Emery Axed As Arsenal Boss After Worst Run In Decades

Unai Emery AFP Photo

 

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.

‘Rejuvenation’

 

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.”

Mourinho Appointed Tottenham Manager After Pochettino’s Sack

 

Jose Mourinho was on Wednesday appointed new Tottenham Hotspur head coach to replace sacked Mauricio Pochettino.

The Portuguese former Chelsea and Manchester United manager signed a contract until the end of the 2022/23 season, the north London club said in a statement.

Pochettino, 47, transformed Spurs’ fortunes since arriving from Southampton in 2014 and although he failed to win a trophy he took the club to the Champions League final for the first time in their history just six months ago.

READ ALSO: Tottenham Sack Mauricio Pochettino

But the Argentine was sacked on Tuesday with Tottenham languishing 14th in England’s Premier League after picking up just three wins from their opening 12 games.

This season they were knocked out of the League Cup by fourth-tier Colchester United and suffered an embarrassing 7-2 defeat at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

“I am excited to be joining a club with such a great heritage and such passionate supporters,” said Mourinho, who has won domestic titles in a record four different countries.

“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me. Working with these players is what has attracted me.”

Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy said: “In Jose we have one of the most successful managers in football. We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”

Abraham Leads The Way For Five-Star Chelsea

 

Tammy Abraham once again demonstrated why Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has placed his faith in the 21-year-old with a superb hat-trick in a crushing 5-2 defeat of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wolves were supposed to be celebrating the 130 years in their Molineux home but the celebrations fell flat as Lampard’s young guns swept Nuno Espirito Santo’s side away.

Abraham’s treble was the outstanding contribution as he became the third player aged under 22 to score two goals in three successive Premier League games, matching the achievement of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United and Tottenham’s Dele Alli.

READ ALSO: Mane, Salah Hand Liverpool 3-1 Victory Over Newcastle

But his efforts were well supported by two other graduates from the Chelsea academy, centre-back Fikayo Tomori — who opened the scoring with a stunning 30-yard strike, his first for the club — and midfielder Mason Mount, scorer of the added-time fifth.

Wolves conjured a response in the 69th minute when Romain Saiss header deflected off Abraham into his own net and added an 85th minute second through Patrick Cutrone’s close range finish.

But at that point, Lampard’s side had established a four-goal lead and were providing further vindication for the Chelsea manager’s decision to reverse the trend of the past decade and a half at Stamford Bridge and give the club’s youngsters a chance this season.

A two-window transfer embargo has forced Lampard’s hand to a certain extent but the manager’s strong support for his young players is clearly bearing fruit.

And the former Chelsea midfielder was entitled to draw particular pleasure from the way Tomori, Mount and Abraham – who have each worked their way through the ranks after joining the club at under-eight level – combined for the Blues second goal.

A comprehensive victory that keeps Chelsea level with Tottenham, Manchester United and Leicester in the early battle for a top-four finish could also kickstart the Blues’ campaign.

For Wolves manager Nuno, though, defeat provided cause for concern, particularly ahead of the start of the Europa League group stage.

Wolves came into the game with the unwanted record of being the only Premier League not to have led for a single minute in a game this season.

And that remained the case when Tomori broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion in the 31st minute.

There was an element of luck in the way the ball broke for the 21-year-old after Jonny dispossessed Mount but there was no denying the quality of Tomori’s side-footed effort that curled into the top corner from 30 yards out.

Worse was to come for Nuno’s side three minutes later when Tomori surged forward from halfway, moved the ball on to Mount inside the penalty area and Abraham was on hand to finish when his team-mate went to ground under a challenge from Conor Coady.

Abraham struck again four minutes before the break, heading home from Marcos Alonso’s cross after Jesus Vallejo’s poor clearing header.

And the forward added his third and sent a telling reminder to Gareth Southgate, who left Abraham out of his recent England squad, when he beat Coady and fired past Rui Patricio ten minutes after the restart.

Abraham’s busy afternoon continued when he was given the unwanted credit for Wolves’ first consolation after Saiss headed a Joao Moutinho corner goalwards.

Cutrone then reacted first after Kepa Arrizabalaga parried Matt Doherty’s shot for his first goal in English football, but Mount completed a comfortable win with a composed finish in added time.

Everton Sign England Midfielder Delph From Manchester City

 

Everton said on Monday that they have signed England midfielder Fabian Delph from Manchester City on a three-year deal.

Everton did not say how much they had paid for the 29-year-old England international, who joined City from Aston Villa in 2015.

Delph played 89 games for City, winning two Premier League medals. He also has 20 England caps.

“When I look to bring a new player into our squad, the first thing I look for above all the other things is quality and Fabian is a player with high quality,” Everton manager Marco Silva told the club web site.

“But what they can bring to our dressing room is also important.”

The web site also quoted Delph.

“Every time I have played against Everton, whether it was home or away, straight away the first thing that comes to mind when you see the fans is passion,” he said.

“You are always going to hear Evertonians and I’m excited to play at home and hear them when I am playing.”

“Hopefully we can push together, fans and players, to do something special.”

AFP

Arsenal Open US Tour With 3-0 Friendly Win In Colorado

Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli scored in his Arsenal debut Monday as the English Premier League club launched their pre-season tour of the United States with a 3-0 friendly win over the Colorado Rapids.

Bukayo Saka and James Olayinka also scored for the Gunners, who cruised to the victory at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in suburban Denver.

Martinelli, the 18-year-old forward signed from Ituano on July 2, was given a surprise start in attack by Unai Emery and sent an early chance wide.

Saka, 17, was an energetic presence and put Arsenal up 1-0 in the 13th minute as he collected a through-ball from Eddie Nketiah.

Another teenager — 18-year-old Olayinka — doubled the score in the 29th, seizing a stray pass from defence and racing into fire into the top left corner of the net.

READ ALSO: Man City Set For Pre-Season Tour After Frustrating Delay

Martinelli, having missed his early chance, capped the scoring in the 61st when he slotted home a cross from close range.

The Rapids, in the midst of the Major League Soccer season, fielded a mostly reserve side that featured several players from the lower-rung Colorado Springs Switchbacks.

Arsenal, too, started a reserve team as they begin their build-up to the Premier League season after again failing to secure a Champions League berth.

The tour hasn’t started without controversy. Captain Laurent Koscielny refused to travel to the US, and a group of influential Arsenal supporters’ organisations published a statement on Monday hitting out at Stan Kroenke’s “passive ownership”.

Under a hashtag “WeCareDo You” the statement decried a “soulless” atmosphere at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and a lack of transfer strategy.

Kroenke, who began investing in the club in 2007 through his company Kroenke Sports Enterprises and took full ownership in 2018, also owns the Rapids as well as the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.

AFP

Frustrating Night For Sarri As Southampton Hold Chelsea

 

 

Chelsea wasted a chance to cement their place in the Premier League’s top four as a superb display from Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn gave his struggling side a 0-0 draw on Wednesday.

Maurizio Sarri’s team remain in fourth place, but they are now just three points ahead of fifth placed Arsenal in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

It was a frustrating evening for Chelsea, who dominated possession but lacked any cutting edge, maintaining a worrying sequence for Sarri.

His side failed to score for the third time in their last five Premier League games at Stamford Bridge, raising more questions about Chelsea’s need for a top-class striker in the January transfer window.

With Olivier Giroud sidelined after suffering an ankle injury in Sunday’s win at Crystal Palace, Sarri opted to recall misfiring striker Alvaro Morata.

READ ALSO: Guardiola Hopeful De Bruyne Fit For Crucial Liverpool Clash

Morata has played so badly this season that Sarri had used Belgian winger Eden Hazard in the central forward’s role recently rather than turn to the Spaniard, who had managed only seven goals this term and none in the league since November 4.

But, once again, former Real Madrid star Morata looked completely bereft of touch and confidence.

It was no surprise Morata wasted a golden opportunity to open the scoring when he met Cesar Azpilicueta’s long pass with a tame header straight at 22-year-old Gunn — the son of ex-Norwich stopper Bryan Gunn.

Southampton avoided a third consecutive defeat with a well-drilled performance, but they still dropped into the relegation zone.

Having announced the signing of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic earlier in the day, Chelsea are planning ahead following a season of inconsistent displays from Willian and Pedro on the right flank.

United States international Pulisic will return to Dortmund on loan before completing his move to Chelsea in the close-season.

For the moment, Sarri continues to use Willian, but the Brazilian’s bid to prove his worth was ruined when he was forced off with an injury late in the first half.

– Mounting frustration –
Hazard hinted several times that he preferred to play wide rather than up front during Sarri’s experiment with the Belgian as a ‘false nine’.

Looking more vibrant back in his favoured role, Hazard made a fine run that opened up the Southampton defence, yet his fierce drive was well saved by Gunn, making his Premier League debut after his close-season move from Manchester City.

But Hazard couldn’t do it all on his own and, while successive away wins at Watford and Palace made it a happy Christmas for Chelsea, their first home game of the new year was a lot like their last in 2018.

Despite dominating against Leicester, Sarri’s team were beaten 1-0 as they paid the price for lacking the incisive passing and movement needed to break down the visitors’ obdurate defence.

It was exactly the same story against Southampton.

The Blues monopolised the ball but Morata squandered another opportunity when Yan Valery blocked his shot.

Chelsea’s frustration grew at the start of the second half when Stuart Armstrong’s curling effort forced Kepa Arrizabalaga into action for the first time.

Although they controlled the game, chances were few and far between for Chelsea until Hazard burst down the left for a shot that Gunn beat away at his near post.

Morata’s luck was out when he slotted home from a Cesc Fabregas pass, only to see a tight offside decision deny him a goal.

And the hapless Spaniard endured more misery when his took Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s pass and shot straight at Gunn to groans from the crowd.

Capping a forgettable game for Chelsea, Marcos Alonso had a strong penalty appeal turned down in the closing moments.

-English Premier League results on Wednesday-

Bournemouth 3 (Ake 34, Wilson 37, Fraser 40) Watford 3 (Deeney 14, 27, Sema 38)

Chelsea 0 Southampton 0

Huddersfield 1 (Mounie 33) Burnley 2 (Wood 40, Barnes 74)

Newcastle 0 Manchester United 2 (Lukaku 64, Rashford 80)

West Ham 2 (Arnautovic 66, 68) Brighton 2 (Stephens 56, Duffy 58)

Wolverhampton 0 Crystal Palace 2 (Ayew 83, Milivojevic 90+5-pen)

Played Tuesday

Everton 0 Leicester 1 (Vardy 58)

Arsenal 4 (Xhaka 25, Lacazette 55, Ramsey 79, Aubameyang 83) Fulham 1 (Kamara 69)

Cardiff 0 Tottenham 3 (Kane 3, Eriksen 12, Son 26)

Playing Thursday (2000 GMT)

Manchester City v Liverpool

$5.7 Mln Arms Deal, Case Of Money Laundering – Jiti Ogunye

Jiti OgunyeA lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, on Wednesday ruled out the argument that the Federal Government’s failed second attempt to purchase arms was a legitimate effort, insisting that an official seal on the deal did not rule out a case of money laundering.

Speaking on Sunrise Daily, Ogunye noted that the “South African authorities have every right and power to carry out investigations and they are doing so. When they conclude the investigations, we’ll have the benefit of the outcome”.

He argued that the two cases of botched arms deal involving Nigeria and South Africa would be investigated, noting that”“there’s a sequence”.

Although the first $9.3 million, which was seized aboard a private jet, was alleged to be a black operation, and the $5.7 million transferred legally via a bank, Ogunje insisted that both transactions were illegal.

“When you’re committing money laundering, what do you do it through? You do it through the banks,” he said, adding that “the fact that this money was paid through the bank allegedly, and that the NSA signed off on it, do not mean it doesn’t have the taint of money laundering.

“Doesn’t a governor sign-off a budget before stealing the money?” he asked, implying that the official signature was a means to launder state funds.

“The fact that you sign-off on something does not mean that you’re not committing a crime,” he argued, adding that the country’s seal had been used severally to commit monstrosities.

He countered arguments that the South African government did not wish Nigeria, recalling the incarceration on Henry Okah, a case he said Nigeria was the chief beneficiary. “Nigeria did not complain at the time,” he said.

“It’s shameful enough for this kind of thing to be happening but it’s doubly shameful for us to be rationalising by offering implausibilities,” he concluded.

Jonathan’s speech, a campaign for 2015 – Junaid Mohammed

Junaid Mohammed,  a northern leader on Tuesday said the President Goodluck Jonathan’s  democracy speech did not impress him overwhelmingly as some issues were attacked from the angle of public relations leaving issues that are confronting and challenging to the country.

He said the speech was too lengthy and all that was time taking to say could have been said in the quarter of the total time taken and a lot of issues were jam-packed for public relations effect not because of the sincerety, articulation of the issues were vague in manner.

The Northern leader said on the whole, the speech looks like a preparation speech for the 2015 campaign so as to monopolise the political space ahead of the election.