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."

Arsenal's sacking of Unai Emery on Friday was far from unexpected and Opta data paints a bleak picture of his tenure at the Emirates Stadium.

Emery's dismissal was confirmed in an official club statement the morning after Arsenal had thrown away a half-time lead to lose 2-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.

That result extended the Gunners' winless streak to seven games in all competitions. Despite taking charge of 1,235 matches as Arsenal boss, Emery's predecessor Arsene Wenger never endured such a long winless run. Indeed, this is Arsenal's worst run since 1992, when George Graham was at the helm for a stretch of eight games without a victory.

With the help of Opta, we look at several other statistics that highlight why Emery lost his job.

 

- Arsenal are without a win in five Premier League matches (W0 D3 L2). When they face Norwich City on Sunday, it will have been 56 days since they last won a top-flight match (1-0 v Bournemouth on October 6). The last time they went so long without a win during a Premier League season was a 56-day barren spell between January 1 and February 26 in 1994.

- Emery won just 49% of his 51 Premier League games in charge at the Emirates Stadium (W25 D13 L13). His overall win ratio of 55% is inflated by the fact he oversaw 14 victories in 20 Europa League fixtures, but it does represent the third-best figure of any Arsenal manager to have taken charge of 20+ games. Only Wenger (57.3%) and Joe Shaw (60.9%) have won a higher proportion of games.

- Since taking charge of Arsenal for the first time in August 2018, Emery has won 88 points in the Premier League – the same tally as rivals Tottenham. Only three clubs have a better haul in this period, but Arsenal's 88-point tally is 46 fewer than Liverpool in that time.

- Arsenal have conceded 70 Premier League goals under Emery – more than any other 'big six' club since the start of 2018-19.

- Only Liverpool and Manchester City have won more points at home than Arsenal's 58 during Emery's tenure, but the Gunners have managed a measly 30 points from 25 away Premier League fixtures, keeping only two clean sheets in those games.

- Arsenal have picked up only 18 points from 13 matches in 2019-20, their worst start to a Premier League campaign. Sitting eighth, they trail leaders Liverpool by 19 points, the biggest gap they have ever conceded at this point in a season.

- Early in Emery's tenure, Arsenal recorded a 22-game unbeaten streak, the third-best in their history. However, since that run ended in December 2018, they have only once gone more than four matches without losing.

- In both of Emery's seasons as Arsenal manager, the Gunners have allowed their opponents to attempt more shots than they have attempted themselves in the Premier League. In seasons where Opta have this data (since 2003-04), this was never the case under Wenger.

- Nine different players (Laurent Koscielny, Granit Xhaka, Petr Cech, Mesut Ozil, Nacho Monreal, Aaron Ramsey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding) have started as captain for Arsenal under Emery.

- Arsenal won exactly the same number of points (88) in Emery's 51 Premier League games in charge as they did in Wenger's final 51 matches at the helm.

Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour was not surprised to see Unai Emery sacked as head coach as he believes the players did not understand their roles under the Spaniard.

Emery was dismissed on Friday, less than 12 hours on from the Gunners' 2-1 Europa League defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in front of a sparse Emirates Stadium crowd.

Arsenal fans had grown increasingly frustrated with displays under Emery, who oversaw only one win in nine matches in all competitions prior to his dismissal.

Parlour, a three-time Premier League winner with the London club, felt the Frankfurt loss was "the final straw" when it came to the under-fire head coach's future.

"I'm not surprised," he said on talkSPORT. "I think that was the final straw last night, boos at the end, the performance again... it's been coming, and you could sense the crowd turning on the manager.

"You look at his tactics – the players don't seem to know what their jobs are. Southampton could have gone and won there; Wolves should have won – they had 24 shots on target. They get a lead and they don't know how to defend it.

"Even going back to the Europa League final last season in Baku, I know [Eden] Hazard turned it on, but I looked at the players and I was amazed with how they were playing, especially in the first half.

"It was up to Arsenal to win to get in the Champions League as Chelsea were already in there and I didn't see a performance out of anybody."

Freddie Ljungberg has been confirmed as interim head coach and will take charge of Sunday's league game away to Norwich City.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo, former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri and even Mauricio Pochettino, sacked by Tottenham this month, have all been linked with the permanent Arsenal job.

Parlour would like to see former team-mate Patrick Vieira to take the job, although he admits it would be "a gamble" to put the ex-captain in charge.

"Allegri has been linked. Would he want to go to Arsenal? I don't know," said Parlour. "[Mikel] Arteta and Rafa Benitez have been linked.

"I said I want Patrick Viera, but he's gone down the pecking order. He's a young manager, a gamble."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thinks the return of Paul Pogba will be like a new signing for Manchester United and hopes the midfielder could be ready to face Tottenham.

France star Pogba has been sidelined since September with an ankle injury that required him to wear a cast and then a protective boot.

The former Juventus midfielder has spent time in Dubai undergoing warm-weather training to help his recovery, having played just six times in all competitions for United this season.

Solskjaer is excited to have the "world-class" Pogba back at his disposal and, while Sunday's visit of Aston Villa will come too soon, the United manager would not rule out the prospect of having the player back to face former boss Jose Mourinho and his Tottenham side next Wednesday.

"Paul is stepping up his recovery and let's see how soon he'll be match-fit and available," Solskjaer said following a youthful United side's 2-1 Europa League defeat to Astana on Thursday.

"He'll be like a new signing for us. He's not really been able to play for us and, when we get him back, it'll be like a new world-class signing and world-class midfielder.

"We want him back as soon as possible. Sunday? No. Spurs? I can't say now as I've not been home and seen him. Let's see where he's at when he comes back and he starts training with us.

"Nobody can doubt his professionalism, his willingness or desire to play football. He's a footballer and one of the best midfielders in the world. It will be like a new signing before the transfer window opens.

"Of course, we have missed him when he's been away but some of the players, Scott [McTominay] and Fred, have taken up that challenge and done well."

Solskjaer also hopes to see McTominay back to fitness in the coming days following an ankle injury.

"We hope Scotty will be back as soon as possible, but he's also back home and I've not see him," Solskjaer added.

"Maybe [he can face] Spurs, but hopefully [he will be back on] Sunday."

Liverpool have put forward proposals for the expand the capacity of Anfield to more than 61,000.

The European champions plan to around an extra 7,000 seats to the Anfield Road Stand, the majority of which will be general admission tickets.

The proposal, which comes three years after the completion of the Main Stand redevelopment, is at the draft stage and does not include details such as an opening date.

Liverpool will hold a public consultation before deciding which steps to take next, with a number of drop-in events planned over the coming weeks.

Andy Hughes, Liverpool's chief operating officer, told the club's official website: "For any expansion to the Anfield Road Stand to go ahead we need certainty on three key areas. 

"Firstly, that we are able to reach agreement with local residents, businesses and community groups that they will allow the expansion plan to take place, which will mean closing a short section of Anfield Road between 96 Avenue and Skerries Road.

"Secondly, that we have the right sustainable financial and economic model in place to deliver a long-term sustainable Anfield. And lastly, that we are able to successfully navigate the complex planning landscape. We need to be satisfied on all three points for work to proceed.

"We are working towards creating an expanded Anfield Road Stand which will see around 7,000 additional seats. The majority of these seats will be for general admission use and we expect some seats will be allocated for a sports bar/lounge-type hospitality in order to ensure the economic viability of the expansion. 

"Further profiling is needed and we expect to provide more detail at the second-stage consultation early next year. These first-stage consultation sessions we are holding are crucial as they will be used to inform the design proposals we are developing, which in turn will help us to make a decision on whether to proceed with the expansion as a whole."

Should it go ahead, the redevelopment will cost a reported £60million and would make the famous Kop stand the smallest in the stadium.

Arsenal sack Unai Emery

November 29, 2019

Arsenal have sacked head coach Unai Emery following a seven-match winless streak, the Premier League club confirmed on Friday.

The Gunners lost patience with Emery following Thursday's shock 2-1 Europa League loss at home to Eintracht Frankfurt in front of a sparse crowd.

Emery leaves Arsenal languishing eighth in the Premier League, eight points adrift of the Champions League places.

The Spaniard's coaching team have also departed, with former Gunners midfielder Freddie Ljungberg promoted to take charge of first-team affairs on an interim basis.

Speaking on behalf of the Arsenal board and owners Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, Josh Kroenke said: "Our most sincere thanks go to Unai and his colleagues who were unrelenting in their efforts to get the club back to competing at the level we all expect and demand.

"We wish Unai and his team nothing but future success."

The statement added: "The decision has been taken due to results and performances not being at the level required.

"We have asked Freddie Ljungberg to take responsibility for the first team as interim head coach. We have full confidence in Freddie to take us forward.

"The search for a new head coach is underway and we will make a further announcement when that process is complete."

Emery arrived as Arsene Wenger's replacement ahead of the 2018-19 season, but the former Paris Saint-Germain boss was unable to deliver.

Despite glimpses of improvement, Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League last season after finishing fifth.

They subsequently broke their transfer record by paying £72 million to prise Nicolas Pepe from Lille for the 2019-20 campaign, while Kieran Tierney and David Luiz also moved to the Emirates.

However, their arrivals have not resulted in an upturn of fortunes, with Emery's task made even harder by having to strip Granit Xhaka of the club captaincy.

Xhaka was withdrawn to widespread boos during the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on October 27 and reacted by cupping his ear and mouthing obscenities to supporters.

The Switzerland international subsequently lost the armband and did not make a first-team appearance until the Eintracht game.

Mikel Arteta, Massimiliano Allegri, Nuno Espirito Santo, Patrick Vieira and Eddie Howe have all been suggested as potential replacements for Emery, as has former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino.

Willian says he is eager to stay on at Chelsea beyond the end of the campaign but has yet to be offered a new deal by the Premier League side.

The Brazil international is into his seventh season at Stamford Bridge and is due to be out of contract next June.

But Willian, who turns 32 next year, intends to remain a Chelsea player and is waiting for discussions to begin over fresh terms.

"I feel happy here," he told reporters. "I feel happy to play for this club but the situation is not in my hands. It's in their hands. 

"I'm waiting for them. They know what I want, what I want to do, so I wait for them."

Head coach Frank Lampard recently called on Chelsea chiefs to award Willian with an extension and the forward will bide his time.

"I don't want to talk to [other clubs] because I have a contract until the end of the season," he said. "I am a Chelsea player but I just want to say the club know what I want to do."

Willian made his 17th appearance of the season on Wednesday in Chelsea's 2-2 Champions League draw with Valencia, playing 80 minutes before being replaced by Mason Mount.

Daniel Wass scored eight minutes from time for Valencia to leave Lampard's side potentially needing a home victory over Lille next month to advance to the last 16.

"The end of the game was crazy and it's difficult to play at Valencia with the atmosphere," said Willian.

"At least we got a point and now we have a decider at home. I think we got a little bit lucky but it was like this so now we go to the game against Lille."

Jadon Sancho looks set to leave Borussia Dortmund sooner rather than later.

Sancho has established himself as one of the best young players in Europe since leaving Manchester City for Dortmund in 2017.

However, the 19-year-old's stay in Germany appears to be coming to an end.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND READY TO PART WITH SANCHO

Dortmund are ready to do business and sell in-demand star Sancho, according to the Independent.

The teenager is wanted by Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona after starring since arriving in the Bundesliga.

But Dortmund are willing to let the England international leave as soon as January due to a breakdown in relationships.

The winger was benched for the midweek Champions League defeat at Barcelona, having felt humiliated by his first-half withdrawal in the Klassiker rout to Bayern Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- La Nazione says Premier League leaders and Champions League holders Liverpool are interested in Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa. The 22-year-old has sparkled in Florence, leading to links with Serie A champions Juventus and Inter.

- Could Everton be set for a South American triple swoop? According to the Liverpool Echo, the Merseyside club are keen on signing Inter forward Gabriel Barbosa – on loan at Flamengo – and River Plate's Rafael Santos Borre. It comes as the Toffees have reportedly identified Flamengo head coach Jorge Jesus as a possible candidate to succeed Marco Silva following his Copa Libertadores and domestic success.

- Marca claims James Rodriguez has turned down a move to Arsenal. According to reports in England, the Gunners want James in January. However, the Madrid playmaker wants to stay in the Spanish capital.

- High-flying Inter are eager to sign Atalanta full-back Robin Gosens, reports Calciomercato.

Milan are targeting Juventus centre-back Merih Demiral, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. The Turkey international has struggled for game time following his arrival in Turin this season.

- As Flamengo struggle to secure a permanent deal for loan star Barbosa, Goal says the Copa Libertadores champions are in talks to sign Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa.

Manchester City have set their sights on Brescia and Italy sensation Sandro Tonali, says Fichajes. The 19-year-old is attracting interest from all over Europe.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp have been inducted into the League Manager Association's (LMA) Hall of Fame.

The LMA announced the pair's induction on Thursday, in recognition of their historic achievements in football management to date.

Guardiola and Klopp are going head-to-head for Premier League supremacy this season.

City boss Guardiola is seeking a third successive Premier League crown, while Klopp is looking to deliver Liverpool's first league title since 1990.

"It is an incredible honour to be a part of it, for the rest of my life and for generations, to be in this Hall of Fame in English football," said Guardiola, who has won seven trophies since arriving from Bayern Munich in 2016.

"I do not have any words to express my gratitude. To be part of this family."

Appointed in 2015, Klopp has led Liverpool to Champions League and UEFA Super Cup glory following the club's runners-up European finish in 2017-18.

"This is really special, to be a part of this incredible group of managers is big," Klopp added.

"Tonight my family and coaches are here. I wanted them all to be here because it is very important in in our family history."

Liverpool – eight points clear atop the Premier League summit – host Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, while City travel to Newcastle United.

Mauricio Pochettino thanked Tottenham as the sacked manager ended his silence to say he gave the club "the best of me".

After five and a half years in charge, Pochettino was dismissed by Spurs last week following a miserable run of form that had the club in the bottom half of the Premier League table.

Jose Mourinho was swiftly appointed as head coach in his place and has since guided Tottenham to back-to-back wins against West Ham and Olympiacos.

Pochettino left a message for the squad on a training-ground whiteboard but made his first public pronouncement on his exit on Thursday.

The 47-year-old made Spurs regulars in the Champions League, reaching the 2018-19 final, and described "tough challenges" and "exciting success".

"I would like to thank [owner] Joe Lewis and [chairman] Daniel Levy for giving me the opportunity to be part of Tottenham Hotspur's history," he said, in a statement released by the League Managers Association.

"I would like to thank also everyone I met at Tottenham, all the club staff and the football players during these five and a half years.

"Finally, I would like to give a special mention to the fans who make this club so great with their fantastic support.

"I gave the best of me to accomplish the objectives I was asked for in our first meeting. There were equally tough challenges as exciting success.

"Best wishes for the future, I am sure we will cross paths again."

Even before leaving Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Pochettino was linked to both Manchester United and Real Madrid, along with Bayern Munich following Niko Kovac's sacking.

As pressure builds on Unai Emery at Arsenal, Pochettino is also among the favourites to take over at Tottenham's nearest rivals.

There appears no sign of Southampton's luck changing after winger Sofiane Boufal suffered a bizarre injury in his own home.

The Saints are embroiled in a relegation battle and were humiliatingly thrashed 9-0 by Leicester City last month, a record Premier League home defeat.

Even improved performances in recent weeks have not been rewarded with victories, as Arsenal snatched a scarcely deserved 2-2 draw last weekend.

Nineteenth-placed Southampton now head into a crucial meeting with basement side Watford with Boufal's involvement in doubt, having run into a kitchen table.

"[Boufal] couldn't train for three days now and [his toe] is still a bit swollen," boss Ralph Hasenhuttl told a news conference. "He hit his toe on the table at home.

"He ran into the kitchen and hit it on the table, something like that. It will be difficult for the weekend."

Boufal has appeared in 10 Premier League matches this season, starting four times, but has failed to find the net.

Liverpool teenager Rhian Brewster would not be guaranteed regular Premier League starts if he joined Crystal Palace on loan, says Roy Hodgson.

The 19-year-old is one of England's most highly rated young forwards, having fired the Young Lions to Under-17 World Cup glory in 2017.

But Brewster subsequently suffered serious knee and ankle injuries and only made his Liverpool debut against MK Dons in the EFL Cup in September.

The striker has featured just once at senior level since - in the same competition - and is yet to score for the Reds.

Brewster therefore looks primed for a loan move in January, with Palace and Aston Villa both linked with bids.

But Palace manager Hodgson would be reluctant to offer any assurances over game time for a player yet to appear in the Premier League, suggesting he might prefer to look for opportunities elsewhere.

"[Brewster] is a good player, there's no doubt about that," the former Liverpool boss told a news conference.

"The only thing that would concern me there is that I don't know quite how many guaranteed games [he would get].

"If I was going to speak to Jurgen and he was going to talk to me about, 'I want Rhian Brewster to go out on loan and play some matches,' I'm not 100 per cent certain I could guarantee him that he would be the first name on the team sheet.

"He would be in competition with the three players we already have, who are experienced players and quality players.

"So, I'm not 100 per certain that that will do anything other than be useful for us in terms of having another player who could come in from time to time and certainly help us out.

"But if I was Jurgen Klopp and Rhian Brewster, I think I'd want to be going somewhere where I was the first name on the team sheet and I could guarantee that, between January and May, I'd be playing 20 matches."

Palace have scored just 11 goals in the Premier League this season, with only basement side Watford managing fewer.

Club-record signing Christian Benteke, who arrived from Liverpool in 2016, has just four Premier League goals since the start of the 2017-18 campaign.

Manuel Pellegrini is not overly concerned by "noise" around his West Ham future, preferring to focus on their next Premier League match against Chelsea.

West Ham's encouraging start to the 2019-20 season has long since been forgotten, with Pellegrini's men winless in eight across all competitions, losing their past three league matches and conceding three goals in each.

A miserable run leaves the Hammers one place and three points outside the relegation zone, with pressure quickly building on Pellegrini.

The former Manchester City boss is one of several Premier League managers reportedly on the brink, as David Moyes - also linked with Everton - has been mooted for a potential return to London Stadium.

Addressing the media ahead of a tough trip to Chelsea this weekend, it was put to Pellegrini that the West Ham board could not be happy and "noise" was growing.

The West Ham coach offered a spiky response, telling reporters: "They can't be [happy]? You think that someone can't be happy?

"You are telling me they can't be happy when we aren't winning? You are telling me that? There is always noise around every club that is not winning."

Pellegrini would not be pushed further on his future, adding: "We never talk about the future. We must be very clear with what we do. This is game by game. It's the same answer as when we were winning.

"Football changes every game, so we are working to beat Chelsea and improve. I never think about the future, always about the present."

One key area of concern for West Ham in recent weeks has been the form of goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez, who has been hapless in place of injured star Lukasz Fabianski.

Pellegrini insisted on Thursday that Fabianski would not recover from his hip problem in time to return before Christmas, although he said West Ham "will see" about a change in goal.

David Martin, signed from rivals Millwall in the close-season, would appear the obvious alternative, but Pellegrini still refused to criticise Roberto.

"I am not talking about just the goalkeeper," he said. "Every time you must decide your starting XI, you have the complete week to work with them, with your staff, to talk about different options.

"There's positives and negatives. So, we will do exactly the same as we have done every week."

Newcastle United winger Matt Ritchie is set to be out until January after undergoing a second ankle operation.

Ritchie, 30, was injured after a challenge by Hamza Choudhury during an EFL Cup game against Leicester City in August.

The Scotland international has not featured for the Magpies since and, having initially had surgery in October, required a further procedure.

A club statement read: "The 30-year-old will continue his rehabilitation on Tyneside and is expected to return to action in January 2020."

Steve Bruce had acknowledged after Monday's loss to Aston Villa that Ritchie was "not near fitness at the moment" after suffering a number of setbacks on the recovery trail.

While news of Ritchie's prolonged absence comes as a blow, the Magpies will at least welcome Sean Longstaff back for Saturday's Premier League game against champions Manchester City following a three-match ban.

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