Uncertainty at Arsenal unsettling players

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo is the name on everyone’s lips.

In Summary

• Then there is the case of the high profile players who are looking to leave if things do not change. 

• Emery admits he can and has to do better and the 218 shots made against Arsenal this season shows that only two teams, Aston Villa and Norwich, have done worse. 

Arsenal manager Unai Emery during their Eurpa League defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night
Arsenal manager Unai Emery during their Eurpa League defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night

My latest information from inside Arsenal is that several of the players are waiting for manager Unai Emery to be sacked. They talk in whispers, are always constantly checking their phones for updates and many staff employees believe it is a matter of when, not if Emery will be sacked.

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo is the name on everyone’s lips. When Alexandre Lacazette scored his last minute equalizer against Southampton at the weekend he did little to celebrate and the other players were also very quiet. It was because they knew how awful Arsenal had performed, which reflects the bad situation at the club.

Then there is the case of the high profile players who are looking to leave if things do not change. Lucas Torreira has made little or no progress in negotiations over his new contract and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lacazette have also stalled on signing new contracts because they do not know who the next manager will be. There is not an air of depression hanging over the Emirates. It is simply a matter of uncertainty which is unsettling players and staff.   

Arteta — a perfect fit for Arsenal

As the struggling manager’s merry-go-round swings fully into action, it looks even more likely that we will not only lose Arsenal’s Unai Emery but also possibly Everton’s Marco Silva following their poor run of results. The Everton board has said it will back Silva for the foreseeable future but we all know that is often the kiss of death for a manager. This has prompted Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola to publicly state that his assistant coach Mikel Arteta is not going anywhere this season. He has been groomed and educated in the art of coaching by arguably the best in the business, Pep Guardiola. Arteta has won many admirers with his approach to the job and willingness to learn. He has succeeded at every level and that makes him a valuable asset and the Arsenal board are well aware that he could fit perfectly into the Emirates as Emery’s replacement.

Disappointing statistics show Arsenal problems

Arsenal manager Unai Emery is still looking for solutions and despite being fifth in the table, supporters have long been fed up with impotent displays from the Gunners. Two of their main problems are tackling and interceptions. However, it is shooting at goal that has taken up all the time in training this week. Despite boasting forwards of the calibre of Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Aubameyang in their match last weekend, lowly strugglers Southampton had 21 attempts on goal compared with Arsenal’s 12. To make matters worse, Arsenal rank third bottom in a table which reflects the number of shots conceded and also measures the difference between shots against and shots for.

Emery admits he can and has to do better and the 218 shots made against Arsenal this season shows that only two teams, Aston Villa and Norwich, have done worse. As I said last week, Emery is under threat and whereas he played a 4-2-3-1 system when managing Seville and 4-3-3 at Paris St Germain, he cannot seem to settle on a successful system this season with Arsenal despite trying several combinations. It is no wonder that Arsenal are bottom of the interceptions table with an average of only 8.4 per match. At times players are looking around wondering where they should be standing, all of which points to a lack of organisation during training and a failure of the manager to communicate with the players before each game.


Reece James is the one to watch at Chelsea

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is living his dream at the moment. His high-flying youngsters are improving with every game and now Reece James is joining Tammy Abrahams, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount as the latest to break through to the senior team. Frank was always aware of Reece because he tried to negotiate a loan for him to join Derby when he was managing there, prior to taking over at Stamford Bridge. At the time Reece was playing for Wigan, on loan from Chelsea, and won all the club awards last season…

Championship Player of the Season, Wigan Player of the Year, Wigan Players’ Player of the year and Wigan’s Goal of the Season. You can’t achieve much more than that. Now back with Chelsea and Lampard, he has taken his place with the Blue’s elite. Good performances against Crystal Palace and in the Champions League against Ajax have cemented him as a success with the Stamford Bridge fans. When you meet Reece he is easy to like, quiet, unassuming and is taking all the attention in his stride. There are no silly demands, no tantrums and he puts in solid hard work as he learns from others and is a willing listener. His sister actually plays for the Manchester United Women’s team so there is plenty of brotherly, sisterly banter when they are together. Reece has great physical power and strength and in the match against Palace he shackled Wilfried Zaha and kept him quiet and not many seasoned professionals can claim to have done that. Reece is one to watch in the near future.

Raheem becomes the main man

It is official…Raheem Sterling is rated by advertisers as the hottest property in football, a title previously held by David Beckham. The luckiest advertiser is Puma who have signed a huge contract with Raheem’s management team. Nike are licking their wounds as Puma have invested heavily and beaten them to Raheem’s signature. The 24 year-old is currently pulling in a large fortune by promoting Gillette razors and he is also doing an advert for Pepsi. Raheem has a staggering 6 billion followers on Instagram and he also has a large following on the video game Fifa 2020. He is certainly on a high at the moment and his management team are working on a film about his rise from humble beginnings to fame and fortune. Nike have not been enjoying much success just recently as Liverpool’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is about to leave them and will be the face of rival Adidas next summer.

Jesus plans to take his big chance

Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus has been speaking this week about his chance to shine in a team made up of superstars. Sergio Aguero’s thigh injury is likely to keep him out of contention for a couple of weeks at best and this has given Jesus a chance. He said this week: “I want two improve my football. I want to learn, train well and work hard. When I came to City I knew it was going to be hard with so many talented players and because we have Sergio who is top scorer at the club and he also scores in nearly every game. I knew this but I wanted the chance to play for Pep and with top players at a big club, so I came.” Jesus has five goals from 16 games this season and will no doubt add to this in City’s next two games at Newcastle and Burnley.

De Bruyne takes over from Kompany

No one doubts the footballing qualities of Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne. However, it is his new role as club motivator that has marked him above the rest of this talented squad. When Vincent Kompany left to manage in Europe it was the quiet man of the squad who stepped up. Kompany used to give motivational speeches whenever a player left and in front of the squad he would praise the player and point out all his highlights and qualities. As club captain he was a true commander. Now, unexpectedly, De Bruyne has moved in to fill Kompany’s shoes and I watched him recently organising, instructing and taking charge on the pitch with players carrying out his wishes and tactics. The 28 year-old Belgian midfielder said this week: “I push myself to be the best I can and I expect that of others. If you set goals, you push yourself hard. The main thing is that I am helping the team. I’m helping these guys. I know I can make a difference to them.” Remarkably, De Bruyne has more assists this season than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues and he has nine in the Premier League. In total he has six goals and 16 assists for club and country.

Eleven substitutes isn’t allowed!

It is certainly a worrying sign when a manager says he would have changed all eleven players at half time if he could. Ole Gunner Soslkjaer said exactly that after Manchester United’s pathetic first half display last weekend against Sheffield United. Good job he wasn’t able to carry out his wish because the team decided to turn up in the second half and scored three goals and the 3-3 finish provided some very entertaining football. It is intriguing that United still blow hot and cold and you can never predict how they will play.

Silva living on borrowed time

Things are going from bad to worse for poor Marco Silva at Everton. Following their embarrassing 2-0 home defeat to relegation battling Norwich, Silva was cornered in his office by owner Farhad Moshiri. When I heard that they were in the office together with the door locked, I suspected we might be thinking which manager would take over. But no, Moshiri has decided to give Silva more time and although I know other managers are being assessed, the owner gave the Portuguese some comforting words of advice rather than saying ‘pack your bags’. Bringing back former manager David Moyes has certainly been discussed. Everton meet Leicester, Liverpool and Chelsea in a seven day period which will bring dread to the fans and whoever is at the helm of the club. Everton supporters sang to Silva: “You’re getting sacked in the morning,” during the match against Norwich but the owner isn’t listening — for now.

Respect shown for Pochettino and Mourinho

To underline the closeness of ex-Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, to his former team, several players including Harry Kane, Deli Ali and Hugo Lloris spent an evening at his house sharing thoughts, paying tribute to his excellent work at the club and generally paying their respects to their former boss. At the same time Jose Mourinho, his successor as Tottenham manager, says he received more than 50 messages from people connected to Manchester United wishing him success at his new club.