Chelsea boss Frank Lampard says it is a "shame" Unai Emery was sacked by Arsenal after giving his all for the club.

Arsenal announced the 48-year-old's exit on Friday following a seven-match winless run that culminated in Thursday's 2-1 Europa League home loss to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Emery, who lasted just 18 months in the job after succeeding long-serving boss Arsene Wenger, leaves Arsenal eight points adrift of fourth-place Chelsea in the Premier League.

Lampard is sad to see the Spaniard depart but accepts it is part of being a coach.

"I wouldn't say it was inevitable, because nothing's inevitable in football," he said at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"We're used to a few surprises, especially in the last few weeks. It's not nice. I know the job, I work hard here and everyone wants to be successful. 

"You have a work ethic and an idea, and it doesn't always go the way you want it, and clubs then make a decision. We're all in that category.

"It's a shame because from the outside he looks like a man who gave everything in the role, but now he moves on."

Chelsea's next opponents West Ham are also reportedly considering a managerial change, with Manuel Pellegrini under increasing pressure ahead of Saturday's London derby.

Defeat at Stamford Bridge could spell the end of Pellegrini's tenure, but Lampard insists he will not be any less determined to pick up three points this weekend.

"We all know the ruthless nature of the game now," he said. "Every team, every group of fans, the owner, everybody wants their team to be successful at all times.

"Individually, I understood the ruthless nature of the job being a player and now even more as a manager.

"I will just do my job. West Ham have good individuals, a good team and a good manager. It's a London derby and we have to be ready for them."

Pep Guardiola will not allow his focus to drift towards the bigger picture of the Premier League title race as Manchester City chase victory at Newcastle United.

The defending champions but find themselves third after 13 matches, already nine points behind leaders Liverpool, who defeated Guardiola's men at Anfield this month.

City kick off the latest weekend of Premier League action against Newcastle on Saturday, giving them a chance to leapfrog second-placed Leicester City - albeit possibly only temporarily.

That will be Guardiola's aim at St James' Park, with the former Spaniard insisting he does not like to think about the season as a whole.

"I'm not thinking about how many games we have to win - I know we cannot lose games," he told a news conference.

"I'm not thinking honestly about winning the Premier League right now. I never thought about it, even in the years we won.

"To win the Premier League, we have to be close to Leicester, first of all, and then to Liverpool.

"The target, when you play games in different competitions every three days, is the next one. You choose the best players possible for this specific game and try to win."

City came unstuck at Newcastle last season, having had to settle for a slightly nervy win during the previous campaign.

Guardiola added: "The last two seasons, we won 1-0 and, last season, we lost 2-1. Newcastle away is always one of the nicest environments and stadiums in England.

"Obviously, it's a tough test, but next Tuesday we have Burnley and then the derby against [Manchester] United, so we know the situation we are in.

"We trained really good today [Friday]. I saw the team were ready. We fly this afternoon and then tomorrow, 12.30, we try to do a good game."

Jose Mourinho has been impressed by Dele Alli in his first two matches as Tottenham head coach but wants to see the midfielder find "a certain base" of consistency.

Alli had struggled under Mauricio Pochettino this season, yet he has starred in wins against West Ham and Olympiacos since Mourinho replaced the sacked Argentine.

Mourinho says he has not made any drastic changes to bring the best out of the 23-year-old and wants the England international to maintain the standards he has set.

"I think you have to speak with [Alli] because it was him not me [who changed the performances]," Mourinho said at a news conference. "I don't play, I don't fight, I don't run.

"He is doing everything by himself. We just try to give him the right conditions to feel well to do that. I have to say, two fantastic performances.

"He will not be the man of the match every game. He will have some matches where he will not play as well as he did in these two.

"He has to keep a certain base, a certain platform of performance where he is never going below that, so let's keep that base as the objective.

"He is a fantastic player, young, with all the conditions to develop, so I think he has a bright future and we just want to help him to reach his levels and maintain these levels."

Spurs were dealt a blow this week as it was confirmed left-back Ben Davies suffered ankle ligament damage against West Ham.

But Mourinho insists Davies' absence will not force him to backtrack on earlier comments suggesting he would not rush into the transfer market in January.

"No, we have a good squad," he said. "We have options - Danny Rose is the natural left-back, Jan Vertonghen can do it, he did it already for the club and for the national team.

"In extra emergency, I think even [Serge] Aurier could give us a hand playing there, and we have options at right back. So with one or two injuries, the squad is fine.

"[Davies] will be back and we will survive without him. I trust the other people that can play in the same position, like Danny did in the last match.

"On top of that, I couldn't be at the game but I watched on video our youth team playing in the Champions League, and we also have [Dennis] Cirkin.

"Okay, he's 17, but he's a kid with a lot of quality, and I look forward to bringing him to train with us and to help his development."

Jurgen Klopp admits it is a "massive" blow to lose Fabinho until 2020 but insists Liverpool will find a way to cope without the midfielder.

The Reds confirmed on Friday that Fabinho suffered ankle ligament damage in the 1-1 Champions League draw with Napoli at Anfield and is unlikely to play again before the turn of the year.

The Brazil international is set to miss Premier League games against Brighton and Hove Albion, Everton, Bournemouth, Watford, Leicester City and Wolves, as well as the final Champions League group game away to RB Leipzig, the EFL Cup clash with Aston Villa and the Club World Cup.

Klopp accepts there is no ready-made replacement for a player of Fabinho's qualities, but the Liverpool manager has no doubts about the suitability of Jordan Henderson or Georginio Wijnaldum playing in the role.

"Oh yes. It's bad news. Nothing good to say about that," he told reporters when asked about the injury. "How long it will take [to recover], we're not sure 100 per cent but it looks pretty sure he will not be involved in the Christmas fixtures.

"We have solutions for the position. We can replace him. We've played good without him, but now it's important to get him doing the right things and get him back as soon as possible. Until then, we have to find solutions. We're not the only team with injured players. It's what we have to deal with now and we will.

"We watched the Napoli game from last year and Hendo played the position, Gini played the position already, Adam Lallana played the position, we can change system… Losing a player of the quality of Fabinho is massive, really bad, but we are not the only team in the Premier League with injuries.

"You want to push that moment as far as possible towards the end of the year because with two weeks out, you miss six games. But that's not the case, we can't change it and we have to find a solution. Will it be exactly like Fabinho? Of course not, because nobody is like the other one, but it will be a good one. We have to play football and win football games again.

"It's not that nobody is as good as him. It's different quality. Gini came on in that position and was brilliant. We just have to make it work. Fab couldn't have played all the games from now until March. It's not cool, but we're in contact with him. We think a lot about it – not in the case of 'oh my God, how can we deal with it?' – just in the case of 'let's do the right thing for Fab, let's do the right thing for the team'."

A strength of Liverpool's this season has been the number of goalscorers they have had across the team in the Premier League, with 13 outfield players having scored at least once in their opening 13 league games.

Klopp, though, is not concerned about who is on the scoresheet provided they can keep up their form against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

"It's not too long ago we spoke about how we rely so much on our front three. I couldn't care less who scores - I'm really happy when the ball is in the net," he said.

"Of course, it's good, but I still think we could have scored more goals, to be honest. It makes us a bit more unpredictable but it's nothing I really think about.

"What I think about at the moment is we play Brighton, with a very, very exciting development. Graham [Potter] is doing a really good job. That's our issue, not who scores. After that game, pretty much everybody has this kind of three games a week coming up now. Brighton had a full week to prepare, they are innovative and think a lot about football and they will come here to try to get the points. We have to be ready three days after a very intense game against Napoli."

As the fixture list piles up, Klopp confirmed he plans to speak with Mohamed Salah, with Egypt's Under-23 coach claiming to be keen to take the forward to the Olympics next year.

"I'm not prepared for that answer yet to be honest," Klopp said. "Too many things happened since I first heard about it. When I leave the press conference, the first thing I do is ask Mo. Maybe next press conference we can speak about it."

Frank Lampard is confident Chelsea's back-up strikers can step up in the absence of the injured Tammy Abraham. 

Abraham hobbled off in the first half of Wednesday's 2-2 Champions League draw with Valencia after a collision left him clutching his left side, before he was then taken away on a stretcher.

The England international attempted to play down the extent of his injury immediately after the match, but it has been confirmed he will play no part in Saturday's visit of West Ham.

Providing an update at his pre-match news conference on Friday, head coach Lampard said: "He's got some pain, so won't be involved tomorrow and then we'll see by Monday."

Abraham has scored 10 goals in 13 Premier League games this season, compared to a combined one goal in 12 appearances for Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud - although they only have one top-flight start between them.

However, Lampard is backing the duo to show what they can do while Abraham is sidelined.

"It's a squad game over the course of the season," he said. "The lads have been training well no matter how many minutes they're getting. 

"Every day is a work day so when opportunities come they're ready, so I've got all confidence in them."

Pushed on whether Batshuayi will start against out-of-form West Ham, Lampard added: "We'll see.

"It's not easy when you are not playing as many minutes as you want. I have seen a great work ethic and he has quality. It is great to see."

Chelsea have conceded 32 goals in 21 matches this season, with Valencia the latest side to take advantage of the Blues' slack defending in the midweek draw at the Mestalla.

Lampard has reiterated he has no concerns about his backline, however, especially with Antonio Rudiger closing in on a return to action.

"Antonio is getting closer. He is working very hard and it's like a mini pre-season for him now," Lampard said.

"I didn't like our defending in the final 20 minutes against Valencia, but overall I'm not concerned about the defence. We have conceded more than we would have liked.

"In the Premier League you are going to concede goals. There is always room for improvement. We are okay, but we want more."

Pep Guardiola confirmed Mikel Arteta will travel with Manchester City to Newcastle United but would not discuss whether his assistant might be a target for Arsenal.

Arteta was linked with former club Arsenal when Arsene Wenger departed in 2018, before Unai Emery was appointed head coach.

But Emery was sacked on Friday following a run of seven matches without a win in all competitions, again prompting talk of Arteta returning to London.

Guardiola would only affirm the Spaniard remains a member of his staff for the trip to Tyneside when he faced the media on Friday.

"He is in the squad, he travels to Newcastle." Guardiola said of his fellow Spaniard.

Asked about the possibility of Arsenal making an approach for the 37-year-old, the City boss said: "It's not a question for me."

Guardiola expressed sympathy for Emery and said his opinion of the former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain coach had not been altered by a poor run.

"I'm so sorry for him," the City boss said. "Every time a manager is sacked, it's not good news.

"It changes nothing about my opinion on his capacity. He is an incredible professional, who did incredibly well in Spain and in France.

"He made an incredible achievement. I don't think anybody - okay, Zinedine Zidane with Real Madrid [in the Champions League] - could win three Europa Leagues in a row with Sevilla.

"It's one of the most incredible achievements. But that's football. He knows, I know it depends on the results. It's simple. But I'm sure he will find a new job soon."

Jose Mourinho felt there was "no point" considering a missed opportunity to become Arsenal head coach as he is "so happy" at rivals Tottenham.

Former Chelsea and Manchester United manager Mourinho was named Spurs boss last week after Mauricio Pochettino was sacked at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Unai Emery was also dismissed at Arsenal on Friday, having been under pressure for a number of weeks, enduring a seven-match winless run in all competitions.

It was reported following his exit the Arsenal board had been interested in Mourinho prior to his appointment at Tottenham.

However, the Portuguese was not interested in entertaining the idea at a news conference before Saturday's home match against Bournemouth.

"There is no point to talk about it," Mourinho said. "It didn't happen [when I was out of work], it happened now.

"And I am so happy here that I couldn't even think about the possibility of going to another place. You could put now in front of me any club in the world and I would not move."

Reflecting on Emery's sacking, Mourinho added: "It's always sad news. I felt it as a kid when my dad was sacked as a manager. I felt it when I was sacked previously.

"There is not one single manager where I am happy when they are sacked. I always feel the deja vu situation. I am sad for it, but that's life.

"Unai is a fantastic coach. He was not happy at Arsenal, obviously, but he's a fantastic coach with a proven record.

"With a little bit of a rest, another big club will come for him and his career will be back on track. No dramas, mi amigo. Keep going, and you will get another club."

Pep Guardiola confirmed Mikel Arteta will travel with Manchester City to Newcastle United but would not discuss whether his assistant might be a target for Arsenal.

Arteta was linked with former club Arsenal when Arsene Wenger departed in 2018, before Unai Emery was appointed head coach.

But Emery was sacked on Friday following a run of seven matches without a win in all competitions, again prompting talk of Arteta returning to London.

Guardiola would only affirm the Spaniard remains a member of his staff for the trip to Tyneside when he faced the media on Friday.

"He is in the squad, he travels to Newcastle." Guardiola said of his fellow Spaniard.

Asked about the possibility of Arsenal making an approach for the 37-year-old, the City boss said: "It's not a question for me."

Guardiola expressed sympathy for Emery and said his opinion of the former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain coach had not been altered by a poor run.

"I'm so sorry for him," the City boss said. "Every time a manager is sacked, it's not good news.

"It changes nothing about my opinion on his capacity. He is an incredible professional, who did incredibly well in Spain and in France.

"He made an incredible achievement. I don't think anybody - okay, Zinedine Zidane with Real Madrid [in the Champions League] - could win three Europa Leagues in a row with Sevilla.

"It's one of the most incredible achievements. But that's football. He knows, I know it depends on the results. It's simple. But I'm sure he will find a new job soon."

Freddie Ljungberg is keen to get Arsenal fans back on side as he begins his tenure as interim head coach.

Club great Ljungberg was placed in temporary charge after Unai Emery was sacked on Friday, the former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss paying the price for a winless run of seven matches in all competitions.

Thursday's 2-1 Europa League defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt saw a sparse Emirates Stadium crowd boo their team once more and Ljungberg knows a key part of his role is to bring back a semblance of a feelgood factor – starting with Sunday's trip to Norwich City.

"However long I oversee Arsenal for I will give everything I have to put smiles on faces again," the former Sweden midfielder tweeted.

"We have a busy few weeks ahead and the team needs your support. Let's get to work!"

Ljungberg was a star performer for Arsene Wenger's Arsenal, representing the club between 1998 and 2007.

He won two Premier League titles, scoring 12 times in 25 appearances as the Gunners tasted glory in 2001-02 before netting in a 2-0 FA Cup final triumph against Chelsea that season to complete the double.

It was the first of three winners' medals in the competition for Ljungberg, who also starred in Wenger's celebrated "Invincibles" side, who marched to the 2003-04 Premier League crown without losing a single top-flight match.

Director of football Marcel Brands says the Everton board is "united" in their support of coach Marco Silva and also revealed star striker Richarlison is close to agreeing a new deal at Goodison Park.

Last weekend's 2-0 home defeat to Norwich City again prompted speculation over Silva's future with Everton 16th in the Premier League table, four points off the relegation places.

But Brands is confident improvement is round the corner after sitting down and discussing the situation with the Portuguese.

He told the club's website: "Everyone at the club was disappointed last Saturday, it was a poor performance and a poor result, something we didn't expect after the last few weeks.

"If we talk about improvement, we talk about a couple of weeks ago when we played Burnley. After that game, as a board, we sat down with Marco to see how we could help him, how we can improve results.

"We spoke with individual players, did some team building activities, spoke with staff members and after that we got a few good results.

"We also got a good result just before the break against Southampton so you don't expect a result like last Saturday against Norwich.

"But it's important that everyone feels that we can turn it around to get better results.

"Most people know that I always go to the dressing room after the game, to see how the atmosphere is.

"Of course, everyone was disappointed last Saturday but you saw in the eyes of the players the fire that they want to resolve this, to turn this around - together with the whole staff."

Brands believes stability is the best way forward for a club that had genuine aspirations of a European place this season.

He added: "If you look at our ranking and the results, we expect a lot better.

"We have enough quality and, although we were a bit unlucky with some VAR decisions and injuries, we have a good squad and we have to improve our results.

"That's also what Marco is working on, together with the players.

"As a board we have to support him. We know in sport you have to perform and that goes for the manager, the players, everyone, but it's especially important at this club after a couple of years of instability to stick together.

"The most important thing is that the squad feels it can improve and the staff feel they can improve, we have to support them. As a director of football and a board, we are united in that and it's important we stick together to improve our situation."

One potential piece of good news for Everton fans is that star striker Richarlison is set to extend his stay on Merseyside.

The Brazil international joined from Watford in July 2018 for a fee that could rise to £50 million and is close to agreeing a new deal that would keep him under contract for another five years.

Brands said: "We have to look at the positives ahead and one during a week like this is that we are now busy with the last details of extending the contract of one of our key players Richarlison until 2024. That is a positive for the long term."

Liverpool will be without Fabinho until the new year due to ankle ligament damage sustained during the 1-1 Champions League draw against Napoli, the Premier League leaders have confirmed.

The Brazil midfielder made way after 18 minutes of Wednesday's match at Anfield and must now sit out a potentially pivotal period of the Reds' campaign.

"Further assessment on the injury has discovered Fabinho will be out of action until the new year," a club statement read.

"The Brazilian will begin a rehabilitation programme with the Reds' medical team at Melwood as he works his way back to full fitness."

Jurgen Klopp's side will battle across four fronts over the next month, defending an eight-point lead at the Premier League summit.

A share of the spoils in midweek means they head to Salzburg on December 10 with qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League still on the line.

A scratch squad will take on Aston Villa in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup on December 17, a day before Liverpool begin their Club World Cup bid in Qatar.

Since joining for a reported initial fee of £39million in May 2018, Fabinho has established himself as a crucial part of Klopp's side – an integral performer in the holding midfield role.

Indeed, he is yet to finish on the losing side in a Premier League game he has started, having come on as a second-half substitute during January's 2-1 defeat to champions Manchester City.

Liverpool host Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday before welcoming Everton for the first Merseyside derby of the season next Wednesday.

Leicester City, who are second in the table, entertain the Reds at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day in what will be a first game back in England following their Club World Cup exertions.

 

Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith has signed a new four-year contract with the Premier League club.

The 48-year-old, who took charge in 2018, has now agreed terms that tie him to his boyhood club until 2023.

"I'm really happy to have committed my long-term future to the club," Smith told Villa's website.

"I'm looking forward to all the challenges that come with re-establishing Aston Villa as a top Premier League club."

Villa CEO Christian Purslow added: "The board is delighted that Dean has signed a new four-year contract which puts him at the heart of the club's long-term rebuilding plans."

Smith took charge of Villa in October last year and guided them to promotion back to the Premier League via a Championship play-off final win over Derby County.

With four wins from their first 13 top-flight games of the season, Villa are four points above the relegation zone in 15th place.

They take on Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Unai Emery paid the price for Arsenal's stuttering form on Friday but his dismissal alone will not fix the club's problems.

The Gunners are in danger of finishing outside the top four for a fourth consecutive season, with the gap already eight points.

Emery himself had matters to address when he succeeded Arsene Wenger in May 2018, though it appears he made little headway on that front.

Whoever follows in the Spaniard's footsteps must act with more haste to deal with a growing list of concerns that are holding back a club once seen as perennial Premier League title challengers.

Here we take a look at the most pressing areas to focus on for whoever takes the helm at the Emirates Stadium.

DEFENSIVE WOES HAVE GOT TO GO

The Gunners once boasted perhaps the most well-drilled back-line in English football, but the same cannot be said of the current crop.

What is clear, however, is that Arsenal's defensive issues – a phrase that somewhat undersells the extent of their troubles – extend beyond the defence itself.

Emery's Arsenal lacked shape, discipline, awareness and, it must be said, desire. Players often seemed lost, while opponents found and exploited space with ease.

And it was not just without the ball that Arsenal's defensive frailties were exposed, as on numerous occasions their attempts to play out from the back were thwarted by a loose touch or stray pass. 

With just 10 clean sheets in 51 top-flight matches under Emery, the next incumbent must devise a system to reverse that alarming trend.

PUT A CAP ON CAPTAINS TALLY

Emery had nine different captains. Nine. By any reckoning that is too many and it speaks to the general lack of cohesion under his reign.

It developed into such a farce that in what proved to be Emery's final game in charge at home to Rennes, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang appeared to forget he was captain and did not present himself for the pre-match coin toss until prompted by officials.

The new guy has to show his decisiveness by picking a captain and sticking with him.

It may be the perfect time to wipe the slate clean with Granit Xhaka and give him the armband, or maybe the apparently forgetful Aubameyang would prove a more popular choice.

Either way, make a choice.

KEEP AUBAMEYANG AND OTHER TOP TALENT HAPPY

Despite their struggles, Arsenal boast players who many of their Premier League rivals would dearly love to have on their books.

Chief among them is Aubameyang, who has proven a reliable source of goals since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in January last year.

Such exploits, allied with Arsenal's relative under-performance, have put him firmly on the radar of potential suitors.

With reports circulating that Aubameyang is stalling on contract talks in London, assuaging his concerns must sit high on the to-do list of Arsenal's next manager.

Keeping the Gabon international on board might also provide a boost for other flagging stars, like Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil.

PEPE PEP TALK

Speaking of top talent, the case of Nicolas Pepe is a curious one that needs solving fast.

He surpassed Aubameyang as Arsenal's most expensive signing when he joined from Lille in August, but has failed to fire so far.

With one league goal to his name, the full value of what Pepe has to offer has not come close to being realised.

But if that potential can be unlocked, Arsenal will have another tremendous goalscoring threat at their disposal.

A Pepe pep talk should be among the first duties of the Gunners' incoming boss.

CONNECT WITH THE FANS

The frustration among Arsenal's fan base has long been felt, preceding even the arrival of Emery.

For a while under Wenger there was a widespread perception the club lacked ambition and direction, with few signs of positive change to cling to.

The incident with Xhaka – reacting with disgust to jeers from the stands and consequently being frozen out until Thursday's Europa League loss – marked a low point in the relationship between the fans and their team.

Ultimately, results will be speak loudest in making a connection with the faithful, but a manager who can take on the burden of their anger and work towards appeasing it will be well received in the north of the capital.

He must also be able to manage upwards, knowing much of the unrest among supporters relates to the way the club is run at boardroom level.

Arsenal sacked Unai Emery on Friday after finally losing faith in the Spaniard.

Emery was appointed in May 2018 after leaving Paris Saint-Germain and was tasked with replacing Arsene Wenger, whose 22-year tenure finally came to an end.

The 48-year-old looked a shrewd appointment early on but things quickly turned sour and a run of seven games without a win in all competitions saw him depart, along with his coaching team.

Here, Omnisport examines Emery's 18 months in charge at the Emirates.


EARLY OPTIMISM

Although Emery suffered defeat in his first two competitive games, the quality of the opposition in Manchester City and Chelsea and the obvious difficulty in replacing Wenger, meant there were few grumbles and the fans' trust was soon rewarded.

Arsenal embarked on an 11-match winning run across all competitions and didn't taste defeat until a surprise 3-2 setback at Southampton on December 16, a run of 22 games that included a 4-2 victory over north London rivals Tottenham.

Emery's capture of Lucas Torreira appeared to have solved their long-running problem in central midfield and, in attack, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette were looking potent.


THE UNRAVELLING

Spurs got their revenge three days after the Southampton setback as Arsenal's progress came to a shuddering halt with back-to-back defeats.

The Gunners reverted to the latter days of Wenger's reign with an insipid performance and the same lack of backbone was on display shortly after Christmas as Arsenal capitulated in an alarming 5-1 hammering at Liverpool.

Successive defeats to Crystal Palace, Wolves and Leicester City effectively ended their Champions League qualification hopes and a backdoor route was also blocked as an Eden Hazard-inspired Chelsea beat them 4-1 in the Europa League final in Baku.


WINNING THE TRANSFER WINDOW

There was much optimism and crowing prior to the start of this season with many fans claiming Arsenal had 'won the transfer window' after beating several of Europe's top clubs to the signing of exciting winger Nicolas Pepe from Lille.

A reported £72million was spent on Pepe and he was joined at the Emirates by promising Scotland full-back Kieran Tierney and experienced centre-half David Luiz.

Another £27m went on William Saliba from Saint-Etienne but he was immediately loaned back to the Ligue 1 club as part of the deal.

 

XHAKA SHAMBLES TYPIFIES EMERY WOE

It was a season of struggle from very early on.

Opening wins against Newcastle and Burnley were unconvincing and a lack of progress was evident in another disappointing day on Merseyside as Luiz's defensive frailties were horribly exposed in a 3-1 loss at Anfield.

Results gradually improved but a general lack of contentment was overtly demonstrated in the 2-2 home draw with Crystal Palace on October 27.

Emery hauled off skipper Granit Xhaka, who responded to boos from the home crowd by cupping his ear and mouthing obscenities at his detractors.

The Switzerland international was subsequently stripped of the captaincy and ostracised from the squad until making a re-appearance in the 2-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, a fitting final game for Emery.

Arsenal must be bold when it comes to appointing a replacement for Unai Emery after missing out on preferred candidate Jose Mourinho, according to former striker Alan Smith.

Freddie Ljungberg has been placed in interim charge of the first team after Emery was sacked the day after the Gunners lost 2-1 at home to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.

Favourites to take the permanent job include former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri, Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti and Wolves' Nuno Espirito Santo.

Former Arsenal players including Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira have also been mooted as possible successors to Emery, who managed only one win in his final nine matches in charge.

Smith, twice a league champion with Arsenal, thinks the board should look to younger names such as RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann, especially with rivals Tottenham having taken Mourinho off the market this month.

"I had heard [Arsenal wanted Mourinho] and Tottenham got their act in gear knowing Arsenal were interested. They managed to tie up Mourinho before their London rivals could do so," Smith said on Sky Sports.

"It's the biggest club in London, in my book, in terms of the history, the silverware. They should be able to attract - and I'm sure they can attract - a top manager.

"Allegri has got a wonderful track record with Juventus, but do you go for somebody experienced like that, an old head, or somebody a bit younger?

"Mikel Arteta very nearly got the job last time out; I know Guardiola thinks the world of him as a coach as Manchester City. I'd probably like to see that younger type of coach being brought in, people like Julian Nagelsmann at Leipzig, a very talented young man. Whether they'd be able to prise him away from Leipzig is another matter.

"I'd like them to be adventurous, a bit more daring than just going for somebody tried and tested."

Smith believes the 2-1 loss to Frankfurt was Arsenal's worst display of 2019-20 and showed the players were unable to follow Emery's instructions.

"It was their worst performance of the season and the bar hadn't been set very high," he said. "I say well done to the Arsenal board for acting decisively.

"When they gave a vote of confidence after the Leicester City game, I just wondered why. The move had to be made.

"It's a sad day because you never like to see upheaval - I certainly don't at my old club. You want to see success. But for things to get better, I think they had to make a change.

"It's been difficult for Emery. He's involved in very long team meetings, one, two hours, and when you can't speak English fluently and your message is a little garbled, players switch off, pure and simple. Over time, you tend to lose a little bit of respect for the manager's work. When that happens, it's a hopeless situation.

"It's got worse this season than it was last. There were some good moments to remember in some of the big games: Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United. There seemed to be a bit more fight and togetherness in the ranks.

"That all seems to have dissipated to the point where, last night, I'm looking at him on the line and he's incapable really of changing things. The players don't appear, from my angle, to be taking too much notice of the manager. You can't allow that to continue."

Arsenal have conceded 70 Premier League goals in 51 games under Emery – more than any other 'big six' club in the Premier League since the start of 2018-19 – and Smith thinks the defence will be the first priority for the new boss.

"I think it's a similar situation to Spurs and Mourinho in that you're coming into a club that's got good players," he said.

"It's easy to forget that there are a number of very good players at Arsenal. Obviously, the boys in attack, [Alexandre] Lacazette and [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, and there are some good young lads coming through that can be developed.

"Given the right manager, I think that defence can be organised much, much better than it has been, along with the midfield protecting that defence. It's about working on that. We thought that would happen when Arsene Wenger left the club and Emery came in.

"We thought there would be a lot more discipline in the shape of the team. If they can achieve that, you'd fancy that they'll always score goals. It's that basic organisation you're looking for."

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