to his furious reaction, but Emery decided to remove him as skipper and has yet to select the Switzerland international in any of the four matches since the Palace incident.

Heading into the international break, Xhaka has further explained his outburst and what was going through his mind at the time.

“When my shirt number lit up on the fourth official’s panel and our own fans broke into gleeful jubilation, that hit me very hard and really upset me,” he told Swiss newspaper Blick.

“It was very hurtful and frustrating. I can’t understand a reaction like that even now, especially the vehemence of it and the extreme hostility directed against me.

“Insulting and swearing at your own captain will cause upset and a bad atmosphere for the team you are actually supposed to be supporting, that makes no sense to me and weakens the team’s spirit.”

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