Arsenal responded to Thursday’s Europa League defeat by cutting ties with manager Unai Emery.
The Premier League club confirmed the Spaniard has been relieved of his duties after less than two years at the helm.
“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 the club’s board. “We wish Unai and his team nothing but future success.
Freddie Ljungberg will take over on an interim basis, with the club beginning a search for a long-term replacement.
The decision to part with the 48-year-old was made following Arsenal’s 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt at the Emirates Stadium, which appeared to be half empty, even with the home side entering the contest with a chance to secure a spot in the Europa League’s knockout round.
The defeat resulted in Arsenal’s winless streak stretching to seven matches, the club’s worst run without a victory in over 27 years. The Gunners have failed to register a win since Oct. 24.
Arsenal’s hopes of ending their absence from the Champions League are also slipping away, as the north London outfit sits eight points back of a coveted spot in the top four after 13 matches. The Gunners haven’t qualified for the Champions League since 2017.
Emery signed on to become Arsenal’s first new manager in over 22 years in May 2018 following the departure of club legend Arsene Wenger. Emery, who previously managed Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain, guided Arsenal to a fifth-place finish in the Premier League and helped the team reach the Europa League final during his first season in charge.
Arsenal lost just one of their opening 11 matches in all competitions to begin the 2019-20 season, and then the squad’s campaign began to unravel with a loss to newly-promoted Sheffield United.
A dramatic win over Vitoria SC came after the team’s uninspiring performance against the Blades, with club-record signing Nicolas Pepe’s pair of sensational free-kicks late in the match saving Arsenal from an embarrassing defeat at home.
However, the victory over the Portuguese minnows was Arsenal’s last under Emery.
Along with the string of poor results, Emery also failed to endear himself to the Arsenal faithful after an apparent fallout with Mesut Ozil. The German midfielder was mysteriously omitted from the matchday squad for over a month, with Emery saying Ozil’s exclusion was part of an agreed-upon strategy with Arsenal officials.
Shortly before Ozil was reinstated into the squad in late October, Emery was forced to deal with another difficult situation when Granit Xhaka’s relationship with Arsenal fans turned toxic. Emery ultimately stripped Xhaka of the captaincy after the Swiss midfielder lashed out at supporters when he was removed from Arsenal’s draw with Crystal Palace on Oct. 27.
With the Emery era officially over, Arsenal could turn to assistant coach and club favorite Freddie Ljungberg to take over as a possible short-term solution.
Former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri and Wolverhampton head coach Nuno Espirito Santo could also be in line to succeed Emery. Nuno dodged questions about the possibility of joining Wolverhampton’s Premier League rival after he was identified as the reported favorite earlier this week.
Arsenal will attempt to get their season back on track when they visit Norwich City on Sunday.