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Unai Emery fired as Arsenal manager after losing run

Arsenal manager Unai Emery during the Europa League soccer match against Vitoria on Nov. 6.
Unai Emery during the Europa League soccer match against Vitoria on Nov. 6.
(Luis Vieira / Associated Press)

Arsenal fired Unai Emery on Friday following its worst run of form in 27 years, and 18 months after Emery, of Spain, succeeded Arsene Wenger as manager of the Premier League club.

The north London team lost to Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 in the Europa League on Thursday in front of a sparse and disgruntled crowd at Emirates Stadium. The loss extended Arsenal’s winless run to seven matches — the club’s worst streak since 1992.

In the Premier League, Arsenal has dropped to eighth place.

“The decision has been taken due to results and performances not being at the level required,” Arsenal said in a statement.

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Freddie Ljungberg has been put in temporary charge. The former player, who was promoted from his assistant’s position, has only two days to prepare the team before Arsenal goes to Norwich on Sunday for a Premier League match.

Arsenal finished fifth in the league in Emery’s first season and reached the Europa League final, losing to Chelsea.

Emery’s departure comes 10 days after Tottenham fired Mauricio Pochettino following a poor run of form. Emery is the third Premier League manager to depart this season after Pochettino and Watford’s Javi Gracia.

Wenger spent 22 years in charge at Arsenal. The club hoped Emery could revive the winning ways seen under the Frenchman.

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Emery arrived at Arsenal after leaving Paris Saint-Germain, where he won the French title but couldn’t deliver the European success the Qatari-owned club craves. Before that, he won three Europa League titles with Sevilla.

After losing his opening Premier League games to Chelsea and Manchester City in August 2018, Emery’s Arsenal went on a 22-game unbeaten run. However, that same consistency has been missing this season with losses to Sheffield United and Leicester.

Arsenal had a distinctive, easy-on-the-eye approach under Wenger but Emery’s team had no discernible style, even though he stated his intention to adopt a high-energy pressing game upon his arrival.

Crucially, he never managed to shore up Arsenal’s defense — wobbly in the final years of Wenger’s reign — and didn’t seem to know how to handle playmaker Mesut Ozil, who was repeatedly dropped.

Earlier this month, Emery removed the captaincy from Granit Xhaka after the midfielder swore at fans while being substituted during the Oct. 27 draw against Crystal Palace. Xhaka later said he and his family had been subjected to abuse and threats on social media.

Arsenal’s majority owner is American businessman Stan Kroenke. His son, Josh, is a director on the Arsenal board.

“Our most sincere thanks go to Unai and his colleagues who were unrelenting in their efforts to get the club back to competing at the level we all expect and demand,” Josh Kroenke said. “We wish Unai and his team nothing but future success.”


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