There was serious unrest at the team’s downward spiral and Ljungberg, who played for the club between 1998 and 2007, was placed on stand by to take over.
Ljungberg is said to have performed impressively since joining Arsenal as a coach and has been part of Emery’s backroom staff this season.
It is hoped that his emergence as a temporary manager will help rekindle faith in gunners’ fans across the world.
Ljungberg was part of Arsenal’s Premier League title-winning teams of 2002 and 2004, only became part of the first-team setup in the summer, having returned to the club as under-23s coach in the summer of 2018.
Unai Emery was sacked as Arsenal manager on Friday after less than two years in charge and with the club without a win in seven games, their worst run since 1992.
The 48-year-old Spaniard was fired following the 2-1 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in Thursday’s Europa League match.
His assistant Freddie Ljungberg takes over as interim manager during the search for a permanent replacement.
Arsenal fans had demanded “decisive action” from directors with the club’s run of five draws and two defeats just one match off equalling George Graham’s run of eight without a win in 1992.
Club directors responded by axing the man appointed in May 2018 to revive a club stagnating after two decades under Frenchman Arsene Wenger.
“We announce today that the decision has been taken to part company with our head coach Unai Emery and his coaching team,” read the statement.
“We have asked Freddie Ljungberg to take responsibility for the first team as interim head coach.
“The search for a new head coach is underway and we will make a further announcement when that process is complete.”
Ljungberg will be the first Swedish manager to take charge of a Premier League game since Sven-Goran Eriksson, whose last game in the competition came in May 2008 in charge of Manchester City.
Among those in the mix for the permanent job include former Gunners star Mikel Arteta, Pep Guardiola’s assistant at champions Manchester City, ex-Juventus handler Massimiliano Allegri — Sky Sports reported there had been contact between the two parties — and Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo, who is at Wolves.
Napoli’s coach Carlo Ancelotti is another name that has entered the reckoning — he won the domestic double in the 2009/10 campaign when in charge of Chelsea — but Nuno is the early bookies favourite at 11/10.
However, Nuno, 45, has had two spells in charge of relatively high profile clubs at Valencia and Porto and did not enjoy success.
Emery’s cause has not been helped by the controversy over Granit Xhaka. The Swiss international swore at Gunners fans when Emery took him off against Crystal Palace last month. Emery responded by stripping Xhaka of the captaincy.
Pepe, Arsenal’s record signing, has been a huge disappointment since his £72 million ($93 million) move from French Ligue 1 outfit Lille in the close season. Under Emery the club has spent at least £200 million.
Emery’s position had looked shaky enough when north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur sacked Mauricio Pochettino last week only months after he took Spurs to the Champions League final.
Emery’s first season ended in disappointment. Arsenal blew two chances for a return to the Champions League, winning just one of their last five games to finish fifth in the Premier League and then losing the Europa League final 4-1 to Chelsea.
“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,” read the club statement.
“We wish Unai and his team nothing but future success.
“The decision has been taken due to results and performances not being at the level required.”
Supporters see the board, and especially unpopular American owner Stan Kroenke as part of the problem.
The influential Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, the official supporters’ club, issued a statement welcoming the departure of Emery but calling for further radical changes.
“Emery’s departure is the easy part,” read their statement.
“The more difficult challenge is to recruit a suitable successor.
“We are far from certain that Arsenal has the right personnel to lead this process.
“If Arsenal are to genuinely move forward from today it requires not only a new head coach appointment but also a rejuvenation of the boardroom.”
Unai Emery was appointed as Arsenal’s first new manager in 22 years on Wednesday. Here are three things the Spaniard must deal with to ensure a smooth transition from the Arsene Wenger era:
Solve the Ozil conundrum
Mesut Ozil’s diffident personality and alarming habit of drifting to the periphery of matches proved a major problem for Wenger. Emery must decide whether he can drag more committed and consistent displays from the German playmaker. The 29-year-old signed a new £300,000 ($400,000) per-week three-year contract in January as Arsenal scrambled to hold on to one of their stars following Alexis Sanchez’s move to Manchester United. But the former Real Madrid midfielder continued to provide only occasional glimpses of the talent that persuaded Wenger to pay £42 million for him in 2013. Early reports suggest Emery, having reviewed video of Arsenal this season, may not have much faith in Ozil, preferring to build around the more robust Aaron Ramsey instead. With the gifted Henrikh Mkhitaryan already in place at the Emirates Stadium, Ozil should be on notice that his performances must improve if the World Cup winner is to avoid being swept away by Arsenal’s new broom.
Plug Arsenal’s leaky defence
Wenger neglected Arsenal’s defence in his final years at the Emirates and Emeryinherits a ramshackle unit that crumbles at the first sign of pressure. They conceded 51 league goals this season — more than any other side in the top seven and only five fewer than bottom of the table West Bromwich Albion. Although Arsenal’s back four were let down by Wenger’s failure to drill his midfielders to properly protect them, they still made enough mistakes of their own to leave the demanding Emery surely convinced that new recruits are the only solution. Renowned for providing players with video analysis of their own performances, Emery will have enough material to fill an entire hard drive as he surveys footage of the leaky Arsenal defence over the past 10 months. With Laurent Koscielny set to miss the start of the season after ankle surgery, Emery will not want to be left with error-prone pair Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding as his first-choice centre-backs. The Gunners have already been linked with Borussia Dortmund centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos, while inconsistent Arsenal full-backs Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac could also do with a few of Emery‘s rigorous defensive tutorials.
Unite Aubameyang and Lacazette
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made a blistering start to life with Arsenal following his club record £56 million move from Dortmund in January as the Gabon forward netted 10 times in 13 league games. Aubameyang’s impact was all the more striking given the travails of the man he usurped in the starting line-up. Although he scored 17 times in 39 appearances in all competitions, Alexandre Lacazette endured an underwhelming first season after his £46 million switch from Lyon. Where Aubameyang’s pace, movement and predatory instincts made an instant impact on a moribund Arsenal team, France international Lacazette allowed himself to be bullied out of games far too often. Now Emery will have to chose whether he wants to start with both in his attack. If not, it seems certain Aubameyang would lead the line, consigning Lacazette to the bench. Lacazette can point to a slightly more potent finish to the season as a sign he is beginning to adapt to the physical nature of English football. But, significantly, Aubameyang already has a strong connection with former Dortmund team-mate Mkhitaryan, who is likely to be tasked with supplying the chances for Arsenal’s strikers.
Fuelled by video nasties and sleepless nights, Unai Emery is ready for the challenge of succeeding Arsene Wenger after being appointed as Arsenal’s first new boss for 22 years.
Arsenal have made a habit of appointing managers out of left-field — Bertie Mee was a former physiotherapist, former Arsenal star George Graham came from second-tier Millwall and Wenger was greeted with “Arsene Who?” headlines following his move from Japan’s Nagoya Grampus 8 in 1996.
Emery is seen by some as another surprise choice after the Gunners reportedly initially favoured Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta.
But Emery, a 46-year-old Spaniard, arrives with grand credentials following his two-year stay with Paris Saint Germain and a Europa League-winning spell at Sevilla.
Emery left Paris at the end of this season having won the domestic treble.
Now he is tasked with raising standards at the Emirates Stadium and restoring Arsenal to the kind of glory they enjoyed in the early years of Wenger’s reign.
Emery already has one thing in common with Wenger after making clear his disdain for the Frenchman’s old rival Jose Mourinho.
When Manchester United boss Mourinho, then in charge of Real Madrid, devoted a press conference to criticising referee Carlos Clos Gomez in 2010, Emery gave an acerbic retort, snarling: “Mourinho’s stance is that of a cry baby”.
It was a jibe typical of the intense Emery, who was steeped in football from birth, with his father and grandfather both former players.
Emery had a modest playing career, largely spent in Spain’s lower leagues, but he was an instant hit in his managerial debut with third-tier Lorca.
He achieved promotion and then moved to Almeria, who he took up to La Liga for the first time before taking over at Valencia, where he guided the team into the Champions League with three consecutive top-three finishes.
Valencia’s vibrant style earned him the admiration and friendship of Pep Guardiola.
Emery moved to Sevilla where he won three consecutive Europa League trophies in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Emery has earned a reputation as one of Europe’s most studious coaches, working until the early hours of the morning crafting his game-plans.
He spends up to 12 hours preparing video analysis for his players and former Valencia winger Joaquin once quipped: “There were so many videos I ran out of popcorn.
“He’s obsessed with football, it’s practically an illness. He’s one of the best managers I’ve had.”
Emery is a perfectionist who demands relentless effort on the training ground.
“Either we all work or let’s just burst the ball,” he said, giving voice to an approach that might shake Arsenal out of the complacency that marred the end of the Wenger era.
Significantly, Emery has flourished within a structure similar to the one now in place at Arsenal, who lean heavily on head of recruitment Sven Mislintat and head of football operations Raul Sanllehi, both recruited last November.
At Sevilla, Emery worked well with recruitment director Monchi and Arsenal are gambling the same structure pays dividends for them.
The main worry for Arsenal fans might be Emery‘s ill-fated spell with Spartak Moscow in 2012 and his failure to fulfil his mandate at Paris Saint-Germain, where he was asked to win the Champions League after moving to the big-spending French giants in 2016.
Emery was let go by PSG with one year left on his contract and the roots of demise lay in two painful Champions League exits and a troubled relationship with star striker Neymar.
In 2017, a woeful 6-1 loss in Barcelona saw PSG surrender a 4-0 first leg lead in an incredible last-16 meltdown.
On the heels of that collapse, this season’s capitulation against Real Madrid in the last-16 ensured Emery‘s time in Paris would be short-lived.
Wenger’s travails in recent years mean Emery will not have to worry about the Champions League in the coming season but Arsenal can rest assured their ultra-driven boss will be working all hours to get them back there.
Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery said the club must continue to strengthen as the French champions try to transform their dominance at home into success in the Champions League.
Angel Di Maria and Giovani Lo Celso scored twice as PSG secured a fifth Ligue 1 title in six seasons on Sunday with a 7-1 rout of last year’s champions Monaco.
Unai Emery’s team blew Monaco away in a first-half blitz that saw PSG score four times in 14 minutes at the Parc des Princes with Lo Celso striking either side of goals from Edinson Cavani and Di Maria.
Rony Lopes pulled a goal back for Monaco as he scored for the eighth game in a row, but Di Maria added a fifth before Radamel Falcao turned into his own net and Julian Draxler struck late on as PSG romped to the club’s seventh championship.
“Other teams have more titles than us. Monaco, Nantes, Saint-Etienne, Marseille, Lyon…but we must keep on building,” Emery, who is likely to be replaced in the summer, told Canal+.
“There is a solid tool for the future, to remain number one in France and become that elsewhere with patience and hard work.”
With a fifth successive League Cup already won, PSG completed the second leg of a domestic treble — they are also through to the French Cup semi-finals — and could yet break their record 96-point haul from the 2015-16 campaign.
PSG also became the first team in Europe’s top leagues this season to reach 100 goals on a night they were without the injured Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, the teenager left on the bench after a bout of illness.
But a second successive last 16 exit in the Champions League means heads will roll at the end of this season in preparation for another attempt to muscle in among Europe’s elite.
“That defeat (to Real Madrid) hurt us but we continued to work with the players, the staff and the president who is always at our side,” said PSG captain Thiago Silva.
“It was a difficult moment but I think in the end it’s a good season. We have taken back our title but we must continue to work, we have a French Cup semi-final (against Caen) on Wednesday.”
Sidibe injury concern
Monaco arrived in Paris unbeaten on their last eight league visits to the capital but any prospect of them prolonging PSG’s wait for the title quickly eroded.
Kamil Glik’s absence in the heart of the visiting defence was acutely felt as Lo Celso started the move that resulted in the opening goal on 14 minutes, sauntering into the box to tap in a Dani Alves cross.
While Cavani’s second half of the campaign has proved less prolific than the blistering spell that yielded 19 goals before Christmas, the Uruguayan bagged his league-best 25th goal with a powerful header from a Yuri Berchiche cross.
Cavani then released Di Maria with a superb hooked pass from inside his own half and the Argentine raced clear before lifting an exquisite chip over the advancing Danijel Subasic.
Javier Pastore supplied Lo Celso to head in PSG’s fourth on 28 minutes and Monaco suffered further misfortune when France international Djibril Sidibe was stretchered off with a leg injury, a worrying sign for Didier Deschamps ahead of the World Cup.
Monaco briefly held up the onslaught as Lopes turned home an Almamy Toure cross seven minutes before half-time for the in-form Portugal international’s 13th goal this term.
But PSG continued to attack at will and Pastore’s nonchalant assist for Di Maria allowed the winger to grab his second of the game on 59 minutes.
The hosts were gifted another goal when Falcao’s attempt to clear a corner went horribly wrong, summing up Monaco’s misery as the ball looped beyond Subasic on 77 minutes.
Germany international Draxler rounded out the demolition, firing home via a deflection as PSG clinched the title at home for the first since 1994 while shattering Monaco’s 17-match unbeaten run.
Monaco later tweeted that they would reimburse the fans who had made the fruitless trip to the capital.
Beleaguered Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery insisted there was no shame in losing to Real Madrid after the expensively-assembled French side crashed out of the Champions League at the hands of the holders.
“To be eliminated in the last 16 is a disappointment, but to lose against Real Madrid is not. They deserved to go through. There is no other analysis,” said the Spaniard whose side, shorn of the injured Neymar, lost 2-1 in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro scored the goals for Real in the second half, either side of Edinson Cavani’s scrambled effort for the hosts.
The defeat condemned PSG — who had Marco Verratti sent off in the second half — to a 5-2 aggregate loss, the second season running in which they have been knocked out in the last 16 after the humiliating loss against Barcelona a year ago.
“The objective was the Champions League. Now is not the time to think about the future,” said Emery, who is out of contract at the end of this season.
PSG have still not made it past the quarter-finals of the Champions League since Qatar Sports Investments bought the club in 2011 and started to lavish huge sums of money on players.
They took their spending spree to a whole new level last year, spending a world-record 222 million euros ($264 million) to sign Neymar from Barcelona and committing 180 million euros to sign Kylian Mbappe from Monaco.
Once again they have fallen short, but despite the crushing nature of another premature exit from Europe, Emery believes the Qatar-backed club will eventually go all the way in the Champions League, even if it is without him at the helm.
“We all want it to be quick and fast. But I’m convinced PSG can do it,” he said.
“It’s sure that we will continue, as much as patience allows, to build a team which can win in the future. When I came here I said I was sure this team can win the Champions League. But it’s a process.
“It could be next year or after that. But PSG fans will see in the future, that the team can win it and then win many times.”
‘Perfect match’ for Madrid
Emery, like midfielder Adrien Rabiot, said that the 3-1 defeat in the first leg had ultimately left his team with too much to do in the return.
Ronaldo was the hero of the tie for Real, once again coming good on the European stage. After his brace in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, his 51st-minute header at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday effectively killed the tie.
Madrid march on, still in contention to win the Champions League for the third season running.
“We played well right from the beginning, pressing high up the pitch. It was a perfect match. It is not easy to come and win here,” said coach Zinedine Zidane, who had been under pressure just a few weeks ago but has come out of this tie with his position strengthened.
The quarter-finals in April await for Real, keeping their season alive given that they are 15 points adrift of leaders Barcelona in La Liga and out of the Copa del Rey.
“It is true that we have had difficult moments in the league and the cup, but that’s part of football,” said the Frenchman.
“Over the last two years these players have won so much and it is difficult to maintain that level.”
Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery is confident his side can get the better of Real Madrid as he looked ahead to next month’s heavyweight Champions League showdown in an interview with AFP.
And Emery dismissed suggestions that defeat to the reigning champions would constitute a failure for a club that invested huge sums in Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Dani Alves in the hope of winning the Champions League.
“It is a chance for us to show that we are at the same level as them, that we can beat the best teams,” the Spaniard said as his team prepares to return to action following the French winter break.
PSG play their first game of 2018 on Sunday away to Rennes when they begin their defence of the French Cup.
Their January schedule will be taken up by domestic action, but a nine-point lead over Monaco and Lyon at the top of Ligue 1 means they will perhaps already be starting to think about the first leg of their last-16 tie in Madrid on February 14.
“I always think positive,” said Emery. “We will prepare well to come into the tie strong and compete with Real. I think we can win.”
PSG are driven by the memory of what happened at the same stage of the competition last season, when they lost 6-1 away to Barcelona to go out having won 4-0 at home in the first leg in the French capital.
“We can learn a lot of things from that tie,” Emery said. “I think after that tie, and after the extra step PSG have taken, we will see teams, UEFA, referees have more respect for us, and I think we are now better prepared.”
Good for France
The extent of PSG’s spending under their Qatari owners has not made themselves popular with Europe’s traditional elite.
A combined outlay of around 400 million euros ($483 million) on Neymar and Mbappe alone — the two most expensive transfer deals in history — have led to questions as to how PSG can comply with UEFA’s financial fair play rules.
But Emery, the former Sevilla coach, said: “When I was in Spain, there were two clubs with huge financial power, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Real bought the best players in the world, (Luis) Figo, (Zinedine) Zidane, Ronaldo.
“In Spain, nobody ever talked about where the money they spent was coming from. And for Spanish football it was very good.
“I am at PSG, in Paris which is one of the most visited cities in the world, with a great culture.
“When the possibility arose for a financial power like that of Qatar to come in, and to have some of the best players in the world… I think the whole of France, French clubs are happy.
“It is normal that other teams are saying ‘wow’ because there is now greater competition.
“Outside the club, there is a lot of talk about the financial fair play. Here, the club is on the right road, within the rules of financial fair play.”
Nevertheless, it seems certain that PSG will trim their wage bill during this month’s transfer window in order to balance the books. The likes of Lucas Moura, Javier Pastore, and former Newcastle striker Hatem Ben Arfa look likely to move on.
However, Emery insisted that Argentina midfielder Pastore had not asked for a move amid talk that he could return to Italy.
He added: “Certain players who play less can maybe be protagonists in another team because they are good players and they don’t have the chance to play here, like Lucas Moura or Hatem Ben Arfa.”
Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery has said Neymar needs to learn not to respond to provocation after the world’s most expensive player was sent off against Marseille last weekend.
The 222 million-euro ($264 million) Brazilian picked up a second yellow card late in Sunday’s 2-2 draw between the bitter rivals at the Velodrome for reacting to a foul by Lucas Ocampos.
Neymar got up and shoved Ocampos and the Argentine’s over-reaction played its part in the ex-Barcelona man receiving his second booking, just two minutes after his first.
“He is going through the process of adapting to the league, the team, the referees, but he is intelligent. He is also aware that he must learn from what happened on Sunday,” said Emery ahead of Friday’s Ligue 1 meeting with Nice.
Neymar will be automatically suspended for that game at the Parc des Princes.
“He was sought out more aggressively by the opposition, and it is important that referees know how to handle matches where these situations occur on the field,” Emery added.
“I spoke to him about it before the match and we said not to get involved in any provocation. But on the pitch, with the intensity and the aggression, the players are people, and we need everyone to maintain our balance and do the job well.”
The Nice game will be just the second that Neymar has missed since making his Paris debut in August — he previously sat out a 0-0 draw at Montpellier last month.
Emery could make other changes to his side with the encounter coming four days ahead of the home Champions League meeting with Anderlecht, where a win could wrap up their place in the last 16.
Veteran midfielder Thiago Motta will not feature against Nice because of a knee complaint, while Emery could have a problem at right-back as both Dani Alves and Thomas Meunier are doubts.
Angel Di Maria could benefit from Neymar’s absence to make just a second start since August.
“When he doesn’t play, he is not happy. He wants to play and start every match, but when he doesn’t it is because of the competition and the performances of others,” said Emery of the ex-Real Madrid man, who pointedly did not celebrate after coming off the bench to score in the recent 4-0 win at Anderlecht.
– Balotelli back? –
A win against Nice will allow PSG to go seven points clear at the top from reigning champions Monaco before they visit Bordeaux on Saturday.
Nice are the only French team to have beaten PSG in 2017, recording a 3-1 triumph in April.
However, Lucien Favre’s side are struggling this season — last week’s 2-1 loss at home to Strasbourg was their third on the bounce in the league and they are 14th in the table.
“We are delighted to be going to Paris. We will need to defend as a team, use the ball well, and above all we will need to be more compact,” said Favre, who is without playmaker Jean Michael Seri but could welcome back Mario Balotelli.
The Italian is Nice’s top scorer with five goals but missed last week’s match with a calf knock.