Paul Merson believes Brendan Rodgers would be an ideal candidate to replace the under-fire Unai Emery at Arsenal and says the Leicester manager could ‘transform’ the club’s fortunes.
Arsenal have endured an indifferent start to the season and the pressure is beginning to build on Emery, the club squandering leads in home clashes with Crystal Palace and Wolves to fall six points behind in the race to finish in the Premier League‘s top four.
The club travel to third-placed Leicester this weekend in what could be a huge meeting between the two top four hopefuls, and Merson believes Emery may struggle to keep hold of his job should his struggling side suffer a negative result and fall further behind.
“I read somewhere that Unai Emery was pleased with how Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Wolves panned out from a tactical perspective. If letting Wolves have 24 shots on goal was what he wanted, then yes, it went to plan,” Merson wrote for Sky Sports.
“But when you consider that was the most shots Arsenal have faced in a Premier League game since moving to the Emirates, I doubt whether that was his intention. That came after Arsenal conceded 31 shots away at Watford, who are rock bottom of the Premier League. That is some doing.
“Emery is struggling and with a trip to Leicester on Saturday, he will do well to keep hold of his job if that goes against him. The gap is already six points to fourth place and Arsenal are in a situation where they can realistically only afford to lose two more game this season to keep pace with the teams ahead of them.
“And, to make matters worse, the fans are turning, they are booing, making decisions and chanting ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’. That’s not good, especially ahead of the two-week international break, a break in which Emery’s position will be under threat if they fall to the Foxes.”
By contrast, this weekend’s opponents Leicester have enjoyed a superb start to the season and harbour realistic ambitions of securing Champions League qualification, with manager Brendan Rodgers having been lauded for his impact since replacing the sacked Claude Puel in February.
Merson was full of praise for the 46-year-old, and believes Rodgers would be the perfect candidate to replace Emery should the club opt to part with the under-fire Spaniard.
“Leicester have been outstanding,” Merson added. “They have an unbelievable manager. Brendan Rodgers has not added much to the squad he inherited from Claude Puel, but he’s improved every single player at his disposal. He’s getting a tune out of every single player, it’s incredible.
“I cannot speak highly enough of Rodgers. Chairmen up and down the country will be thinking ‘how did we not get him?’ This Leicester team were languishing in mid-table and going nowhere until Rodgers came in, and in less than 12 months he’s got the whole squad are playing with confidence, they all know they are doing and look like a proper team.
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“Rodgers has done so well that Leicester have a job on their hands keeping hold of him. If I were Arsenal, I’d be breaking the bank to get him, give him a five-year contract and sit back and watch him transform the club.”
The Gunners travel to the King Power Stadium in Saturday’s evening kick-off, looking for a first win in three league fixtures to reduce the six-point advantage to fourth-placed Chelsea ahead of them. Leicester will be looking to maintain their position within the top four, sitting ahead of Frank Lampard’s side by virtue of a superior goal difference.