Emery convinced he retains players' belief and hints at Xhaka return

By Sports Desk November 27, 2019

Unai Emery is adamant the Arsenal players still have belief in him and suggested Granit Xhaka will return to the team on Thursday for the first time since clashing with supporters.

The Gunners are without a win in six games in all competitions, with fan frustration hitting new heights in recent weeks.

Emery is reportedly close to being dismissed, with Wolves' Nuno Espirito Santo said to be among those in the running to replace him, though the former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla boss insists he is only thinking about Thursday's visit of Frankfurt.

Arsenal head into the match top of Europa League Group F with 10 points and Emery is calling on supporters to back the Gunners and specifically Xhaka, who has not played since a confrontation with fans in the clash with Crystal Palace on October 27.

"They are angry and disappointed, as well we are. We have a very good opportunity to [correct] do that," he told reporters.

"Each match here at the Emirates is very important for that... The players need to feel [fans] backing them.

"Xhaka is in the group and he has the possibility to play. I hope every supporter supports him. Xhaka's comeback is going to be important for us."

It has been reported that Emery's relationship with some of his players has fallen apart, with the Basque coach said to have had a row with Alexandre Lacazette, though he has no doubt the squad is behind him.

When asked if the players still believe in him, Emery said: "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. In the good moments, the bad moments, the most important thing 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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    The defender was very clear that changes must be made in the wake of an 8-2 battering in the Champions League quarter-finals.

    President Josep Maria Bartomeu is expected to chair an extraordinary board meeting on Monday, when the dismissal of head coach Quique Setien appears likely to be ratified.

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    With that in mind, here are six of the firm favourites to take over from Setien.

     

    Mauricio Pochettino

    The favourite in many quarters, former Tottenham boss Pochettino could be a hugely tempting - and low-cost - choice.

    The Argentinian, who left Spurs last November five months after reaching the Champions League final, has softened his stance on coaching Barca after previously declaring he could never take the job due to his allegiance to Espanyol.

    Barca would represent by far the biggest job of his coaching career and the sheer challenge of getting them back on track could appeal to Pochettino, who turned Spurs into Premier League title challengers and top-four regulars over five years.

    There are reports, however, that Pochettino's appointment could be a majorly divisive move, given his previous comments about Barcelona.

    Xavi

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    The Catalans would need to buy out his deal with Al Sadd as well as convince Xavi to come back, plus there are political complications, with presidential challenger Victor Font declaring the former Spain star would be his choice in 2021 if he wins the election.

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    Massimiliano Allegri

    Another unattached option, Allegri has a commendable pedigree from his time with Milan and Juventus. Six Serie A titles, seven domestic cups and two Champions League finals in the past decade give Allegri a CV to rival any candidate.

    He would certainly bring an uncompromising authority to the dressing room, as well as vast experience, but the 53-year-old could well be put off by the complications of those elections, especially given other leading clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and Inter are said to be interested if they make a change.

    Patrick Kluivert

    Kluivert represents one of Bartomeu's more sensible possible appointments given he would probably accept the job despite the uncertainty of next year.

    The former Barca striker is currently head of youth football at Camp Nou, and that is a role to which he could return if the head coach position became untenable in 2021.

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    Ronald Koeman

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    Like Xavi, Koeman is committed to his present project, which is to lead Netherlands at Euro 2020. With that tournament having been pushed back to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 57-year-old would appear unlikely to quit his national team now for the sake of a potential short-term posting at his old club.

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