What a difference a match can make.
It was just two weeks ago ahead of the international break that, on the back of an unsettling run of form, the Arsenal board members publicly stated their support of manager Unai Emery despite Arsenal’s mercurial play throughout Emery’s underwhelming tenure. Raul Sanllehi and Edu, who were both widely lauded for their roles in Arsenal’s massive summer spending spree, attested to their belief that Emery could right the ship despite all evidence to the contrary.
It would be one thing if it was just about results, but Saturday’s draw against 19th placed Southampton belied much bigger problems. News across the footballing media following the match painted a much more dire picture, one that points toward an inevitable decision for Arsenal. Chief among those reports was the news that Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick considered resigning over the state of the club and the rest of the board’s insistence in retaining Emery through to the end of the season.
That report was followed quickly by the rumor that typically begets a manager’s firing: Emery had lost the dressing room. Arsenal’s players continued confusion over his tactics and widespread miscommunication between the coach and his players reportedly came to a head following Saturday’s draw, as the players had finally turned on their manager.
Even before the match, distressing news was not in short supply as star strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both delayed signing contract extensions due to Emery’s poor management and concerns about missing out on Champions League play for another season.
This morning, in the wake of these revelations, Ornstein reported in a podcast with The Athletic that the situation at The Emirates have taken a turn for the untenable, with Emery’s time appearing to draw to a close:
Ornstein on Athletic podcast: It looks now a matter of when not if Emery’s leaving.— Arsènic™ (@MrArsenicTM) November 26, 2019
Added that the situation is ‘very very delicate’ and feeling is ‘things are happening’
Stressed that ‘at the time of recording’ the plan is for Emery to lead the club on Thursday.
As we all know, news from Ornstein typically carries with it a weight of authority, as he has acted as Arsenal’s unofficial public liaison in the media. This news comes as quite the turnabout, as it was only a few weeks ago that he was breaking Arsenal fans’ hearts with the affirmations of the board over their belief in Emery.
It has been clear that Arsenal’s Europa League campaign would not be the main metric by which Emery was measured - not until the Premier League became out of reach. After Saturday’s result, the feeling among fans and pundits is that Arsenal has already reached that stage.
Arsenal’s 18 points after after 13 matches is their worst start through 13 matches in Premier League history. In 8th place, Arsenal are a full eight points outside of the top four, and if not by similarly poor seasons from Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur (who just canned their underperforming manager), Arsenal’s position and outlook could be a hell of a lot worse. Arsenal are routinely being outshot by weaker competition, average exceedingly low xG per game despite world-class attacking talent, and routinely look like a team sorely lacking in leadership and identity.
The Gunners are at risk of losing a lot more than just matches with Unai Emery at the helm, and it appears that the club has finally seen what we have all seen.
It is time to sack Unai Emery.