3 Managers who could replace Unai Emery at Arsenal
After a disappointing draw with Crystal Palace in which Arsenal gave up a two-goal lead, Unai Emery finds himself under increasing pressure. The Gunners now find themselves 5th, four points adrift of Chelsea and Leicester and only one point above Crystal Palace in 6th.
Their disappointing start to the season is certainly no fluke either. Arsenal have by far the worst goal difference in the top 5 with +1. By contrast, Chelsea have +7, Leicester +17, Liverpool +15 and finally, Manchester City have a monstrous +23.
In fact, Arsenal's goal difference is worse than a struggling Manchester United side, who have +3 despite sitting 7th in the table.
The main reason for Arsenal's poor start to the season is undoubtedly their porous defence. The 14 goals they've already conceded this season is the joint second-worst in the top half of the table, alongside West Ham, and only topped by Chelsea who have conceded 16 (the worst in the top half).
It's not hard to understand why either, with most individual members of Arsenal's backline facing individual criticism. But the manager still has to take the blame for this, as the lack of structure and his insistence on playing out from the back are proving costly.
Perhaps more worrying are the problems at the other end of the pitch. Arsenal's 15 goals scored is also the worst in the top 5. This tally is the same as that of 15th place Aston Villa and one worse than 11th placed Tottenham, who are in the midst of a full-blown crisis.
Given that Emery has a wealth of attacking talent in the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe and the extremely promising Gabriel Martinelli, the manager is surely guilty of not utilising his attacking options properly.
While Emery is certainly not an unproven manager, most of his success has come in cup competitions. The unquestionable highlight of Emery's career is winning three consecutive Europa Leagues with Sevilla, a feat never before accomplished. But even then, Emery never finished in the top 4; Sevilla finished 5th twice and 7th once.
His time at PSG was also questionable with regard to the league. While Emery did win the league once in his two seasons in Paris, he was the manager of the only PSG side to not win the league since the 2011-12 season.
Given Emery is seemingly more suited to cup competitions, perhaps he isn't the man Arsenal need if they're to once again establish themselves as top 4 regulars. Against that background, here are three managers that could replace him:
#3 Rafa Benítez
With Rafa Benítez currently managing in China, a return to a top Premier League side would surely be tempting. As his time at Newcastle shows, Benítez's strict and disciplined tactics can make a team solid even when the defenders lack individual quality. This makes him the ideal candidate to resolve Arsenal's defensive woes.
Benítez is a tactically versatile manager, often changing systems to compensate for defects in his team or for exploiting opponent's weaknesses. This is something Arsenal will desperately need to cover for their defensive frailties and unbalanced attacking line.
The Spaniard typically lines up in a 4-2-3-1 with a floating 10, which could be particularly useful if Mesut Özil is to be reintroduced to the side.
Benítez of course carries with him plenty of Premier League experience, having managed Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle. He would, therefore, be a relatively safe pick if a slightly underwhelming one.