Pressure mounts on Emery as Frankfurt win at Emirates
Eintracht Frankfurt 2
The pressure continues to mount on Arsenal manager Unai Emery after the Gunners suffered a 2-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt at the Emirates this evening.
The threat from last season’s Europa League semi-finalists was non-existent in the first half, as Arsenal went in a goal up thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but two superb strikes from Japanese international Daichi Kamada turned the game on its head in the second half.
The Gunners thereafter looked scared, timid and without a plan – their leader cutting a forlorn figure on the side-lines.
Fans held up ‘Emery Out’ signs in the crowd – officially upwards of 49,000 but in reality far, far short of that figure, helped officially by the absence of any Frankfurt fans who had been banned following trouble earlier in the competition.
Arsenal have now gone seven games without a win in all competitions – since the 3-2 win over Vitoria at the Emirates on October 24.
And even for a board as apparently patient as Stan Kroenke’s, Emery’s Arsenal career is surely approaching stoppage time.
Inexplicably, after winning their first three games in this competition, Arsenal will go into the final group game having still not mathematically qualified for the last 32 of the competition, although it is all but assured.
Emery brought back Granit Xhaka for this game, his first appearance since his ding-dong with the fans when substituted in the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
He was given a decent reception by the fans as initially it felt this was an evening to build some bridges. But by the end the home fans were again booing as their team trudged from the pitch, devoid of ideas.
It might have been different. After just 11 minutes good work by Bukayo Sako saw him land a cross on a plate but both Aubameyang and Joe Willock went for the same ball and as a result the former’s header was wide when it really should have been the first goal for Arsenal.
Five minutes later a corner from the right was headed into the path of Gabriel Martinelli by Danny da Costa, but the Italian could only shoot straight at goalkeeper Frederik Ronnow from point blank range. Then, just seconds later, from the resulting corner, Martinelli saw a header cleared off the line.
Xhaka then curled in a free-kick from the right which almost resulted in an own goal when it was flicked on by Frankfurt’s Martin Hinteregger, but Rossow palmed clear.
And on the stroke of half-time the Gunners took a lead they deserved, when Martinelli’s cross from the right was missed by Saka but smashed in via keeper and crossbar by Aubameyang.
If all didn’t quite seem completely rosy, there was little sign of what was to come, even in this most tumultuous of periods for the Gunners.
Arsenal started the second-half the better of the two teams. Willock and then Chambers had great chances to put them two up before Kamada, the Bundesliga’s latest Asian star, took centre stage.
First, on 55 minutes, he cut inside Greek centre-half Sokratis before unleashing a curling left-footed shot which beat Emi Martinez. Then, on 63 minutes, after Arsenal failed to properly clear a corner, he planted a 25-yard drive past the keeper for what proved to be the winner.
Arsenal never looked like scoring an equaliser, in fact substitute Mijat Gacinovic should have scored a third for the Germans when he raced clear of the Arsenal defence with 20 minutes left.
The Gunners face a trip to Norwich City on Sunday in the Premier League – but whether Emery is still in a job remains to be seen.
Martinez, Tierney, Sokratis, Aubameyang, Mustafi (Torreira, 76), Chambers, Luiz (Guendouzi, 32), Willock, Xhaka, Martinelli (Ozil, 60), Saka