Unai Emery felt Arsenal were "on a downward slope for two years" prior to his arrival and slammed the attitude of star men during his time with the Gunners.

Emery was sacked last November after just 18 months in charge at the Emirates Stadium following the London club's worst winless run since 1992.

The former Paris Saint-Germain boss insisted he stopped the rot after replacing Arsene Wenger, but believed the attitude of some key men left a lot to be desired.

Emery felt he would have made Arsenal a force if he was given more time in the role. 

"Arsenal was a club on a downward slope for two years when I arrived," the Spaniard told France Football.

"We stopped that slide and even started to straighten the club out with a Europa League final and fifth place in the league, only one place behind Tottenham, even though we only took one point in the last five games.

"We had Champions League qualification in our hands and it went wrong at the end. But it was a good season and we had the idea to continue this progress.

"But we lost our four captains: [Laurent] Koscielny, [Petr] Cech, [Aaron] Ramsey and [Nacho] Monreal.

"We were missing personalities for this season to stay on track, and some stars did not have the right attitude and asked for more than they gave.

"Considering all that, it would have taken more time to transition successfully into the new Arsenal that I wanted."

Arsenal are unbeaten in seven matches under Emery's replacement Mikel Arteta, though four of those contests have been drawn.

Unai Emery believes he missed out on the chance to become the world's best coach during his time at Paris Saint-Germain because there was no VAR.

The Spaniard won seven domestic trophies in two seasons in the French capital but left in 2018 after failing to mount a serious Champions League challenge.

In their first season under Emery, PSG thrashed Barcelona 4-0 in the round-of-16 first leg only to suffer an astonishing 6-1 defeat in the return match at Camp Nou.

A year later, they reached the same stage of the competition only to lose 5-2 on aggregate to Real Madrid, who went on to lift the trophy for the third season in a row.

Emery thinks his fortunes as an elite-level coach might have been better had VAR been in existence for those ties.

"In Paris, I missed the chance to become the best coach in the world," he told France Football.

"I won the league, four domestic cups and two Trophees des Champions. But the ultimate goal was the Champions League.

"The first year, in the round-of-16 against Barcelona, were played a really high-level first leg. In the return leg, we were knocked out because VAR didn't yet exist. We were very clearly knocked out by refereeing decisions.

"The second year, against Real Madrid, we bowed to a team who recorded an historic hat-trick and, again, in the first leg, we could find fault with the officiating.

"To conclude: we lost the first time on refereeing decisions, and the second against the defending and future champions."

The 4-0 win over Barca came despite Thiago Silva being left out of the starting line-up.

It was initially reported the Brazil centre-back had an injury but reports soon suggested his omission was more of a tactical decision.

Emery has now explained he had grown frustrated with the player for not following his instructions to hold a higher defensive line.

"I wanted the team to defend higher. Thiago Silva is a great player, but I wanted him to be higher and I couldn't get him to accept that," Emery said.

"I wanted him to get out of his comfort zone, to dare to defend higher so that the general pressure of the team on the opposition would be more effective. I worked with him to make him accept this, but I didn't succeed.

"This characteristic of Thiago Silva's game reflected on the whole team, which, under pressure, had a natural tendency to drop deeper."

Despite a disappointing end to his two seasons in charge, Emery insists he always felt he had the backing of president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

Indeed, the former Arsenal boss says it was left to him to convince Neymar of PSG's plans ahead of his world-record €222million transfer from Barcelona

"I always felt supported by president Nasser," he said. "For example, when we were about to sign Neymar, it was up to me to explain in person to Ney that we were going to build the team around him.

"With such a phenomenal player, you can't tell him there is already a team there and that he will have to adapt. You have to create the team for him. Otherwise, he wouldn't come - that's for sure.

"The president and the directors discuss the contract, but it's the coach who has to convince him of the game plan."

Monaco have high expectations and a mid-table position just will not cut it for the principality club.

Pressure may have eased on Leonardo Jardim after his inconsistent team thrashed Lille on Saturday, but fresh reports claim Monaco are looking at options for a new head coach.

Could Unai Emery - a Ligue 1 winner with Paris Saint-Germain but a disappointment at Arsenal - be just the man for the job?

 

TOP STORY - EMERY SET FOR DUGOUT RETURN?

Monaco are reportedly hunting for a new boss as Jardim's future looks bleak with the Monegasque club, and Emery is said to be a target.

According to Le 10 Sport, Monaco officials are considering former Valencia boss Marcelino and ex-PSG and France head coach Laurent Blanc.

A third coach reported to be interesting Monaco is Emery, who was sacked by Arsenal last month after a dismal run of form with the Premier League side.

The Spaniard would bring experience of French football after his time at PSG, with Sevilla and Valencia also among his former teams.

Monaco sit seventh in Ligue 1 this term, with Jardim handed a welcome boost when his team produced a shock 5-1 win over Lille at the weekend.

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are looking to loan out two of their brightest young talents to improve their prospects of first-team action, according to Marca. The Spanish newspaper says 21-year-old midfielder Carles Alena could go to Real Betis or Getafe, and that 19-year-old centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo is interesting Bayer Leverkusen along with other clubs from Germany and Italy.

- Arturo Vidal could be another player on the move from Barcelona, with Inter said to be targeting a deal for the 32-year-old Chilean. A four-time Serie A winner with Juventus, Vidal's role at Barcelona has become reduced this season and a Camp Nou departure looks a sensible solution. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Inter are lining up a bid of €12million. Inter boss Antonio Conte knows Vidal well from their time together at Juventus, whom Inter are battling with for the Scudetto this term.

- Arsenal are keeping a close eye on Lyon's former Celtic striker Moussa Dembele, according to Le 10 Sport. If Arsenal lose Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette, the report says Dembele would be a prime target for the Gunners, whose hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League appear slim after a shabby first half of the Premier League season. Mikel Arteta has just taken the Emirates Stadium reins.

- Thomas Tuchel could soon be on the lookout for a new PSG assistant, with reports from Germany claiming his Hungarian number two Zsolt Low is a possible target for Stuttgart. Tim Walter lost his job with the Bundesliga second division team on Monday. The Stuttgarter Nachrichten reports the club, whose chief executive is former Aston Villa, Everton and Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, have former Leipzig assistant boss Low in mind but have yet to approach any candidate.

Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta surely departed Goodison Park on Saturday suspecting they had each arrived just in time.

Everton initially improved under Duncan Ferguson following Marco Silva's sacking, but new boss Ancelotti - watching in the stands - struggled to hide his frustration as they contributed to a dreadful Premier League encounter.

Arteta, a former Toffees favourite, was also in attendance and might even have been the more encouraged of the two coaches-in-waiting, yet his side Arsenal were only marginally better.

Freddie Ljungberg has failed to inspire Arsenal, and it was clear on Merseyside that both the Gunners and Everton were each in need of a lift.


MESUT MESS CONTRIBUTES TO CAPTAINCY CONCERN

Ljungberg's stint ends with one win in six matches in all competitions, having muddled through the same assortment of teams and tactics that saw off Unai Emery while further exacerbating the issues around Mesut Ozil, Arsenal's eternal enigma.

The injured Ozil's absence - having reacted angrily to his substitution last week - neatly encapsulated the lack of leadership on the pitch for Arsenal.

Emery named Ozil among a quintet of skippers in each of his two seasons, but the warring five families in 'The Godfather' were less disparate. Only Granit Xhaka - stripped of the role - and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the former coach's group started on Saturday.

Ozil and Xhaka were in 2018-19's selection of five, too. Laurent Koscielny, Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey have all since left - in controversial circumstances, on a free transfer, and retiring to join rivals Chelsea's staff, respectively.

Former Arsenal captain Arteta appears reluctant to intervene decisively, though, saying on Friday: "I want to see what they are doing at the moment and, after that, slowly, we will make some decisions to help them."


CLEAN SHEETS COURTESY OF CREATIVITY VOID

Everton collected just a second clean sheet in 16 league games, while Arsenal - having conceded the first goal in more Premier League games than any other side this season - could also welcome a rare shut-out - their first in 15 matches in all competitions.

But this goalless game owed more to aimless attacking play than defensive interventions, with passes from both sides regularly going astray at key moments.

Arsenal named their youngest league XI since May 2011, with many of the rookies in forward positions, yet Arteta would have been concerned as the visitors waited until the 44th minute for their first attempt.

Jordan Pickford was called into action before Bernd Leno, though, saving well six minutes after the break, as Everton likewise toiled.

Goals under Ferguson have largely come as a result of defensive errors, which the Gunners avoided, despite the presence of stars like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison.

Ancelotti is renowned for getting the best out of talented players, and for all Everton's back-line issues, a key focus must be to ensure future displays are more incisive going forward.


IMMEDIATE RESULTS REQUIRED REGARDLESS

These two sides are stuck in the mid-table mire, and it was not hard to see why in a pair of hopeless performances. But such is the need to get their seasons back on track that both teams would have welcomed a late winner regardless of what went before.

Neither truly deserved the three points, yet triumphing without playing well will be the early expectation for each new coach.

Arsenal's captaincy concerns need to be addressed, while Everton must have more edge up front and be less edgy at the back, but frustrations will not be abated for long if results see the two toiling in the bottom half.

Everton's pre-match optimism was sapped by full-time, and Arsenal's Friday talk of Champions League qualification and "eventually" the title looks pie in the sky.

Only once victories are belatedly strung together can serious discussion of fulfilling ambition be considered.

Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi says there are no regrets at Emirates Stadium that new head coach Mikel Arteta was not appointed ahead of Unai Emery in 2018.

Former captain Arteta was unveiled as the new Gunners boss on Friday, leaving Manchester City, where he had served on Pep Guardiola's backroom team for three-and-a-half seasons.

The 37-year-old returns to London to find Arsenal struggling in mid-table, having endured a tough start to the season under Emery, who was sacked at the end of last month.

Emery arrived from Paris Saint-Germain upon Arsene Wenger's departure after the 2017-18 season, at which point Arteta was also in the running for the role.

But despite the way Emery's tenure panned out, Sanllehi is still content Arsenal made the best decision they could at the time, while backing Arteta as the ideal candidate for the club's future.

Asked if there were regrets, Sanllehi told reporters: "No, I do not like to look to the past.

"I like to look to the future, and at that time, we made a decision with the information we had. It is not time to regret. We made a decision conscious of what we wanted at that time.

"We are now conscious and convinced of what we are doing now."

Reports suggested City were unhappy with the nature of Arteta's move to Arsenal, although Guardiola and the club wished the departing coach well.

Pictures emerged of Arteta meeting with Arsenal officials days before the switch was completed, but Sanllehi believes the Gunners were "very respectful".

"In terms of the pictures, we didn't think it was such a great deal," he said.

"We have been publicly explaining openly we are in a process of looking for a head coach, and we have been seeing many and in the houses of many. It just happened this time there was a picture for whatever reason.

"I do not know if it was a neighbour or someone following - I do not know and I do not care.

"In terms of Man City and given the tight relationship between Mikel and Pep, we have been very careful, extremely transparent and very respectful."

Discussing Arteta's aims, Sanllehi said Arsenal "need to be in the Champions League" after failing to qualify in the past three seasons. He added Arsenal would look to win the Premier League "eventually".

Unai Emery says Mesut Ozil did not have the necessary qualities to fit in with the pressing game he wanted to implement at Arsenal despite the playmaker's "brilliant talent".

Emery lasted 18 months in charge at Emirates Stadium and has been replaced by former Gunners captain Mikel Arteta, who signed a three and a half year deal on Friday.

Getting the best out of Ozil will be one of the key challenges for Arteta, who takes the top job for the first time after earning his reputation as a coaching talent as Pep Guardiola's assistant during two Premier League title-winning seasons at Manchester City.

Ozil was sidelined during Emery's time at the club and the Spaniard indicated he hoped to fit the former Germany international into his attacking plans but was unable to do so.

"I've had a lot of conversations with Mesut Ozil," Emery told BBC Sport. "He's a very important player for the team. 

"There are games in which you see Mesut's brilliance, linking with the attack. But also I had to find players around him so he felt comfortable.

"Also the team needed to feel solid. And when you, little by little, have to build a team that is aggressive, intense, as well as structured for good pressure, we also had to find a space for Mesut as he gives us an important part of the game, which is his brilliant talent.

"To do so I had to find the right connections between players; the right tactics. I was very motivated to try to find that. I wanted Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut to work together, each one of them with their own characteristics.

"But there were times when I had to leave one of them out of the XI. Ozil is a very important player if you can find a way to make it work with other players. 

"He has talent that allows other players to be better, but when you want a bit more aggressive pressure he does not have the best qualities for that."

Arteta will not be in charge for Saturday's trip to Everton, with Freddie Ljungberg taking the team one last time ahead of the new head coach's Boxing Day bow at Bournemouth.

Unai Emery believes his Arsenal replacement Mikel Arteta will make a successful transition into life as a head coach.

Arsenal confirmed Arteta had signed a three-and-a-half-year deal on Friday, three weeks after sacking Emery and temporarily replacing him with Freddie Ljungberg.

Arteta has worked as assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City since July 2016, but Emery is confident the ex-Gunners captain can become a notable boss in his own right.

"He really is prepared to make that next jump," he told BBC Sport. "He has been at Arsenal before, he's been in the Premier League and he has been working with Pep Guardiola. 

"I do believe this is a good decision and I would also like it to be a good decision."

Emery was dismissed by Arsenal on November 29 following a seven-game winless run in all competitions.

The former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss lasted 18 months at Emirates Stadium and, while accepting the club's decision, he felt he could have turned things around if given more time.

"We had to win to regain our emotional equilibrium, to get rid of that frustration and we couldn't," he said.

"What is true is the social mass of Arsenal, which is very big, couldn't see it, couldn't connect with what was happening and it is true that in this situation, as happens in every country and with every team, the coach finds himself targeted.

"I spoke to the players three or four weeks before the process began to tell them that things were not going well and that I couldn't see the team I pictured on the field of play; I couldn't identify what I was looking for."

He added: "We looked for solutions but results still didn't come. The club made its decision and that was passed on to me by Raul Sanllehi [Arsenal's head of football] with much regret because he also felt his share of the responsibility and we were very united.

"But the situation had become unsustainable as regards to the protests of a section of the fans. That said, I believe there was another important section who believed we could have been shown more patience and carried on with the project.

"I think we could have turned things around but I also understand those at the top have to take decisions and take responsibility."

Emery was linked with an immediate return to the Premier League at Everton and the 48-year-old revealed he turned down the chance to discuss a move to Goodison Park, where Carlo Ancelotti is expected to be installed.

"Now is the time to go home. To be with my people, to analyse a lot," he said. "I'll spend the next few days close to my family, with my coaches. And I've started doing a lot of soul searching. 

"We all spoke to each other and questioned what we got wrong. There’s been interest from teams but I want to just spend some quiet time and choose the right project. Different teams have expressed interest.

"To be honest I want to thank them [Everton and others] for wanting me and I told them that I wanted to be quiet, that I need to take a little bit of air. And to choose well the next project after many years of not stopping."

Mikel Arteta is the latest man to be charged with restoring success to a failing Arsenal, and Gunners fans will hope his previous working relationship with Pep Guardiola gives the Basque coach a head start.

Arsenal ditched another Basque tactician in Unai Emery last month and the process to appoint a replacement has been anything but swift.

Freddie Ljungberg took charge in an interim capacity but managed just a single win in five matches, highlighting the sorry state of the situation inherited by Arteta, whose appointment as head coach was confirmed on Friday.

It is former Arsenal captain Arteta's first job in management, having spent the three years since he retired from playing working as an assistant to Guardiola at Manchester City.

Guardiola has credited Arteta with improving him as a manager and believes the San Sebastian native is "absolutely ready" to strike out on his own after a "magnificent" time together at City.

Given his success in management, Guardiola has unsurprisingly been mentioned as a major inspiration for many coaches.

Here, we examine four others to have worked closely with Guardiola and enjoyed success.

Tito Vilanova

Guardiola and Vilanova came through Barcelona's youth academy together as youngsters, though the latter went on to spend much of his playing career in the lower divisions. They reunited as coaches in 2007, with Vilanova assuming the role of assistant with the Barcelona B side, before taking up a similar position when Guardiola was promoted to the senior team the following year.

They worked together until Guardiola departed in 2012, with Vilanova subsequently appointed his successor. He led Barca to LaLiga success despite requiring a leave of absence for cancer treatment, but he officially stepped down in July 2013 due to a relapse. Vilanova died in April 2014 due to complications from cancer.

Luis Enrique

Although Luis Enrique never worked specifically in tandem with Guardiola, he did succeed his friend and former team-mate when taking charge of Barca B in 2008. That meant Luis Enrique's team fed directly into Guardiola's senior side for three seasons.

"You could see from the start he was special," the City boss once said of the former attacking midfielder, who like Guardiola also won a treble in his debut season in charge of the Barcelona first team after spells at Roma and Celta Vigo. Luis Enrique has since gone on to become Spain coach.

Erik ten Hag

Ten Hag had already coached a senior team when he was put in charge of Bayern Munich's second string in June 2013, having led Go Ahead Eagles to a sixth-placed finish in the Eerste Divisie. Despite managing separate teams at the club, Ten Hag and first-team boss Guardiola worked closely. Guardiola said last season: "I was lucky to meet him at Bayern and he was an assistant from the second team. We had a lot of chats."

Ten Hag left Bayern the year before Guardiola and led Utrecht to fifth and fourth in the Eredivisie, earning him a shot at the big time with Ajax. Since his December 2017 appointment, the Dutchman has won a league title and taken Ajax to the Champions League semis last term. A return to Bayern – but this time with the senior side – appears likely.

Domenec Torrent

It is unlikely there is anyone in world football more familiar with Guardiola's work than Torrent. After first teaming up with Barcelona B, the pair worked side by side for 11 years until 2018. "When we started in La Tercera [fourth tier in Spain], I never thought I would be with him so much, but then we won every possible title," Torrent told El Diario earlier this year when he was in charge of New York City FC.

He presided over the MLS side as they won the Eastern Conference this year, before stepping down in November. Although keen to continue his management career, don't rule out a return to Guardiola's side. "If Pep calls me, I will go [to him]," Torrent said in May. "I am grateful and I know that I owe it all to him. If I had not been his assistant, I would not be here. I like being a head coach and I will only stop being one if Pep thinks I can be useful [to him]."

Arsenal appear to have strengthened their interest in Nuno Espirito Santo.

Just over two weeks after dismissing Unai Emery, the Gunners are reportedly ready to hold talks with one of the top contenders to take over at Emirates Stadium.

But the Portuguese is not alone when it comes to candidates with Premier League experience.

 

TOP STORY – GUNNERS STEP UP NUNO CHASE

Arsenal will ask Wolves for permission to conduct formal discussions with Nuno next week, according to the Daily Mail.

The north Londoners are reportedly ready to "set to accelerate their interest" in the 45-year-old former Valencia and Porto head coach.

Belgium boss Robert Martinez is also said to have been approached, while Mauricio Pochettino, Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira continue to be linked.

Freddie Ljungberg has overseen two draws, a defeat and a solitary victory since taking charge on an interim basis.

ROUND-UP

- Like his former employers, ex-Arsenal boss Emery will not be rushed into a decision on his next move. Marca says the Spaniard has turned down the chance to speak to two Chinese clubs and managerless Everton since becoming a free agent on November 29.

- Premier League champions Manchester City hope to bring wantaway winger Jadon Sancho back to the Etihad Stadium after losing him to Borussia Dortmund in 2017, reports the Daily Mail.

- On the outer at Chelsea, Olivier Giroud appears to be moving closer to the Stamford Bridge exit door. L'Equipe claims the France striker is close to agreeing personal terms on a January switch to Inter, where he would reunite with Antonio Conte.

- Serie A side Milan will be offered the chance to sign Luka Jovic on loan from Real Madrid in January, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

- Barcelona will listen to offers of €10million for teenage defender Jean-Clair Todibo, reports Mundo Deportivo. The Spanish newspaper claims Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, Monaco, Southampton and Watford have submitted bids.

- Real Betis have sealed a deal to sign former Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco from Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, according to Deportes Cuatro.

Arsenal have confirmed Kieran Tierney dislocated his shoulder in Monday's 3-1 win over West Ham, as a lengthy absence beckons.

Scotland international Tierney signed from Celtic in August for a reported £25million to bolster the left side of their defence, but his impact has been minimal due to injuries.

He joined the club during rehabilitation for a pelvic injury, limiting him to 11 appearances across all competitions.

The 22-year-old started each of Arsenal's two most recent matches, but he lasted only 29 minutes at West Ham after falling awkwardly in his own penalty area.

After receiving medical attention, Tierney gingerly walked off the pitch using his jersey as a makeshift sling. Arsenal announced the nature of his injury in a short bulletin on Wednesday.

A timescale for his return has not been provided, but he will not play again this year and is a doubt to feature in January.

Hector Bellerin sustained a hamstring injury during the warm-up before the West Ham win and is being monitored ahead of Sunday's visit of Manchester City, with the match against Standard Liege on Thursday coming too soon for him.

Nicolas Pepe, who scored only his second Premier League goal on Monday, will also miss Thursday's Europa League clash due to a bruised knee, though he has not been ruled out of the City match.

Granit Xhaka is out of both upcoming matches, however, after he sustained concussion at West Ham.

Arsenal have identified Bordeaux coach Paulo Sousa as a potential successor to Unai Emery, a source close to the Portuguese tactician has claimed.

Following an underwhelming start to the season, Emery was dismissed by Arsenal in late November, with Freddie Ljungberg taking over in an interim capacity.

Although Ljungberg guided Arsenal to a 3-1 win at West Ham on Monday, the Swede is not thought to be in contention for the job on a full-time basis.

Patrick Vieira, Marcelino Garcia Toral, Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta have all been linked with the vacancy at the Premier League club.

But Sousa, who has taken Bordeaux to fifth in the Ligue 1 table this season, is also attracting interest, according to his entourage.

They told L'Equipe: "They like his profile as a coach but also as a person – we've been blown away.

"That doesn't mean he'll leave. They've targeted several candidates, but Paulo is one of them, certainly. Between the two [Arsenal and Sousa], it could be a match.

"With all the problems at Bordeaux, why wouldn't he leave? The project is not what he was promised, that's a fact.

"He loves the fans, but he needs more from the board - this team is not strong enough to finish in the top six."

Sousa is no stranger to English football having already coached QPR, Swansea City and Leicester City, while he has also had spells in charge of Basel, Fiorentina and Tianjin Quanjian in China.

Despite apparently having a desire to talk with Sousa, Bordeaux's head of recruitment Eduardo Macia insists the Gunners have not been in touch with the club.

"It would be normal that he arouses interest, but we have not been contacted," Macia told L'Equipe.

With Neymar's future far from certain, Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly planning for life without the star forward.

Neymar appears to covet a Barcelona reunion, after leaving the LaLiga champions two years ago.

Should Neymar's wish be granted, an African sensation lighting up Anfield is said to be on the agenda.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR OUT, MANE IN

Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain want Liverpool star Sadio Mane to replace Neymar, report France Football and Mundo Deportivo.

PSG star Neymar wanted to leave Paris during the previous transfer window, but a proposed return to Barcelona did not materialise.

Doubts remain over Neymar – who left Barca for PSG in a €222million transfer in 2017 – and the French powerhouse are said to have identified Mane should the Brazilian depart the capital.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Calciomercato, Napoli have agreed a deal for former Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso to replace head coach Carlo Ancelotti. It comes with Ancelotti on the brink amid a nine-match winless streak ahead of Tuesday's crucial Champions League clash against Genk.

Manchester City are set to rival Chelsea for Bournemouth's Nathan Ake, says Sky Sports. Chelsea want to bring Ake back to Stamford Bridge following his exit in 2017. However, Premier League champions City are reportedly interested amid their defensive woes.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been offered an 18-month contract by Napoli, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. The 38-year-old is a free agent after leaving MLS outfit LA Galaxy and he has been linked to Milan and Inter.

- Sport claims Inter want to sign either Ivan Rakitic or Arturo Vidal from Barcelona in January. Antonio Conte is determined to bolster his squad as Inter challenge for Scudetto honours and juggle Champions League commitments. Rakitic has also been linked to Serie A holders Juventus.

Everton hope to have Vitor Pereira installed as manager for Sunday's Premier League fixture at Manchester United, according to Sky Sports. After sacking Marco Silva, the Toffees are ready to offer the Shanghai SIPG coach a three-year deal. It comes as Sky Sports also reports former Arsenal boss Unai Emery was approached about the Everton job.

- The Mirror says Manchester United are ready to show their faith in manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer by backing him in moves for Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez and Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland. The spotlight was on Solskjaer following a poor run of form and Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham exit. However, the Norwegian has overseen consecutive victories over Tottenham and Manchester City.

Bayern Munich and Manchester City are monitoring the progress of Rangers teenager Kai Kennedy, says the Daily Record.

Freddie Ljungberg refused to criticise his inheritance from Unai Emery at Arsenal – hailing the departed head coach as a "great leader".

Ljungberg took charge of his first game as interim Gunners boss at the weekend, where they twice came from behind in an eventful 2-2 draw at Norwich City.

It meant Arsenal remained without a Premier League win away from home since the first weekend of the season, while their previous top-flight triumph of any description came on October 6 against Bournemouth.

Brighton and Hove Albion will be the next team that look to prolong that slump when they visit Emirates Stadium on Thursday, but Ljungberg defended Emery, who led Arsenal to the final of the Europa League last season before promoting the former Sweden international to his first-team coaching setup.

"I've done two training sessions now and I don't want to talk about the coaches before," Ljungberg told a pre-match news conference.

"I think Unai did a great job and was a great leader, and a fantastic coach. That's not for me to judge. I look forward.

"The main thing for me was that when we were at Norwich, we hadn't won an away game since the first game of the season.

"I felt that the players could react and, in my opinion, we played well offensively. It was good. But now we go forward."

Indeed, Ljungberg felt Arsenal's problems at Carrow Road came in transition, with an under-fire defence frequently exposed as a result.

"The general feeling is probably the same as I had after the match: we started extremely well, played very well offensively but had a problem transition-wise, so they got shots on target and chances just from the transition of an eight-yard sprint, which we need to stop," he explained.

"So that’s something we will focus on. Other things is my feeling that we got in behind their midfield and behind their backline a lot.

"But if we play a transition game like we did, we won’t win any games, so that’s something that I can coach and try to improve."

In terms of the methods Ljungberg employs to seek that improvement, he can call upon the inspiration and advice of some highly respected names.

A star of Arsene Wenger's celebrated Arsenal 'Invincibles' team, he also forged a strong bond with Sven-Goran Eriksson when his countryman was England manager.

A whirlwind start to life in the Arsenal hotseat – Emery was sacked last Friday in the wake of a sapping Europa League loss to Eintracht Frankfurt – means the 42-year-old has not yet had chance to catch up with Wenger, but that is something he intends to arrange.

"I would really like to speak to him. I'm in contact with him, but I haven’t spoken to him because it's been a bit hectic, but it’s on my list to do so," Ljungberg said, before confessing he has already borrowed what he can from the Eriksson handbook.

"Sven is intelligent, I spoke to him a lot when he was the manager of England because he was watching our games.

"I know in the past, some stories of how he treated players and how he made them feel good and things like that. I have stolen a little bit of those ideas.

"He’s a great coach. It's been a long time, and I hope I can speak to him soon."

At times, Sunday's contest at Norwich City must have felt like Groundhog Day if you're an Arsenal fan.

At times, Sunday's contest at Norwich City must have felt like Groundhog Day if you're an Arsenal fan.

Always start with a joke, they say.

Only, the laughs have been few and far between for the Gunners faithful this season - save for ones of rueful derision.

There was as much inevitability about Arsenal's decision to end Unai Emery's 18-month tenure this week as death or taxes.

But the failings that cost the amiable Spaniard so dearly were laid bare in 90 microcosmic minutes of a 2-2 draw at Carrow Road.

Arsenal are a little bit like a warm chocolate fudge cake. On the surface, great to look at, a delicious treat but soft at their core and too easy to crumble.

There were signs in the opening 20 minutes that maybe this post-Emery Arsenal led by interim boss Freddie Ljungberg, a legend of the 'Invincibles', was a different animal as Norwich were penned in, dragged from pillar to post. Had Alexandre Lacazette not been so wasteful with a gilt-edged fourth-minute opportunity, such a feeling would have increased tenfold.

And then just like that, to quote the legendary magician-comedian Tommy Cooper – whose vanishing acts were as comical as the ones displayed by Arsenal's midfield – the visitors were behind.

Sliced open in the centre of the park, Kenny McLean was given the freedom of the Carrow Road pitch as Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz inexplicably backed off and Teemu Pukki ended an eight-game goal drought, albeit with a deflection that deceived Bernd Leno.

Arsenal soon mustered a response. Christmas may have been 24 days away, but Christoph Zimmermann gave Ljungberg and Arsenal an early gift with an explicable handball in the area.

The joy was at first short-lived as Tim Krul, canny mind games in full swing, showed why he has a reputation as a penalty-saving expert to deny Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, only for the VAR to spot an encroachment and give the Gabon striker an undeserved reprieve.

There was no mistake on act two, Aubameyang firing into the bottom-left corner and giving Krul the shush sign with an act of fire in the belly that has for so long been missing from Arsenal.

No sooner had the touchpaper been lit than Norwich extinguished it, though. It was an all-too-familiar failing. Onel Hernandez was allowed to stroll forward with reckless abandon to play in Todd Cantwell, who was given enough time to finish a crossword puzzle by Mustafi before clinically beating Bernd Leno.

The half-time whistle allowed for a regroup and Arsenal, as in the first half, looked well oiled going forward. There was a hint of fortune about the way the ball fell to Aubameyang from a 57th-minute corner but there was no luck about the way he hammered past a helpless Krul.

Was this then the moment to spark Arsenal into life? Well, not quite.

Had it not been for the brilliance of Leno, McLean would have restored Norwich's lead after shambolic midfield work from Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi.

Leno was also the scourge of Pukki who had Mustafi on toast and not the first time in 90 troubled minutes for the German defender.

Ljungberg's big smile at full-time - the whistle signalling Arsenal had failed to win for an eighth match in a row - only masks the concern that the issues that plagued Emery's tenure are as pronounced as ever. A midfield that is too easy to bypass, a defence devoid of organisation, leadership and grit, and a team in general that for all its attacking brilliance lacks the steel to truly mix it with the big boys.

These are problems in the short term for Ljungberg to address and a new full-time boss to get a hold on in the long term.

Otherwise, it might just feel like Groundhog Day all over again for Arsenal fans.

Freddie Ljungberg's first game in temporary charge of Arsenal ended in a 2-2 draw against Norwich City at Carrow Road on Sunday thanks to a brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Teemu Pukki put Norwich ahead via a deflected effort before Aubameyang equalised with a retaken penalty kick, having seen his initial effort from the spot saved.

Todd Cantwell restored Norwich's advantage with a smart finish before Aubameyang levelled for a second time from a corner.

Ljungberg, who played for Arsenal between 1998 and 2007, was promoted from a coaching role to interim boss after Unai Emery was sacked on Friday.

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