Unai Emery missed an excellent opportunity to plug Arsenal’s defensive woes after failing to sign either Chris Smalling or Gary Cahill this summer.
That’s according to Charlie Nicholas, who has joined the chorus of critics gathering to condemn some of the under-fire Spaniard’s decision-making since taking charge at Arsenal.
Another poor performance on Wednesday saw Arsenal lucky to leave Guimaraes with a 1-1 draw as Shkodran Mustafi’s header was cancelled out by an injury-time bicycle kick from Bruno Duarte.
Regardless of whether Mourinho takes charge or not, Emery is under increasing pressure at Emirates Stadium with many feeling Arsenal have failed to progress since he replaced Arsene Wenger in the hotseat. Former Gunners striker Kevin Campbell even listed four candidates he would pick from as his replacement.
And with the knives sharpening, Sky Sports pundit Nicholas has also joined in the criticism – and claims Emery could have done himself a huge favour by signing one of Smalling or Cahill when they were on the market this summer, especially after the Gunners boss admitted his side haven’t been good enough defensively.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deemed Smalling surplus to requirements at Old Trafford and sanctioned his loan move to Roma, who are now trying to sign him permanently, while Cahill joined Crystal Palace as a free agent after many years service to Chelsea.
“Arsenal don’t sign personalities,” Nicholas told Sky Sports.
“Sadly I have to go way back to [former chairman] David Dein and he would sit down with Arsene Wenger and ask what kind of character he was signing. That’s gone now.
“It’s as if Arsenal sign players because they are desperate.
“Why not – and I don’t know how much he would have cost – go and get Chris Smalling from Manchester United in the summer before he went to Roma?
“‘Because he’d be better than what they had. They could’ve had Gary Cahill from Chelsea and sat him in the defence.
“He is better than what they have and is also a leader, but they missed out.”