Arsenal face ‘rescue mission’ against Villarreal with Mikel Arteta’s future in the balance
Arsenal: Arteta opens up on semi-final pressure
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Arsenal legend Martin Keown has suggested that Mikel Arteta could be destined for the sack if the Gunners fail to reach the UEFA Europa League final. Arsenal head into tonight’s second leg with Villarreal trailing 2-1 after the first leg in Spain.
Goals from Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol secured victory for Unai Emery’s troops last week despite Nicolas Pepe pulling a goal back.
There is certainly work to do then for Arteta’s men if they hold any aspirations of progressing to the final in Gdansk at the end of the month.
The second leg is set to take place at the Emirates this evening – Arsenal simply having to win in order to overcome their first-leg deficit.
Should they fail to do that, Keown has suggested that former Gunners midfielder Arteta could pay with his job at the Emirates.
Asked by talkSPORT if Arteta’s position could be on the line with defeat, Keown replied: “I think it always is at a big club.
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“If you look at Chelsea and Spurs, they are both above Arsenal in the Premier League but they have both got rid of their managers this season, and that turned Chelsea’s season around.
“This is very much a rescue mission for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal, because the season has been a bit of a disappointment.
“To be ninth in the Premier League table, they’ve lost nine games at home, they’ve only scored 19 goals in 17 home matches.
“They are huge problems, but they can all be fixed by getting to the Europa League final and winning it – that puts you back into the big time.”
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Speculation over Arteta’s position in north London is certainly not new.
The 39-year-old has continually been linked with the exit door after a couple of underwhelming campaigns having taken the reins from Emery in 2019.
He led the Gunners to eighth in his first season in charge – finishing on 56 points – their lowest season haul since 1995.
Meanwhile, they currently sit ninth on 49 points with just four matches of the campaign remaining.
In all, the Spaniard has so far overseen 81 matches in north London in all competitions and has won 43 of those.
There have been numerous names talked up as Arteta’s replacement in recent weeks.
Former Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is thought to be among the contenders.
Paulo Fonseca, who is leaving AS Roma at the end of the season to be replaced by Jose Mourinho, has also been linked.
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