Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal sack manager Unai Emery as Nuno Espirito Santo favourite to take over

Unai Emery
Unai Emery

Arsenal have sacked boss Unai Emery following a run of seven games without a win.

Thursday evening's 2-1 Europa League defeat at home to Frankfurt proved to be the final straw with Emery's departure confirmed on Friday morning.

The Gunners have confirmed Freddie Ljungberg will take charge on an interim basis and pointed to "results and performances not being at the level required" for the reason behind Emery's exit.

The 48-year-old replaced Arsene Wenger in March 2018 but was unable to take the club back to the Champions League, finishing fifth last season and losing the Europa League final to Chelsea.

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo is the early favourite to become the next permanent Arsenal manager, with Ljungberg and former Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta also expected to be in the running. Arteta is currently Pep Guardiola's assistant at Manchester City and has been tipped by his boss for big success.

"He is already an incredible manager and he’ll have incredible success in his future," said Guardiola in September.

For now, Arsenal will turn to Ljungberg to inspire an immediate upturn in fortunes, with the club already eight points off the top four and Champions League qualification.

The timing of Emery's dismissal is significant with three crunch Premier League fixtures coming up in an eight-day period. Sunday's trip to Norwich is followed by a home game against Brighton and a visit to West Ham.

"Speaking on behalf of the Arsenal board and our 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 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."

Speculation had been rife over Emery's future during a poor run of form which leaves Arsenal without a win since October 24.

He was publicly backed by head of football Raul Sanllehi and managing director Vinai Venkatesham during the international break but lasted only two more matches.

Alexandre Lacazette's injury-time goal rescued a point at home to struggling Southampton on Saturday before the 2-1 defeat to Frankfurt, in front of a sparse Emirates Stadium crowd, ultimately saw Emery lose his job.

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