Unai Emery was given public backing by the Arsenal board just weeks ago – but was it the dreaded vote of confidence that so often precedes the sacking of a manager?

Whether Emery keeps his job as head coach for much longer remains to be seen, although it’s looking increasingly unlikely.

Head of football Raul Sanllehi and managing director Vinai Venkatesham said they believe Emery is the right man for the job following defeat at Leicester, but they also pointed out that performances have not been good enough.

The club’s hierarchy made it clear that they are aware this poor run of form cannot continue if we’re to make the top four.

READ MORE: Arsenal fans choose their best starting XI – and you might be surprised by it

And yet another dismal display in the 2-2 draw with Southampton at the weekend means that target is rapidly getting further and further away.

It feels like only a matter of time before Emery is relieved of his duties now and if that is to happen, Arsenal couldn’t complain about a lack of potential candidates to step into the role.

Some of the names have been widely mentioned but others have gone under the radar. Here we take a look at who could replace Emery and the different routes Arsenal could go down.

Mikel Arteta

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Mikel Arteta was strongly linked with the role after Arsene Wenger’s departure in the summer of 2018 and appeared to be the front-runner until Arsenal hired Emery.

Man City have already said they wouldn’t stand in Arteta’s way if he was approached by the Gunners, so he’s a realistic option.

Pros: Philosophy. Arteta would likely implement an attacking and attractive style of play similar to that of Man City. It could get the fans excited once again.

The 37-year-old has also been working under one of the greatest managers in recent years in Pep Guardiola. As the assistant at the Etihad, Arteta will have learnt a huge amount in his time there.

Cons: A lack of managerial experience at the top level. This would be his first full job as a manager and the Arsenal hot seat comes with a huge amount of pressure.

There’s talk that Guardiola may not be at City for much longer and that Arteta would be next in line for that job, so he may prefer to stay put in any case.

Freddie Ljungberg

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Former Arsenal invincible Freddie Ljungberg is a name that has been mentioned a lot as a potential short-term fix.

The Swede could possibly step up as a caretaker manager until the summer, allowing Arsenal the time to review their options for the next permanent boss, as well hopefully stemming the flow of poor results.

Pros: Ljungberg is already the first-team coach, so he knows the players. He is also well-loved at the club, which would help unite the fans and relieve the toxic atmosphere inside the stadium.

The 42-year-old enjoyed a successful period as the under 23s manager, so there is some evidence of being capable of calling the shots. It’s likely he would also want to play free-flowing and attacking football.

Cons: No managerial experience at the top level. Again, similarly to Arteta, this would be his first job in charge of a first team.

He would also be carrying the risk of damaging potential future opportunities as Arsenal manager if it didn’t work out.

Patrick Vieira

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Patrick Vieira – the captain through one of Arsenal’s most successful periods in their history – is another name being thrown into the mix.

Pros: Vieira is a club legend and would undoubtedly be given a hero’s welcome home should he return to Arsenal as manager.

And not just that – he’s got several years of managerial experience under his belt already. Vieira became Man City’s reserve team coach in 2013 and was interviewed for the Newcastle job in 2015 before he took over at MLS side New York City FC.

After two years, which were considered as a success in the USA, finishing fourth and then second in the Eastern Conference, Vieira was appointed manager of French Ligue 1 side Nice.

He led the club to a respectable seventh place finish during his first year in charge.

Cons: The only hyper criticism you could level at Patrick Vieira is that he hasn’t enjoyed a huge level of success at Nice so far this season, as his side is currently 15th in the table.

Massimiliano Allegri

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The former Juventus manager is among the favourites with the bookies to become Arsenal’s next boss and is currently out of work, so would be available.

Pros: There is absolutely no doubting the fact that Allegri is a born winner. He’s tactically excellent and builds well organised, well drilled and defensively solid sides.

The Italian won the Serie A title in every season he was in charge of The Old Lady and delivered results consistently.

It seems like the most sensible choice available and the most high profile manager we could bring in.

Cons: Questions marks over Allegri’s preferred style of play is the main thing that concerns Arsenal fans. He’s renowned for being focused on defensive stability as opposed to a particularly entertaining style of play.

It’s not that Juve didn’t play good football under Allegri – they did. He still opts for a style which often includes build-up from the back and passing on the ground – but he does tend to prioritise keeping a clean sheet over scoring freely.

Nuno Espirito Santo

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Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has now become the odds-on favourite with the bookies to be the next Arsenal head coach.

Pros: The Portuguese already has Premier League experience and would likely solidify the defence. His team is well drilled, organised and certainly has an identity.

The results they’ve produced against the top sides show that Santo has what it takes to manage at the top level. It feels like it would be a very steady option to get the Gunners back on track.

You can’t deny that Wolves play very good football and the way he’s transformed them from a Championship side to a strong Europa League outfit in such a short space of time is remarkable.

Cons: The buzzword among Arsenal fans at the prospect of Santo taking over is “underwhelming”. Some have said it would be Emery 2.0 and that he wouldn’t take us to the next level.

There are fears that he hasn’t managed a big club and this could be a step too far, as well as the potential appointment almost being an acceptance that we are no longer the force we once were.

Another issue is his style. Would it suit Arsenal’s current squad of players and would he be able to get the most out of them?

Rafael Benitez

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Rafael Benitez would be the perfect short-term fix if Arsenal were unable to employ their main target until the summer.

Pros: Defensively stability. Proven track record at big clubs. Wealth of experience. Need we say anymore? Benitez is a tried and trusted coach who has always got results wherever he’s been.

If the Spaniard was brought in on an interim basis, it would be a role he’s very much familiar with and capable of. Benitez was hired as Chelsea’s caretaker in November 2012 until the end of the 12/13 season after Roberto Di Matteo was sacked. He directed Chelsea to a third-place league finish and Champions League qualification, as well as a Europa League title.

Cons: Benitez is currently managing Dalian Yifang in China and is earning a high wage, so it may be tough to lure him away from such a lucrative job. However, their league season has just two games remaining, so he may be available.

His style of play may not please all Arsenal fans as he often tends to focus on defensive stability.

Brendan Rodgers

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After seeing what Brendan Rodgers has done at Leicester since taking over at the King Power just nine months ago, it’s clear why he would potentially be on the shortlist of managers Arsenal would be looking at.

Pros: He has a proven track record at the top level at Swansea and then at Liverpool, where he almost led them to their first ever Premier League title in 2014.

The style of play he has implemented at Leicester is really exciting and just what Arsenal fans desire.

He could also be tempted by the opportunity to be in charge at another huge Premier League club.

Cons: It’s highly unlikely Arsenal will be able to lure Rodgers away from Leicester, who are currently second in the Premier League table.

He’s building a really impressive side in the Midlands and, as depressing as it is, moving to Arsenal is arguably a backwards step at the moment.

Julian Nagelsmann

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Julian Nagelsmann has enjoyed incredible success for such a young manager during his time at Hoffenheim and now RB Leipzig.

It’s unlikely he would quit his current job but he could be a potential option in the future.

Pros: Nagelsmann is much more the kind of coach that would fit the bill at Arsenal. He’s only 32 years old, enthusiastic, brings fresh ideas and allows the possibility of longevity should it be a success.

He already boasts several years of managerial experience at top clubs and is guiding Leipzig through the Champions League group stages at the moment.

The German led Hoffenheim to their first ever top four finish in 2016/17 season, while RB Leipzig are currently second in the Bundesliga, level on points with Bayern Munich.

Cons: He hasn’t managed in the Premier League, so there’s always a chance he would need time to adapt.

Nagelsmann also doesn’t have any honours on his CV yet. But perhaps the biggest issue is trying to get him away from his current club, given their success and the fact he only joined in the summer.

Erik ten Hag

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Another manager that it would be difficult to prize away from his current post is Erik ten Hag at Ajax.

But if we could, what a coup it would be.

Pros: The excellent job he did last season. Taking Ajax to the Champions League semi-final was an incredible achievement. And but for a late goal in the second leg, they could’ve gone all the way to the final against Liverpool in Madrid. He also won the league and cup double.

As well as that, the football Ajax play is scintillating. It would certainly fit the kind of philosophy that would suit Arsenal.

Cons: Never managed outside Eredivisie. This could be a potential stumbling block for ten Hag. The Dutch league is by no means one of the strongest and it would be a real culture shock to have to raise the level of his players every three or four days both in the league, cup competitions and Europe.

Eddie Howe

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A name that has always cropped up when the Arsenal manager’s job is discussed is Eddie Howe at Bournemouth.

Pros: Philosophy and Premier League experience. Howe is a man who knows the league inside out and his teams play an attractive style of football focused on passing and attacking intent.

Despite his nice guy image, the 41-year-old is taken seriously by his players and coaching staff and would implement discipline.

Cons: If you were to level one hyper criticism at Eddie Howe, it would be that he hasn’t elevated Bournemouth to the next level in the Premier League or got them into Europe.

He’s also never managed a so-called big club, so it would be a gamble in that regard.

Mauricio Pochettino

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After his recent sacking from Tottenham, a surprise name that has been thrown into the hat is Mauricio Pochettino.

The Argentine is now out of a job so there’s no issues with persuading him to leave another club.

Pros: Despite our reluctance to admit it, Poch did a fine job across the way in north London. He got them playing some great football at times and transformed the club.

They were mid-table when he arrived and he took them to the next level with regular Champions League football, which culminated in the eventual final last season.

There’s no denying his qualities, experience and ability to improve a team. It would be a sensible appointment in many ways.

Cons: His links with Spurs and lack of honours. For all their good performances, Pochettino didn’t put a single piece of silverware on the sideboard at White Hart Lane. That’s a major issue.

There’s also the problem about how he would be received by Gooners given the fact he’s been one of the enemy for the past five years.


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