Daily Express

Wriggle room reducing for battered Unai

- By Mike Walters

TOLERANCE of mediocrity is one thing, but manager Unai Emery is toast if a big club such as Arsenal are paralysed by apathy.

When the players are too embarrasse­d – and the fans cannot even be bothered – to celebrate a dramatic equaliser six minutes into stoppage-time, the end of the road is surely in sight.

This is the worst Gunners team since the mid-1980s, a parody of the empire Arsene Wenger built and George Graham’s drill-sergeant efficiency.

Emery deserves respect for his achievemen­ts in Spain, but the safest place to watch this Arsenal side is from behind the sofa.

When you are outplayed on your own turf by relegation candidates who lost 9-0 at home a month ago, it is time to call a taxi.

The bald facts read like a ransom note: Six games without a victory, eight points off the top four, and the joint-worst defensive record outside the bottom six.

Emery cut an isolated figure, prowling his technical area like a condemned man in the exercise yard the night before a pressing engagement with the firing squad.

Two-goal Alexandre Lacazette’s ‘celebratio­n’ of his stoppage-time strike had an apologetic air – as if he had denied the toxic Emirates audience a chance to turn discontent into full-blown mutiny.

And even if Thursday’s Europa League game with Eintracht Frankfurt is not a litmus test of apathy in north London, defeat at struggling Norwich on Sunday will leave Emery no more wriggle room.

Southampto­n were terrific and deserved more for their 21 shots than Danny Ings’ early strike and James Ward-Prowse pouncing on the rebound after Bernd Leno had saved his penalty.

Gunners striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang said: “I don’t know if the criticism is fair but the team is disappoint­ed, like the fans are as well.

“We are the first to be disappoint­ed if it doesn’t work. We will try to keep fighting – we have the quality to come back and we have to fight.”

ARSENAL (3-4-1-2): Leno 7; Chambers 4 (Pepe, 46, 6), Sokratis 5, Luiz 5; Bellerin 6 (Martinelli, 83), Torreira 4 (Willock, 83), Guendouzi 5, Tierney 5; Ozil 6; Lacazette 7, Aubameyang 5.

Goals: Lacazette 18, 90.

SOUTHAMPTO­N (4-1-3-2): McCarthy 6; Soares 6, Stephens 7, Bednarek 7, Bertrand 7; Hojbjerg 8; Ward-Prowse 8, Armstrong 6 (Boufal, 86), Redmond 7; Obafemi 6 (Djenepo, 76), Ings 7 (Long, 73). Goals: Ings 8, Ward-Prowse 71.

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