Unai Emery facing more pressure after Europa League defeat
Unai Emery faces fresh speculation over his future as Arsenal manager after his side were beaten by Eintracht Frankfurt in front of a sparse Emirates Stadium crowd.
A 2-1 Europa League reverse means the Gunners are now winless in their last seven games, with Emery seemingly clinging to his job as other names continue to be linked with the post.
The Spaniard named a fairly strong side as he went in search of a much-needed win, recalling Granit Xhaka for his first appearance since being stripped of the captaincy for swearing at supporters, and naming Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in attack.
Aubameyang put Arsenal ahead only for Daichi Kamada to strike twice in nine second-half minutes, having scored only once in his last 27 appearances.
Officially, 49,419 tickets were sold but in truth it was the lowest attendance in the history of a stadium that opened in 2006.
With the sparse crowd unable to create any sort of meaningful atmosphere it was up to the Arsenal players to bring the game to life – and they failed to do so once again.
By the end, it was a crop of Frankfurt supporters – officially banned by UEFA for attending the game – who were being heard over the home fans, plenty of whom were airing their grievances towards Emery, calling for him to leave and unveiling printed posters criticising his approach.
He conceded his players were currently low on confidence but said he believed they were better than their current meagre form suggested.
“Now our moment is not good,” Emery said.
“We need to win and we need to gain confidence. I think we are better than we are showing; everybody, the players, the coaches and me.
“Now we lost some confidence and we need to win. I can understand the criticism about the team, about me. We are not in a good moment and also as a coach, I had that moment also in my career.”
Frankfurt offered very little, ending with four shots on target. Still, Emery felt his below-par side were unfortunate to lose.
“I think we deserved more,” he said.
“We controlled the game in the first half, we scored one goal. In the second half we started the same, we needed to score a goal but we lost the control of the game after 15 minutes and they scored two goals.
“I think we improved in the first half and we improved also some things to make sure of our improvement and take the three points.”
Despite the defeat, Arsenal are all but through to the Europa League knockout stages and would need to lose by five goals at Standard Liege next month to fail to qualify.
But, given the mounting pressure on Emery and his apparent inability to stop such a damaging run of results, it remains to be seen if the 48-year-old will be in charge when the round of 32 rolls around in February.