Emery defiant despite lacklustre performance

GUIMARAES • While Arsenal remain well-placed to reach the knockout stage of the Europa League, the latest in a string of underwhelming displays and results will do little to ease the mounting pressure on manager Unai Emery.

A much-changed Gunners side limped towards the last 32 of the Europe's second-tier club competition with a 1-1 draw at Vitoria Guimaraes on Wednesday night.

Shkodran Mustafi's header 10 minutes from time looked set to hand the visitors, who have 10 points from four games, a barely deserved win and maintain their 100 per cent record in Group F.

But Vitoria secured their first point of their campaign, thanks to Bruno Duarte's stoppage-time equaliser, leading pundits to slam Emery's players for throwing away a lead for the fourth game in a row.

However, the Arsenal manager came out fighting at his post-match press conference amid rumours former Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is in the frame for the Emirates hot seat.

Defending his men, who had only one shot on target, he said: "Our objective was also to keep a clean sheet because we need to improve defensively.

"We didn't do that but we are going to take that challenge at Leicester (in the Premier League on Saturday). It's going to be different and it's a different competition."

Emery has been criticised for a poor run of two wins in their past nine league games, leaving them six points outside the top four.

While he dismissed the Mourinho links, insisting "I am the coach", former Arsenal defender Martin Keown told BT Sport "these are worrying times" for the club.

"We are in danger of losing some of the identity of the team built under Arsene Wenger," he said.

"We cannot defend and have lost that attacking flavour. There are problems all over the pitch."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2019, with the headline 'Emery defiant despite lacklustre performance'. Print Edition | Subscribe