Arsenal remain “100% committed” to Unai Emery and have no plans to replace him as manager amid strong reports on Sunday linking the Gunners to Luis Enrique.
Defeat at Leicester on Saturday evening left Arsenal with two wins from 10 in the league, with “Emery Out” once again trending on Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the game.
But the beleaguered Spaniard – who had words of praise after the game for the recalled Mesut Ozil – has defended his team time and again and has asked for patience as the international fixtures promise to give him a little respite from growing criticism.
The loss at the King Power leaves Arsenal eight points adrift of the top four already and seemingly further away from a return to the Champions League than they ever were during the latter years of Arsene Wenger’s reign.
During the last month, Arsenal have allowed leads to slip in matches against Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Wolves and Vitoria (away), while have put in timid performances at Sheffield United and Leicester.
The Foxes game was a particular low point, Emery deploying a five-man defence and conservative style, with Arsenal having a single shot on target, and no efforts of any kind beyond the 58th minute.
Yet David Ornstein of The Athletic claims ‘the internal view’ to be that Arsenal ‘had been dominating play, creating doubts in their opponents’ minds and building momentum’ before Jamie Vardy’s second-half opener.
With Leicester considered ‘an extremely strong side,’ the Arsenal hierarchy ‘remain “100 per cent” behind Emery’ as the Gunners ‘showed clear signs of improved performance’.
They were ‘encouraged’ that the club is ‘on the right path’ with a squad and staff capable of delivering success. ‘They are adamant their project is sound’ and ‘well planned’.
Furthermore – and perhaps more bizarrely – Ornstein writes that there are many who ‘also apportion blame to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system.’ Stan and Josh Kroenke, Raul Sanllehi, Vinai Venkatesham and Edu are among those behind Emery, and it is even said that an improved contract offer was mooted at the end of last season.
Claims of the Arsenal hierarchy’s apparent support for Emery comes just hours after reports in El Confidencial stated that head of football Sanllehi had been in contact with former Barcelona and Spain manager Enrique over replacing his compatriot.
“For me, as a coach, it’s about continuing stronger and improving with our players,” he said.
“I am speaking with the club to stay calm and to stay patient to improve and recover some confidence with some circumstances.
“We are receiving criticism but I know that’s my job. I’ve had lots of moments like that but I’ve recovered by working to get confidence, being together with the club and players.
“I accept all (of the criticism). I accept the applause and I accept it when they criticise us. I know when we win, they are going to be happy and when we lose, they are going to be sad. It’s normal.
“We need to stay calm and also keep improving things. Today we got one step ahead by being together and being strong defensively. But we lost because we were playing a very strong team in a good moment.”