Sacked head coach Unai Emery sent a goodbye message to Arsenal supporters on Friday, urging them to back the struggling players he has left behind.

Emery was dismissed in the morning after the Gunners' winless run extended to seven matches across all competitions with a 2-1 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday.

Pressure had been building on the former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss, with his tenure lasting just 18 months.

Yet Emery was quick to pay tribute to Arsenal's fans, board and players in a message posted on the club's official website, despite admitting there had been "bitter" moments during his stay.

Former captain Granit Xhaka clashed with supporters as he was jeered at Emirates Stadium last month, but Emery said the squad "deserve your support".

"It has been an honour to be the Arsenal head coach," Emery wrote. "To all the fans, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for helping me to understand and feel the greatness of Arsenal.

"To all of you who have supported us from every corner of the globe, all of you who have come to the Emirates, all of you who have waited in the rain and cold just to greet me after a game.

"I want to tell all of you that I have worked with passion, with commitment and with effort. I would have liked nothing more than to have achieved better results for you.

"I also want to send a message of gratitude to all Arsenal employees for the way they have treated me. The greatness of Arsenal is in every director, executive, employee, assistant and volunteer.

"In particular, I want to highlight [former chief executive] Ivan Gazidis, who welcomed me to the club, and [head of football] Raul Sanllehi, [technical director] Edu and [managing director] Vinai Venkatesham for their respect, companionship and help.

"Until the very last minute, I have been treated with honour and honesty. And of course, I send my sincere gratitude to the Kroenke family [owners of the club], for their trust."

Emery, who coached Paris Saint-Germain for two seasons prior to joining the Gunners in 2018, has endured a difficult spell in the Premier League.

"It has been a year and a half full of emotions, of great moments and some other more bitter ones," he said. "But not a single day has gone by without me stopping to think about how lucky I have been to work for this club with these players and their professional and personal qualities.

"They have always honoured the shirt they wear. They deserve your support.

"I had already experienced a lot in football, but I have enjoyed and learned a lot in England, in the Premier League, about respect for professionals and about the purity of football."

Former Arsenal star Freddie Ljungberg - who was an assistant to Emery - has taken temporary charge of the Gunners ahead of Sunday's meeting with Norwich City.

David Luiz believes Arsenal's players must take their share of the blame for Unai Emery's sacking.

Head coach Emery was relieved of his duties on Friday, the morning after a 2-1 Europa League loss to Eintracht Frankfurt extended the Gunners' winless run in all competitions to seven matches.

Fans' favourite Freddie Ljungberg will be in interim charge for Sunday's trip to Norwich City and close-season arrival David Luiz – who also played under Emery at Paris Saint-Germain – suggested it is time for Arsenal's players to step up.

"Sad day for everybody, especially because we let u down boss, sorry!!" he tweeted.

"[I] thank you and the amazing staff for everything!! You are a hard worker, passionate for football and a big example always.

"Doesn't matter [about] the results! Good luck for the future!"

David Luiz arrived at Arsenal as a deadline-day signing from Premier League rivals Chelsea, part of an impressive window in the market that also saw club-record signing Nicolas Pepe and Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos move to north London.

However, results have not measured up to expectations and Ljungberg will aim to plot an improvement upon 18 points from 13 Premier League matches.

Under-achieving football clubs tend not to hang on to good players.

Such analysis might be as rudimentary as most of Shkodran Mustafi's defensive efforts over recent seasons, but this is the simple reason why Unai Emery's time at Arsenal was up.

The head coach appointed on the back of major honours won at Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain was one of many problems at Emirates Stadium. His increasingly rudderless stewardship of the first team was simply the easiest to fix.

Of course, his squad was not perfect. Death, taxes and Arsenal needing a reliable central defender are the three certainties of our times.

That inevitably porous backline compromised all areas of the team, but the lack of anything resembling a plan or penetration in attack was damning, given what Emery had at his disposal.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored in the tenure-ending defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday and has 10 goals in 16 appearances this season, with 51 in 81 Arsenal games overall.

Aubameyang's great friend Alexandre Lacazette boasts a Gunners record of 40 in 98 games. Emery was unable to effectively harness two of the most clinical number nines in Europe.

Players of this calibre will not continue to arrive for a staple diet of Europa League football. The same can be said of club-record signing Nicolas Pepe or Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos – two men who added weight to the argument Arsenal had "won" the close-season transfer window and two coveted performers Emery has failed to get a tune from.

This is before we get to the curious disfunction of the alliance between Emery and star playmaker Mesut Ozil.

From the public recriminations that accompanied the end of his Germany career last year to being the target of an attempted carjacking at the start of this season, the former Real Madrid playmaker has experienced a punishingly turbulent period.

That may or may not adequately explain Ozil often being on the margins of Emery's reign. Sure, he wore the captain's armband. But it felt like everyone barring Gunnersaurus had a go at some point.

The commitment to a hard-running style during a successful first half of last season - those salad days of "We've got our Arsenal back" - was an understandable reason for Ozil's diminished status, but his absence from this term's confused mess until recent weeks was harder to fathom.

Granit Xhaka has drawn considerable supporter ire but rarely looks so hapless when starring for Switzerland, while young Frenchman Matteo Guendouzi has bustled his way into arguably the most gifted squad in international football.

Interim boss Freddie Ljungberg, and whoever replaces Emery in the long term, will have the raw materials to affect a swift upturn in fortunes following a sapping winless run of seven matches. They will also be wary the clock is ticking on the days when Arsenal can expect to have such a collection of talent.

That other dynasty of the previous decade, Manchester United, now have an under-qualified manager and a remarkably thin squad given their outlay. Arsene Wenger did not bow out in a blaze of glory like Alex Ferguson, but the warnings from Old Trafford over how a post-imperial period can play out are clear.

Whether it's an exciting young pretender like Mikel Arteta or an experienced elite operator like Max Allegri, Emery's successor must quickly demonstrate a clear path to improvement after a supposed safe pair of hands lost his grip on what is likely to be a last chance with a European heavyweight.

The lack of a common thread through the styles and credentials of the supposed frontrunners does not suggest a club that knows what it wants. After frequently appearing at cross purposes with Emery, the Gunners hierarchy must decide on their vision and commit to someone who fits it.

If Arsenal, their new coach, an unpopular board and frothingly angry fanbase cannot pull together and get this squad heading in the right direction, it will only become harder to turn the ship around from this point.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is not aware of managers who have struggled with mental health over the precarious nature of the job, although he admits he has long since decided to ignore both pressure and critics.

Klopp was speaking after Arsenal announced they had sacked head coach Unai Emery after a run of just one win in nine games in all competitions.

It means two of the Premier League's 'big-six' clubs have opted to make a change despite seeing their teams contest European finals last season, with Tottenham having already dismissed Mauricio Pochettino this month.

Klopp, whose side sit top of the Premier League after 13 matches and beat Spurs in the Champions League final last term, says it is important for a manager to disregard outside noise about their future for the sake of their own peace of mind.

When asked about the prospect of coaches developing mental health concerns, he told reporters: "It's an intense job, absolutely. I don't think I've heard - not ever, but it's really rare that I've heard - about a manager who struggled, physically, in a medical sense, because of that. I don't really remember.

"There are a lot of things you have to accept before you do the job. A really important skill of a football manager is to ignore a lot of things around you. I'm pretty good at that. Knowing about pressure doesn't mean you have to feel it constantly because you cannot use it, so ignore it. There is responsibility, yes, a lot, but that's a fact before you start, so you can ignore it and just do your best.

"Maybe sometimes it doesn't work out for reasons you can't have an influence on. It happens from time to time. I haven't experienced this. The main problem I think is it's in public, constantly. Everything we do is judged, criticised, whatever, and I decided long ago to ignore that as well. I have no clue what exactly is written about us.

"If our results are bad, I feel bad, and if they are good, I feel good. I don't think there are a lot of managers out there who struggle with it, but it's nice that you think about that. On behalf of all the other managers, thank you very much for caring."

Klopp concedes he was "surprised" to hear of Emery's departure but expects the former Paris Saint-Germain boss to recover quickly.

"It's how the football world is," he said. "It's our life. It's what you sign the moment you sign a contract. We have to make the best of the situation at a club.

"I wish him all the best, of course. He is an outstanding manager and showed that in so many different countries. He will be fine in the future but I'm sure he had big ambitions at Arsenal. Now, Arsenal need to find a solution. Freddie [Ljungberg] is taking the [interim] job now, so that's how it is. There are younger coaches out there, maybe less experienced, but maybe he can take the chance."

Closer to home, Klopp was delighted to see Liverpool's plans to expand Anfield by 7,000 seats, although he is not certain it will make the stadium any more difficult for opposition teams.

"You can lose in a stadium with 100,000 people in!" he said. "It's really early stages so I don't know what I can say, but I saw pictures and it looks really good.

"The best news of that is this club is constantly trying to develop and make the next steps, and that's what I like about the news. Making this iconic place available for more people is a very good idea. It's exciting."

Klopp also sent a message to the families affected by the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, after a jury on Thursday cleared former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent David Duckenfield of the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 people killed at the stadium.

"Our thoughts and our love is with the families and we are there for them," he said. "I can imagine it's a big disappointment, big frustration, sadness of course, that this looks like the final verdict."

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 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.

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 head coach Unai Emery on Friday following a disappointing start to his second season in charge of the club.

Emery lasted just 18 months in the job, paying the price for a winless run that spans seven games following Thursday's 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt in front of a sparse crowd at the Emirates Stadium.

Former Gunners midfielder Freddie Ljungberg has been promoted to take charge in an interim capacity, but what about the contenders to replace Emery on a permanent basis?

Here we examine seven potential candidates for what remains one of the most coveted jobs in football, despite Arsenal's recent struggles.

Massimiliano Allegri

The ex-Milan and Juventus boss won six Serie A titles during his coaching spell in Italy and is out of work after leaving the Allianz Stadium at the end of last season. Allegri also reached two Champions League finals with Juventus and is seemingly primed for a return to football management.

Carlo Ancelotti

Another proven winner, having lifted league trophies in Italy, England, France and Germany, as well as winning the Champions League three times. Ancelotti has experience of working in the Premier League with Chelsea, but he has had a tough time of things at Napoli this term and his reputation has taken a bit of a hit in the process.

Mauricio Pochettino

Another coach with experience of working in the Premier League with a London club, albeit at Arsenal's fierce rivals Tottenham. Pochettino worked wonders during his five-and-a-half years at Spurs, but he ultimately failed to win any silverware and his loyalty to the team that sacked him makes this an almost certain non-runner in the eyes of many.

Freddie Ljungberg

Iconic Arsenal midfielder Ljungberg is the man in possession of the job after being placed in caretaker charge. Following the initial success of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United in an identical capacity 13 months ago, leading to him landing the position full-time, could Arsenal be tempted to go down a similar route if results instantly improve?

Mikel Arteta

Sticking with the theme of turning to an ex-player to steady the ship, Arteta has long been tipped as a future Arsenal boss. The Spaniard captained the Gunners during his playing career and has spent the past few years picking up coaching advice from Pep Guardiola. The question, though, is whether he is ready to manage in his own right - and if so, would this really be the right first job to take on?

Patrick Vieira

Unlike Arteta, and indeed Ljungberg, Vieira has experience of managing in a big league after 17 months in charge of Ligue 1 side Nice, where he remains under contract. The ex-France international, still a legendary figure at Arsenal, guided Nice to a seventh-place finish last season and has previously hinted he would be interested in returning to Arsenal.

Nuno Espirito Santo

Nuno led Wolves out of the Championship and sealed a seventh-place finish in the Premier League last season. He has continued his upward trajectory this term by balancing European football with domestic commitments, but could he be persuaded to jump ship while onto a good thing at Molineux, where he is loved by supporters?

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."

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.

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