Former Arsenal midfielder Robert Pires has admitted the club are in “big trouble”, with Unai Emery’s future in doubt.
The Gunners sit eighth in the Premier League having won just four of their opening 13 games of the season. They are eight points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and without a league win in their past five matches, including a 2-2 draw with Southampton on Saturday in which they had to come from behind twice.
Are Arsenal in “big trouble”? Five things to know…
- Arsenal are eighth in the Premier League and eight points off fourth.
- The Gunners have won just four of their opening 13 league games.
- Many Arsenal fans have called for Emery to be sacked
- Former Arsenal midfielder Robert Pires has admitted the club are in “big trouble”.
- However, he believes Emery can still turn things around.
On top of this, Arsenal have been embroiled in off-field problems, particularly surrounding former captain Granit Xhaka. The Swiss midfielder was named as captain in September but was stripped of the armband at the end of October after a clash with Arsenal fans at the Emirates.
Xhaka was booed by Arsenal fans after taking too long to walk off the pitch in their 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace and responded by swearing at them and taking his shirt off, before walking down the tunnel. He has not featured since, adding to the discord at the club.
But most of the frustration from Arsenal fans has been directed towards Emery, with many calling for the Spaniard to be sacked – just 18 months after he replaced Arsene Wenger at the Emirates helm.
And although Pires – who was part of the Gunners side that went unbeaten in 2003/04 – admits Arsenal are in “big trouble”, he believes Emery can still turn things around if given the chance.
Robert Pires on Unai Emery’s position as Arsenal manager
“Everybody knows at Arsenal, even Unai Emery, that they are in big trouble,” Pires told Omnisport.
“But [Emery] is a competitor, he knows the high level.
“He was a great manager with Sevilla, with Paris Saint-Germain, but the situation is not so good.
“He is a good manager, I think he will make a success with Arsenal. I hope for him anyway.
“The situation isn’t so good, but him and the players need to find the solution.”
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Pires: Arsenal future uncertain if they miss out on Champions League again
The 2019/20 campaign marks the third season in a row in which Arsenal are playing outside the Champions League. Their impressive run in the competition came to an end ahead of Wenger’s final season in charge as they only finished fifth in the Premier League – securing a spot in the Europa League.
Wenger’s final campaign saw Arsenal fall to sixth in the league and reach the semi-finals of the Europa League, setting Emery up for a campaign in his favourite competition – having won it three times while in charge of Sevilla.
However, last season Emery was unable to add to his Europa League haul, losing 4-1 in the final to Chelsea. This, combined with a fifth-placed finish in the Premier League meant Arsenal were out of the Champions League once more. And Pires believes a fourth year outside of Europe’s premier club competition could be costly.
He added: “The target for Arsenal and for Unai is to finish in the top four because it’s very important for Arsenal to play again in the Champions League next season.
“I don’t know what will happen at the end of the season, especially for Arsenal.
“For some players – Aubameyang, Lacazette, or even Mesut Ozil – the first thing for them and all the Arsenal players is to finish in the top four.”