Unai Emery believes he has the full backing of Arsenal’s board as he struggles to arrest the slump which is threatening to derail their season.
Emery has come under severe pressure following criticism of his team selection, tactics and wider strategy this campaign as Arsenal have produced their worst start to a top-flight season since 1982.
The 2-0 defeat at Leicester City on Saturday left Arsenal eight points adrift of the Champions League places and with only two league wins since August 17, leading to fans at the King Power Stadium chanting “You’re getting sacked in the morning”.
Members of the Arsenal hierarchy who watched the side in the east midlands did so grim-faced but it is understood the club have no desire to make a change so soon into the season.
Telegraph Sport understands that the Spaniard had no ultimatums issued to him by the board ahead of this weekend’s defeat, and believes his job is secure for the time being. Emery has cited wider “circumstances” such as Granit Xhaka’s public fall-out with supporters and the attempted robbery of Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac as factors which have disrupted the side this season.
Emery will be expected to be deliver improved performances in upcoming matches against struggling Southampton and Norwich after the international break, and it is believed that aspects of Arsenal’s performance at Leicester – where Emery ripped up his back-four formation and fielded a back three for the first time in the league this season – were deemed encouraging.
His 3-4-1-2 system meant no place in the starting line-up for £72million signing Nicolas Pepe, who came on just after Leicester’s second goal and looked a frustrated figure.
He is not alone. Last month, Telegraph Sport reported how both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette would consider their futures if Arsenal once again failed to qualify for the Champions League, and that a number of players have been left baffled by Emery’s decision-making.
After the Leicester match, Emery insisted that Arsenal’s season would pick up after the international break.
“I am sure we are going to improve after that [the international break],” he said. “I think we need to achieve, at home, confidence and to be strong at home. We didn’t lose [many games] but we draw so much, that’s what’s important for the table, but I think we can achieve the balance to be strong and get better in these matches.”
Xhaka, meanwhile, has given an interview to Swiss newspaper Blick today, in which he said the fans’ abuse had “hit me very hard and really upset me. It was very hurtful and frustrating.
“At a time you are already experiencing a lot of hostility and your own football family insults you, it hurts a lot. If the team and I don’t play well, we have to listen and work on it. But insulting and swearing at your own captain will cause upset and a bad atmosphere for the team you are actually supposed to be supporting. That makes no sense to me.”
Xhaka insisted, however, that he has no plans to quit Arsenal in January.
“You can be sure that I’ll keep fighting and putting myself out there in every training session,” he said. “I feel that last week has been dealt with and I’m ready.”