Robert Pires concedes Arsenal are “in big trouble” but is backing Unai Emery as the right coach to change their fortunes.
A late goal from Alexandre Lacazette – his second of the game – salvaged a 2-2 home draw against Southampton on Saturday, with Arsenal now without a win in their last five Premier League matches.
The Gunners sit a worrying eight points behind fourth-placed Chelsea after just 13 games.
Saturday’s result piled more pressure on Emery, with Arsenal’s fanbase growing increasingly restless.
But Pires, who won two Premier League titles and two FA Cups during his time at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, believes Emery can correct their dismal form.
“Everybody knows at Arsenal, even Unai Emery, that they are in big trouble,” Pires told Omnisport, speaking as part of the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour driven by Nissan.
“But [Emery] is a competitor, he knows the high level. He was a great manager with Sevilla, with Paris Saint-Germain, but the situation is not so good.
“He is a good manager, I think he will make a success with Arsenal. I hope for him anyway. The situation isn’t so good, but him and the players need to find the solution.”
Pires said Arsenal must still push for a top-four place, given the Champions League is where the best players want to be.
He said: “The target for Arsenal and for Unai is to finish in the top four because it’s very important for Arsenal to play again in the Champions League next season.
“I don’t know what will happen at the end of the season, especially for Arsenal. For some players – [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, Lacazette, or even Mesut Ozil – the first thing for them and all the Arsenal players is to finish in the top four.”
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) November 23, 2019
Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham underwent managerial upheaval in midweek, with Mauricio Pochettino replaced by Jose Mourinho following a dismal start to the campaign.
Mourinho started his tenure with a 3-2 win at West Ham, and despite Arsenal’s rivalry with Spurs, Pires is glad to see the former Manchester United and Chelsea boss back in the Premier League.
“I think it’s great news for football generally, and of course for the Premier League. Everyone knows that Mourinho is one of the best managers in the world,” Pires said.
“He won lots of titles: Spain, Italy, and of course in the UK. In the UK, we know there is competition between Spurs and Gunners, but this is football and I’m very sad for Mauricio Pochettino.
“He is a great manager, only six months ago he got to the final of the Champions League. Unfortunately for him he lost against Liverpool and now he is sacked.
“So footballers or even the manager, things are tough.”