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Wenger bites back at Emery’s ‘downward slope’ claim & accusations of leaving Arsenal in a mess

The legendary former Gunners boss has suggested that the man who succeeded him in north London is looking to make excuses for his own failings

Arsene Wenger has responded to claims from Arsenal successor Unai Emery that the Gunners were on a “downward slope” when his 22-year reign came to a close.

An iconic era in north London was brought to an end during the summer of 2018 when the long-serving French coach walked away from Emirates Stadium.

Many happy memories were left behind, but Arsenal had slipped out of the Premier League’s top four by the time a change in the dugout was made.

Emery was charged with the task of rebuilding, but the Spaniard struggled across 18 months before being relieved of his duties.

He has claimed to have inherited a team in decline, with there little that he could have done to fix underlying issues in such a short space of time.

Wenger, though, has suggested that Emery is merely making excuses for his own failings, with any manager who loses his job needing to accept a share of blame rather than look to point fingers.

“In 2017 we made 75 points and won the FA Cup so you cannot say that [Arsenal were in decline] and the year before [2016] we finished second in the league,” Wenger said at the Laureus World Sports Awards.

“2018 was my last year but it is very difficult to come out on that.

“Arsenal is a club that is in a very strong position financially. It has good players, after that when you are a manager you have to stand up for what you do and your results and not look around you.

“That is the only thing you can do.”

Emery was dismissed in November 2019 having been unable to return Arsenal to the Champions League and seen them slip into mid-table domestically.

In an effort to explain his struggles, he told France Football: “Arsenal was a club on a downward slope for two years before I arrived.

“We stopped this fall and even began to rebuild the club with the Europa League final and fifth place in the league, only one point off Tottenham despite the fact that we took just one point in our final five matches.

“We had Champions League qualification in our grasp and it went wrong in the end. But it was a good season and we had this notion of continuing to improve.”

Wenger is not the first to have rubbished those comments, with Arsenal great Ian Wright branding Emery “delusional”.

He told the Kelly & Wrighty Show: “Under the old manager it was like a regime, it wasn’t very enjoyable, they didn’t know where they were going, there wasn’t a lot of direction in what they were doing.

“And when you hear the quotes from Unai Emery… delusional comments if you ask me.

“Yes [they got to a Europa League final] but it was the worst performance of an Arsenal team in a final.

“Because again, whatever he says, the players weren’t happy, there wasn’t a vision or direction, the communication was poor.

“He can say whatever he wants about how well he’s done because he’s got the ‘facts’ there but that team was going nowhere.”

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