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Gunners fire coach Emery

Ljungberg takes over on interim basis

By Agencies in London
  • Published 30.11.19, 3:25 AM
  • Updated 30.11.19, 3:25 AM
  • 2 mins read
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In this file photo dated Wednesday, November 6, 2019, Arsenal's head coach Unai Emery during the Europa League soccer match against Vitoria at the D. Afonso Henriques stadium in Guimaraes, Portugal. (AP)

Arsenal have sacked manager Unai Emery after the Premier League club’s worst run in more than a quarter of a century and appointed former player and fans’ favourite Freddie Ljungberg as interim coach, the Premier League club announced on Friday.

Emery’s final match in charge was Thursday’s 2-1 Europa League home defeat to German side Eintracht Frankfurt which extended their winless run in all competitions to seven games, the worst streak since February 1992 under George Graham.

The 48-year-old Spaniard Emery succeeded Arsene Wenger in May 2018 and took Arsenal to the Europa League final last year but frustration with the club’s erratic league form this season has grown, with the side sitting eighth in the table with 18 points from 13 games.

“We announce today that the decision has been taken to part company with our head coach Unai Emery and his coaching team. The decision has been taken due to results and performances not being at the level required,” the club said in a statement.

“We have asked Freddie Ljungberg to take responsibility for the first team as interim head coach. We have full confidence in Freddie to take us forward. The search for a new head coach is underway and we will make a further announcement when that process is complete.”

“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.”

Ljungberg, a member of Wenger’s “Invincibles” team that went an entire season unbeaten en route to the 2003-04 Premier League title, was appointed assistant coach in June and will now take over while the club searches for a new head coach.

While Arsenal can still qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League, supporters at a half-empty Emirates Stadium made their anger known on Thursday by booing the Spaniard, with a handful of them holding up cards saying “Emery Out”.

Supporters have recently vented their frustration with the club’s poor run of form and for Thursday’s tie, thousands of empty seats could be seen at the 60,000-capacity ground.

“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 on behalf of club owners Kroenke Sports & Entertainment.

Emery, who won the Europa League three times with Sevilla, failed to lead Arsenal back to the Champions League after finishing fifth in the league and also missing out by losing 1-4 in the Europa League final to Chelsea.

Ljungberg takes over on an interim basis at the club where he made his name and the former midfielder will be relishing the chance to show fans what he can do.

Brought to the club from Halmstad in 1998, Ljungberg went on to score 46 goals in 216 games for the Gunners, displaying his combative style as well as several punk-inspired hairstyles in that time.